The Devy Weekly: Week 8

A weekly look at Devy Dynasty players, broken down by draft eligibility and position.  This week, we look at the Top 10 devy quarterbacks for the 2018 NFL Draft.

There is a growing movement in the Dynasty community toward “devy” players.  The term “devy” refers to developmental players carried on the dynasty league rosters.  These devy players are usually college players but can even be high school athletes.  During each week of the season, we will look at a different set of devy rankings. 

A few weeks ago, we began to look at the potential 2017 NFL Draft class, beginning with the quarterbacks. This week, we are examining the quarterbacks eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft.

As we survey devy prospects, we will be looking at traits, abilities, and skill sets that will translate to the NFL.  So, let’s get started on top passers who might be selected high in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

10.  Luke Del Rio (Florida) – Son of Jack Del Rio, head coach of the Oakland Raiders, the Florida quarterback is smaller than ideal (6’1”, 213 pounds) but has played fairly well this season as a redshirt Junior.  Del Rio is just now getting past a knee (MCL) injury but came into the season with high expectations as a first-time starter.  Head coach Jim McElwain spoke highly of his quarterback, "The thing we can’t forget is it is his first start. And yet, sometimes we think he’s a vet … And that’s a good thing, because of the way he handles himself."  The coach went on to say, "He’s a done a really good job so far with our install and what we’re expecting. I’m excited for him to get out there and play."  Del Rio is now on his third school after first walking on at Alabama then headed to Oregon State before transferring to Florida.  We expect Del Rio to continue to improve as he gains experience.  The lack of height will work against him.

9.  Clayton Thorson (Northwestern) –  Thorson was not a very good quarterback last year as a redshirt Freshman.  One statistic illustrating his lack of strong play, Thorson threw seven touchdowns compared to nine interceptions.  But, the 6’3”, 220-pounds redshirt Sophomore has rebounded and is the reason Northwestern is winning.  For example, in the huge win against Michigan State, Thorson completed 27 of his 35 pass attempts for 281 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick.  In deeper devy leagues, Thorson makes a decent stash.  He has improved greatly and will develop further at his craft.  

8. Kyle Allen (Houston) –  The 6’2”, 210-pound quarterback landed at Houston after leaving Texas A&M this last offseason.  He is sitting out the 2016 campaign.  In 2017, Allen will be a redshirt Junior and have two more seasons of eligibility in the Cougars quarterback-friendly system.  With starting passer Greg Ward graduating after the season, the former Aggie will step in to the starting gig.  While redshirting, Allen will be able to practice all season with the team.  He brings valuable experience with him to Houston.  While playing against strong SEC competition at A&M, Allen threw 33 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions.  After a strong game against Arkansas last September, ESPN's Joe Schad compared Allen to Matt Ryan. This was before a two-game meltdown against Alabama and Mississippi which led coach Sumlin to re-open quarterback competition.  Allen could easily be an NFL quarterback.  He has the tools and the new scenery might do him good.

7. Wilton Speight (Michigan) –  Little was known about the redshirt Sophomore after Jake Rudock left Michigan for the NFL.  Speight is a big player (6’5”, 239 pounds) who has been praised for his intelligence.  In September, coach Jim Harbaugh said, "I think the good thing about Wilton has been that his improvements have stuck. Once he takes a step forward or two steps forward, you don't see the step back."  Harbaugh is known for getting the most out of his quarterbacks (see Colin Kaepernick).  The praise is starting to come from draft analysts, too.  Todd McShay recently admitted that Speight "is more talented than I originally thought."  This was after Speight’s huge game against Central Florida.  McShay went on to say, "Like Jake Rudock last season, Speight has very good football intelligence, and he's taller, bigger and has a stronger arm … I'm really intrigued to see the impact that Jim Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch have on Speight over the next 16 months."  This ranking is based on how Speight may develop under the direction of Harbaugh. 

6. Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) – Stidham is redshirting this season after leaving the Baylor program this past offseason after his Sophomore year.  The 6’3”, 220-pounder will be a redshirt Sophomore next season.  He is rumored to play for Auburn in 2017, but it is not a done deal yet.  For those that have forgotten about the buzz Stidham garnered as a high school recruit, here are a few quotes.  Former Baylor coach Art Briles called Stidham "the best young guy [he's] ever been around."  Let’s remember that Stidham played high school football in a Briles system and played well after Seth Russell went down to the neck injury.  In its recruiting profile, ESPN compared Stidham to "Derek Carr as a passer and Marcus Mariota as a runner."  While maybe too much adoration, Stidham does have the tools.  He ran a 4.66 40-yard dash in high school.  The ESPN scouting profile said, "He is only going to get bigger and better with more experience … He's the type of player that can fit into any scheme and add the dimension of a constant running threat. He is extremely attractive because there is a high ceiling for development."  Auburn now has the weapons for Stidham to leverage for a possible comeback to the national scene.

