The San Francisco 49ers have some things to figure out with regard to Jimmy Garoppolo, but odds are pretty good he will be their quarterback this fall, and hopefully long into the future. It also helps that the 49ers appear to have found a very capable backup in C.J. Beathard. He struggled at times, but for a rookie with low expectations, it was a solid first season.
That does not preclude the 49ers from drafting a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. They will almost assuredly not be spending their first round pick on one of the big names, and it seems likely they will not be spending a day two pick either. But on day three, it would not be entirely surprising to see them invest a late pick in a developmental prospect. It is possible Beathard entering only his second season could keep them away from the quarterback talent. However, the quarterback position is so critical that it would not be surprising to see them add more talent to compete.
This past weekend, the Senior Bowl was highlighted for many by the first round showdown between quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. However, Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta might have helped his stock the most.
Lauletta was relatively unknown heading into the week, but he made the most of his situation, claiming game MVP honors. He finished Saturday completing 8-of-12 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Draft analyst Rob Rang broke down his performance on the day.
Though he won’t be drafted as early as many of the other prospects on this list, no player took better advantage of the big stage than Lauletta, who led all quarterbacks with 198 passing yards and three touchdowns on 8-of-12 passing in the South’s 45-16 win, earning MVP honors. The 6-3, 217-pound Lauletta found a wide-open Chark for a 75-yard touchdown to spark his big day but his next two scoring tosses were even more impressive, threading the needle on short touchdowns to Western Kentucky tight end Deon Yelder and Oklahoma State wideout Marcel Ateman. As noted on the telecast, Lauletta initially looked to his back on the touchdown to Yelder, sliding to his left to buy time before firing a strike away from the defender and forcing the tight end to extend his arms and make a tough grab. The throw to Ateman — a post delivered between a trailing corner and closing safety — also showed the confidence, velocity and accuracy that no doubt will have scouts investigating him further.
While Lauletta shined for the North team, Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White shined for the South team. He finished the day 8-of-11 for 128 yards and a touchdown. Rang had this to say about his performance.
After Mayfield and Allen dominated the conversation throughout the week of practice, it was the 6-4, 221-pound White who played the role of star quarterback early on. White completed 8 of 11 passes overall for 128 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown to Central Florida’s Tre’Quan Smith in which the quarterback froze the safety, gazing down the middle before turning to his left and delivering a strike on the slant to his slot receiver. White also completed impressive throws to the perimeter, standing tall against a collapsing pocket to complete out routes to the sideline, including two to Smith. His most impressive throw of the day came in the first quarter with a perfectly lofted deep ball up the left sideline to Chark for a gain of 63 yards, approximately 50 of which came through the air.
Lauletta and White are two names that will be on my own radar heading into the Combine and Pro Day workouts over the next two months. I don’t watch much college football, and particularly when it comes to smaller school prospects. So I imagine I am way behind the curve when it comes to some of these names. But, in my slow-building process of figuring out names, the Senior Bowl has offered me some building blocks. I’m not going to get irrationally attached to these guys based on solid Senior Bowl performances, but it gives me some reason to consider more about them between now and late April.