This week, Quarterback Corner visits a conference that has been historically unkind to the quarterback position, the SEC. Some believe that SEC football is the closest thing to the NFL product — Big 10 fans may object. The average player is faster, tougher, smarter, and more versatile than most of their peers from other conferences. This makes life especially tough for the QBs in this conference, who must either sink or swim when tasked with throwing against the best defenses in the country.
Previous QB Corner articles:
Alabama Crimson Tide
Starting QB: Mac Jones (Jr.)
NFL Draft Stock: 5th Round (2022)
Jones has been one of the most efficient passers in the nation during his first full year as the starter for the Crimson Tide. Thus far, his best performance of this season came against No. 13 Texas A&M, where he completed 74.1% of his throws for 435 yards and four touchdowns, entering his name into the Heisman race on the strength of his performance. Though many devy enthusiasts pulled for five-star recruit Bryce Young to start for the Crimson Tide, Jones seems to have the gig on lock for the time being.
Though he has definitely benefited from the fact that Alabama’s offense features two future NFL wideouts (Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith), Jones has demonstrated a keen ability to read the field and get the ball out of his hands quickly. However, Waddle and Smith certainly made life easier for Jones, as that duo was open on almost every throw he targeted them on against Texas A&M. Waddle, Smith, and rising star John Metchie accounted for 16 of Jones’s 20 completions in this game. It may be unfair to judge a player because his team is too good. However, in Jones’ case, it’s hard not to.
Against Ole Miss, Jones put on a clinic. The junior completed 87.5% of his passes for 417 yards and two touchdowns en route to Alabama’s 63-48 victory. There’s a legitimate chance for Jones to finish as a Heisman finalist. He looked like a ten-year NFL veteran in this game, peppering throws with pristine accuracy to his pass-catchers. Oh, and he can throw on the move too!
At 6’3, 215 lbs, Jones has good size for the position and enough athleticism to get himself out of trouble. He may not possess the greatest arm, but if Jones can continue to make strides as a passer, he could find himself drafted in the middle rounds of next year’s draft. Jones reminds me a bit of Joe Burrow. Like Burrow, Jones is very agile and avoids panicking in the pocket while also reading defenses at a doctoral level. A tough, athletic QB with decent accuracy will almost certainly carve out a role in the NFL.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Starting QB: K.J Costello (Sr.)
NFL Draft Stock: 6th Round (2021)
I talked up Costello a lot this offseason, discussing his outlook in my article on the Air Raid offense from August. The devy community expected big things from Costello when he announced that he would be transferring to play for Mike Leach at MSU this season. Considered an NFL prospect since his early days at Stanford, Costello may be the most gifted passer Leach has ever worked with. That being said, Costello managed to shatter the general public’s expectations in his first outing for the Bulldogs. Taking on the defending champion LSU Tigers, Costello threw for 623 yards and five touchdowns in a massive upset victory. Costello and Leach were the toast of the town following this absolute throttling of the Tigers defense, with Leach inviting fans to hop on the Bulldogs bandwagon.
One week later, Costello was the butt of countless internet memes. He threw a trio of ugly picks in a devastating loss to Arkansas. Crashing back down to Earth following his scintillating debut, things have only gone further downhill since. A week later, Costello was even worse, throwing four picks in a loss to Kentucky. Costello was benched for freshman Will Rogers, which will certainly hurt his case to be drafted this spring. It’s safe to say that this fall from grace was not gradual in the slightest.
At 6’5, 225 lbs, Costello has the frame and arm talent to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Unfortunately, it’s his inconsistency that has held him back from joining the ranks of other elite prospects. Inconsistency we’ve seen on full display when comparing his highs and lows as the starting QB for the Bulldogs. I love Costello’s upside in this offense. I expect to see many more performances like the one we saw against LSU this season if he can remain the starter. NFL teams will love Costello’s physical profile, and given the success of fellow Air Raid products in recent years, that too should go in his favor during the pre-draft process. If he can bounce back this season, Costello could redeem himself in the eyes of NFL scouts. Until then, he’s just another late-round prospect.
Starting QB: Kyle Trask (Sr.)
NFL Draft Stock: 3rd Round (2021)
Trask has made a strong case to be the SEC Offensive Player of the Year with his performance thus far. Through three games, Trask has been the Gators’ best player, completing 71.8% of his passes for 996 yards and 14 touchdowns. Their upset loss to Texas A&M was no fault of their quarterback, as Trask’s QB rating of 195.0 was about as good as it gets in a losing effort. While the Gators may be out of Playoff contention now, Trask’s case for the Heisman remains convincing.
