Category 2: The “Mid-tier” guys
Players: Connor Cook, Christian Hackenberg, Dak Prescott, Cardale Jones and Kevin Hogan.
Explanation: Although it’s unlikely any of these QB’s slip into the first round of the Draft, there’s plenty of staring-caliber potential in this crop of prospects. If the Broncos succeed in trading for Colin Kaepernick or can’t secure one of the top three prospects at the position, I expect one of these signal callers to become a Bronco in late April.
Player: Connor Cook
Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd round
Attitude, attitude, attitude. Despite playing in a Pro-Style offense and having a successful college career at Michigan State, there are plenty of red flags surrounding Cook. The first of which is demonstrated below.
Really? And you want that guy leading an NFL team? Another thing to keep in mind regarding Cook is that despite being the starter for a few seasons with the Spartans, he was NEVER selected as a team captain. I know that they have a tradition of having a “captain committee” that elects new captains for every game and he was on that committee, but to me, it’s still a red flag for a QB. How can a player in that position be entrenched as the starter for that long, yet never receive a cemented status as a team leader? That’s concerning.
Aside from the question marks surrounding his intangibles, Cook has a reputation for folding under pressure. Case in point, he played a horrible game against Alabama to close out the season when championship contention was on the line (19 for 39 with 210 yards and 2 int’s). To me, he’s Jimmy Clausen 2.0 and like Clausen, he’ll probably be picked in the late 2nd or 3rd round and could be a decent starter for a few years in the NFL, but he’ll never become a solidified NFL starter in my book. Time will tell, but so far, I don’t like what I see from the former Spartan. Hopefully the Broncos feel the same way and pass on Cook.
Player: Christian Hackenberg
Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd round
Hackenberg is the most puzzling QB in this draft. On one hand, he’s shown potential to be a Franchise QB and the best QB in this entire draft. On the other hand, his inconsistencies make him look like an undraftable prospect at times. After having a successful freshman season under current
Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien, Hackenberg’s game and reputation have taken a nose dive.
Under new coach James Franklin, the Nittany Lions employed a spread offense that was completely incompatible with Hackenberg’s skill set.
A natural fit in a drop back, pro style scheme, Hackenberg struggled behind a horrendous offensive line and dearth of talent at the skill positions around him. Nobody took a bigger beating in college the last two years than Hackenberg has and because of that, his fundamentals have regressed.
One thing about Hackenberg that could be appealing to NFL teams is how he’s endured tough situations. When Hackenberg committed to Penn State, they were still in the midst of the sex abuse scandal that took the nation by storm.
A highly touted prospect coming out of High School, Hackenberg could have easily gone elsewhere and avoided that drama. He also could have transferred to another school after O’Brien left. Point is, this guy didn’t quit or walk away from things when the going got tough.
You have to admire a guy that is willing to hang in there and take the hits, on and off the field. To combine that with his size, arm talent, age (he just turned 21) and pro style experience, Hackenberg could prove to be a great pick if he can go to the right situation. If the Broncos haven’t selected a QB until the 3rd round and Hackenberg is there when they make one of their two picks in that round, I think they should go for it. With our coaching staff and pieces around him, he could be very successful with some seasoning in the Mile High City.
Player: Dak Prescott
Draft Projection: late 2nd-4th round
Prescott only got better with time, as demonstrated on the stat sheet and W-L column over his years at Mississippi State. A great athlete dedicated to improving his craft, Prescott earned praise for his consistent improvement as a QB and shows all of the necessary traits that are required to be
successful in the NFL. The Broncos have reportedly shown quite a bit of interest in Prescott and that makes sense. A rugged QB (6’2, 226 lbs) with his kind of athleticism and arm talent could be lethal in the Broncos offense. There may be one problem with Prescott, though.
This past weekend, Prescott was arrested and charged with suspicion of DUI. The timing couldn’t have been much worse for the former Bulldog. It’s one thing to have the bad judgement to drink and drive but it’s another to do it the night before you’re scheduled to participate in a football camp for kids.
Yeah, that’s what happened. Despite the horrible lapse in judgement, I could get over this one incident if it’s isolated but unfortunately, this isn’t the first off-field incident Prescott has had.
He was also involved in a fight while on spring break last year that resulted in leaving Prescott with lacerations on his body. In regards to his prospects with the Broncos, I wouldn’t necessarily take him off of their draft board just yet. I mean, this is a team that’s spent consecutive first round picks on players that had off-field incidents in college (Roby and Ray) and both have turned into fine players for the team.
This could certainly drop Prescott’s stock a bit, but I don’t think it’ll destroy his NFL chances. I could still see him on the Broncos radar, specifically under one scenario. If they are able to trade for Kaepernick, they will need another QB on the roster with a similar skill-set and quite frankly, a “plan b” option for the Broncos at the position in case Kaepernick falters. If that doesn’t happen, it’ll be interesting to see how he moves forward with potentially becoming a Bronco. He could be a good starter in this league, but he definitely needs to keep his nose clean off of the field and go to a coaching staff that has an offense compatible with his abilities.
Player: Cardale Jones
Draft Projection: 3rd-4th round
Jones is the proverbial “lump of clay” at the position. He is raw as you could be for the pros at the position, but his upside is astounding. With the size of a TE and arguably the strongest arm in the
class, Jones has mile high potential. After finishing the 2014 Championship season as the Buckeye’s starting QB, Jones’ opponents caught up with him in 2015 and he was promptly benched by mid-season.
Like his potential, his list of deficincies are also a mile high. His pocket presence, accuracy, football IQ and maturity all need an upgrade if he has any plans of being successful in the NFL. For the Broncos, he only makes sense under the same condition as Prescott.
If they can get Kaepernick and they want a developmental prospect behind him, then Jones would be a good prospect to work with as a late 3rd or 4th round pick. If not, I have a hard time seeing a fit with the Broncos.
Player: Kevin Hogan
Draft Projection: Late 3rd-5th round
It’s one thing to be a part of a program that has two legends at your position (Elway and Plunkett) but to replace arguably the best QB prospect coming out of college since Elway (Luck) and break most of their records in the process? That’s nuts.
Yeah, that’s what Kevin Hogan did. He has good size, adequate arm, underrated athleticism, great leadership, savant-like football IQ and he’s a winner. So why is he not rated higher? Let’s start with his mechanics.
Hogan has one of the worst throwing motions I’ve ever seen. Because of this, his footwork will get sloppy at times and it really shows up in his game. For as much success as he’s had with Stanford, he’s also had his fair share of bad performances.
Due to the great amount of talent around him, Hogan has been slapped with the dreaded “game manager” label and never really showed the ability to “take over games”.
Despite all of the deficiencies, teammates rave about his leadership, IQ and attitude. There’s no doubt that he’s beloved by his coaches and teammates, alike. His pro-style experience, winning record, competitiveness and football IQ will give him a chance to be an NFL player for many years. The question is, will it ever be as a starter?
It’s too early to say if he’ll be able to become a great NFL QB, but if he does, I kind of see him as a Phillip Rivers type of player (except with better mobility and not as mouthy). I really like Hogan and would love to see him in Denver, but I don’t know if we’re in the position to take a gamble on a prospect like him.
In my opinion, we either need a sure fire starter or a guy with a ton of upside that needs some polish. I’m rooting for Hogan in the NFL, but I don’t know if he fits with the Broncos at this time.
Next: Late Round Potential