Draft season never ends. Although the lights have turned off at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago and the lectern has been put away, teams are already setting their boards. With that in mind, Mark Schofield has an early look at the top QBs in the 2016 NFL draft.
Ohio State Quarterbacks: A Three-Headed QB Monster
Ohio State enters the 2015 campaign as defending National Champions with a wealth of talent at nearly every position. Nowhere is this more evident than its embarrassment of riches at the QB position. Three players return to Columbus with a claim to the starting position based on previous performance.
Senior Braxton Miller earned the starting job as a freshman and entered last season as a three-year starter and potential Heisman candidate. But a preseason shoulder injury put him on the shelf for the entire season, forcing Urban Meyer to turn to backup J.T. Barrett. The true freshman responded by turning in a tremendous performance for the Buckeyes, completing more than 64% of his passes for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns. But he suffered an injury in the regular-season finale.
Next up was sophomore Cardale Jones. All the third-string QB did was throw for five touchdowns in Ohio State’s final three games, all victories (59-0 over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, 42-35 over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and 42-20 over Oregon in the National Championship Game). On this play against the Ducks, Jones checks of many of the boxes scouts look for in their evaluations. Facing 3rd and 5 deep in their own territory, the QB hangs in the pocket and lets the route develop before delivering a strong throw on the deep out route for a first down conversion:
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This is a great play-call and an even better throw from Jones. Oregon shows pressure coverage on the outside but retreats into a Cover 3 shell. With trips to the right the Buckeyes run a bubble screen look but the two outside trips receivers run a perfect play to beat the coverage: The outside receiver runs a deep go route to hold the CB and FS in position, while the middle trips receiver runs a deep out route. The pattern is very similar to a play discussed many times on this site. Cardale displays patience to let the route develop, and puts the ball right where it needs to be, driving the football to the outside. This is an NFL-caliber read and throw from Jones.
All three quarterbacks are back for the 2015 season, but only one will handle the majority of snaps. The player who does will have a talented offense around him and a chance to display his impressive talents on the national stage each week. As of this article, Jones appears to have the inside track on the starting job – and perhaps a first-round draft selection next April.
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