Building the Perfect SEC QB
The SEC has been the focal point of college football the past two decades, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. They have more talent than any other conference in the NCAA, and that carries over into the NFL Draft. So today, we’ll be starting off a new series at Whole Nine Sports, creating the perfect draft prospect using different bits and pieces of different SEC players’ games. And since nothing matters more than the man under center, we’ll start by constructing the perfect QB using some of the best signal callers in the SEC.
Just a note, but a self-imposed rule will be limiting just one skill per QB. So no, this isn’t just a morphing of Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm.
Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Jared Goff. Those are some names of the smartest QB’s to come out of college in recent memory. While Jake Fromm might be a peg below those names, he showed last year he has a seriously elite head between his shoulders.
There really isn’t any mental aspect of the game that Fromm isn’t at least good at. He reads defenses exceptionally well, makes good reads pre-snap, and knows where to throw the ball consistently. He mastered Georgia’s system enough to beat out two top QB prospects, both of whom were higher ranked and arguably better coming out of high school. However, Fromm’s football IQ proved to be the ultimate trump card. He also rarely gets rattled. Whether it be an I coming pass rusher, bouncing back from a poor interception, or playing in a daunting SEC stadium, Fromm always seems to have a cool head on his shoulders.
A mostly disappointing prospect, Feleipe Franks has what is unquestionably the strongest arm in the SEC. Most QB’s in the conference don’t have the power arm to really stretch the field deep, but Franks has that capability and more. It isn’t quite on the Josh Allen/Patrick Mahomes level, but Franks has no problems in terms of arm strength. Whether hitting an out route on the opposite hash, throwing a laser into a tight window a la Matthew Stafford, or throwing a 60 yard Hail Mary to end the game, Franks has the arm strength to do any and all of those.
While most of what you read about Tua Tagovailoa’s potential NFL ability has to do with his durability and lack of arm strength, his accuracy gets lost in the mist pretty often. However, Tua has one of the most accurate arms I have ever seen at the college level. It makes him a top-tier draft prospect with one of the highest floors in the class. He is quick and precise on short throws, and seemingly always hits his wide receivers in stride. He can work the sidelines whether on out routes, back shoulder fades, or comebacks. Wherever the wide receiver needs the ball, Tua can get it there and fit it right into the bread basket. He consistently made jaw-dropping throws last season, and I only expect him to go up from here with another year under his belt
A transfer from Ball State, Riley Neal is a newcomer into the SEC this year. While he may not be a household name yet, he has the prototypical frame NFL team’s desire for traditional signal callers. On the injury/durability side of things, he suffered a season-ending back injury in 2017, but bounced back and showed no ill effects in 2018. Adding a few more pounds to his frame could prove very beneficial. Football is also in his lineage, as his father played football at Ball State as well.
Standing at 6’6” and weighing in at 225 pounds, Neal has the size to at least get his name onto watch lists across the league. After a successful career in the MAC, Neal could prove himself as a late riser in the 2020 draft if he proves himself against SEC competition.
This one felt like I’m cheating to be honest. Kelly Bryant transferred from Clemson to Missouri this past season, and immediately become one of the biggest running threats in the conference. No, not just best running quarterback, but one of the best pure runners going into 2019. I typically don’t like the “turn him into a running back/wide receiver” talk with quarterbacks, but Kelly could likely get drafted into the NFL as either should he make a change.
Bryant showed during his time at Clemson how big of a threat he is on the ground. He has elite speed, and breaks out of the pocket with amazing acceleration. Whether it be by juking or simply outrunning someone, he’s extremely dangerous in the open field. In addition, unlike most QB’s, Bryant can pack a punch and isn’t scared to lower his shoulder against smaller tacklers. And at 225 pounds, he’s often times bigger than DB’s.