FLOWERY BRANCH — Here are the top 10 quarterback prospects (with projected draft round) for the 2016 NFL draft:
Carson Wentz, 6-foot-5, 237 pounds, North Dakota State (first): Wentz didn’t get any major college offers and went to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. He red-shirted his first season. He spent two more seasons as a reserve before winning the starting job as a junior. He led the Bison to two consecutive FCS titles. Wentz, an academic All-American, dazzled pro scouts at the Senior Bowl and wowed coaches and executives with his football smarts at the scouting combine. But his critics point out that he threw just 612 passes over his career.
Jared Goff, 6-4, 215, California (first): His father, Jerry Goff, was a Major League Baseball player (1990, 1992-1996). He was a four-star recruit and started all 37 games of his career for the Golden Bears. He led Cal to a 7-5 mark last season and passed for 4,719 yards and 43 touchdowns, completing 64.5 percent of his passes.
Paxton Lynch, 6-7, 244, Memphis (first): Was a late bloomer as a recruit. After impressing schools at an all-star game, he started to get some attention. Florida started to recruit him late, but selected another quarterback who had family ties to the program. Last season, he completed 296 of 444 passes for 3,778 yards and 28 touchdowns. He had a poor bowl game against Auburn after head coach Justin Fuente ran out on his team to take the Virginia Tech job. He’s the best athlete of the top-rated quarterbacks.
Connor Cook, 6-4, 217, Michigan State (second/ third): A lot was made during the predraft process of the fact that he wasn’t a captain and came off as an imbecile after the Big Ten championship when he disrespected Ohio State legend Archie Griffin. His lack of accuracy is a concern. He was never higher than 60 percent as a passer for the Spartans.
Dak Prescott, 6-2, 222, Mississippi State (fourth/ fifth): Ryane Dakota Prescott was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas, Maxwell, Manning and Davey O’Brien awards after his junior season. He was a productive quarterback for the Bulldogs as he holds 38 school records. However, he will need to improve his footwork to become an NFL quarterback.
Lynch, at 6-foot-7 and 244 pounds, is a big quarterback. Here’s his NFL.com draft profile.
While the hype around “dual threat” quarterbacks has subsided, Lynch possesses the size and athleticism to make NFL teams take a second look. Unlike other size/speed quarterbacks like Vince Young and Colin Kaepernick, Lynch prefers to extend passing plays with his feet rather than bolting from the pocket, but he is still likely to make plenty of plays with his feet over the long haul. Lynch shows the ability to read defenses and make smart decisions, but not yet at an NFL starting level. While he has the physical tools to start right away, a team who is willing to allow him to sit and study his craft for a year could reap maximum rewards in the future.
Here’s what scout told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bob McGinn about Lynch:
Paxton Lynch*, QB, Memphis: 6-7, 244. Fourth-year junior. “There’s stuff he doesn’t see but, boy, is he a great athlete for a big guy,” one scout said. “He’s got good feet and can make all the throws.” His NFL passer rating of 93.5 included 110.6 in 2015. “Big production in a lot of games, so-so in some others,” another scout said. “Pretty good athlete for a big kid. Excellent size. He’s got a big ceiling. It’s a weird group of quarterbacks. None of them are just ready-made and none of them show consistency. They’re good, solid starters. None of them are Pro Bowl-caliber type quarterbacks. I would take (Jameis) Winston and (Marcus) Mariota over these guys. No question.”
After Peyton Manning retired and the Broncos lost Brock Osweiler in free agency, the Broncos traded up to land Lynch. They gave Seattle a third-round selection (No. 94) to move up five spots to the No. 26 slot.
Lynch started three seasons for the Tigers and completed 758 of 1,205 passes (63 percent) for 8,863 yards and 59 touchdowns over 38 career games. He also rushed for 687 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Noah Coslov talk about the Falcons two-week trip out west, the impact of losing LB Sean Weatherspoon and how to attack Denver’s vaunted defense on Sunday.
GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33
GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32
GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28
GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24