Pro-Player Comparisons for College Football's Next Class of Star Quarterbacks
Modern college football is largely dominated by quarterbacks. Uptempo offensive attacks and pass-heavy schemes require a talented and savvy player behind center.
Quarterbacks have claimed 12 of the past 14 Heisman Trophies (including Reggie Bush), and, more often than not, having an elite player at the position is a prerequisite to contending for a national championship.
As heralded playmakers like Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Teddy Bridgewater depart for the NFL, a new crop of young quarterbacks is on the way.
The 2014 recruiting class features a slew of star-quality passers who spent their high school careers picking apart defenses. Some of these prospects will undoubtedly end up playing at the professional level, which leads us to compare their projected skill sets to current NFL quarterbacks.
Star ratings courtesy of 247Sports composite rankings.
4-Star QB Brad Kaaya
Hometown: West Hills, Calif.
School: Chaminade High School
Size: 6'4", 215 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Miami
There's a slightly unorthodox motion in Brad Kaaya's delivery, but the ball gets out quickly with a high release like Andy Dalton. He throws darts with ease and operates best when his feet are set in the pocket with time to survey the field.
Kaaya is far from a polished passer, but he is an excellent project for Al Golden in Miami. The late riser is improvisational and does an excellent job of keeping his eyes downfield while forced out of the pocket.
4-Star QB Drew Barker
Hometown: Hebron, Ky.
School: Conner High School
Size: 6'4", 210 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Kentucky
Pro Player Comparison: Tyrod Taylor, Baltimore Ravens
Drew Barker is a few inches taller than Tyrod Taylor, but they have comparable approaches while orchestrating an offensive attack. Neither player boasts an ideal rifle for a passing arm, but they deliver the ball where it needs to be with quick releases.
Barker is extremely athletic and can pick up significant chunks of yardage on the ground when no one is open downfield. He's not a burner, but he works well in space when he decides to let his legs do the work.
4-Star QB Brandon Harris
Hometown: Bossier City, La.
School: Parkway High School
Size: 6'2", 200 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to LSU
Brandon Harris has one of the strongest throwing arms in the nation, but he is still learning how to deliver the ball with necessary touch. He moves well laterally in the backfield, keeping his eyes downfield and always searching for a way to salvage a seemingly doomed play.
Harris still needs to refine his footwork and can forget to incorporate his lower body on deliveries, disrupting accuracy. His powerful throwing arm and impressive burst in rushing lanes make him a dangerous cover who demands a committed quarterback spy in several situations.
4-Star QB Jerrod Heard
Hometown: Denton, Texas
School: Denton Guyer High School
Size: 6'2.5", 190 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Texas
Pro-Player Comparison: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Jerrod Heard doesn't have tremendous straight-line speed, but he is shifty and shows excellent vision when operating as a ball-carrier. His skills as a runner were enough to net him consecutive 2,000-yard rushing seasons in high school.
He does occasionally struggle with accuracy, but those issues appear to arise due to mechanical inconsistencies. Those shortcomings can be remedied through collegiate coaching, and his football IQ is already apparent. Heard was a state champion and proven leader in one of Texas' toughest levels of football.
4-Star QB Jacob Park
Hometown: Goose Creek, S.C.
School: Stratford High School
Size: 6'3", 205 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Georgia
Much like Jake Locker, Jacob Park is a gifted passer who excels in the intermediate game. He can get the ball deep, but that's when accuracy issues arise.
Park could use increased precision on passes of more than 20 yards, but the zip is still on the ball. He was an effective runner at the high school level, but he will find it much more difficult to outrace defenders in the SEC. His greatest asset is an understanding of how plays develop as he monitors receivers' routes.
4-Star QB David Cornwell
Hometown: Norman, Okla.
School: Norman North High School
Size: 6'5", 240 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Alabama
SEC defenders better prepare to wrap up and hold on when attempting to bring down David Cornwell in the backfield. Much like Matt Stafford, he provides a big presence in the pocket and can make teams pay with his feet if he is ignored as a rushing threat.
Cornwell has a cannon and, like Stafford, loves to show it off while rolling outside of the pocket. His arm strength appears to make him overzealous at times, and he must be cautious of trying to force the football into space where the defensive secondary can make an easy play.
4-Star QB Deshaun Watson
Hometown: Gainesville, Ga.
School: Gainesville High School
Size: 6'3", 200 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Clemson
Deshaun Watson is a creative passer and stays extremely active with his feet in the pocket. He looks comfortable when slinging the ball deep, and the pieces are in place to steadily improve his accuracy.
He's a technician behind center, but he is at his finest when forced to scramble and extends plays with lateral movement, a tendancy we saw from Kevein Kolb at Houston. Watson became Georgia's all-time career passing yardage leader as a junior. Although he rushed for 1,000 yards in each of the past three seasons, he doesn't have the speed to become a prolific runner at the next level.
5-Star QB Keller Chryst
Hometown: Palo Alto, Calif.
School: Palo Alto High School
Size: 6'4", 220 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Stanford
The similarities between Keller Chryst and Carson Palmer go beyond their large physical frames and California roots. Like Palmer, Chryst has a powerful arm and can bury opponents with a barrage of deep connections when he has time in the pocket.
He is an ambitious passer, which can occasionally get him into trouble but ultimately makes him a special prospect. Chryst won't carve you up with his rushing ability, but he's mobile enough to buy time and find a receiver in space against an outstretched defense.
5-Star QB Will Grier
Hometown: Davidson, N.C.
School: Davidson Day High School
Size: 6'3", 185 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Florida
Few players have flourished at the high school level like Will Grier, who threw for nearly 15,000 yards and 195 touchdowns during his career at Davidson Day. While Grier can can still make strides in downfield arm strength, he already shows consistent accuracy, completing 70 percent of his 1,200 high school pass attempts, per MaxPreps.
He also impacts opposing defenses as a runner, which Colt McCoy did throughout his Texas career. Grier wrapped up his senior season with more than 1,200 rushing yards.
5-Star QB Kyle Allen
Hometown: Scottsdale, Ariz.
School: Desert Mountain High School
Size: 6'3", 185 pounds
Schools of Interest: Committed to Texas A&M
Kyle Allen is slightly shorter than Andrew Luck, but similarities exist in multiple elements of their skill set. He displays elite precision, evidenced by a performance in the Army All-American Bowl that featured completions on his first eight pass attempts.
Allen keeps his shoulders square and remains mechanically sound in his lower body during dropbacks. Much like Luck, he is an underrated runner who can make defenses pay outside the pocket, especially near the goal line.