Quarterback is the most important position in football. It is the player with the most responsibility of any player on the team. They are responsible for knowing every player’s assignment offensively on every play in the playbook, as well as being tasked with diagnosing what the defense is doing and making the correct reads and adjustments to lead their team to victory.
Most drafts have one or two quarterbacks that end up being better than average, which is what makes the 1983 QB class so revered as it produced 3 QB’s who were not only better than average, but are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While I am not comparing the Season 22 QB class to the 1983 class, it does contain 5 quarterbacks who have the potential to be above average CFL quarterbacks.
Quarterback #1 – Grant Kemp 6’4” 226 lbs Stanford
Coming into this past college season, Kemp was considered to be the next generational quarterback. The kind of quarterback you would seriously consider tanking for. Unfortunately for Kemp, he had a less than stellar season for the PAC 12 champion Stanford Cardinal. While he has the size of a prototypical CFL quarterback, this last season has shown he does not have prototypical CFL QB arm strength which has been the biggest thing that has knocked him down from being the consensus #1 QB off the board, to another QB who needs to have a great Combine and Pro Day to stand out from the rest of the QBs in the draft.
Best Case: Kirk Cousins
Most Likely: Alex Smith
Worst Case: Blaine Gabbert
Like Alex Smith, Kemp doesn’t have a huge arm, but it is strong enough to make all the throws needed in the CFL. While his arm strength is certainly a detraction, Kemp makes up for it with near elite accuracy on short throws under 20 yards. He has also shown a penchant for extending the play and throwing strikes on the run.
Quarterback #2 – Charles Erickson 6’2” 220 lbs Nebraska
Erickson has always been linked at the hip with Grant Kemp as they both came out of Nevada and were ranked as the #1 and #2 QBs coming out of high school. Erickson plays very much like Kemp does, but he does everything just slightly worse than Kemp and has fallen behind when it comes to their draft potential. Erickson will need to be in the right system to fulfill his potential as he will struggle with a coach who asks him to throw downfield. Erickson showed above average speed for a QB at the combine, which matches up with his college tape which shows him being one of the best QBs in college when throwing from outside the pocket.
Best Case: Eli Manning
Most Likely: Andy Dalton
Worst Case: Christian Ponder
Erickson’s best case comp being Eli Manning is not a slight like it may appear at first. Manning is a 4 Pro Bowler and has 2 Super Bowl titles. While he may not have ever been a top 5 in the league type of quarterback, he has been an above average player for most of his career. Erickson figures to have a similar career if he can find himself in a favorable situation where he can rely on a run game and a playmaker or two at WR to do the heavy lifting. He has above average mobility and accuracy within 20 yards, and although he can struggle with deeper throws he can make them accurately from time to time. His skill set entering the draft sets up nicely for a team that runs a West Coast style offense.
Quarterback #3 – Reed Tyler 6’4” 233 lbs Notre Dame
Reed Tyler is the most CFL ready quarterback entering the draft this year, although he is also the oldest of the QBs covered in this article as he is a 24 year old Redshirt Senior. Standing 6’4” and weighing 233 pounds he has the prototypical size that teams look for in franchise cornerstones. He also has the kind of big arm that gives scouts wet dreams. Tyler put up impressive, but not mind-blowing numbers in his 2 years as a starter for the Irish. He showed the ability to push the ball downfield and find his receivers open for big gains as he posted an NCAA leading 12.1 Yards per Passing Attempt.
Best Case: Ben Roethlisberger
Most Likely: Joe Flacco
Worst Case: Geno Smith
Tyler has the size and arm strength to draw the comparisons to both Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, the difference in which he ends up closer to will depend on his ability to minimize his mistakes. He has all the arm talent in the world, but in order to reach his peak potential he will need to develop controlled aggression, taking his shots downfield when they are there, and not trying to force passes on short throws which is something that leads to overthrows and interceptions.
Quarterback #4 – Mario Tufts 6’4” 234 lbs Wisconsin
It is not every year that a quarterback from Wisconsin is considered a legitimate CFL prospect, but Tufts is exactly that. He has near identical size to the above mentioned Tyler, with an arm just as strong. Despite his prototypical size and strength, Tufts plays a bit more of a finesse style compared to Tyler. While Tufts has a strong arm and great accuracy downfield, he has shown a better ability to take something off his throws in order to make the shorter throws; this lead to him having a higher completion percentage inside 10 yards when compared to Tyler.
Best Case: Aaron Rodgers
Most Likely: Donovan McNabb
Worst Case: Jay Cutler
Tufts is without a doubt my #1 quarterback in the draft as he possesses the best combination of size, arm talent and intangibles among all draft eligible QBs. He has the biggest potential to reach elite QB status in the draft, while also possessing a relatively high floor. He has too much arm talent to be a complete flop, and is very likely to be considered an above average QB in the league after his rookie season.
Quarterback #5 – Cameron Fischer 6’1” 218 lbs Pittsburgh
Fischer is an interesting draft prospect as he is the most athletic QB with any shot to be a legitimate starting caliber QB. He does not have prototypical size, nor does he have a huge arm. What he does have is elite speed for the position, average arm strength, and a penchant for using his athleticism to create big plays.
Best Case: Steve Young
Most Likely: Kordell Stewart
Worst Case: Johnny Manziel
It’s hard not to draw the obvious RG3 comps with Fischer. They have a similar size/build as well as play style. Both players were/are quick to escape the pocket and look to make something happen with their legs. Fischer tends to be a little too aggressive both with his arm and his legs, which leads to him having a lower floor than the other quarterbacks listed in this article, however if he can keep this aggressive nature under control and learn to not force passes downfield, and to slide or get out of bounds when scrambling to avoid injuries and fumbles, he could be a force to be reckoned with in the CFL.