Cosell Weighs In On Quarterback Class

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

One way or another, there’s a decent chance the Eagles will be looking at quarterbacks come late April/early May.

Maybe Chip Kelly will make a push for Marcus Mariota. Maybe they’ll simply be searching for a developmental QB in the later rounds. Those plans won’t be revealed in full for another couple months. Here’s what we do know: Jeffrey Lurie said the Eagles “have to try to win big and focus on that position at all times” at the conclusion of the regular season, and steered clear of giving Nick Foles his full endorsement. Kelly left things pretty open-ended when it came to the quarterback spot as well, noting that the coaching staff had yet to complete its season evaluations.

Even if those evaluations reveal that Foles should be the man going forward, they still might very well be looking to beef up the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez is one of the top options in a thin free-agent quarterback class, and could bolt for the opportunity to start elsewhere. And to this point, there’s been little indication that the coaching staff has great faith in Matt Barkley.  

What kind of options are out there? With the combine set to begin next week, we called on NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell to get his take on four of the top quarterback prospects based strictly off what they have put on tape.

Marcus Mariota (6-4, 219, Oregon)

“There are three things that you don’t see when you watch Mariota, and everyone has to decide how important it is to them. What you don’t see are anticipation throws because that’s not part of their offense and they aren’t necessary; you don’t see him throw with people around him because there are rarely people around him; and you don’t see tight window throws, which sooner or later – no matter what offense you run in the NFL – you are going to have to make those throws. I’ve been doing this too long to say he’s incapable of that, but you don’t see that on film,” said Cosell. “What Mariota is used to is a precisely-timed pass game with the ball coming out quickly to schemed open receivers.

“He’s very light on his feet, he’s got a very quick drop and set, he’s a quick-twitch athlete. I think he’s a little bit of a short-armer when he throws but a lot of that is a function of the kinds of throws [he’s being asked to make]. My guess is his arm is stronger than he needs to show in college, and you’ll see that when he does pro days and all those kinds of things.”

Jameis Winston (6-4, 230, Florida State)

“I think Jameis Winston has what you would consider more NFL attributes than Mariota when you watch him on film because he does make the anticipation throws, he’s willing to turn it loose into tight windows. He has his own set of issues that need to be addressed – I think he’s a little deliberate with everything he does, he needs to be a little bit quicker. He’s not a quick-twitch athlete. You see some misreads and poor decisions. But he is willing to turn it loose, he’s a confident thrower. I don’t think you can coach anticipation, and Winston has it.”

 Brett Hundley (6-3, 227, UCLA)

“I think Hundley is a very raw and unrefined player. I think he needs a lot of work and a lot of coaching. He’s got some pretty good attributes. He’s a bit of a pusher. He lifts his back leg off the ground before he throws the ball which is always a problem. I think he has what I would call slow eyes. I don’t think he has great vision in the pocket and I think that’s a problem that will only get worse in the NFL.

“I think Hundley has to be drafted after the second round. He needs there to be no expectations. He can’t play now. There’s a long learning curve for him and he may never get there. He needs to be drafted in the third round or lower, otherwise he may never make it.”

Bryce Petty (6-3, 230, Baylor)

“He’s an intriguing prospect who I think has his own set of issues because of the offense he plays in. He plays in a true spread with a lot of those quick throws. But he’s got the look of a pocket quarterback. He throws a pretty ball; he doesn’t have a gun, but he throws a nice ball. There are things that bother me about him, too. A lot of his deep balls lost energy on the back end. He doesn’t bring his hips through his throws because so many throws in that offense are take the snap and throw it right away. When that happens, you get into the habit of not bringing your hips through the throw and then when you have to make intermediate and deeper throws you don’t bring your hips through the throw and that impacts your velocity and your accuracy.”


“From what I’ve seen so far, I would say Winston has the most NFL traits. I would say Mariota is very talented and it will be in the eye of the beholder in terms of what you think he can be. Petty is intriguing to me but he is another guy that needs to be a fourth-round pick.

“I think Winston is a legitimate top five to top 10 pick based on film. Mariota is a talented kid, a quick-twitch athlete that you have to project whether the attributes and traits and characteristics that will be needed to play in the NFL, whether you believe he can show those. But he’s a talented kid.

“Chip’s going to think he’s a high pick. He knows Chip’s offense. He’s run that offense. The transition might not be as easy as people think, but it makes perfect sense.”