Evaluating QB Options for Eagles in Middle Rounds

There is little doubt the Eagles will select a quarterback at some point during the 2016 NFL Draft. Everyone in the organization from Jeffrey Lurie to Doug Pederson has stated that the team's intention to pick a signal caller, but no one is sure who that will be.

As speculation continues to run wild regarding the team trading up to draft Carson Wentz or Jared Goff falling to them to number eight, the more logical option would be for them to take a QB in the middle rounds in hopes of developing him to take the reigns from Sam Bradford in a year or two. Here are a few different names that have been linked to the Eagles and won't cost the eighth overall pick.

Paxton Lynch

Lynch's draft stock has been a bit of a roller coaster over the past season. Starting as a virtual unknown, he skyrocketed to the top of draft boards, before settling back down to the top of the middle rounds. Lynch stands 6'7" and weighs almost 250 pounds, but can still stand to put on some weight and fill out his frame. He also has decent mobility for a big guy and had four rushing touchdowns in 2015.

The Memphis product had 28 TD passes to just four picks a season ago and completed 66.8 percent of his passes. Lynch's inconsistencies stem from his shaky footwork, something that could easily be fixed with the proper coaching. But when he gets things right, he is special, as evident by this throw:

There aren't many QBs who can make throws like that. If Lynch can become more consistent, he can be a franchise quarterback. 

Unless something drastic happens between now and the draft, Lynch will not be available by the time the Eagles pick in the third round. But the team has scheduled a visit for Lynch and interviewed him at the combine in February. Their interest is evident and if he falls into the middle of the second round, Howie Roseman and Pederson could trade up for him.

Christian Hackenberg

Hackenberg has been one of the most scrutinized prospect during the pre-draft process. The former top recruit out of high school, Hackenberg's fall from grace over the past two seasons with James Franklin has been well-documented, but he still has the raw tools that coaches and evaluators still drool over. At 6'4", 223 pounds, the Penn State product has the arm that can make every throw in the book.

The main issue with him stems from his inability to make throws when under pressure and inconsistent mechanics. Hackenberg played behind an absolutely porous offensive line at Penn State and was sacked 82 times during his two years in Franklin's system. The hits took their toll and Hackenberg's mechanics started to deteriorate last year and he posted a career-low completion percentage of 53.5 percent.

Hackenberg's mid-round grade is based purely off his pedigree and physical potential. It wouldn't be all that surprising to see him fall down until the fifth or sixth round. The Eagles have already worked out Hackenberg, and with Bradford and Chase Daniel in place, the team has a situation where he could sit and learn without taking any hits, something that could be very beneficial to the young signal caller. 

Dak Prescott

Prescott emerged as a dual threat nightmare in the first half of 2014 at Mississippi State, but his play leveled off during the rest of his college career. His running style is similar to Tim Tebow, and the Bulldogs used him on a lot of power runs during his tenure as their QB. 

However, unlike Tebow, Prescott has decent throwing mechanics. He developed as a passer in 2015 and did a good job of hitting receivers on short routes in the Bulldogs' spread offense. He struggles a bit with pocket awareness and took a few unnecessary sacks, but when he was given time, he was able to find open receivers and put the ball on the money. He still needs to improve his deep accuracy, but he certainly has the arm strength to push the ball down the field. 

The Eagles have already hosted Prescott on a visit and, just like most of these prospects, he could use a year or two of development to work out some of his kinks. His athleticism raises his ceiling, but considering he struggles with instincts, the odds aren't great of him reaching his full potential. 

Cardale Jones

It's hard to believe a QB who was undefeated in his college career and has an arm like Jones will be around late on day two or possibly on day three, but that is where we stand with the former Buckeye. After foregoing the draft a year ago when he had just three games under his belt, Jones's weaknesses were exposed in 2015 and he was eventually benched, despite directing an offense that put up over 35 points per game. 

Jones possesses elite athleticism, but is terribly raw. He isn't very good at reading defense and often relied on his athleticism and running ability in order to make plays. That will not work against the sophisticated defenses of the NFL. His accuracy is inconsistent and he needs to work on his pocket presence if he wants to succeed at the next level. But despite all of these shortcomings, his physical tools are so tantalizing that someone is going to take a chance on him.

Jones is the one QB listed in this piece that the Eagles have not been linked to yet. Just like the rest of these quarterbacks, Jones is not ready to step in and play from day one. He needs to hone his skills on the practice field and the Eagles have placed such an emphasis on having former QBs on their coaching staff that they have the potential of developing a signal caller. If Pederson is confident in his staff, drafting Jones on day three could be a great choice for the future of the franchise.

Kevin Hogan

We covered Hogan a bit last week in our mock draft, but he seems a lot like someone who Pederson could fall in love with. Undersized and lacking a big arm, Hogan makes up for his shortcomings with his competitiveness and leadership.

Despite his weak arm, Hogan led the FBS in yards per attempt in 2015 and his knowledge of the pro system that he ran at Stanford could make for an easier transition into Pederson's west coast offense. Hogan also has a bit of a long and funky delivery that could stunt his growth and ability to perform in the NFL. Still, if the Eagles are sitting in the sixth round and have yet to draft a QB, Hogan would be a decent guy to take a late-round flier on. His intangibles and unselfish attitude could make him a great backup QB in the long run.

The Eagles brass stopped by Palo Alto a few weeks ago when they were in California to visit Goff, so there is a bit of interest in Hogan. He may not be the quarterback of the future, but you could do much worse as a developmental third-stringer.

Tucker Bagley is a columnist for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @tbagley515.

Go to top button