Since quarterback is such an important position, I like to look at the players that Michigan is reportedly considering for offers. The only two 2015 quarterbacks to be offered so far are Josh Rosen and David Sills, but with Rosen most likely staying on the west coast and Sills committed to USC, it seems like the Wolverines might have to extend another offer or two before they land their guy. Here’s a numerical ranking of the 13 guys rumored to be of interest to Michigan; players are ranked in order of my perception of how they would fit at Michigan, not necessarily their overall talent.
1. Josh Rosen – QB – Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco: Rosen is a 6’4″, 205 lb. prospect with offers from Cal, Duke, Fresno State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, and USC, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 5-star, the #1 pro-style QB, and #4 overall in his class. As a junior in 2013, he had 3,200 yards passing, 39 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a completion percentage of 69%. He also ran for 404 yards and 8 touchdowns. Physically, Rosen reminds me of Chad Henne with his frame and running style, a guy who can pull the ball down and run if you leave him open, but not a guy who can really beat you with his feet. His mechanics and throwing style remind me of Aaron Rodgers, who’s always ready to throw the ball and has a quick release. Rosen has a very strong arm and can put the ball anywhere on the field, but he shows nice touch, too. The biggest question I have about Rosen is whether he can look off safeties, go through progressions, etc. because he tends to stare down his receiver and wait for him to come open.
2. Kyle Kearns – QB – Pleasanton (CA) Foothill: Kearns is a 6’3″, 195 lb. prospect with no offers at this time. He’s a 247 Composite 3-star and the #17 pro-style quarterback, and he had 2,500 yards passing and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012. After watching his highlights, I was surprised to click on his profile and find out that he hasn’t received any offers yet. Kearns is a guy who looks like he’s in command of the offense, knows where to go with the ball, gets rid of the ball quickly, and can throw his guys open. He also shows good quickness, the ability to throw on the run to his left or his right, and solid arm strength. I also like that he keeps his eyes downfield while scrambling. He’s not the biggest guy, and he won’t leave defenses in the dust with his speed, but I like the way he runs his football team.
3. Brady White – QB – Santa Clarita (CA) Hart: White is a 6’2″, 190 lb. prospect with offers from Colorado State and San Jose State. As a sophomore in 2012, he had 2,575 passing yards with 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. 247’s Composite rankings puts him at a 4-star level as the #3 pro-style QB and #73 overall. He claims a 4.68 forty. Frankly, I’m surprised that he’s ranked as a pro-style quarterback because a big part of his game is running the ball, and that’s the first thing that sticks out on his highlight film. He’s very mobile and accelerates quickly up the field while showing good vision and elusiveness. He has good feet and is always ready to throw, although the technical part of his footwork needs to be cleaned up. He can throw the ball from multiple angles, but his standard release is kind of a three-quarters delivery, which could get balls knocked down at the line of scrimmage since he’s only a little over 6′ tall. One thing that troubles me about White is that the ball almost never comes out on time, and he has a little bit of a hitch in his release where he takes an extra little crow hop before he gets rid of the ball. Windows will close on him in college if he can’t fix that, and he doesn’t have the pure arm strength to make up for it. White also runs a very shotgun-heavy offense and rarely drops back from under center, which doesn’t exactly mesh with the offensive philosophy of Brady Hoke.
4. Zach Gentry – QB – Albuquerque (NM) Eldorado: Gentry is a 6’6″, 230 lb. prospect with offers from Louisville, New Mexico, New Mexico State, San Diego State, and Tennessee. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #12 pro-style quarterback, and #269 overall. He claims a 4.68 forty and as a sophomore in 2012, he had 2,022 yards passing with 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, plus 110 carries for 305 yards and 9 touchdowns. Gentry is a tall quarterback with a well developed frame, so he probably won’t get significantly bigger. He runs mostly a shotgun/pistol spread offense. He has a strong arm but throws a very catchable ball, and he has a high release when he sets his feet in the pocket. His straight line speed is good for a guy his size, but he lacks lateral quickness and agility. He may be tough to bring down because of his size, but he could improve his pocket awareness – he seems to throw the ball on time or get flushed out of the pocket, instead of sliding around or moving up in the pocket. I would also like to see him attack the line of scrimmage more when he rolls out, so he can get more on the football, but that’s a pretty easy thing to coach up.
5. Kevin Dillman – QB – La Mirada (CA) La Mirada: Dillman is a 6’4″, 220 lb. prospect with offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, California, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Nebraska, Tennessee, UCLA, Utah, and Vanderbilt, among others. He claims a 4.7 forty and is a 247 Composite 4-star, the #4 dual-threat quarterback, and #145 overall. Dillman runs a pro-style offense and takes a lot of snaps from under center, so he would appear to mesh well with Michigan’s type of offense. When I was watching his junior highlights, I kept waiting for him to do something dynamic – make a long run, uncork a great throw while scrambling, something – but he was very methodical and took a lot of checkdowns. He runs well for a guy his size, but he probably won’t be a dynamic runner in college, despite being ranked as a dual-threat. He has a fairly strong arm and can push the ball down the field when he wants, but he mostly seems to settle for throwing hitches, slants, square ins, etc. It’s difficult to say whether that’s his decision or his coach’s. He has a high release and active feet, although there are times when he pushes the ball from the shoulder, aiming rather than throwing. He’s another guy who could end up as a tight end if the quarterback position doesn’t pan out.
