Ben Fennell is an Emmy Award-winning producer, editor and researcher across several media platforms, including NFL Network, ESPN College Football, The Athletic and Eagles Game Plan on philadelphiaeagles.com.
He is analyzing the 2019 NFL draft for The Inquirer, breaking down the best player, the riser and the sleeper at each position.
Today, in the final part of our series, he looks at quarterbacks.
You can follow him on Twitter at @benfennell_NFL.
More previews: running backs | linebackers | offensive tackles | interior offensive line | tight ends | safeties | outside and nickel cornerbacks | interior defensive line | edge rushers | gadget players | speed and size receivers
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
5-10, 207 | Hands: 9 ½ inches | 40 time: NA | Vertical jump: NA | Broad jump: NA
Round projection: 1 (top 5)
Ben’s take: “Murray was just the second FBS quarterback in history to throw for 4,000 yards and run for 1,000. He’s an electric athlete who can make plays and elevate the talent around him. He has incredible arm talent. He can make all the throws, whether it’s touch throws or tight-window throws or down-the-field throws or anticipatory throws.
“The biggest question with him isn’t so much his size as it is the fact that he’s coming from Lincoln Reilly’s air-raid, pre-snap, defined-read scheme to a full-field progression offense.
“But adaptability is critical in today’s offense. If you draft a guy with his background and make him run a typical full-field progression offense, are you putting him in position to be successful based on what he can do?
“More and more offenses are turning to more spacing concepts, RPO concepts, half-field reads. If you’re not willing to think outside the box, you’re not going to be successful in today’s NFL climate.
“I have some questions about his size. But much like Russell Wilson, Murray is very smart about his body. He knows how to get out of bounds. He lives to play another down. If there’s a free hitter coming at him, he’ll just go down. He’ll slide in the open field. He knows how to shield himself after a throw.
“He’s the closest thing we’ve seen to a Michael Vick type of prospect, with maybe some Doug Flutie-like creativity thrown in as well.’’
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
6-4, 222 | Hands: 9 ½ inches | 40 time: NA | Vertical jump: NA | Broad jump: NA
Round projection: 4-5
Ben’s take: “Thorson was a little bit behind in the [evaluation] process because an ankle injury kept him out of the Senior Bowl and prevented him from throwing at the combine. He also tore his ACL at the end of the 2017 season, so there’s been some questions about him.
“But in a draft where there are some threshold questions about guys, like Murray’s size and Easton Stick and Trace McSorley’s size, Thorson looks the part of an NFL-style pocket-passing quarterback. He’s 6-4, 220 pounds. Big and broad. And I think teams are starting to realize he’s one of the draft’s better developmental quarterbacks.
“He has good poise in the pocket. Runs a lot of play-action concepts. Has good feel and rhythm. He was a four-year starter, but didn’t really improve after flashing as a freshman and sophomore. And you wonder about those guys that plateau and aren’t ascending. His completion percentage has always been around 60 percent, and he’s never really improved on that.
“But Northwestern didn’t have a lot of talent, and still were a competitive team with him as the starter, which I think says something about him and his ability to lift the talent around him.’’
Easton Stick, North Dakota St.
6-1, 224 | Hands: 9 ¼ inches | 40 time: 4.62 seconds | Vertical jump: 33.5 inches | Broad jump: 9-8
Round projection: 6-7
Ben’s take: “There are a bunch of quarterbacks in this draft that scouts are saying, ‘If they only were three inches taller ...’ Stick is one of those guys.
“He was a three-year captain at North Dakota State. He stepped in when Carson Wentz got hurt his senior year and went 8-0. They won the FCS national championship the last two years with him at quarterback.
“He has a similar style to Carson. Lot of quarterback runs [at North Dakota State]. Lot of under-center concepts. Lot of play-action stuff. Great command of the offense at the line of scrimmage. Good at setting protections.
“Just like Carson did when he was there, he got two plays at the line of scrimmage with either/or concepts, which is really great in showing a quarterback’s ability to read the defense, as opposed to being in a check-with-me offense like a lot of spread-offense quarterbacks.
“His 41 rushing touchdowns is impressive. You see the toughness. The knock is the size limitation. He’s 6-1. He has a thick body. But you just question the size, the frame. He doesn’t have the strongest arm. He’s not going to throw it like a 6-4 or 6-5 quarterback. But if there’s ever been a climate for a 6-1 quarterback to succeed, it’s today, with guys like Murray and Wilson and [Drew] Brees.
“Stick’s a lot like Jeff Garcia. Same size. Not a rocket for an arm. But a gamer. A tough guy. They’re not going to win with their arm. They’re going to win with their command and confidence and dual-threat ability that they bring to an offense.’’