The likelihood of the Titans taking another quarterback in 2016 is probably less than zero, but in an effort to be thorough I'll start here anyways. This year's crop of quarterbacks lacks some "pop" at the top. There isn't that one consensus number one guy out there yet, but there are lots of familiar names competing for the top spot. As the 2015 season develops, the picture will start to get clearer. Here are my top five quarterback prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft.
1. Jacoby Brissett
Senior, NC State (6'4, 235)
Brissett is flying under the radar in the major media, but the draft community is starting to catch on. Brissett transferred from Florida following the 2012 season in hopes of finding more playing time. After sitting out the 2013 season, Brissett reemerged in a big way in 2014. He was able to bring stability to an offense that couldn't find its rhythm in the previous year.
Brissett is a big, sturdy player with just enough athletic ability to make you worry. His offensive line was atrocious at times in front of him, forcing Brissett to make things happen on his own -- which he did very well. Brissett is a natural thrower, getting excellent velocity on each pass. He's mechanically sound and plays with outstanding touch. His trajectory when throwing down the field is special.
Check out this throw from Brissett. It's 3rd and 21 and he delivers a strike 30 yards downfield. The ball is placed directly between the corner playing man coverage and the incoming safety. First down.
2. Jared Goff
Junior, California (6'4, 210)
Goff's second season in Sonny Dyke's high flying passing attack grabbed the attention of the draft world. He threw for nearly 4,000 yards in 2014, with an impressive 35/7 TD/INT ratio. His yards per attempt improved from a 6.6 to a 7.8. If Goff can take another step forward like that in 2015, we could be talking about him as a top five selection.
Goff doesn't have the physical tools of some of the other top quarterback prospects in this class, but he makes up for it with excellent ball placement. Goff knows how to negotiate the pocket and is always working to get his feet set. He constantly works through his reads and knows where his receivers are. His excellent grasp of the offensive system at Cal allows him to throw with anticipation and trust.
The gif below is a good example of what Goff can offer. This is by no means a safe throw, but check out the ball placement. He makes this throw in the face of pressure without being able to step into the pass. It appears to be his third read on the play.
3. Connor Cook
Senior, Michigan State (6'4, 220)
Cook made the decision to return for his Senior season, despite getting some first round hype. If you have already been looking up 2016 mock drafts, Cook's name generally lands somewhere near the top of the first round. I can see why scouts like Cook, but he has some obvious shortcomings as a passer.
Cook has the size and ability to develop into an effective NFL starter, but he must improve mentally before he can take the next step. Cook often panics under pressure, making some questionable decisions. In the games that I got to see, Cook's decision making really stood out. He probably should have thrown more interceptions than he did. He has the touch and accuracy to succeed, but must get more comfortable against the blitz.
Here is an example of what Cook can bring. It's important to note that he has plenty of time during this drop, which is where Cook can win. His receiver gains a step on the safety and Cook drops it right over the shoulder.
4. Christian Hackenberg
Junior, Penn State (6'4, 236)
Hackenberg has been touted as a potential number one pick since he committed to Bill O'Brien at Penn State. He was able to back that up during his freshman season, but his sophomore tape left a lot to be desired. The stats paint an accurate picture of what Hackenberg was last season. In 2013 he threw 20 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. In 2014 Hackenberg threw just 12 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. It was a staggering regression -- and it has people scratching their heads.
Hackenberg struggled last season with accuracy and decision making. Too many times Hackenberg would panic and float one into coverage. His mechanics were inconsistent at best, likely contributing to his inaccuracy. Hackenberg needs to get back to the basics. His footwork and weight transfer must improve if he wants to improve his placement. He must work on getting through his reads quicker in order to find the open man.
The play below is a perfect example of what he has to improve on. This is a simple five yard hitch route, one of the easiest and most routine throws that a quarterback can make. Hackenberg overshoots his man, allowing the defensive back a free shot into his receiver's ribs. The physical tools are there for Hackenberg, but they mean nothing if he can't locate.
5. Cardale Jones
Junior, Ohio State (6'5, 250)
The hype surrounding Cardale Jones after his three start run to the National Championship game was incredible. So much so that he actually considered turning pro after just a handful of snaps as a Buckeye. Jones made the correct call in heading back to school, even if it means sitting behind J.T. Barrett.
Jones' athletic ability will remind you of Cam Newton at Auburn. He isn't twitchy or even particularly quick, but he's a huge guy that is really tough to bring down with just enough speed to be dangerous. As a passer, however, Jones has a long way to go. Similar to the Hackenberg situation, physical talent can only get you so far. In his three starts last season his lack of placement was overshadowed by electrifying deep throws and head on collisions with linebackers. He must improve his accuracy before the NFL will take him seriously as a passing prospect. In fairness to Cardale, we have only seen three starts of his. Extended playing time and more reps should shed more light on Jones as a passer.
You have probably seen this play before. This was kind of the moment that we all thought to ourselves, "man, this guy is special." Jones has a clean pocket and launches the ball fifty yards downfield. Notice the lack of trajectory. He was a touch late on the throw, but still managed to pump it downfield with enough zip. It was misplayed by the safety, but this at least provides you an example of how gifted Cardale is physically.
Other names to keep an eye on:
Jeremy Johnson (Auburn)
Carson Wentz (North Dakota State)
Trevone Boykin (TCU)
Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee)
J.T. Barrett (Ohio State)
Gunner Kiel (Cincinatti)
Cody Kessler (USC)