The 2016 Heisman Trophy will be presented Saturday evening at 5 p.m. PT, airing on ESPN. You’ll be able to watch via live stream at WatchESPN. This year’s finalists are Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Michigan safety/linebacker Jabrill Peppers, and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook. Jackson is a huge betting favorite.
There are plenty of arguments to be made about who deserved to be there over some of these players, but for now, these are the finalists. With that in mind, I thought this Heisman open thread could also serve as a discussion of the draft prospects for the five players.
Mayfield has already announced he plans on returning to college in 2017. Jackson just finished up his sophomore season, so he is ineligible to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. Clemson Dabo Swinney said Watson plans on entering the draft. Meanwhile, Peppers is expected to declare for the draft and Westbrook is a redshirt senior.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay took some time to break down each of the five finalists. They discussed what each player does well, where they can improve, and where they might be drafted. Here’s a look at some of what they said about each player.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Neither is sure if he will be a quarterback due to what they see as questionable throwing mechanics.
Kiper: It's impossible to project at this point because I don't know what position he'll play.
McShay: I'm in the same boat. Jackson is only 20 and could stay in school two more years. A lot can happen in two years.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Both are concerned he did not take a step forward, and Kiper thinks he took a step back this season. They worry about his intermediate-to-deep accuracy, and Kiper thinks at 6’2, 210 pounds, he lacks ideal size.
Kiper: Second- or third-round pick.
McShay: Agree. Day 2.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Both agree it was a good decision for him to return, but they don’t think he has the size to take similar punishment in the NFL. They look at the big numbers as partially a product of the quality of opponent.
Kiper: Third- or fourth-round pick.
McShay: Day 3.
Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
They compare him to Deone Bucannon, who is a nickel, safety, OLB hybrid. Both see him as a guy not all 32 teams will like, but they think he is a special athlete.
McShay: First half of the first round.
Kiper: Top-10 pick.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
They raise concerns about his deep speed, and think the Senior Bowl and Combine could have a significant impact on his draft stock.
McShay: Mid-round pick.
Kiper: Second-round pick.