Taking an early look at QB prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft
Trevone Boykin, Senior, TCU
A dual-threat quarterback from a school in Texas with Heisman potential...sound familiar? It should. Boykin is a weapon in both the passing game and the running game: He threw for 33 scores and ran for eight in 2014 for the Horned Frogs, and he's reaching the end zone often so far as a senior, too. His draft prospects aren't anywhere near as high as Robert Griffin III's once were, however, as he lacks the size and arm strength most people look for in pro passers. He'll be a late-round pick, but his athleticism will surely intrigue the fans of whatever team takes him.
Jacoby Brissett, Senior, N.C. State
After attempting only a handful of passes for two seasons at Florida, Brissett transferred to N.C. State before 2013 and took hold of the starting job in 2014 after sitting out a year. And in his first collegiate campaign as a starter, he performed admirably, completing just under 60 percent of his passes while throwing for more than 2,600 yards and 23 touchdowns (to just five interceptions). Brissett's off to an even better start as a senior, though: He's posted a 77.9 percent completion rate, tossed six touchdowns and hasn't been picked off yet through the Wolfpack's first four contests. Projected by most to be a mid-round selection in 2016, Brissett has a chance to climb up draft boards if he continues at the pace he's on.
Connor Cook, Senior, Michigan State
Could Cook take the reins from fellow Spartan and current Redskins starter Kirk Cousins in 2016? It's certainly possible, but Washington would likely have to pay a premium to get him; he'll probably be a first-round pick in next April's draft. This year is his third season as the head signal caller for Michigan State, and he's been consistent throughout: His completion percentage has been between 58 and 59 since taking over in 2013, and his 22:6 and 24:8 TD/INT ratios as a sophomore and junior reflect his sound decision making. His senior year is off to a strong start, too, and his win over Oregon will look nice on his resume. His name should come up often in the coming months when people start discussing their favorite prospects.
Josh Dobbs, Junior, Tennessee
Dobbs has played in 15 games for the Vols in his career so far, and in those 15 games he's thrown 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The 6'3" Georgia native is also capable of tucking the ball and running, as proven by his eight rushing touchdowns as a sophomore. He may elect to stay in school for another year, but if he keeps learning and developing, he could be an interesting draft prospect for a team looking for a new quarterback.
Jared Goff, Junior, California
Goff's been the No. 1 guy at Cal since setting foot on campus, and was the first true freshman in school history to start the season at quarterback. One quick look at his prolific numbers show why that decision was an easy one: His 3,500+ passing yards as a freshman were followed up by almost 4,000, and he nearly doubled his number of passing touchdowns from his freshman year to his sophomore year (18 to 35). The junior has already been slinging the ball around plenty in 2015, too, as he's in the top 10 in the nation for both passing yards and scores through four weeks. If he keeps this up, Goff may just be the first prospect to hear his name called in the 2016 draft.
Christian Hackenberg, Junior, Penn State
The big Penn State passer has all the talent in the world, but he's had a rough past few seasons. Hackenberg looked solid as a freshman with the Nittany Lions, but when many were looking him to step forward as a sophomore, he stumbled: The 6'4" QB threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (12) in 2014, and was sacked an astonishing 44 times. Unfortunately, 2015 hasn't been much better for him, as his completion percentage is dropping for a third straight year and he's tossed just four scores through four games. The raw skills are certainly there, and some team will still undoubtedly take a chance on him. Whether that chance pays off, though, is a massive question.
Kevin Hogan, Senior, Stanford
The successor to Andrew Luck, Hogan has followed up the Colts star's winning ways with the Cardinal. The fifth-year senior's numbers don't exactly jump off the page (his career high in passing touchdowns is 20 and his highest yardage total is 2,792) but he's played in a pro-style offense for a long time and has won a lot of games in the Pac-12. He's a guy who'll be mentioned only after the bigger names have been, but he'll go in the later rounds on the draft and have a chance to find a niche in the NFL.
Cody Kessler, Senior, USC
Another Pac-12 player, Kessler has been a standout at USC: His lowest completion percentage since becoming the Trojan starter before the 2013 season is 65.4, and his 2014 campaign, where he threw for 39 touchdowns against only five picks, was sparkling. Currently the NCAA's sixth-leading passer, Kessler will likely be a third or fourth-round choice come April. Will he be the next in a long line of USC signal callers to carve out a long career in the NFL?
Gunner Kiel, Junior, Cincinnati
Kiel only has one full season as a starter under his belt, but that season (2014) was a productive one: 3,254 yards and 31 touchdowns. Once ranked as the best high school QB in the nation, Kiel will need to improve on those stats in 2015 (a 5:5 TD/INT ratio thus far isn't a promising beginning) and then have to decide whether he wants to make the leap to the pros or return to the Bearcats for his senior year. Keep an eye on Kiel moving forward.
Cardale Jones, Junior, Ohio State
When injuries ravaged the Ohio State quarterbacking corps, Jones got a chance to show what he could do — and he delivered in a huge way. After looking phenomenal in the season's last three games and leading his Buckeyes to a national title in 2014, Jones has had an up-and-down follow-up campaign, but there's no denying his extremely high upside. It's on his shoulders to keep the starting job the rest of the way (the presence of J.T. Barrett will make that tough) and put together a complete 2015. If he does that, he could be a top-five draft pick.