There have been some great quarterbacks go through Mobile, Alabama on their way to the NFL. Guys like Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Brett Favre -- and even more recently with guys like Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and Baker Mayfield.
I've begun to put together a list of potential Senior Bowl invites for the 71st game in 2020 and I will be breaking them down position-by-position. Some I will just list and others will have a simple analysis.
The first position I will start with is the most important one.......QUARTERBACKS.
JUSTIN HERBERT, Oregon:
Herbert was viewed by most as the top QB prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft pool until he decided to return to Eugene for his senior season.
He still has room to improve and his accuracy should be the starting point. But his measurable and established 'Scout Clout' will have him on everybody's radar going into the year, including Jim Nagy and the Senior Bowl.
JAKE BENTLEY, South Carolina:
When you think of Jake Bentley, what comes to your mind first? Inconsistency? Consistency? Consistently inconsistent? He has throws that make you think he has first round potential only to be followed up by a series of throws that have you questioning his ability as a college quarterback. The ability and measureables are there but my confidence in his ability to be consistently good is on the fringe.
He torched the top defense in the country in Clemson, throwing for over 500 yards and FIVE touchdowns. Then against Virginia in the Belk Bowl Best Bowl, albeit without his top receiver in Deebo Samuel, he led the Gamecocks to a scoreless day, going 17/39 passing for 218 yards and TWO interceptions.
With the talented freshman, Ryan Hilinski, coming into the program in 2019, I expect Bentley's performance to pick up due to the competition in the quarterback room. If it does, then he has the chance to increase his draft stock dramatically. But if he continues to plateau or his play on the field diminishes, it could result in a future in the AAF (nothing wrong with that but I'm just saying).
STEPHEN 'BUCKSHOT' CALVERT, Liberty:
Quite possibly the greatest nickname in college football....'Buckshot.' Stephen Calvert made a name for himself with his performance at Baylor at the beginning of the 2017 season when he threw for over 400 yards and THREE touchdowns.
As a junior last year, he ushered the Red Flames into their first season at the FBS level. They went 6-6 overall and finished the year with back-to-back home wins to get to a .500 record.
Calvert's numbers are a little unsettling to look at on the surface. He started all 12 games and went 240/439 (54.7%) for 3068 yards with 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Obviously the completion percentage and touchdown to interception ratio is concerning but his film shows some positive signs for him.
He throws with some serious velocity and is a little more accurate than the numbers reflect. He throws with a slingshot type motion which may or may not be a contributing factor to his nickname. Now with an offensive savant as his head coach (Hugh Freeze), I would expect him to develop and improve in some of those key areas.
Don't be surprised to see his name on the Senior Bowl invite list next year.
KELLY BRYANT, Missouri:
The former Clemson Tiger remains a Tiger in his transfer to Missouri. At Clemson, he went 16-2 as a starter and led the Tigers to a playoff birth in 2017 that most people didn't expect in the preseason due to all the losses to the NFL Draft the previous year.
He wasn't the most explosive quarterback as far as numbers but was constantly under fire for being nothing more than a wide receiver or tight end playing QB. Those critiques are completely absurd. There are areas for improvement for Bryant in his passing ability but not to the degree that some people stated or believe.
At Missouri, he is walking into a good situation. Majority of offensive production, including a stout offensive line group, returns and Derek Dooley will be in his second season as offensive coordinator.
Drew Lock, 2019 Senior Bowl alum, said in the opening press conference on Monday night of Senior Bowl week that Dooley helped him a ton on and off the field and that he regrets absolutely nothing about going back to school after his junior year. Look for Mizzou to be a dark-horse contender in the SEC East next season and Kelly Bryant to be a big reason why.
BRYCE PERKINS, Virginia
KHALIL TATE, Arizona
RILEY NEAL, Vanderbilt (transfer from Ball St)
BRADY WHITE, Memphis
MASON FINE, North Texas:
Mason Fine is one of the best returning quarterbacks in the country going into the 2019 season. He is still an 'under the radar' player but has some traits that will appeal to NFL teams. At about 5-11, 185 pounds, Fine's measureables won't help his draft stock but he is one tough SOG.
Like most guys his size coming out of high school, Fine was deemed as 'too short' and received only one FBS offer. He is now the all-time leading passer in North Texas' history and still has another season left. He is your classic case of 'prove you wrong' with a toughness and swagger you need to be successful at the next level.
But he is more than just intangibles. Through his first three years at UNT, Fine has thrown for 9417 yards on 782/1241 (63%) passing with 64 touchdowns to 25 interceptions.
He throws with a purpose and has solid velocity and accuracy. Fine is a virtual lock at a Senior Bowl invite in my mind on his journey to continue proving doubters wrong.
JOE BURROW, LSU
SHEA PATTERSON, Michigan
DEONDRE FRANCOIS, Florida State
NATE STANLEY, Iowa
TYLER HUNTLEY, Utah