3. Sam Howell, North Carolina (44th overall)
Having Sam Howell as my third quarterback in the class is an unpopular opinion — especially considering that he’s a distant fifth on the NFL Draft consensus board. However, I’m willing to go against the grain a bit here.
There are certainly a few things that Howell must do better at the next level in order to succeed. If his first read isn’t open, he too often tucks the ball and looks to run. He also needs to improve his pocket awareness overall, as he took an absurd amount of sacks last season.
Still, I really like the tools that Howell possesses. He’s got a live NFL arm and he’s one of the best deep-ball passers I’ve ever graded since studying the NFL Draft. He’s also very willing to throw the football deep and over the middle of the field, despite his short stature.
I don’t think Howell will be the same running threat in the NFL — he’s just not that kind of athlete. But he will be able to do more than enough to extend the play and occasionally move the chains with his legs. At just over 6’0”, Howell’s lack of height worries me a bit, but he’s got arm talent for days and he will be just 21 years old to begin his rookie season. I see plenty of upside here.