Though he benefits tremendously from the presence of star tight end Kyle Pitts, Trask can spread the ball to various pass-catchers. He’s incredibly decisive with his reads, while also demonstrating top tier mechanics. A convincing argument could be made that Trask has been the best QB in the nation this season. Just watch on this beautiful toss to WR Kadarius Toney.
A big boy at 6’6, 240 lbs, it wouldn’t be unfair to compare Trask to a young Ben Roethlisberger. He’s got decent wheels for a QB, making him a dangerous scrambler when a play breaks down. With a good arm and even better decision making ability, Trask is a guy who could rise into the first-round conversation if he can sustain this performance. As of right now, Trask is the QB4 on my board behind Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields.
Starting QB: Bo Nix (So.)
NFL Draft Stock: 4th Round (2023)
Nix is an exciting young quarterback who tends to make mistakes like most underclassmen passers. A gifted athlete who can make plays with his legs, Nix has garnered comparisons to Johnny Manziel (for mostly good reasons) during his Auburn tenure. Following his nomination as last season’s SEC Freshman OPOY, many view Nix as a future first-round pick. I’m less enthused about Nix’s future, as there are several troublesome aspects of his game that will need to be nixed before he can be a legitimate NFL prospect.
Overall, Nix has looked the same as he did in 2019. This is not a good thing. The sophomore has once again struggled with his accuracy this season, completing only 56.8% of his passes. He should have been responsible for what would have been Auburn’s second loss of the season against Arkansas, though the referees cut him a break. Mistakes are okay, but a young quarterback must learn from their mistakes, rather than continue making the same ones repeatedly. His inability to throw the ball downfield is particularly disconcerting, and this weakness was exposed by Georgia’s defense last week.
Nix stands at 6’2, 215 lbs — ever so slight by NFL measures. Nix’s arm strength is fine, but his ability to throw the ball accurately is a bit concerning. As a freshman, Nix completed only 57.6% of his passes. Nix earned a passing grade of 69.2 from PFF last season, the nation’s 107th best mark. Though there were shades of tremendous playmaking upside from him, Nix’s game’s flaws are rather glaring. I’m not willing to commit to Nix on my devy squads. I see more reasons why he would not be drafted than I do reasons why he should be drafted. However, in C2C leagues, Nix is a solid player to have.
Texas A&M Aggies
Starting QB: Kellen Mond (Sr.)
NFL Draft Stock: 5th Round (2021)
A talented playmaker who often struggles with accuracy and overall consistency, Mond seems to have taken a few steps back in his development since coming onto the scene with strong freshman and sophomore campaigns. The senior QB for the Aggies has always shown a ton of promise; however, he struggles to sustain momentum more often than not.
Mond is completing just over 62% of his passes this season, and he was a key cog in the Aggies upset victory over No. 4 Florida. It was a benchmark performance for Mond, who completed 71.4% of his passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. With more performances like this one, Mond could climb up some draft boards next spring.
Mond may never develop into the dangerous dual-threat that we always envisioned him becoming. He’s not quite an “elite” athlete, and he lacks the “pop” to stretch the field on deep throws, limiting his big-play upside. I don’t love Mond’s release, as he seems to limit the velocity of his throws with a wonky arm angle. Unless Mond can become more comfortable working reads in the intermediate part of the field, he may not hear his name on draft day. However, we’ve seen flawed but athletic quarterbacks with much worse mechanics taken in the last few seasons, which leads me to believe that some team will take a flyer on Mond. After all, he’s got the size (6’3, 220 lbs), the speed (40 yard dash time believed to be in the 4.6 range), and the agility to be a Taysom Hill-like gadget player for an NFL offense.
Starting QB: Stetson Bennett (Jr.)
NFL Draft Stock: Undrafted
Bennett seems to be entrenched as Georgia’s starter ahead of J.T Daniels and D’Wan Mathis, a stunning development considering the state of Georgia’s QB room this summer. Many had expected this to be a position battle between Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman and Daniels, the former five-star USC commit. Unfortunately for the Dawgs, Newman opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft, while Daniels has yet to see the field due to the ACL injury he suffered last season.
Bennett, who backed up Jake Fromm last season, is a serviceable QB who can get the ball where it needs to be. He’s nothing special, standing at 5’11 and tipping the scales at a robust 200 lbs. However, Bennett has taken the reins with authority, completing 63.1% of his passes for 689 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. If Georgia can keep winning with Bennett under-center, he may very well hold off Daniels for the entirety of this season.
