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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.