Class of 2016 Features Seven Quarterbacks, including Projected First Round Picks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz
Jon Gruden’s QB Camp series, a signature element of ESPN’s annual pre-NFL Draft coverage, is returning for its seventh year this spring. In all, 50 players (43 quarterbacks) have participated in the series. Notable participants include Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson and 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton of the NFC champion Carolina Panthers – in all, 10 current NFL starting quarterbacks.
The next five weeks, Gruden will welcome seven quarterbacks to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando where he’ll spend time with each prospect in the film room and on the field. Excerpts of the visits will be featured the same day on SportsCenter, NFL Live and other shows.
The 2016 Gruden’s QB Camp class features projected first round picks Jared Goff (California), the 1st Team All-Pac 12 selection, and Carson Wentz (North Dakota State), the Most Outstanding Player from the NCAA DI National Championship the past two years. Others include Big Ten Quarterback of the Year and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner Connor Cook (Michigan State), 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg (Penn State), 2015 College Football Playoff national champion Cardale Jones (Ohio State), American Athletic Conference 1st Team selection Paxton Lynch (Memphis), and 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl MVP Dak Prescott (Mississippi State).
ESPN’s Super Bowl-winning coach and Monday Night Football analyst discusses each of the quarterbacks who will be part of his seventh Gruden’s QB Camp:
On Dak Prescott: “Prescott is perhaps the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback this year. He can hurt you running or passing. He’s done it in a very difficult conference, and he’s won at a place where a lot of quarterbacks haven’t. I’ve spent some time with him before this process and he’s a bright-eyed, eager, confident talent that needs to be in the right place, but he can play.”
Prescott has trained at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with Tom Shaw Performance, and will return to the sports complex after his Pro Day at Mississippi State in early March.
On Connor Cook: “Connor Cook has a lot of production, and he’s the all-time winningest quarterback at Michigan State. He has very good arm talent. He’s beaten some of the beasts of college football – Ohio State, Oregon and he came from behind to beat Baylor in the Cotton Bowl last year. He’s been real productive, he’s got NFL size, and I can’t wait to meet him.”
On Jared Goff: “He’s a 21-year old talent – a tough, productive quarterback. I love this kid. He’s helped turn a program around. He runs an up-tempo, no huddle offense. They ask a lot of him. He’s special.”
On Christian Hackenberg: “He’s one of the big mysteries of this year’s crop. Highly-touted and we know the production he had as a freshman under Coach (Bill) O’Brien. The offensive change and losing Allen Robinson didn’t help him, but he’s got prototype size and he’s got some traits people are looking for.”
On Cardale Jones: “Another mystery – perhaps the biggest mystery in college football history. Who is he? He comes out of nowhere, takes the cape off and the Buckeyes win the national title, and I haven’t seen him since. He’s inexperienced and there’s not a lot of film to look at. He’ll be one of the most intriguing shows we’ve ever done.”
On Paxton Lynch: Lynch is one of the biggest quarterbacks you’ll find. He was a single-wing quarterback in high school who wasn’t really recruited by many programs. What he’s done at Memphis is amazing to me – puts them in a bowl game, has them nationally ranked. He’s come a long way in a short period of time. He’s got a real upside.”
On Carson Wentz: “Wentz has tremendous size and arm talent. He’s had some injuries, but all they do is win at North Dakota State. His Senior Bowl week put an exclamation point on his college career, and he has the NFL coaches and scouts stirring as we speak.”
On the overall 2016 NFL Draft quarterback class: “We don’t have Heisman Trophy winners going No. 1 and No. 2 like we did last year, but we’ve got some rare talent and some real imposing guys physically when you talk about Carson Wentz, Cardale Jones, Paxton Lynch. These are big pocket passers. This year’s crop is more of the pocket-passing type, not so many of the running quarterbacks. Some are underclassmen that could have stayed another year for seasoning, but at the end of the day I think there are going to be three quarterbacks that go in the first round, perhaps four.”
Gruden’s QB Camp shows will begin April 12 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) and will air across multiple ESPN networks and ABC leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft. (Note: The entire Gruden’s QB Camp TV schedule will be released later this month and available on ESPN Media Zone.) In addition, all past QB Camp shows will be available via ESPN Classic Video on Demand, beginning the first week of April.