It’s tough to imagine an undersized passer like Bennett getting much buzz as an NFL prospect. Bennett is a great athlete who can scramble out of danger much better than Fromm ever could. The Bulldogs offense relies on Bennett more as a game manager than as a catalyst, limiting his NFL upside. However, if he can continue to win games for the Bulldogs, Bennett may very well earn some attention from the scouts and the devy community in the process.
Starting QB: Myles Brennan (Jr.)
NFL Draft Stock: Undrafted
Brennan faces the unenviable task of replacing the best passer in NCAA history, following the graduation of Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Statistically, Brennan hasn’t been far behind Burrow’s pace last season, as he’s thrown for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of his first three starts. The version of this LSU team he inherited is much worse than the team that won the national title last season. Brennan has been sacked nine times this season, seven of which came in the Tigers season-opening loss to Mississippi State.
Brennan played the best game of his young career against Missouri, completing 60.41% of his passes for 430 yards and four touchdowns. Though the Tigers were upset in this one, Brennan’s performance was solid. He missed a few throws but managed to avoid turnovers as well. Brennan nearly led the Tigers on a game-winning drive that fell just short near Missouri’s goal line. In context, Brennan’s numbers would be much more impressive if the Tigers were not 1-2.
While he has good size (6’4, 210 lbs) and a nice arm, it’s hard to envision Brennan becoming a draftable prospect right now. He’s more Matt Flynn than Joe Burrow (though I suppose that’s better than being a Danny Etling). There’s a lot to like about Brennan as a player. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to love about him.
Ole Miss Rebels
Starting QB: Matt Corral (So.)
NFL Draft Stock: 7th Round (2023)
Corral seems to have supplanted scrambler John Rhys Plumlee as the starter for Ole Miss, looking excellent in the role thus far. He’s thrown for at least 300 yards in each of his first three starts while completing 76.1% of his passes. Corral has gone toe to toe with the defenses of No. 5 Florida and No. 2 Alabama, registering a QB rating over 200 in both outings.
It’s been a minute since Ole Miss has had a passer like Corral, as I’ve become accustomed to the Chad Kelly and Bo Wallace types who lack the requisite brain power to lead a team successfully. Corral does a great job of avoiding turnovers while not shying away from throws, consistently delivering well-timed strikes with his quick release. He’s a smart player and a terrific athlete, two qualities that will certainly earn gold stars from the NFL scouts.
Corral is a bit petite by NFL standards, standing at six feet and weighing a couple of cheeseburgers below 200 lbs. However, like many of the successful undersized passers in the league today, Corral is incredibly accurate and decisive in the pocket. Like Baker Mayfield, Corral is athletic enough to make throws on the go. He’s got the tools to be a solid backup once his college career is finished.
Starting QB: Jarrett Guarantano (Sr.)
NFL Draft Stock: Undrafted
Guarantano has been called the worst starting quarterback in the SEC by countless devy and College Football analysts due to his erratic play over the past few seasons. I think this is a bit of an overstatement, but I can agree that Guarantano has been incredibly frustrating during his tenure with the Vols. In the midst of yet another mediocre campaign, the Vols offense’s upside is limited by their signal-caller. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Tennessee’s program will get better once Guarantano leaves, a classic case of addition by subtraction.
Standing at 6’4 and weighing in at 230 lbs, Guarantano has prototypical size for an NFL QB. What he lacks is NFL level field vision and a keen ability to read defenses. If Guarantano were a sophomore, this aspect of his game would be less concerning. However, he’s in his fourth season as Tennesee’s starter, having remained stalled in his development. Though he’s as physically gifted as any of the passers in this conference, Guarantano is too many steps behind in his processing ability to be a sound devy investment.
Starting QB: Feleipe Franks (Sr.)
NFL Draft Stock: Undrafted
A phenomenal athlete, Franks lost his starting role at Florida due to an unfortunate injury that coincided with a terrific run by Kyle Trask to close out the 2019 season. Franks has been solid as Arkansas’s starting quarterback this fall, with his athleticism lending itself nicely to the Razorbacks run-heavy scheme.
The former Florida standout is coming off of arguably the best performance of his career. In a near upset over No. 13 Auburn, Franks completed 73.3% of his passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Though Franks has made significant strides in his development since the first season of his college career, he’s still far too raw to be an NFL quarterback. Incredible arm strength can only get a player so far in today’s NFL.
