The less-heralded QBs Washington could target late in the draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Carson Wentz’s arrival and Ron Rivera’s recent comment at the NFL’s annual league meetings sure seem to indicate that the Commanders are out on spending top draft capital on a quarterback.
So, if the franchise wants to find that third option late in the upcoming draft, who could they be choosing from? You’ve absorbed a ton about the top QBs like Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett, but these less-heralded prospects are probably worth learning more about.
Bailey Zappe – Western Kentucky
Zappe played just one season of top college ball after starting out in the FCS, but he made that one season count.
With Western Kentucky, Zappe etched his name in the NCAA record books by throwing for the most yards in one year (5,967) and most touchdowns (62, two more than Joe Burrow did in his final run at LSU). There’s production, there’s production and there’s PRODUCTION. Zappe’s work at WKU falls into the third category.
Despite those never-before-seen numbers, there are concerns about Zappe’s arm strength and size (he’s listed at a shade over 6 feet tall). And a lot of times, these prolific Saturday players fail to make any mark on Sunday as they transition to schemes that aren’t so fast-paced.
However, as a Day 3 pickup or a post-draft signing for Washington, Zappe would slot into a depth chart where he wouldn’t have to do much other than improve at his own speed. Plus, he and Taylor Heinicke — who once threw for 730 yards in a single game for Old Dominion — could chat about their ridiculous memories at school with one another.
Brock Purdy – Iowa State
In terms of experience, Purdy is the anti-Zappe, as he emerged as Iowa State’s starter during his freshman campaign and held onto that title all the way until his senior go-round.
That sort of lengthy stint in an offense means NFL scouts and coaches will have plenty to evaluate, which they always like. The question is: How much is there to like about Purdy’s tools?
Pre-draft profiles are bearish on Purdy’s throwing motion, consistency and ability to challenge an opponent all over the field. As for his strengths, they’re more of the intangible quality: Toughness, confidence and leadership.
Analysts suggest he’s at his best when relying on play-action, though, which is something Commanders offensive coordinator Scott Turner leans on often in his system. Maybe that’ll be enough to bump Purdy up the team’s board.
Jack Coan – Notre Dame
Coan finished his college career up at Notre Dame after opening at Wisconsin, and to his credit, he performed better at his second stop.
In 13 starts with the Fighting Irish, Coan tossed 25 touchdowns against just seven interceptions, with the exclamation point coming in a Fiesta Bowl outing against Oklahoma State where he racked up 509 passing yards and five TDs. He was solid with the Badgers but really found success in South Bend.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein writes that Coan can “operate in a variety of passing schemes and could become a good backup or a future starter with the right pieces around him.” The Commanders own a fourth-round pick as well as one in the sixth, either of which could be used to secure Coan.
Carson Strong – Nevada
Not having a third-round pick may cause Washington to miss out on Strong, who’s the most respected prospect of the four in this story. That said, there is one major red flag on his résumé that could force him to slide.
Strong has had multiple surgical operations done on his right knee, with procedures occurring both in high school and at Nevada. His arm talent is top-notch, but the worries over his leg and base are, too.
Because of his knee, Strong’s mobility is rather limited. But as long as he can get into the huddle, he can still be a special quarterback; reports on Strong routinely gush about the pro-caliber throws he can complete with ease, and that’s a trait that’s always going to matter more than anything else.
If QB-needy teams get desperate, then it’s likely Strong is gone long before the Commanders are on the clock in the fourth round. Should he somehow make it to them, they’ll have to seriously think about adding a second Carson to their squad.