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NFL Draft

Who Are CFB’s 3 Most Underrated QBs?

  • The Draft Network
  • September 2, 2021
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We know the primary suspects this year—everybody’s got their eyes on Spencer Rattler, Sam Howell, Bryce Young, D.J. Uiagalelei, etc. But there are several other quarterbacks across the nation taking the field this year who could be worth keeping an eye on, despite not garnering the same amount of attention as the players listed above.

Here’s a look into just three of college football’s underrated signal-callers we’ll be seeing in action in 2021:

1. Max Johnson, LSU

Johnson is the player I recently named as my Heisman Trophy longshot. Of course, there are a dozen players who are more likely to take home the honors this year over him, but regardless, he’s a player to have on the radar for this season and the future.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has reiterated multiple times that there is only one 2-0 quarterback on the Tigers’ campus, and that’s Johnson. What makes that so impressive is that LSU only got five wins in 10 games this year and that the pair of victories the team put together under Johnson were among the most impressive. Johnson led LSU in a 37-34 upset victory in The Swamp over a Florida Gators team that was ranked No. 6 in his starting debut and then finished it out with a 53-48 win over a respectable Ole Miss team in Tiger Stadium.

His steady development as a passer and the way he uses his mobility will be something to take note of moving forward as he continues to build off his momentum after winning the starting job at LSU this year.

Johnson completed more than 55% of his passes for 674 yards with six touchdowns and just one interception in those two starts, and it should be noted that the dropped passes aren’t included in those numbers. On top of that, LSU threw the ball 51 times (so, more than just a bit) against the Rebels—Johnson completed 27 of those passes for 435 yards.

2. Dustin Crum, Kent State

Crum elected not to enter the 2021 NFL Draft because he felt like he had some unfinished business from a personal improvement standpoint with the Golden Flashes, which could end up paying off considering the immense depth of the last draft class at quarterback versus the current one.

Crum says the end goal this year is to win a MAC Championship and he has what it takes to help the team do that or at least fall just shy of doing so. He’s coming off a solid season in his own right, after posting a completion percentage of 73.5% (a career-high), throwing for 1,181 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions over four games last season.

Crum has kept himself in good company throughout his career as far as statistical comparisons go, as he was the only quarterback other than current Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields to have at least 18 passing touchdowns and two interceptions or less in 2019.

Crum is confident in what he brings to the table and what he can expand upon, while also being self-aware of some small tweaks he’d like to make in 2021.

“I’d say the biggest things are taking care of the football and then accuracy,” he told The Draft Network. “Putting the ball in the right spots at the right times and not putting it in harm’s way. As far as what I want to work on, pocket presence, not being flushed out of the pocket too easily at times, and to be able to re-establish myself better after being moved off of my spot a little bit. Just continuing to do more work, being able to work off-script some more.”

3. Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

This is a classic case of a player having a hard time catching a larger wave of national attention because of the old “level of competition” deal. Sure, McCall isn’t going to face nearly as many powerhouses as a quarterback in the Power 5 will, but he certainly doesn’t have the same stable of weapons that passers in the major conferences do, either. That’s where all logic tells you that this levels out, but some just don’t seem to view it that way.

McCall was an essential piece in Coastal Carolina’s 11-1 overall finish and top-25 ranking last season. The redshirt sophomore completed 69% of his passes for 2,488 yards with 26 touchdowns and three interceptions over 172 completed passes. McCall was also an asset on the ground with 569 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.

While McCall has been able to climb his way toward the top—or at least the middle of the pack—of some analysts’ rankings, he’s still not getting the amount of attention he would if he played for, say, a team in the SEC or the Big Ten.

It’s going to be exciting watching him demand more respect this season, which he’ll undoubtedly earn if he remains consistent with the path he’s on. You could dare to say that the story of McCall, though it’s still early, has some shades of Zach Wilson in it. 

Wilson came to BYU out of Corner Canyon High School as a 3-star recruit, while McCall was regarded even lower as a 2-star recruit out of Porter Ridge High School. Wilson was a quick riser the same way McCall has the potential to be and also played out his college career at a smaller school before becoming a first-rounder.

Time will tell if McCall can reach similar heights.

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