A look at 3 Small School QB’s
by Williams Stevenson
Follow William on Twitter: @DraftMarvel
There are always players who go unnoticed and underappreciated due to the vast amounts of college programs, it is not exactly unheard of for a player to transition from a small school to the NFL and have success. Some of the best players in the history of the game have been small school guys. To be clear that does not men that every productive small scchool player is worth a shot, there are certain thresholds that need to be met. Players at the FCS level or lower have to show that they can be dominant in order to get noticed.
Cole Jaeschke: (6’2" 215 lbs.) Based on arm talent alone, this guy atleast belongs in a teams camp, made some wow throws during his time at Upper Iowa. Jaeschke played at Upper Iowa a Division II school. To be fair to both Jaeschke and the process it is hard to evaluate a player solely off of highlights, but what I saw from the highlights was someone who can make every throw that has to be made. During the 2014 season he put up decent numbers, but one has to account for level of competition and for level of talent around him as well. His stat line for the 2014 season looked like this 308-513 (60% completion percentage) 23 TDs and 15 INTs. When watching his highlights I did realize that there were very few reads being made, which is concerning to an extent, but if he was coached to just go with the first read and fire darts than thats exactly what he did. Most of his throws were well placed with few exceptions. The 15 INTs are concerning due to the level of competition. He made very hard throws look easy consistently. All in all in a very weak QB class I’d give him a late 6th round grade. There will be an adjustment when he goes to the NFL but the arm is there. Another thing to like is his confidence level, he really believes in himself as a player. Higly durable too, according to an interview he did with NFLDraftDiamonds.com he has never missed a practice or game at any level. I think with the right fit and right coaching he has the potential to stick on a team some where. He will be featured on the NFL network show Undrafted that profiles players that are mostly unknowns, premiers in June. I personally am a fan.
Here are his highlights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD9rcMjYlpk
Austin Dodge: (6’3" 210 lbs.) Played collegiately at the Southern Oregon University. From a pure numbers standpoint Dodge was the most productive college passer last season. Dodge threw for 52 TDs, 5607 yards, and completed 64% of his throws. He did throw 10 INTs which is a bit of a concern but compared to how many times he threw the ball (582) is relatively minute. Dodge dominated the NAIA ranks through out his career throwing for 40 plus TDs in three consecutive years. Due to only being able to find highlights for dodge as well, it was another hard evaluation. Some traits that are visible with Dodge are that he has good pocket prescence and is able to go through his progressions. Dodge is not afraid to push the ball down field either, has the arm to do it as well. He possesses functional mobility to extend the play, and move the chains if need be. Dodge has a hitch in his throwing motion which is concern to a degree but I’m not entirely sure that it effected his accuracy. The level of competition is concerning, but as The Czar (Emory Hunt) always puts it traits transfer regardless of the level of play. Dodge is another guy that will probably go much later than he should, he has traits that make me believe that he can be successfull in the NFL. In my opinion he is a fifth round talent. He should be given the oppurtunity to show whether or not he belongs in the NFL. Would make a team very happy to get him as an UDFA.
Here are his highlights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pndxbYvq694
Chris Bonner: (6’6" 235 lbs. ) Bonner is the guy who has gotten the most recognition out of the small school guys, and rightfully so. Bonner led his team (CS-Pueblo) to a Division II National Championship win. Bonner possesses the prototypical size and arm for the position at the next level. Bonner played in a pro-style offense during his time at CSU-Pueblo, this only helps NFL teams evaluate him. Bonner is a player who has elite arm talent and can stand tall in the pocket. His numbers while at CS-Pueblo were exactly what they needed to be, dominant. Has good vision and can make reads. Keeps his eyes down field and delivers strikes. Out of all QBs this year Bonner very well might have the best measurables in terms of arm strength and height/size. Unlike both Dodge and Jaeschke, Bonner actually has game tape availiable so it made this evaluation a lot easier. Bonner isn’t without his flaws though he struggles at times with weight transfer which leads to some missed throws. I thnk out of all of the small school QB prospects Bonner has the best chance to stick on a roster. I see him being a good backup with starter upside. In a weak class I think Bonner should be considered in the fourth round.
Here is some of his game tape https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T7BESy3L5w
To me, these three QBs are very interesting prospects. Bonner for the size and physical tools, Dodge for the other worldly production and quick decision making process, and Jaeschke for the raw arm talent and ability to make some very nice throws look easy. To say that any of these guys are top talents or sure fire guys would not be fair, but to write them off and discount them due to the school they played for would not be fair either. There is a dearth of talent at the QB position in the 2015 NFL draft, as well as one in the NFL in general, that being said each of these guys are worth a look at.