The first round is not the only place to get a quarterback. Of course, better quarterbacks tend to go higher, just like any other position, but some quality players slip through the cracks. Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Derek Carr, and Dak Prescott all come to mind as players who have had respectable (or better) careers as quarterbacks selected outside of the first round. The 2017 NFL Draft may follow suit in producing non-first round quarterback talent.
DeShone Kizer (Cleveland Browns)
Sashi Brown and the rest of the Browns front office hit a home run. After passing on DeShone Kizer twice at the end of the first round, it was unclear whether or not the Browns would want him, or any quarterback, on Day Two. Lo and behold, with the 20th pick in the second round (52nd overall), the Browns grabbed their quarterback of the future at an incredible value.
Kizer is arguably the best quarterback in the class. The first three quarterbacks selected (Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson) all have fair cases as QB1, but Kizer should not be left out of that conversation. Kizer has a stunning arm, an NFL build, impressive mental acuity, and a pro-ready feel for the pocket. In more ways than one, Kizer is built and ready-made for the NFL.
The Browns are a good fit for Kizer. From a personnel standpoint, the Browns are set up well to take in a rookie quarterback. The offensive line will be at least league average, Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell will provide help out of the backfield, and Kenny Britt, Corey Coleman, and first round pick tight end David Njoku will provide a functional and versatile receiving corps. As the cherry on top, head coach Hue Jackson is running the show and he is one of the NFL’s most brilliant offensive minds. He will do an excellent job of molding the offense to fit Kizer.
Cleveland also heads into this situation with a good deal of security. Kizer’s round two contract is cheaper than a first round contract and the Browns already have quarterback options in place if they do not feel Kizer is ready. The plan should be to move forward immediately with Kizer and work backwards from there if need be, but in the event the Browns don’t want to start Kizer, either Cody Kessler or Brock Osweiler can provide somewhat competent quarterback play for a short while in order to give Kizer a couple extra weeks or months of seasoning.
This is a perfect fit for both parties. Kizer, coming from a disastrous Brian Kelly-led Notre Dame environment, will need safety and comfort, both of which Jackson will provide as a head coach. Similarly, the Browns are a team interested in draft value and not overextending themselves in a way most teams would, so they were fortunate to end up with a starting quarterback outside of the first round.
Davis Webb (New York Giants)
This pick felt less shocking than it should have been. Despite Eli Manning likely having a couple years left in him, it appear the New York Giants front office is willing and ready to move on from Manning if the right option arises. ESPN’s Anita Marks reported the Giants did their best to move up for Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech, who ended up a Kansas City Chief. Additionally, the Giants were quietly linked to a number of quarterbacks early in the draft process, some of whom did not end up declaring. The Giants also signed Geno Smith earlier this off-season.
The selection of a mid-round quarterback makes sense for the Giants. They are a well run organization that perpetually builds a playoff caliber roster, so they have a sort of confidence and luxury to swing on a mid-round quarterback that other teams may not. If it works out for them, they have their guy for the next decade, or at least a decent guy to hold over the job until a legitimate starter comes along. In the event it doesn’t work out, the Giants will be out a pick, but they will recover just fine, as they often have.
Davis Webb, however, feels more like a squandered pick than an eventual starter. Webb was forced out of Texas Tech by Mahomes, leaving Webb to transfer to Cal for a year and finish his college career there. The obvious appeal with Webb is his arm and size. Webb measured in at 6’5″, 229 pounds at the NFL Combine and has a rocket launcher of an arm. He can sling the ball 60-70 yards down the field on a rope, as well as fit tight windows over the middle with enough velocity. At first glance, he’s an NFL quarterback.
As one dives further into Webb’s tape, it is a wasteland of inaccurate passing, inexcusable misreads, and frantic pocket movement. Cal watered down their offense with Webb at the helm, as opposed to leaving in the way it was with Jared Goff. Webb was asked to throw more screens, more easy quick game concepts, and more straight up vertical concepts. Cal played a North-South offense that didn’t test Webb’s ability to read, diagnose, and adapt at a volume that one could be comfortable with his skill set in situations where he did have to do those things. Webb will need work.
Luckily for Webb, the Giants’ offense is largely predicated on isolation routes and a spread-out passing attack. The Giants like to spread defenses out and bank on their skill players winning 1-on-1, which should give Webb more situations where he can simply pick a matchup pre-snap and roll with it. Regardless, the speed of the NFL is not something Webb is ready for right now and it will be interesting to see if the Giants ever get to a point where they are comfortable with playing him if they have to.
C.J. Beathard (San Francisco 49ers)
The 49ers drafting a mid-round quarterback is not a shocker, nor was the idea that there would be six quarterbacks drafted before the third day of the draft. Heck, even the notion that C.J. Beathard would be drafted this weekend is no surprise.
Rather than being selected at all, it is how high Beathard got selected that comes as a surprise, as he was largely regarded as a late-round option. Between playing in an under-center offense, appearing at the Senior Bowl, and having NFL bloodlines, Beathard was a near lock for some sort of selection because that’s how the NFL operates. Beathard shouldn’t have been a third round pick, though.
Beathard is a low-variance, low-ceiling type of player. He has experience executing West Coast concepts from an under-center starting point and has shown he can make adequate decisions in those spots, but Beathard seldom showed the ability to be more than a cog in the system. His arm is good (but not great) and his mobility is functional, though he does not have much of an aggressive mentality to make use of either of those assets to the degree that he could. Likewise, Beathard’s clock in the pocket ticks slow when he has to take deeper drops and read more of the field. He is primarily a quick game and half-field read type of quarterback.
In fairness to San Francisco, Beathard makes perfect sense for new head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan runs one of the most under-center offenses in the NFL and his offense is built upon inside/outside zone running, West Coast passing concepts, and two/three man vertical play-action concepts. Beathard is familiar with that style of offense and should have an easier transition than most other quarterbacks in this class would.
At the end of the day, the 49ers likely drafted a backup quarterback who they plan on stashing behind a legitimate starter that they will draft or trade for next off-season.