Carolina Panthers

2017 NFL draft: Top 10 quarterbacks | Tar Heels’ QB stock rising, but how far?

Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a proven winner and leader. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has served as something of a mentor to Watson.
Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a proven winner and leader. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has served as something of a mentor to Watson. AP

The Observer’s top 10 quarterbacks available in the 2017 NFL draft:

1. Deshaun Watson

College: Clemson.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 221.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Michael Jordan comparisons aside (see Swinney, Dabo), Watson is a proven winner and leader.

Former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) has the build, presence and mechanics to thrive in the NFL. Robert Willett

2. Mitch Trubisky

College: North Carolina.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 222.

Projected round: 1st.

Comment: Only started one season, but has the build, presence and mechanics to thrive at next level.

3. Patrick Mahomes

College: Texas Tech.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 225.

Projected round: 1st-2nd.

Comment: Set NCAA total offense record with 819 yards (734 passing) vs. Okalahoma in ‘15.

4. DeShone Kizer

College: Notre Dame.

Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 233.

Projected round: 2nd-3rd.

Comment: Good size and a big arm, but has to improve his accuracy.

5. Davis Webb

College: California.

Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 229.

Projected round: 3rd.

Comment: Transferred from Texas Tech to Cal before last season after Jared Goff went No. 1.

6. Nathan Peterman

College: Pittsburgh.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 226.

Projected round: 3rd-4th.

Comment: Tennessee transfer threw for a combined 5,000 yards in two seasons as Pitt’s starter.

7. Josh Dobbs

College: Tennessee

Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 216.

Projected round: 3rd-4th.

Comment: Joined Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel and Dak Prescott as only SEC QBs with 50 passing TDs, 25 rushing TDs.

8. Brad Kaaya

College: Miami.

Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 214.

Projected round: 4th-5th.

Comment: Three-year starter for the ‘Canes has slow feet and so-so arm strength.

Former Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans (4) set Hokies records for passing yards, touchdowns and total offense. Matt Gentry AP

9. Jerod Evans

College: Virginia Tech.

Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 232.

Projected round: 5th-6th.

Comment: Set Hokies records for passing yards, TDs and total offense under 1st-year coach Justin Fuente.

10. C.J. Beathard

College: Iowa.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 219.

Projected round: 5th-6th.

Comment: Not a great athlete, but played through injuries and was a two-year captain for Hawkeyes.

The Carolina Panthers have shown a potential interest in former Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs, above, as a backup to Cam Newton. Wade Payne AP

Panthers’ perspective

Despite having four QBs under contract, the Panthers worked out Dobbs, the Tennessee standout. Carolina eyed Russell Wilson before the 2012 draft as a potential backup to Cam Newton. Their potential interest in Dobbs makes sense along those lines, especially with Newton coming off shoulder surgery that will sideline him at least through OTAs and minicamp.

Local connection

Mitch Trubisky, who couldn’t unseat Marquise Williams as UNC’s starter, could wind up as the No. 1 pick in the draft after starting just 13 college games. Trubisky, a former Mr. Football in Ohio, is coveted by his hometown Browns, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Browns have the 1st and 12th picks, and there’s growing sentiment that Trubisky will not make it out of the top 10.


You could make the case that everyone in this group not named Watson or Trubisky fits the sleeper description. But we’ll go with Peterman, who has outstanding leadership skills, sound passing mechanics and experience in a pro-style offense. Former NFL coach and ESPN “Monday Night Football” analyst Jon Gruden said if he had to pick a QB to start immediately, it would be Peterman.

Worth noting

Beathard is the grandson of former Chargers and Redskins GM Bobby Beathard and the nephew of longtime Panthers scout Jeff Beathard. ... Cam Newton has served as something of a mentor to Watson, who played in Newton’s inaugural, 7-on-7 all-star tournament and has stayed in touch with the Panthers QB. ... Mississippi’s Chad Kelly, nephew of Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly, started his career at Clemson, but was kicked off the team. He won a JUCO national championship before joining the Rebels. He had his combine invitation rescinded, and his off-the-field baggage is expected to leave him undrafted.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson