As the NFL playoffs wind to its thrilling conclusion, we are reminded once again (although we didn’t need the playoffs to tell us Brock Lobster
ain’t winning a Super Bowl) that elite QB play is essential to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. While some teams are able to find that signal caller at the top of the draft with varying degrees of success – Matt Ryan (Round 1, Pick 3), Big Ben (1, 12) Aaron (1, 24), Eli (1,1), Matt Stafford (1, 1), Alex Smith (1,1), Ryan Tannehill (1,8) – Many others have found success in round 2 and later – Derek Carr (2, 39), Everyday I’m Russellin (3, 75), Dak (4, 135), & of course Tommy Terrific (6, 199).
Now while most of the playoff teams feel at least somewhat comfortable with their QB1, most squads that have already ‘gone fishin’ are frantically searching for their answer including but not limited to: Bears, Vikings, Cardinals, 49ers, Jets, Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Texans, Broncos, as well as teams that will need to soon replace their older QBs: Giants, Saints, Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, and Chiefs.
So, who will find their Carr, Wilson, Prescott, and maybe even Brady (incredibly unlikely)? And, more importantly, who will take the mantle as the next Clipboard Jesus:
The next Carr – Chad ‘Swag’ Kelly, Ole’ Miss
The pre-draft scouting reports of Derek Carr & Chad Kelly are eerily similar. Kelly, like Carr, has top end arm strength and can fit a ball in the tightest of windows with astounding ease. He also flashes impressive athleticism, executing the zone read consistently and effectively. Kelly is comfortable escaping the pocket, throwing on the run, and anticipating his receivers breaks.
The negatives are also somewhat similar to Carr, in that Kelly will trust his arm too much at times, and is willing to try to make the exceptional play even if that results in disaster. Watch the first play in the above highlight tape, and you’ll immediately see the gunslinger mentality that has NFL scouts both intrigued and terrified of Kelly’s skill set. It’s clear that no one will tame his aggressiveness, but is that a good thing?
The Carr comparisons don’t end there, as Kelly also has NFL bloodlines with Uncle Jim a legendary QB and Hall of Famer with the 4 time Super Bowl loser Bills.
So, why is Kelly projected to be a day 3 pick (if not undrafted)? It’s due to a litany of off-field issues, from getting kicked out of Clemson, to getting arrested for disorderly conduct at a Buffalo nightclub and telling the police “I’m going to go to my car and get my AK-47 and spray this place”, to (drunkenly?) rushing the field at his kid brother’s high school football game, to trying (and failing) to slide into pornstar Mia Khalifa’s DM’s:
On top of all that, Kelly also has significant injury concerns, twice tearing his ACL, including this past season ending it prematurely.
Likelihood of becoming the next Carr:
On-field – 9/10
Off-field – 2/10
Overall – 5/10 – If Kelly can keep his head on straight, and keep his DM sliding in the DMs, he has a great chance of becoming a successful QB. However, it remains to be seen whether a team will give him that chance.
The next Wilson – Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech
While this may not be a perfect comp, Mahomes has some similarities to Wilson, and is my favorite day 2/3 QB in the draft. While height is not as dramatic an ‘issue’ as it was for Wilson coming out (Mahomes is listed at 6’2″, but I’ll be looking for the official combine listing), he still almost exclusively operates out of the shotgun running Ryan Gosl…I mean Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid attack.
Like Wilson, Mahomes has a cannon for an arm, with his baseball fastball topping out at 93 MPH (for those that don’t know Wilson was drafted by the Texas Rangers). Mahomes also demonstrates great touch when needed and fluctuates the speed & force of the ball depending on where he needs to fit the ball.
Mahomes is most comfortable throwing quick hitters to his first read (more because of the offense he was running than a knock on his ability to move through his progressions), but consistently shows the ability to escape the pocket with his plus athleticism, speed and pocket presence. Like Wilson, Mahomes’ preference is always to make plays with his arm on the move, rather than tuck & run. Check out the play at the 0:28 second mark above, and you’ll see the knack for ‘backyard’ football type of play that Wilson has made commonplace. He does a phenomenal job of keeping his eyes downfield and resetting his feet before targeting his receiver.
