This past week or so has seen a large spike in the number of underclassmen college football prospects declaring early for the NFL Draft, now that all the bowl games are over barring the National Title game. It hasn’t been a big surprise in truth, given the trend of the past few years over the sheer number that continue to forgo extra years of eligibility in favor of trying to make it in the pros.
Quarterbacks have been a notable feature of all the decisions being announced, including some surprises and questionable choices. However, and despite only one year of starting experience at the college level, the news that broke on Monday morning was not much of a surprise, as redshirt junior North Carolina Tar Heel Mitch Trubisky confirmed what many expected, and declared for the 2017 NFL Draft.
As is going to be the case for all of the bigger names as part of this QB class, all have their flaws and as a result, any ranking order of the early-projected quarterbacks – Trubisky, Kizer, Watson (was that a hint right there?) – will likely be met with objection from around two thirds of draft fans! We’ll get into the details of why, and the various positives and negatives seen in each prospect’s game, but Trubisky at this stage is currently atop the RealSport position rankings. To clarify though, not by much, and only with a late first round grade. The opinion remains that none of these guys are convincing as a top 5 draft pick, even though it seems likely that one or more end up highly selected on the first night of the draft.
A few thoughts on Trubisky's game
One year of experience as a starter is for sure the biggest negative on Trubisky. There’s very little in the way of being able to judge progress. What was encouraging about a prospect like Paxton Lynch in the last class was the improvements he made over the course of each of his three seasons starting, for example. There’s not much film to go on, and as impressive as the UNC quarterback was, he was not without a couple of very underwhelming performances in 2016.
Even so, there is so much to like about the overall package of projectable traits. The physical measurables are all there with a good build at 6ft 3, 220 lbs and excellent mobility, both in navigating the pocket and in breaking out into space. His technique, footwork and overall throwing mechanics are polished and sharp within a compact and quick release. The arm strength is not just there to hit at any level and from one side of the field to the other, but it’s easy and natural without having to force it using the rest of his body. His accuracy has been superb as a result of the mostly consistent motion and technique, completing 68.0% of his passes this year for 3,748 yards. His ball security was encouraging, throwing just six interceptions to 30 touchdown passes.
The mental game, with so little to go on once again, is uncertain. But for the most part, Trubisky looks composed and in control, confident in running his offense, basic though it is in some aspects. Some of the fourth quarter drives he led showed signs of clutch play under pressure, such as the last second comeback win over Pitt, and though it ultimately failed on the two-point conversion, that sensational final drive in the bowl defeat to Stanford that turned out to be his final moments as a Tar Heel.
Not everyone is going to be a fan of his, and wherever he ends up, some fans are going to be pessimistic over the choice and, as seems inevitable, how early he was chosen. There’s a lot of promise and upside however, even if the potential floor is also unknown.
Thoughts on the Trubisky news? Discuss in the comments below!