2009 NFL Draft: Top Ten Senior QBs
Todd Boeckman (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Todd Boeckman (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst
Posted Aug 8, 2008

Scout.com’s NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber reveals his top-ten senior quarterbacks in college football and provides his scouting reports of the signal callers. Find out where Steuber ranks the likes of Todd Boeckman of the No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and where the field generals project in the 2009 NFL Draft.

1. Cullen Harper, Clemson, 6-4, 220

Strengths: Harper is a highly skilled passer with tremendous physical skills who possesses the leadership qualities necessary to succeed at the next level. He works well under center and in a shotgun formation, demonstrates excellent poise and uses his quick release to rifle an accurate, catchable ball to his receivers. He escapes the rush well and is able to keep a play alive with his feet. He makes excellent decisions and rarely forces a bad throw into coverage.

Weaknesses: Even though he moves well in the pocket, Harper tends to hold on to the ball too long and take unnecessary sacks. He only threw six interceptions last season, but he locks onto his primary receiver too much, and that will hurt him in the long run if it isn’t corrected. He has to improve his touch on vertical routes.

Steuber Says: Despite having to wait three years for his opportunity to shine, Harper didn’t disappoint during his junior campaign as he threw for 2,991 yards, 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Harper returns for his senior season and is surrounded by one of the most potent offenses in the country. Having the likes of Aaron Kelly, James Davis and C.J. Spiller will only accelerate Harper’s progression as the top senior quarterback in the country.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 1st Round

2. Curtis Painter, Purdue, 6-4, 230

Strengths: Painter has ideal size and possesses strong mechanics. He stands tall in the pocket and displays good awareness. He has a quick release and is accurate hitting his receivers in stride. He’s a tough competitor who buys time for his receivers and will stay in the pocket until the very last moment to complete a pass. He has the ability to escape the pocket and make throws on the run.

Weaknesses: He may have the ability to make plays on the run, but Painter is occasionally slow in his drop back and will take unnecessary sacks. He doesn’t look off his primary receiver consistently, which is the cause for his high interception total. He throws a nice deep ball, but it lacks touch.

Steuber Says: A gifted leader who possesses a strong arm and outstanding ability, Painter is one of the premier quarterbacks in college football. Although he’s one of the best, Painter has to improve his decision-making and not force throws. His 35 career interceptions are alarming, but his leadership qualities and ability to make big plays in crucial situations are what make him special.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 1st – 2nd Round

3. Hunter Cantwell, Louisville, 6-4, 236

Strengths: Cantwell has elite size, a great arm and the intangibles to be a great quarterback at the next level. He’s a patient player who waits for his receivers to break and unleashes a canon that hits the mark in a hurry. He throws vertical routes with ease and displays great touch. He places his throws in spots where only his receivers can make the catch and also has the ability to squeeze his throws into tight spots.

Out of Brian Brohm's shadow and into the spotlight, Cantwell looks to emerge.
Al Messerschmidt /Getty

Weaknesses: A strong arm can sometimes get you in trouble, and Cantwell has the mentality that he can thread the needle every time he’s in his drop. He struggles under pressure and forces throws into coverage. He has to improve his footwork and setup properly in the pocket.

Steuber Says: The departure of Brian Brohm means that Louisville will finally have the opportunity to see what’s been waiting in the wings for the previous three seasons, senior Hunter Cantwell. Cantwell has one of the strongest arms in the country, and now that he will take command of the Cardinals offense, he will finally be able to showcase the ability he’s been touted with.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 2nd – 3rd Round

4. Todd Boeckman, Ohio State, 6-4, 244

Strengths: Boeckman is a strong QB with great poise and presence. He has a strong arm and delivers the ball with precision. He’s accurate on deep and intermediate routes, and gives his receivers a chance to make plays. He has good mobility and can make plays with his legs. He’s a smart player who makes good decisions.

Weaknesses: He’s developed nicely and has shown a lot of promise, but he has lapses during games and will turn the ball over. He doesn’t work well under pressure and needs time in the pocket to get a throw off.

Steuber Says: The biggest thing that stands out to me immediately about Boeckman is his size. He’s a huge quarterback with a tremendous arm. He has great playmakers on offense, and they add to his success, but Boeckman possesses leadership qualities that make the Buckeyes’ engine run.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 3rd Round

5. Chase Daniel, Missouri, 6-0, 228

Strengths: Daniel is a smart field general who possesses a great feel for the game. He's a terrific athlete who's able to escape the pocket and make plays on the run. He displays great touch and accuracy on his throws and delivers the ball with a quick release. He shows patience in the pocket, buys time with his legs and waits for receivers to get open. He has a nice sense of timing, leads receivers in the short field and can air the ball out vertically for big gains. He has good speed and picks up positive yards on the ground.

