Vernon Adams Jr. among 3 QB sleepers in 2016 draft class

John Breitenbach uses PFF data to pinpoint three sleepers among this year's quarterback draft class.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

Vernon Adams Jr. among 3 QB sleepers in 2016 draft class

PFF’s team of draft analysts has spent the past weeks and months putting together their overall draft board and positional prospect rankings, in preparation for the 2016 NFL draft.

In doing so, PFF has identified players at each position who qualify as potential sleeper picks, based on where these players are showing up on most evaluators’ draft boards.

When it comes to QBs, we’ve already highlighted why we think Matt Johnson may be the best developmental QB in the draft. Taking a look at the data, here are three more sleeper prospects among this year’s class:

  1. Brandon Allen, Arkansas

Allen doesn’t look much like the typical NFL QB, but he was highly productive as the Razorbacks’ signal caller in 2015. The combination of short stature and small hands undoubtedly deters evaluators before they turn on the film, but simply ignoring the tape would be negligent. Allen graded as our sixth-overall draft-eligible quarterback in 2015 in terms of pure passing. He’s particularly effective throwing in the deep and intermediate range in the middle of the field. Digs, posts and crossing routes were executed with good location, enabling yards after the catch consistently. Designed bootlegs also play to Allen’s strengths. He lacks the arm to drive sideline passes from the pocket, but throws with good touch outside the numbers on the move. Pressure from the interior also isn’t debilitating, some of Adams’ most impressive throws came with defenders in his face. Overall he threw eight touchdowns against the rush in 2015 and recorded a positive grade. In addition, the ability to slide in the pocket to find open passing lanes stands out. Combined with a quick release, Allen took sacks on only 11 percent of dropbacks, good for sixth-best in the class. Despite his physical limitations, Allen would provide excellent value on Day 3.

  1. Vernon Adams Jr., Oregon

It’s remarkable how much success Russell Wilson has had outside the confines of his scripted offense. Like Wilson, Adams comes alive when the play breaks down. He possesses an instinctive awareness of the direction of the rush, enabling him to extend plays longer than the average mobile quarterback. Add in Adams’ ability to throw with precision from any platform, and it’s clear just how much of a nightmare the former Ducks’ quarterback can be to defend. Throwing on the run or from an awkward position is no issue for Adams, who frequently zipped passes into tight windows along the sideline or downfield once he escaped the pocket. No quarterback had a better rating than Adams’ 133.3 on plays lasting more than 2.6 seconds.

Aggression is part of Adams’ game, whether as part of the designed offense or once he breaks contain. Only two quarterbacks threw a higher percentage of passes deep than Adams’ mark of 23.9. He also ranked third with an accuracy percentage of 56.5 on 20+ yard passes, tossing 15 touchdowns (2nd) in the process. Adams is a gamebreaker, but also shows an ability to manipulate coverage. Staring down receivers is a major issue in college. Adams, however, showed an ability to look-off the centrefield safety in-season, as well as during his All-Star outing at the Shrine Game. A mid-round investment in Adams could turn into a steal down the road.

  1. Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State

While Brandon Allen lacks a little upside, he could contribute pretty quickly in the NFL. Brissett, meanwhile, is at the opposite end of that spectrum. Whether he can develop the consistency and throwing precision to be a good NFL starter is unclear, but Brissett flashed outstanding potential at NC State. The large frame enables him to extend plays in the pocket. No quarterback proved as capable of withstanding hits as Brissett. His ability to extend plays, however, was not always an advantage. A sack rate of 22.2 percent was ninth-worst in the class. He also had the second-longest average time to throw amongst draft-eligible QBs (three seconds). NFL coaches will need to speed up his release at the next level.

Brissett’s arm is as strong as his frame. When he drives the ball to the sideline, it gets there in a hurry. The arm is also a big help for Brissett on downfield targets, where he’s fully capable of hitting receivers in stride. Consistency, though, remains an issue. Brissett put a number of deep passes in outstanding location against tight coverage, but would then miss wide open receivers running behind the defense. Although he remains raw, Brissett’s upside makes him worth a late-round investment.


| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • dave

    expected to find either Johnson or Doughty as one of the 3

  • Tiberius

    I truly expect the Bears to select Jacoby Brissett in the 6th round.

    • Philtration

      I think the same thing.
      He has talent that can translate to the NFL but he is raw.
      Cardale Jones is also raw but he is not in the same ballpark.

  • Mike J.

    I recently recommended Brissett for the Bucs if they deal Glennon:”To me, Jacoby would be a near-ideal sub on the Bucs. He does everything like Jameis, just not so well’.”

  • SomewhereOverDwayneBowe

    As a Falcons fan, my worst nightmare is Vernon Adams being drafted on Day 3 by the Saints.

  • Dan

    “Allen took sacks on only 11 percent of dropbacks, good for sixth-best in the class.”

    This number seems implausibly high. No NFL QB had a sack rate that high last year (Kaepernick was the worst among QBs with 100+ attempts, at 10.3%), so it’s implausible that an 11% sack rate would be 6th best among college QBs. And, given that Allen had 370 passing attempts, an 11% sack rate would apply that Allen was sacked around 46 times. That also seems implausibly high, given that he’s listed as having 55 rushes for 110 yards (with sacks counting as rushing attempts for negative yardage).

    • Van

      I agree, the hogs had a great o-line. Unless they are looking at the first year when the Hogs couldn’t do anything because of the coaching madness.

  • Van

    Write it down and stick it on the Frig. Allen will be in the NFL long after any of the first three rounders are long gone. The man not only can play some football, he is a thinker. Some of these so called talents can’t tie their shoes and chew gum at the same time. When looking for a quarter back, look at how many times a game he calls off the play from the sidelines and is a success at it and doesn’t just run the play from the coaching staff. Allen was one of the best at it against the top SEC schools.