I thought now was the time to discuss the player comparisons for the top QB prospects in high school football. I am not saying that these guys will be as good as their comparisons, but merely pointing out similarities in playing-style and physical attributes. The rankings are based on the Rivals100. There will be discrepancies between the major recruiting sites and I obviously don’t have the ability to scout these guys, so we’re gonna trust Rivals on this one.
1. Shea Patterson, 5-Star – Dual-Threat (Ole Miss): Russell Wilson
Patterson, much like Eason, has amassed plenty of touchdowns and very few interceptions in his high school career (122 passing touchdowns to only 14 interceptions). He’s the smallest player on this list, standing around 6’2″ and weighing around 190 pounds. Patterson and Wilson share some similar traits. First, Patterson and Wilson are considered to be undersized by prototypical standards. Patterson is a few inches taller than Wilson and Wilson has a more muscular build than Patterson. Patterson has a great feel for the pocket and reacts quickly to pressure. Patterson has good (not great) arm strength and has great accuracy.
Patterson sometimes “feels ghosts” while in the pocket, which is a bizarre way of saying that he will move around and evade rushers that aren’t there. He relies on his ability to move around to create throwing lanes a lot more than most top quarterbacks. While he possesses good speed (rumored to be around 4.6 in the 40-yard dash), he is more quick than fast. Patterson faced excellent competition in his last year of high school at IMG Academy, was the MVP of the Elite 11, and was the MVP of the U.S. Army All-American game. Chad Kelly’s return to Ole Miss will likely mean a redshirt season for Patterson.
Chance he plays as a true freshman: 20%
2. Jacob Eason, 5-star – Pro-Style (Georgia): Joe Flacco
Eason and Flacco are both tall (around 6’6″) and are most comfortable in the pocket. They share a similar ability to stretch the field with their arm strength and alter their delivery in order to make throws into tight space. It’s difficult to get past the sheer size and arm strength with these quarterbacks, but Eason displayed improved accuracy in his final two years of high school. Eason should challenge for the starting job next season at Georgia. He should be a great fit in the offensive system. Eason played in Washington and didn’t face great competition in high school.
Chance he plays as a true freshman: 65%
3. Feleipe Franks, 4-star – Pro-Style (Florida): Jay Cutler
Franks has one of the strongest, likely the strongest, arms in the country. He’s tall (around 6’6″) and has a skill set that should thrive in the Gators’s system. I think the Gators will try to be more of a pro-style team (and were with Will Grier under center) and Franks can be a part of that as soon as next season. Franks, much like Cutler, has tremendous arm strength and always believes he can get the ball into any window. Franks has struggled with accuracy (57% passer in his high school career) and isn’t evasive by any stretch of the imagination. Cutler is probably a little more athletic, but has also had bouts of inaccuracy. The Gators need a QB desperately and I wouldn’t be surprised if Franks was the starter at some point early in the season.
Chance he plays as a true freshman: 75%
4. Jarrett Guarantano, 4-star – Dual-Threat (Tennessee): Alex Smith
Guarantano suffered a foot injury and missed some time this season. He’s got lots of physical ability and is not reliant on his running ability. He had several impressive games as a senior against some of the top teams in all of high school football. He doesn’t throw many interceptions (or touchdowns) so he’s perhaps more of an athletic guy who can manage a game. Alex Smith is one of the more athletic QB’s in the NFL and is constantly one of the NFL’s leading rushers at the QB position. Tennessee is continually improving under Butch Jones and Guarantano should be an excellent addition. He could challenge for the backup role.
Chance he plays as a true freshman: 25%
5. Malik Henry, 4-star – Dual-Threat (Florida State): Ryan Tannehill
Henry is a great athlete and will likely play baseball in college as well. Henry missed a few games as senior, however, he showed the ability to limit turnovers. He threw only one interception (compared to 16 scores) and didn’t rely on his running ability to succeed. A player with the speed of Henry is often tempted to run on each play and become a player who is defined by his scrambling ability. Henry (listed at 6’3″ and 185 pounds) will need to add bulk over the course of the year. He compares favorably to Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill started his career as a wide receiver and was known as more of an athlete than a quarterback in his early years. Henry will need a year to physically develop and add weight. He will likely be redshirted.
Chance he plays as a true freshman: 10%