6. Alex Malzone – QB – Bloomfield (MI) Brother Rice: Malzone is a 6’2″, 185 lb. prospect with offers from Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Toledo, and Western Michigan. As a junior in 2013, he completed 190/281 passes for 2,785 yards and 25 touchdowns, adding 3 more scores on the ground. He’s a 247 Composite 3-star, the #33 pro-style QB, and #649 overall. Malzone runs a somewhat multiple offense and has experience dropping back, from shotgun, or from the pistol formation. He has a slight build and is a little short at a listed 6’2″. He runs his offense very well, is a good ball handler, and seems to be in command. He’s a good athlete who can get on the edge a little bit and make some things happen with his feet, but he’s not a blazer. Malzone gets the ball out on time and shows good accuracy and touch. His throws on skinny posts appear to be right on the money, but I question whether he has the arm strength to squeeze those in there against faster and longer defenders. He has a little bit of a hitch in his throwing motion where he brings the ball down to throw it, not totally unlike a right-handed version of Tim Tebow. Michigan’s coaching staff has been somewhat erratic with the quarterbacks they’ve recruited (the 6’3″ sorta dual-threat Russell Bellomy, the 6’3″ Shane Morris with a rocket arm, the 6’6″ Wilton Speight), but I look at Malzone and see him being too short and lacking the arm strength that Michigan likely wants.
7. Jack Beneventi – QB – Glen Ellyn (IL) Benet Academy: Beneventi is a 6’6″, 190 lb. prospect who’s committed to Iowa and also has offers from Illinois, Louisville, UMass, Notre Dame, and Western Michigan. As a junior in 2013, he was 134/246 passing for 1,482 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s very tall and plays like it by standing tall in the pocket and using a high release. He has decent arm strength and looks good throwing the ball when he can get rid of it on time. His footwork is very inconsistent, and he tends to push the ball from his shoulder rather than whip it, which is something that’s somewhat difficult to fix; that can somewhat limit arm strength and the ball can die on longer throws. While he moves well for a guy his size, that foot speed is going to disappear as his body matures and he faces better competition. With his size, I wonder if Beneventi might be the type of guy who goes to Iowa as a quarterback and comes out a tight end.
8. Jimmy Fitzgerald – QB – Champaign (IL) Centennial: Fitzgerald is a 6’3″, 205 lb. prospect with offers from Florida International and Illinois. He’s a 247 Composite 3-star, the #28 pro-style quarterback, and #561 overall. As a sophomore in 2012, he was 96/195 for 1,300 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. The first thing I noticed about Fitzgerald was that his footwork is sloppy and inconsistent, so that’s something that will have to be coached quite a bit. He does have good arm talent, and he throws a nice, catchable ball. Fitzgerald runs a shotgun spread offense in high school, which may not translate well to Michigan’s offensive style.
9. Sheriron Jones – QB – Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde: Jones is a 6’3″, 180 lb. prospect with offers from Arizona and Arizona State. He claims a 4.6 forty and is a 247 Composite 4-star, #6 dual-threat quarterback, and #171 overall. Jones is a raw pure quarterback prospect. He has a slight build and lacks a strong arm. His footwork needs significant tweaking, and he runs a shotgun spread offense that does not necessarily mesh with what Michigan wants to do. Jones is a good runner with some speed and agility, but he’s not a dynamic runner.
10. David Sills – QB – Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy: Sills is a 6’3″, 180 lb. prospect who is committed to USC and has other offers from Clemson, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, and Virginia Tech. Two of his teammates (Brandon Watson and Freddy Canteen) are 2014 Michigan commits. At one point I saw full season highlights of Sills, but now I can’t find them. I believe Sills is a very polished quarterback prospect who is one of the top few players on the list at the moment. He runs a very pass-heavy offense, which is mostly a shotgun/pistol spread, but I think he has the mental acumen to make the adjustment to playing from under center when necessary. He has an overhand release, which helps make up for his average height. All that being said, I think Sills has pretty much maxed out his physical skills due to his refinement, and I’m not sure how much better he will get. He has a good but not great arm, and he’s decently mobile for a pocket quarterback.
11. Riley Neal – QB – Yorktown (IN) Yorktown: Neal is a 6’5″, 210 lb. prospect with no offers at this time. As a junior in 2013, he completed 188/292 passes (64.4%) for 2,751 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. If you watch Neal’s highlights, you may be reminded of former Michigan quarterback John Navarre. Neal is a tall guy who will probably play college ball around 230 lbs., but he’s a little bit slow of foot without much of an ability to create on his own. You will see a couple jump passes on his reel, which I don’t remember seeing out of Navarre. Neal has a strong throwing arm, and he does a good job of anticipating when his receivers are going to come open. With a strong offensive line, I think Neal could put up some good numbers, but it seems like Michigan’s coaches want a little more mobility.
12. Nick Johns – QB – Washington (DC) Gonzaga: Johns is a 6’3″, 215 lb. prospect with an offer from Virginia. He’s a 247 Composite 3-star, the #26 pro-style quarterback, and the #551 player overall. He broke his collarbone halfway through his junior season and missed half the year. Johns is one of the more polished quarterbacks on this list, and he runs a pro-style offense that often puts him under center. He’s a good ball handler, has a good looking release, and delivers the ball on time. What Johns lacks is elite athleticism. He does not have a particularly strong arm, and despite solid mechanics, the ball often seems to sail high, which prevents his receivers from having much of an opportunity to run after the catch. He also lacks mobility and isn’t much of a threat to run or keep plays alive with his feet.
13. David Edwards – QB – Downers Grove (IL) North: Edwards is a 6’6″, 225 lb. prospect with offers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin. He’s a 247 Composite 3-star, the #42 athlete, and #399 overall. As a sophomore in 2012, he had 512 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 719 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground. Edwards looks almost comically large under center, and his highlights mostly include him running some form of option. However, he is not particularly nimble or fast and makes the option work by being very large. He has a questionable arm and poor feet for a quarterback, and I think he’s almost certain to change positions in college, likely to tight end.