The 2016 draft is set from April 28 to April 30, 2016. The NFC North teams’ remaining needs will be determined after free agency subsides. First, we must know the available draft prospects by position before we can determine the best fits for each team.
Let’s start looking position by position at potential draft picks. The series starts with Quarterback.
Carson Wentz: North Dakota State
Wentz is a 6’5 QB with arm strength. Wentz was a two year starter at North Dakota State in the lower FCS division. North Dakota State has won the last five FCS championships (move over Alabama). Wentz helped engineer the last two for the Bison, despite a broken wrist in 2015 limiting him to 8 games. Wentz completed 63.7% of his passes with 25 TDs and 10 interceptions in 2014. Wentz, in 8 games, completed 62.5% of his passes with 17 TDs and 4 interceptions in 2015.
Wentz has the size and arm for the NFL and solid numbers with two championships against weaker competition. Wentz looked better than all senior QBs at the Senior Bowl with impressive decision making and throwing capability. Wentz has above average arm strength and played in a pro-style offense. Wentz has poor pocket presence and tendency to throw behind receivers. Wentz ran the 40 yard dash and 3 cone drill well. Wentz was a top 5 finisher in the broad jump and has some athleticism.
Paxton Lynch: Memphis
Lynch is a huge 6’7 QB who was very productive with the Tigers. Lynch is a three year starter that improved every year. Lynch had 66.8% completion and 22 TDs and 9 interceptions in 2014. Lynch had 66.8% completion and 28 TDs and 4 interceptions in 2015. Lynch is very accurate with decent mobility. Lynch has a strong NFL arm but must work on his decision making and ball security in the pocket. Lynch has a slight wind up but an overall quick release.
Jared Goff: Cal
Jared Goff rounds out the first round talent at QB and many say he is the most pro ready QB. Goff is a three year starter and had 62.1% completion 35 TDs and 7 interceptions in 2014. Goff had 64.5% completion and 43 TDs and 13 interceptions in 2015 in the PAC 12. Goff has faced the highest competition out of Wentz and Lynch and should be the most pro ready. Goff is 6’4 and has a strong enough arm. Goff took a dip in decision making in 2015 with 13 interceptions. Goff has good pocket presence and is a pocket climber but does have some fumbles. Goff can throw receivers open and has a good touch. Goff has some accuracy issues sailing throws to receivers. Goff spent most of the time in the pistol or shotgun and must develop his footwork under center.
Connor Cook: Michigan State
Cook is a three year starter for the Spartans. Cook is 6’4 and has solid mobility. Cook has accuracy issues with 58.1% completion and 56.1% completion in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Cook had 24 TDs and 8 interceptions and followed that with 24 TDs and 7 interceptions in his senior season. Cook had a shoulder injury late in the 2015 season that should be resolved. Cook must work on his accuracy issues and recognize blitzes better. Cook is a solid decision maker with an above average arm along with a quick release.
Cook will be a solid day 2 pick but must be more accurate in the NFL.
Christian Hackenberg: Penn State
Hackenberg was a highly regard recruit who landed at Penn State. Hackenberg looked strong in 2013 under Bill O’ Brien but fizzled his last two years under James Franklin and John Donovan (OC). Hackenberg was very inconsistent and had 48 TDS and 31 interceptions in his Penn State career despite a plethora of weapons. However, Hackenberg didn’t have good protection his final two years and has happy feet in the pocket. Hackenberg has accuracy problems and only a decent arm. Hackenberg should be a Round 4 or later option despite high hopes early in his college career.
Round 4 or later
Cardale Jones: Ohio State
Jones took over in 2014 and won a National Championship for Ohio State. Ohio State was loaded with talent and Ezekiel Elliot at QB. Jones threw for 60.9% and 7 TDS with 2 interceptions. He is a decent runner too. Jones earned the starting job for Ohio State but lost it during the 2015 season. Jones threw for 62.5% but had 8 TDs and 5 interceptions. Jones is 6’5 but doesn’t have a big arm. Jones was injured during the combine and will rely on his pro day.
Round 4 or later
Dak Prescott: Mississippi State
Prescott was a good QB for Mississippi State and made them competitive for once. Prescott was a three year starter and had 62.8% completion and 70 TDs and 23 interceptions in his career. Prescott did well facing SEC competition but couldn’t win enough big games to compete with Alabama. Prescott is 6’2 and has a decent arm but must be a better decision maker in the pocket.
Round 4 or later
Late Round QBs
Jake Coker was strong with Alabama and a good enough game manager to win the National Championship in 2015. He’ll earn the same fate as AJ McCarron.
Jacoby Brissett had success with North Carolina State. Brissett is 6’4 and had 46 TDs and 15 interceptions. His 59.5% completion is lacking in the ACC.
Jeff Driskel transferred from Florida to Louisiana Tech and had success in Louisiana. Driskel had 62.4% completion and 27 TDS and 8 interceptions against weaker competition with Louisiana Tech. Driskel could be a development back-up. Driskel is 6’4.
Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan are USC and Stanford QBs and will get a look in the pros due to his. However, the days of Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley are far from over for USC. Hogan is far from Andrew Luck too though productive in the PAC 12.
The QB class has three very good prospects and many later round developmental QBs. Cooks could be a surprise franchise QB in Round 2. We’ll see if a QB needy team can change their fortunes by adding a starting QB. I don’t see any of the North teams drafting a starting QB. The Lions and Bears could both add a back-up in the mid to later rounds.