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Saturday QBs to Watch: Conference Title Games!

| December 19th, 2020

(Photo of Trask by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)


If the Bears win Sunday, they are unlikely to be choosing one of the top four quarterbacks in this coming draft. (And I have had several personnel folks tell me that might not be the worst thing for them long-term.) So looking at that next crop of QBs is probably a more apt exercise at this point. Today will be a good opportunity to look at three them, two for the second time in this space.


3:00 PM CT

ACC Championship Game

Clemson vs. Notre Dame

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Trevor Lawrence is going to be the first pick of the draft and stabilize a Jets franchise desperate for stabilization. But ND quarterback Ian Book is going to be an interesting option for teams in the middle rounds. Eric Edholm of Yahoo found an interesting comp for Book:

I texted a Midwest scout who has seen Book’s success as a college QB and watched him grow as an NFL prospect. Who does Book remind the scout of?

Jeff Garcia, he told me. Not the name I was expecting, but it makes sense.

Garcia was far from a roundly beloved prospect coming out of San Jose State in the early ’90s — like Book, branded too small, too hectic, too not NFL. For that time, anyway. And it took him five years of success in the CFL and a visionary in Bill Walsh (who had returned to the 49ers’ front office) to see Garcia’s NFL potential.

Book’s road to the league shouldn’t be quite as circuitous because it appears that he’s only helped his draft stock and could push for a spot in Round 4 — or even higher. It will be fascinating to see which team drafts him, perhaps a club such as the Pittsburgh Steelers that will need to find its eventual starter or one such as the Houston Texans or Kansas City Chiefs, who have their current starter but might want a backup to groom with similar skills to their almost irreplaceable stars in Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.

Book’s deep-ball effectiveness has improved dramatically from his first few seasons, and even — despite fewer downfield attempts — from a year ago. He still has issues throwing intermediate and deep toward the sidelines but has developed the kind of hip torque and arm strength to get the balls to their targets more readily.

Like with Jalen Hurts a year ago, Book holds onto the ball too long. That won’t fly as readily in the NFL; he has to speed up his clock and not assume his brilliant offensive line and his own athleticism will keep him safe.

Overall, it’s hard not to love and appreciate the strides Book has made as an NFL prospect over the past few years. And with a potential playoff spot looming for the Irish, there are more tests awaiting.


7:00 PM CT

SEC Championship Game

Florida vs. Alabama

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Both quarterbacks in this game – Kyle Trask and Mac Jones – are projecting to be drafted somewhere between pick 15 and pick 50. And it’s safe to every that every NFL eye will be on both tonight.

Edholm amended his previous mocks, after speaking to NFL scouts, and projected Trask out of the first round:

But Trask has his shortcomings as an NFL prospect. When we included him in the first round of our first crack at a 2021 NFL mock draft, we sent it out to three scouting directors who gave feedback. Two of them said Trask shouldn’t be included.

Why? For one, Trask’s limited mobility squelches his appeal. He has converted short-yardage touchdowns as a runner with his bulky frame and has carried out his zone-read duties well enough this season in Dan Mullen’s system.

But Trask’s athleticism leaves something to be desired, which might limit the number of teams that will give him a high grade. Although he possesses some subtle pocket movement that allows him to shuffle amid pressure to make throws, Trask is not someone whom scouts believe can extend plays in the NFL and operate off-schedule.

Trask almost seems oblivious to pressure. This can be a double-edged sword. Operating freely in a muddied pocket gives evaluators belief that pressure doesn’t rattle Trask. That’s a very good thing, and perhaps an underrated trait.

Then again, he also has a tendency to hang onto the ball too long and wait for his dynamic receivers to uncover in the intermediate and deep parts of the field. That might work in the NFL with a quarterback who possesses elite athleticism and escapability. Trask can’t pull those same rabbits out of hats like Russell Wilson.

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Mac Jones is projected to go SIXTH OVERALL in this outlier mock draft over at CBS Sports, but there are very few people who believe Jones will be a top-10 pick in this draft. From that mock:

We’re going to be saying this until draft night: the NFL is higher on Mac Jones than the media and by the time it’s all said and done he could find himself a top-10 pick. He’s played at a high level each week and while he’s a traditional pocket passer there will be a market for his services from plenty of QB-needy teams.

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