After some recently rough outings against conference opponents, Drew Lock and Will Grier were steady in big road wins over the weekend.
Neither looked like the future No. 1 overall pick in the draft but didn’t make many mistakes and delivered big-time throws when their teams needed them most.
As a whole, the presumed 2019 quarterback class was solid but unspectacular … and, what has become the norm this season, Daniel Jones played in a rainstorm.
Here’s the latest edition of QB Stock Watch.
1. Ryan Finley, NC State: Stock Steady
North Carolina State got out to a quick lead against Florida State that it never relinquished. Finley had reps with his typical miss — which is high — but diced up the Seminoles secondary for most of the afternoon. I did notice him leaving the pocket at the first sign of pressure, which is concerning. More often than not on those plays, while on the run, Finley found a receiver and delivered an accurate throw. He rarely turns into a runner in those situations.
The NC State signal-caller threw a gorgeous back-shoulder toss downfield to Jakobi Meyers, and his best throw came when he looked left, then snapped his head to the right and fit the ball over the shoulder of the cornerback to Kelvin Harmon, who drew a defensive pass interference call. After a slow start that included some misses and throws to covered receivers, Finley had a good day against Florida State.
2. Justin Herbert, Oregon: Stock Steady
The Ducks were dedicated to the run against UCLA. As a team, the Ducks ran it 42 times for 200 yards and three scores. So Herbert wasn’t a huge part of Oregon’s offensive game plan. Especially early. He started with two early misses near the sideline. Against the Bruins, he had two pinpoint accurate downfield passes — one went to a wide open Dillon Mitchell. But his ball-placement was still lacking. He was wide on a deep cross and threw to his target’s feet on a half rollout.
Herbert did drop in a nice back-shoulder toss and fit some comebacks and slants to his receivers who were well covered. His best throw of the night came in the first half on a throw down the seam to his tight end. The Oregon junior was much better than he was a week ago but didn’t do much to alleviate the ball-placement concerns from that loss to Arizona.
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3. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: Stock Up, Slightly
No one was happier for Emanuel Hall to return to the field than Drew Lock. The tall, blazing wideout had missed the last six games and returned to make a big impact for the Tigers offense and Lock’s efficiency in the win over Florida. After failing to connect on the first three attempts downfield to Hall, he threaded the needle in the second quarter down the sideline. Lock did miss some open receivers, most notably a pass-catcher on a slant on third down before the half.
With a 21-10 lead in the third, Lock delivered a perfectly placed pass on a post, and he stepped up into the pocket before releasing the football too. There were some Matt Stafford-ian awkward arm angle passes that Lock threw accurately with zip. Those are always fun to watch. His stats looked a little better than how well he actually played — 24 of 32 for 250 with three touchdowns and no interceptions — but given the defense he faced on the road, the Missouri senior had a solid outing.
4. Will Grier, West Virginia: Stock Up
After starting with some misfires — he was behind and late on a deep dig and was off-target deep — Grier found David Sills on a slot fade for a touchdown, which came after the two connected on a long score through a blown coverage. Grier dissected Texas’ zone coverage on underneath throws all afternoon and flashed his impressive pocket patience and pocket-drifting skills for most of the contest.
Grier was outstanding on the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, as he stayed calm in the pocket, moved through his reads, and threw with the most velocity I’ve seen from him all season. His touchdown to the back portion of the end zone to Gary Jennings with 18 seconds left was a thing of beauty, and he wasn’t able to set his feet before making the throw. Not an incredible outing but a gutsy performance on the road from Grier.
5. Daniel Jones, Duke: Stock Steady
What is it with Jones and playing in the rain? In Miami Saturday night, the game went from slight to torrential downpour by the mid-way point of the first quarter, and I’m just not going to make a concrete evaluation of a quarterback in those conditions.
Honorable Mention: Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo
A former member of the top 5 before falling off over the past month, the 6-foot-7 quarterback dazzled in Buffalo’s 51-42 over Miami of Ohio all the way back on Tuesday. The strong-armed, dual-threat quarterback went 20 of 34 for 358 yards with three passing touchdowns and three scores on the ground.
With star wideout Anthony Johnson fully healthy, Jackson’s downfield specialty can be accentuated, and it certainly was for the Bulls in their most recent win. Jackson is probably a year away from being a finished product, but he is 2019 Draft eligible and has had a fine junior season.
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