NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held his annual pre-Combine conference call on Monday. He was on the phone for over two hours talking about a whole range of topics. Quarterback got plenty of discussion, and he made it clear he is not a huge fan of this year’s quarterback class. He says none of them are ready to start on day one, and he would not use a top ten pick on any of them.
His class of potential first rounders include Mitch Trubisky, DeShaun Watson, and DeShone Kizer, with Patrick Mahomes gaining steam in his estimation. While he is not particularly high on many of the first round options, he does see some developmental talent to be had later in day two and on day three.
Among the longer-range developmental options, Mayock suggested a handful of quarterbacks, including Brad Kaaya, Josh Dobbs, Davis Webb, and Nate Peterman. He also mentioned Chad Kelly as a second-round talent, but the off-field issues dropped him. Here are a few segments of his call discussing quarterbacks.
When asked what the Kansas City Chiefs could do at the QB position, he included this:
I think Brad Kaaya from Miami and Josh Dobbs from Tennessee are the two quarterbacks I would classify as having some talent, but kind of long-range, developmental prospects. But they have talent. So if you took a guy like that in the third round, for instance, and tried to develop him, I think that would be a pretty good plan. I also think in general that the free agent quarterback class is going to be a little more intriguing to some teams this year than in typical.
He was later asked what the Arizona Cardinals might do with Carson Palmer nearing the end of his career. Mayock mentioned Kaaya and Dobbs, and then offered up some thoughts on Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes.
Another person I'd throw in there who is probably a third-round pick is Davis Webb from Cal, transfer from Texas Tech who was the MVP of the Senior Bowl. Played in the same Cal offense that Jared Goff did. He's very much a spread guy. He's not ready to play, but he's a big guy. He's got a live arm. He's got good enough feet. He's another guy I would really like to develop.
There is a lot of conversation with Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech. He's different. He's a gunslinger. He's got an innate feel for the game. The more I look at him, the more I'm pushing him higher and closer to that first-round conversation with Kizer, Watson, and Trubisky. So I think Mahomes is picking up steam in NFL circles.
I think you could get Webb perhaps in the third round, and then I think Kaaya and Dobbs are the guys as far as developmental guys if you're not going to try to trade for a quarterback, like a Garoppolo or Romo, et cetera.
He went into a little further detail on Kaaya later in the call, offering up this scouting report:
I think he's a talented kid. He's got the prototypical size. He makes three to five throws per game that are awesome. That you sit back and go, Yep, that's it. That's it. That's NFL. Then you watch the pocket mechanics break down, and I think he starts to panic a little bit when he sees a flash of color from the other team. He starts to hurry his throws and ends up with poor locations and poor decisions. When he has clear vision and clean feet, he's really good. But it's the pocket mechanics. I think it's going to take him a little bit of time.
Finally, when asked about some middle-round options that stood out, he offered one other sleeper in the form of Pitt QB Nate Peterman.
[T]he other guy that is a little like Kirk Cousins is Nate Peterman from Pitt. And I've had a lot of people tell me that is who he is. He's similar, focused, dedicated. Don't have a big arm, but has enough arm that he throws with anticipation and timing. He's the kind of guy that might be a lower-level starter.
The 49ers have a lot of decisions to make at the quarterback position, starting next week in free agency. If they are able to land a Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, a longer-term development option makes sense. However, if Kyle Shanahan is not a big fan of the first round options, the development route could be the way they go either way. And even if they do draft a quarterback in the first or second round, a day three option would make sense to max out the depth chart.