Do 2019 High-Profile QB Transfers Have NFL Futures?

Chris Ross
Contributor to NFL Draft Lounge, part of the ISN Sports Network. Chris has been covering the NFL Draft since 2014 and is always down to talk sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @ChrisRossJr

With the introduction of the transfer portal in October 2018 came a wave of players deciding to control their college football destinies by transferring to different schools. Quarterbacks, in particular, seemed to take advantage of their newfound opportunity with several big-name throwers changing uniforms going into the 2019-20 season. The real question, however, is this; do any of these big-name transfers have NFL potential? Let’s take a look. 

Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (from Alabama)

When Jalen Hurts began his collegiate career at Alabama, he was an instant success, but in an unpredictable world like college football, success is often fleeting. Between the arrival of sensation Tua Tagovailoa and some regression in his play, Hurts eventually lost his starting role, and despite an awesome comeback story in the College Football Playoffs, Hurts decided to transfer to Oklahoma. 

As a former SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Hurts is clearly talented, but he hasn’t yet shown the skills as a thrower to warrant a look as a professional quarterback prospect. Unless he suddenly becomes an accurate thrower of the football, a position change may be in the cards if Hurts is to stick as an NFL player. 

Final Verdict: Potential NFL Backup/Probable Position Change

Kelly Bryant, Missouri (from Clemson)

Like Hurts, Kelly Bryant found himself displaced by a young quarterbacking phenom in Trevor Lawrence, causing him to seek out transfer options for his senior season. In the 2017-18 season as Clemson’s starter, Bryant was undoubtedly successful, though there are clear limitations to his game. Still, Bryant is relatively accurate and has shown the ability to make plays with his legs. Ultimately his lack of top-end arm talent limits Bryant’s upside to that of a low-to-mid grade NFL backup.

Final Verdict: Potential NFL Backup

Jacob Eason, Washington (from Georgia)

Transferring to Washington after losing his starting role to Jake Fromm at Georgia, Jacob Eason enters this season facing high expectations. As a true freshman back in 2016, Eason flashed some major arm talent before an injury ruined his career trajectory. This is a tough call due to his lack of game experience, but if he can show that he’s developed his mechanics and defensive recognition, Eason has a chance to be something at the next level. 

Final Verdict: Potential Low-End QB1 or High-End QB2

Tommy Stevens, Mississippi State (from Penn State)

A true wild-card on this list, Tommy Stevens has hardly seen any game action to this point in his collegiate career. With Trace McSorely locked in as the Penn State starter for the last few years, Stevens has not yet had an opportunity to shine. At Mississippi State, Stevens isn’t guaranteed the starting job, and though in theory there is some talent here, it’s impossible to say if there’s NFL potential in Stevens. 

Final Verdict: Undecided; Potential Practice Squad Player Until Proven Otherwise

Hunter Johnson, Northwestern (from Clemson)

The second former Clemson QB on this list, Hunter Johnson was once one of the nation’s most prized recruits. Known for his big arm coming out of high school, Johnson was widely viewed as a better prospect than Tua Tagovailoa before they started their respective college careers. Like Stevens, there is almost no game film to evaluate here, but given his high school pedigree, I think there’s still a good chance Johnson puts out NFL-quality tape. 

Final Verdict: Undecided; Potential QB2 Until Proven Otherwise

Tate Martell, Miami (from Ohio State)

After making a surprising decision to transfer away from Ohio State instead of battling with newly-acquired QB Justin Fields, Tate Martell now finds himself in a tough positional battle at Miami. Known as an exceptional athlete, Martell hasn’t played enough to make any solid guesses on his future, but the early signs seem to be that, while exceptionally mobile and athletically gifted, Martell may not have the arm to make it as a professional player. 

Final Verdict: Undecided: Potential Practice Squad Player Until Proven Otherwise

Brandon Wimbush, UCF (from Notre Dame)

After three players in a row with almost no college football experience, we take a look at Brandon Wimbush who, while inexperienced in his own right, has at least played in actual college football games at some point over the past couple years. Known more as a runner at this point than a thrower, Wimbush has big-time arm strength but scattershot accuracy. In the right offense, I think he could carve out an NFL backup role, but I’m not seeing a starter here. 

Final Verdict: Potential Low-End QB2

Alex Hornibrook, Florida State (from Wisconsin)

On this list mostly due to name recognition stemming from a solid 2017 season, Hornibrook looks unlikely to even be a starter for Florida State after transferring from Wisconsin. 2017 was a good year but with so many questions about his decision-making, arm talent, and accuracy, it’s hard to see Hornibrook getting much of a shot in the NFL. 

Final Verdict: Potential Camp Arm/Practice Squad Player

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