It’s rare to see a player of Franks’ stature playing the quarterback position. At 6’6, 245 lbs, Franks reminds me of Logan Thomas when he came out of Virginia Tech. Franks reportedly runs a 4.6 forty yard dash time, which leads me to believe that he — like Thomas — could benefit from a move to tight end in the NFL.
Starting QB: Connor Bazelak (So.)
NFL Draft Stock: Undrafted
Bazelak took over for Shawn Robinson as Mizzou’s starter this week and led the team to an upset victory over No. 17 LSU. Judging from his performance, there’s almost zero chance of him relinquishing the job. The sophomore completed 85% of his passes for 406 yards and four touchdowns, demolishing the defending national champions’ defense. Bazelak is clearly a much better passer than Robinson and a far superior fit for the Tigers offense.
At 6’3, 210 lbs, Bazelak is a good-sized passer who possesses tangible arm talent. He looked extremely comfortable operating from the pocket in his first start of the season, reading LSU’s defense’s complex coverages as if he was a fifth-year senior. With more performances like this, Bazelak could become a draftable prospect in no time. Devy enthusiasts, take note of this kid!
Starting QB: Terry Wilson Jr. (Sr.)
NFL Draft Stock: Undrafted
Wilson is a pretty typical SEC quarterback. He’s very athletic, a trait that lends itself nicely towards his fit into a run-heavy scheme like Kentucky’s. You’ll never confuse Wilson for Matt Ryan, as his skills in the pocket are a bit limited. The numbers will never paint Wilson in the light that would appeal to NFL scouts, and neither will his tape. Playing for a Kentucky program — which will almost always be an SEC bottom-feeder — also does Wilson very few favors.
There have been moments in Wilson’s career where he has stood out as a potential NFL prospect. In 2018, Wilson was considered a rising star for the Wildcats, though the sheen soon came off once he missed the majority of the 2019 season.
At 6’3, 205 lbs, Wilson is a bit skinny by NFL standards. If he were to end up on an NFL team, it would likely come after some time as a practice squad player. Perhaps a transition to wide receiver would benefit Wilson, as his frame and athletic profile could allow him to thrive in that capacity.
Starting QB: Ken Seals (Fr.)
NFL Draft Stock: Undrafted
The image above gives you a good idea of how Seals’ first season of College Football is going. Seals has been thrown directly into the fire, taking over as Vandy’s starting QB as a true freshman. I would feel bad trashing a first-year QB from the worst team in the SEC, so I’ll keep this section rather brief. There’s definitely a lot of upside in Seals; however, he won’t be able to realize his potential until the team around him improves.
The freshman has completed 48% of his passes for 411 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions through three games. It’s been a struggle, but that was expected given the state of Vanderbilt football in recent years. On the bright side, Seals had his first game without an interception against South Carolina on Saturday after throwing at least two picks in each of his first two starts. Seals has been sacked eight times in three games, and he will almost certainly continue to take hits as this season trudges on. Like most freshman quarterbacks, Seals is easily startled when pressured. If he can remain headstrong, Seals may emerge from this situation as a solid QB prospect.
Seals is a good-sized quarterback, standing at 6’3 and weighing in around 220 lbs. If he can find a way to overcome the talent discrepancy between the Commodores and the rest of their conference mates, he could be a prospect worth stashing in devy leagues. For now, he’s an underclassman in an unfortunate situation. At least Seals will come out of this tougher than ever before (perhaps wishful thinking on my part).
South Carolina Gamecocks
Starting QB: Collin Hill (Sr.)
NFL Draft Stock: Undrafted
Hill surprisingly beat out Ryan Hilinski for this role in the summer, an unexpected turn of events given the hype that Hilinski had accrued since the 2019 season. I don’t really have much to say about Hill besides this: I wish Ryan Hilinski were starting. Hill is not a very exciting prospect, and he isn’t exactly elevating his teammates.
The Gamecocks offense is heavily reliant on running the ball, so much so that Hill threw for 196 yards and zero touchdowns in a 41-7 victory over Vanderbilt. Though Hill showed off his athleticism by rushing for a pair of touchdowns, he remains a non-factor in devy and C2C formats.
At 6’4, 225 lbs, the Colorado State transfer has great size for the position. Historically, Hill has made good decisions with the football, while avoiding turnovers for the most part. Hill may look like Gardner Minshew, but he certainly won’t follow Minshew’s path to the NFL. NFL teams are rarely drawn to conservative passers with mediocre completion rates, especially when they have a history of ACL injuries.
Free Ryan Hilinski!
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