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2019 NFL draft: 6 quarterback prospects Patriots fans should watch at the scouting combine

The combine starts this week, and the passers will be interesting to watch.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s 2019 scouting combine will be kicked off tomorrow, when the first group of players arrives in Indianapolis. The action will really pick up on Wednesday, though: the first wave of head coach and general manager interviews is scheduled between 9:00 a.m. ET and 4:00 p.m. ET, while the most talked-about position group — the quarterbacks — will also arrive at the combine.

And it is that group that fans of the New England Patriots (let alone members of the organization itself) will once again keep a close eye on. After all, Tom Brady will turn 42 in August and even though he is still slinging it with the best of them, the team might target his potential successor or at least a developmental quarterback in the mold of Jimmy Garoppolo when the draft takes place in late April.

Let’s therefore take a look at six quarterback prospects to keep an eye on.

Will Grier

School: West Virginia

Size: 6’1, 215 lbs

What is said about him: “Will Grier is an exciting passer, but one lacking in some key areas that will restrict his effectiveness without remodeling his game. Grier has great flashes of spot accuracy, down field aggressiveness and extending of the play, but he’s too wild. Grier is at his best when his initial key is available, minimizing his time holding the ball. A quick passing offense would mitigate some of his issues within the pocket and allow him to dial in on his rhythm as a passer.” — Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network

A popular mock draft pick for the Patriots, Will Grier brings plenty of traits to the table you would want from an NFL quarterback: he has a solid arm that will allow him to hit tight windows at the next level, throws with a nice touch, and generally makes solid decisions. While he will need to get used to working under center at the next level and improve his progression skills beyond his first target, he has a solid foundation in place — one that should make him a day two selection in the draft. The biggest questions he will face are about his size as well as the fact that he missed all of 2015 after violating the NCAA’s rules against performance-enhancing drugs.

Tyree Jackson

School: Buffalo

Size: 6’7, 245 lbs

What is said about him: “Jackson would not be an ideal pick in the first or second round of the draft. I don’t believe that he possesses the short-mid range accuracy, or the experience necessary to compete for a starting position on an NFL roster right away. However, his physical stature and his strong arm make him a favorable developmental quarterback with a huge upside.” — Michael Sheppard, Draft Diamonds

Tyree Jackson is the biggest quarterback to be invited to the combine — both in terms of size and also in terms of his arm: the Buffalo product has possibly the strongest arm of all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft, and knows how to use it. Jackson throws with velocity and zip, and is generally an impressively athlete. The major questions about him relate to his lack of experience as a starter and his inconsistent technique.

Daniel Jones

School: Duke

Size: 6’5, 220 lbs

What is said about him: “Jones knows how to arch his back, dip his shoulder and really launch a throw for distance, and due to the fact that he does have such a feel for the football, he’s often quite accurate with throws of long distances. [...] I like a lot of Jones’ game, but watching him fail to have the ball velocity I believe is needed in the NFL makes it tough for me to think he’s anything more than a mid-round guy.” — Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network

Just like the aforementioned Will Grier, Daniel Jones is also a popular selection for the Patriots in mock draft scenarios. And just like Grier, the Duke product will need some work at the next level to turn into a starting caliber quarterback. That being said, he does have some enticing traits from his solid technique to his accuracy. And while his velocity and ability to work under pressure are question marks at this point in his career, Jones still projects to become a day two selection.

Drew Lock

School: Missouri

Size: 6’3, 225 lbs

What is said about him: “Lock has shown flashes and could be an above average starter at the next level. As with any rookie, much of their success and development is determined by their situation. If Lock lands with a team where he is not rushed into starting duty, it would be to his benefit.” — Aaron Gershon, With the First Pick

The first thing that stands out about Drew Lock is his right arm: the Missouri quarterback has a cannon and is therefore able to find success on every throw in the book, effortlessly fitting the football into tight windows and hitting his targets in strike. As good a pocket passer as any entering the draft, the 22-year old is projected to get picked in the first round — so New England might have to trade up to get him, if it wants to. Lock does not come without his fair share of questions, though: his decision making is not up to NFL standards yet.

Kyler Murray

School: Oklahoma

Size: 5’10, 190 lbs

What is said about him: “He may not fit the typical quarterback suit, but all those guys kicking themselves now for missing out on Russell Wilson because he was a hair shorter than 5’11” should learn from that mistake and take Murray very seriously as an NFL quarterback with plus potential. If you take the entire skill set into consideration, he’s the best-developed quarterback in his draft class.” — Doug Farrar, USA Today

The most talked-about quarterback prospect to enter this year’s draft is without a doubt Kyler Murray — not just because he opted to try his luck with pro football instead of joining pro baseball’s Oakland Athletics: at 5’10, the 21-year old is undersized by classic NFL standards. Murray also comes with a natural feel for the quarterback position and a tremendous arm, however, and has posted excellent numbers as Baker Mayfield’s replacement at Oklahoma. While he does not fit the mold of the Patriots’ past quarterback selections, it will be interesting to see how they approach a developmental talent such as Murray.

Brett Rypien

School: Boise State

Size: 6’2, 200 lbs

What is said about him: “Rypien took big strides forward in his senior season. I was impressed with some added velocity on his throws and the accuracy he illustrated under pressure. No, Rypien doesn’t show elite physical tools. But he’s an experienced passer who shows very good efforts in quick passing concepts and throws well in rhythm. Rypien is a potential low end to average starter in the NFL.” — Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network

While Brett Rypien’s size, athletic skills and arm strength do not stand out, the Boise State quarterback still brings plenty of intriguing traits to the table: he knows how to get through his progressions quickly, throws accurate and catchable passes, and has outstanding poise in the pocket — all while coming with plenty of experience. He needs to continue working on his mechanics to consistently generate sufficient velocity to function as a potential NFL starter, but overall he has solid foundational tools for a possible mid to late round quarterback.