The San Francisco 49ers search for their next starting quarterback was one of the hottest topics of conversation at this year's NFL Combine. As it stands, San Francisco will be without a QB on the roster once free agency begins March 9. The 49ers are likely to take at least one signal-caller in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to this year's crop of quarterback prospects. That's largely because no one has separated themselves from the rest of the group as the clear-cut No. 1 option.
Todd McShay joined 49ers.com during the combine to provide some clarity on the situation. ESPN's draft expert shared the strengths and weaknesses of seven quarterbacks. McShay also broke each of the top prospects into three separate tiers.
"It's one of the harder classes (to evaluate) that I can remember, when you've got three guys who are very different – different backgrounds, different systems, different strengths and different weaknesses," McShay said.
North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky:
"I think he's really good in the pocket with his presence and feel. When pressure comes, he feels it. He knows, instinctively how to climb up the pocket when pressure comes from the outside and when pressure comes from the middle how to slide and get away from it. His ability to extend plays is a big attribute.
"The biggest concern with Trubisky is the lack of game experience. How long is it going to take him to adjust to the NFL game? And if he gets drafted in the top 10, odds are that he starts at some point during his rookie season. I wonder if he would be ready for that."
Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer:
"Kizer was up-and-down, but he has the best frame (of the quarterbacks) and a strong arm. He has OK mobility in the pocket and good mobility when he takes off running. He does a good job throwing with guys hanging from him and extending plays. I think he looks the part the most of the three. He's slow processing sometimes."
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson:**
"The resume is amazing. The intangibles are off the charts. But he comes from a spread offense where he made half-field reads and was inconsistent with progressions. He had 30 interceptions over the last two years, which makes his downfield accuracy a concern. Can he correct that and keep it corrected when bullets are flying?"
"I don't think there's a major gap between them. I just think it's going to come down to if a team falls in love with one of them or says, 'This is what we're looking for. This is where we're going to have success.' They all have similar grades for me."
Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes:
"Honestly, I've only gone through three tapes on Mahomes. I've got to watch more, but it looks like a lot of backyard football where he's at his best extending plays and creating chaos and finding guys open. He's got a big arm. He's a good athlete. He's got some 'gamer' to him, but his mechanics need a lot of refining. He comes from a system that's never produced a quarterback who's had sustained success in the (NFL). I think he's a big project, but there are definitely tools there to develop."
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH
Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman:**
"He doesn't have a big arm, but he's got a lot of the other qualities: He's very accurate, on-time, a good processor and has size."
Cal QB Davis Webb:
"The more I watch him, even though I'm really skeptical of quarterbacks from that 'air-raid system,' but he's big and the ball just jumps off of his hand. I think he's got some upside to work with."
Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs:
"He's surprised me. It disappointed me that Tennessee never got to where Tennessee should have during his career. Now that I've gone and watched actual coach-copy tape and evaluated what he did, between the drops and guys not getting open, he's a legit runner. The guy can absolutely run. He was a lot more accurate and on-time as a passer than I initially thought while watching games on TV. He's smart, he's tough and he hung in there when some other teammates didn't. There's a lot to him. He's a mid-round prospect, and wherever he goes, he's someone who a few years down the road could turn some heads. It wouldn't shock me one day if he was a starter or a really good backup."