When pressed for an answer on the most exciting quarterbacks to watch during the upcoming college football season, many experts may answer with Clemson’s Deshaun Watson or Oklahoma’a Baker Mayfield.
And they probably should. Those are talented players who led their teams to the College Football Playoff last season.
But where does the discussion go after those two? Straight to the SEC, according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein.
In the first of what appears to be a series of lists of college football players to watch at each position, Zierlein rated Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly right behind Watson and Mayfield as the No. 3 quarterback on the list.
Kelly, who lit up the SEC with 4,042 yards passing and 31 touchdowns during his first season in Oxford, has massive expectations for his final college season after forgoing a chance at the NFL Draft to return to the Rebels.
He’ll have to perform without first-round pick Laquon Treadwell catching passes this fall, but the Rebels still have talent left in the cupboard at wide receiver. Damore’ea Stringfellow and Quincy Adeboyejo are quality pass-catching options, and tight end Evan Engram rates among the league’s best.
Kelly ranked in front of UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Washington State’s Luke Falk, who rounded out the Top 5 of the list.
While the SEC did not place another quarterback on the list of 10, Zierlein did mention Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs in his “others to watch” section of the list:
While his tape shows a troubling lack of accuracy and consistency as a passer, there is no denying Dobbs’ ability to affect a game with his run/pass ability. The Vols’ four losses were extremely close and the team finished the season on a six-game winning streak. Look for Dobbs’ numbers to jump this season for a dangerous Tennessee squad.
It will be interesting to see if one of the other 12 SEC schools can develop a QB to the point of being worthy of consideration for this list by the end of the season.