Draft King Analysis|
July 31, 2015
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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In many ways it seems hard to believe, but 12 years ago this month I launched Draft King. My thanks go out to everyone who has visited this site during that time.
I've held off on posting much on here looking toward 2016 while fielding multiple unsolicited offers from people/companies looking to buy Draft King over the past several weeks. But, with nothing imminent as of this writing, I'm ready to move forward on the slow build toward the next draft.
Football season is almost here. Training camps from the NFL down to the high school level have either begun or will begin very soon. You can expect to see the time-honored tradition of initial enthusiasm for the NFL preseason soon followed by agitation as fans anxiously await the start of the regular season.
It's a rather wide open race at this point among draft-eligible quarterbacks. Michigan State QB Connor Cook (6'4" 220) is receiving plenty of praise, but it will be important for him to show improved accuracy coming off a 58.1% completion rate in 2014.
It will be fascinating to see what happens with the QB situation at Ohio State, even with Braxton Miller (6'2" 215) apparently moving into an H-Back role. Both J.T. Barrett (6'2" 225) and Cardale Jones (6'5" 250) have strong pro potential, and Jones took a calculated risk in not leaving for the 2015 NFL Draft after the Buckeyes' national championship win. My Ohio State friends up in Columbus are excited for the season, and rightfully so.
Southern Cal QB Cody Kessler (6'1" 215) had a stellar season last year, throwing 39 TDs and only five interceptions. His 69.7% completion rate from 2014 is very impressive and sets high expectations for him in 2015. He's below prototype size, but Kessler has an opportunity to build on his already lofty career numbers and quiet his doubters with a strong campaign this fall.
Also in the Pac-12, Cal QB Jared Goff (6'4" 210) is coming off a strong season: 3,973 yards passing with 35 TDs against only seven interceptions. At 6'4" he is in an ideal range for height, but he might be well-served to add some weight to his frame to maximize his NFL chances. There are also questions about his arm strength, though modern NFL rules benefit accurate QBs over less precise passers with cannon arms.
After a solid 2013, the stats for Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg (6'4" 235) took a hit in 2014. He threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (13) and completed only 55.8% of his passes. But Hackenberg has a prototype build, and if he bounces back to his 2013 form this year, he could be in the mix near the top. He really needs to show improvement on his accuracy though, above even the 2013 numbers, and he can't take 44 sacks like he did last year.
TCU QB Trevone Boykin (6'2" 205) will be interesting to watch, particularly with him openly admitting that he needs to improve on his throwing down the middle. Boykin's 33 TDs and 3,910 passing yards last year were impressive, enough to earn him a top four finish in last year's Heisman Trophy balloting.
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan (6'4" 225) is intriguing despite throwing for fewer than 2,800 yards last year. He finished just a tick below the 66% completion rate mark, and improving on that this fall will help him work his way into the top quarterback talk.
There is some buzz surrounding Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel (6'4" 210), who at 22 is slightly older than your typical redshirt junior QB. It will be interesting to see how Kiel improved this off-season in the Cincinnati system. He gained a certain degree of notoriety in high school by changing his mind multiple times before deciding on Notre Dame, only to leave there and end up with the Bearcats.
The normally loaded SEC has fewer top draft-eligible quarterback prospects than usual going into the 2015 season. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott (6'2" 230) made the decision to return to Starkville for his senior season, which I personally felt was critical for him as he works to fine-tune his skills and sharpen his passing accuracy. Kentucky QB Patrick Towles (6'5" 240) has an ideal build, but he will need to improve on his 57.4% completion rate and 14 TDs against nine interceptions.
Outside of the I-A/FBS spotlight, a quarterback who well-respected ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper has made note of is North Dakota State's Carson Wentz (6'5" 230). His stat line through 16 games of play last season is noteworthy: 3,111 yards passing for 25 TDs against 10 interceptions to go with 642 rushing yards.
Obviously, critics can point to the level of competition Wentz has faced the I-AA/FCS level, and there is some validity to that. But Wentz will have plenty of chances to prove himself, both for the Bison this fall and in the very thorough vetting process that NFL prospects face in the months leading up to the draft.