Weaknesses: He lacks ideal height and on occasion has difficulty locating his receivers through the trees.

Steuber Says: Who said size matters when it comes to quarterbacks? Chase Daniel may be vertically challenged, but he’s one of the most competitive players in the country. Like Drew Brees, Daniel has the ability to take over a game when it matters the most and propel his team to victory.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 3rd Round

6. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, 6-2, 205

Strengths: A record-breaking quarterback in a pass happy offense, Harrell displays patience in the pocket, a quick release and a great sense of timing. He goes through his progressions consistently and locates the open receiver quickly. He’s extremely accurate on intermediate routes and has nice touch on vertical routes.

Weaknesses: As accurate and as deadly as he is, he has a tendency to force throws when pressured from the backside. He has average speed and doesn’t roll out of the pocket very well. He’s a pocket passer and isn’t very effective throwing on the run.

Steuber Says: The ultimate gunslinger with a quick release, Harrell – for all the knocks against him – is one of the most consistent performers in the country. He may star in an offense that’s predicated on producing numbers, but he’s got the ability to be a star in the West Coast offense.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 4th Round

7. Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State, 6-2, 222

Strengths: Carpenter is an intelligent, tough competitor who is a true leader on the field. He has solid footwork and is able to make throws on the run. He has a good sense of timing and delivers an accurate, catchable ball. He reads defenses well, effectively looks off the safety and finds the open target. He’s a durable player who will play through pain and commands respect from his teammates.

Carpenter's toughness is one of many attributes that make him a top QB in the country.
Otto Greule Jr /Getty

Weaknesses: He’s may be a tremendous leader and a quality field general, but Carpenter isn’t the most accurate quarterback in the country. He hurries too many throws, and even when the game slows down, his passes are off target.

Steuber Says: One of the toughest quarterbacks I’ve seen in a while, Carpenter is the ultimate competitor who commands respect from his teammates because of his no nonsense style of play. He gets knocked down and beat up, but sticks his head back in the huddle and straps it on for more. He’s one of the forgotten performers in the country, and all he does week in and week out is produce.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 4th Round

8. Tom Brandstater, Fresno State, 6-5, 220

Strengths: Brandstater has elite size and a strong arm. He’s developed into a great leader and a guy players respect in the huddle. He displays good poise in the pocket and reads defenses very well. He throws intermediate routes with precision and has good touch on vertical routes.

Weaknesses: He has all the tools to be a tremendous quarterback, but Brandstater is a streaky performer who is up and down week to week. He doesn’t have the accuracy you’d like to see out of a top flight QB; he has to improve his footwork to become more accurate.

Steuber Says: If you’re looking for a player that embodies the label of a “prototypical” quarterback, Brandstater is the poster boy for that claim. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Brandstater possesses the physical attributes teams salivate over, but he has yet to produce like the elite QB many believe he can be. His accuracy and decision-making have improved, but it still isn’t to the point where I consider him a top prospect.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 4th Round

9. Mike Reilly, Central Washington, 6-3, 215

Strengths: Reilly is an efficient quarterback who’s accurate in the short field. He has great footwork and is a very good athlete. He keeps his feet active and easily gets outside the pocket, making the throw on the move. He has a good sense of timing and leads his receivers well. He goes through his progressions and makes good decisions with the ball.

Weaknesses: As efficient as Reilly is in the short game, he has to improve his accuracy on deep routes. Although successful, he doesn’t play against top competition.

Steuber Says: Reilly is my wildcard quarterback. A former Washington State transfer, Reilly’s situation is reminiscent of what Joe Flacco faced at Pittsburgh when he was buried on the depth chart. Reilly, like Flacco, who transferred to Delaware, decided to drop a level of play and become a full-time starter. He’s got the ability to be an efficient quarterback at the next level and could be a quality developmental player on a team that runs the West Coast offense.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 5th Round

10. Nathan Brown, Central Arkansas, 6-1, 212

Strengths: Brown is an athletic signal caller who possesses a live arm and can make all the throws. He displays a good sense of timing, uncanny accuracy and hits receivers in stride. He moves well in the pocket, escapes pressure and has the ability to beat you on the run with his legs or his arm.

Weaknesses: A player who has a lot of ability and potential, Brown didn’t play against top competition. He struggles against aggressive defenses and can be rushed into making bad decisions. He tries to put the game on his shoulders and win it by himself.

Steuber Says: A lot of people are high on Brown, and while I think he’s a very good quarterback at the I-AA level, I severely question how he projects to the next level. He’s a small quarterback who possesses a strong arm, but he’s stubborn and feels he can fit the ball in between the tightest spots. That may work against the likes of Henderson State and Texas State, but he will need more structure at the next level.

Early 2009 Draft Projection: 5th – 6th Round

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.

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