In last year’s draft, we saw five quarterbacks taken within the first three rounds: Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Will Grier. Yet, none of those five ended up as the highest-graded rookie signal-caller of the 2019 season — it was actually sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew out of Washington State who took home this honor after he had to fill in for the injured Nick Foles. Minshew was the 10th quarterback selected in the 2019 NFL Draft and was taken after Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson.
It’s rare to see a Day 3 quarterback turn into a quality starter in the NFL. Outside of Minshew — who the jury is still out on, since we’ve seen him for just one year — the only other Day 3 quarterbacks drafted in the last decade to have long-term success in the league are Kirk Cousins (2012) and Dak Prescott (2016). And both of those guys were early Day 3 picks taken in the fourth round.
Minshew's success (for now) as a sixth-round pick is an outlier, but that doesn’t mean we won't see it happen again with a rookie in 2020. There’s one quarterback prospect in particular who isn’t a Day 1 or 2 pick, but is one of the most undervalued players in this entire draft; he could be taken in the sixth- or seventh-round or could even go undrafted and still be one of the few to find NFL success. That player is Utah’s Tyler Huntley.
Huntley has been the Utes' starting quarterback dating back to 2017 and was average to slightly above average in his first two years in the role. He missed a handful of games due to injury in both 2017 and 2018 and capped those years with 72.1 and 78.0 PFF overall grades, respectively. Then, in 2019, Huntley put together a special, yet underrated, season.
Huntley put together an elite 90.0 PFF overall grade for the 2019 season that ranked eighth among FBS quarterbacks. And he was the eighth-most valuable player in all of college football, regardless of position — leading Utah to an 11-3 season. In 12 of those 14 games Huntley played in, he put together a passing grade above 70.0, which tied with Ohio State’s Justin Fields for the second most behind only Joe Burrow. There was really only one game in which Huntley performed poorly (Week 8 against Arizona State when he recorded a 28.8 passing grade), and he played through some of the contest with an injury he suffered in the second quarter. Toss that game out, and his grade jumps to the third best in college football.