So why isn’t Mahomes a round 1 selection? Honestly, I’m not sure. The constant knock I hear is that he didn’t play in a ‘Pro’ style offense, which, in my opinion, is shitty & lazy scouting. These are the same knocks I was reading about Prescott last year, and we all saw how that turned out.
Likelihood of becoming the next Wilson:
8.5/10 – I love Mahomes, and if it wasn’t for my affinity for Deshaun Watson, he’d be my #1 signal caller in this class. I’d be more surprised than not if he doesn’t at least turn into a capable NFL starter, and he has all the tools to become much, much more than that.
The next Prescott – Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin University
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?! Now this is why you come here, for the DEEP dives. From tiny Tiffin University, Antonio Pipkin put up STATS in his 4 years with the Dragons (Chris Ivory’s alma mater) to the tune of 13,147 total yards & 88 total touchdowns. Now while anyone that’s on the NFL radar while playing DII needs to put up absurd stats like that, Pipkin has put together tape that jumps off the screen as someone that can translate his skill set to the elite competition of the NFL.
Originally, I was thinking of putting the U’s Brad Kaaya here, but the comp simply didn’t fit, and Kaaya’s decision making & accuracy can be erratic at times especially under pressure. As we saw game in, game out this year, Dak showed a maturity far beyond his years and rarely made mistakes to put his team in a position to lose. Pipkin shows many of these traits, and makes up for his lack of elite arm strength with tremendous touch, accuracy, and anticipation to throw his receivers open. Pipkin sells the play action like a vet, and is willing to step up in the pocket to buy time and make defenders miss.
On the downside, Pipkin does show the tendency to tuck & run a little too often for my taste, and relying on that athleticism as much as he does simply won’t cut it in the N(ot)F(or)L(ong). Pipkin can throw some very nice balls on the move though, and like Prescott, does a great job of keeping his eyes down field. Prescott also showed a similar tendency to tuck & run often in college, and perhaps it was more due to a lack of talent around him than an inditement of his ability.
We’ll learn a lot more about Pipkin at the Senior Bowl on 1/28 as it will be interesting to see how he fares against better competition and how he takes to the NFL Senior Bowl coaching.
Likelihood of becoming the next Prescott:
5.5/10 – While I like a lot of Pipkin’s game, it’s simply extremely difficult to project a QB’s skill set from DII to the NFL. Carson Wentz from North Dakota State was at least able to showcase himself against a couple big DI schools each year, and Pipkin never had that opportunity (otherwise we might be talking about an early Day 2 QB here). While we might not see the immediate ascendance that Prescott showed his rookie year, don’t be surprised if Pipkin is given the keys to a franchise in the next few years.
The next Brady – N/A
Let’s be real, if I could predict the next Tom Brady I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this fucking article. Beyond that, I think the later round QBs are pretty weak this year, and we likely will never see another Brady in our lifetimes.
The next Clipboard Jesus –
Candidate 1: Bart Houston, Wisconsin
The flow – 7/10
The beard – 0/10
Likelihood of becoming the next Clipboard Jesus – 2.5/10 – His face is too punchable to be the next Clipboard Jesus.
Candidate 2: Cooper Rush, Central Michigan
The flow – 1/10
The beard – 6.5/10
Likelihood of becoming the next Clipboard Jesus – 1.5/10 – Gingers almost certainly cannot be the next Clipboard Jesus.
Candidate 3: Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
The flow – 3.5/10
The beard – 5.5/10
Likelihood of becoming the next Clipboard Jesus – 6.5/10 – While he may not show the traits now, the potential is there for young Zach to take up the great Charlie Whitehurst’s mantle.
Coming soon – RBs