5. Brett Rypien (Boise State) – The 6,’2”, 195-pound Sophomore has plenty of potential.  He led Boise State to a victory over Brigham Young this past week, overcoming two pick-sixes.  In that contest, he completed 25 of his 39 passes for 442 yards, three touchdowns, in addition to the two interceptions.  The big outing propelled Rypien to 2,064 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions.  The picks against Brigham Young were Rypien’s first in several weeks. 

4. Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina) – The redshirt Junior has the size (6’3”, 200 pounds) to be a quality NFL prospect and is a good athlete.  He does lack the arm strength many of the top prospects possess.  He takes great care of the football, not throwing an interception until the October 8th loss to Virginia Tech.  There has been strong buzz from the draft analysts.  In the days before the loss to Virginia Tech, Daniel Jeremiah said Trubisky has "tremendous size and an NFL tool set."  Also, Bucky Brooks chimed in, too, saying, "As a sound decision maker with a big arm and superb throwing mechanics, he can carve up a defense from the pocket … Trubisky works every area of the field with pinpoint precision to stretch the defense horizontally and vertically." Brooks went on to say, "With Trubisky also displaying sneaky athleticism as a runner/scrambler, the North Carolina standout reminds me a lot of Alex Smith when he was at Utah … Although I'm not ready to proclaim Trubisky as a potential No. 1 pick in a future draft, I definitely believe he has a number of tools that will make scouts ponder the possibilities when checking out his tape this fall."  High praise from two top draft analysts.

3. Jake Browning (Washington) – The Sophomore is a little undersized for many draft analysts (6’1”, 209 pounds) but has been very good this season.  Browning led the country in passing efficiency (204.9) coming into the Saturday night contest versus Oregon State.  This included 1,418 passing yards and 23 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions.  Browning now has his Huskies at 7-0 with strong odds of making the playoffs.  While a savvy quarterback with a strong command of the game, Browning’s one weakness is his lack of arm strength.  It is something to watch.  After playing in anonymity for much of the season, Browning will have his chance to perform on the big stage very soon.

2.  Josh Rosen (UCLA) – Last year, as a true Freshman, Rosen showed the poise and a strong arm of an upperclassman.  We heard rumblings from the scouting community that many were worried Rosen is resting on his laurels and not putting in the time to reach his potential.  That can be a concern for a player who achieved success early in his college career.  Given his talent, that may be the only major concern for Rosen’s professional chances.  Rosen has NFL size (6'4”, 208 pounds) and has excelled as a pocket passer.  The youngster has the look of an NFL star.  This devy quarterback class is stacked and we have Rosen and the player below very closely ranked as the lone elite quarterbacks for the 2018 NFL Draft class.  We are hoping Rosen will take another step in his development and prove he is worthy of consideration as the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.  He has enjoyed some big outings this season against the lesser defenses of the Pac12.  Currently, Rosen is injured and his void is obvious in the Bruins offense as evidenced by Saturday’s loss to Utah. 

1.  Lamar Jackson (Louisville) – The 6’3”, 205 true Sophomore has been electric this season.  He has drawn comparisons to Michael Vick and other elite athletic quarterbacks of the past.  What makes Jackson so difficult to defend is his combination of arm strength paired with speed and elusiveness with the ball in his hands.  NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter had this to say about the Louisville star, "Jackson shows excellent speed and agility in the open field as well as enough toughness to get that last yard … The Sophomore isn't consistent with his accuracy, but he could improve in that area with time."  Jackson has relied on his naturally-given talent that he now needs to work on improving as a quarterback.  In an NFL.com article, an NFC executive said that Jackson "has the look of a first (overall) pick."  The executive went on to say, "The thing I took away from the (Clemson-Louisville) game is that Lamar Jackson has the look of a first (overall) pick, but I don't think (Deshaun) Watson has the same look."  This is high praise for the talented Sophomore.  Against a very stiff North Carolina State defense, Saturday, Jackson topped 400 total yards and 4 touchdowns once again.  By the way, Jackson only has endured two quarters this season where Louisville failed to score a point: the third quarter in this game and the first quarter against Clemson. Think about that for a moment. Through seven games, now, Jackson has led the offense in scoring drives in 26 of 28 quarters. 

Feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with feedback.  Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.