Yes, the NFL Draft is still 298 days away. We aren’t anywhere close to being in the Endgame. Yet with that being said, it’s never too early to start talking about next year’s crop of signal-callers. Ultimately there’s no better way to introduce these new characters than to relate them to your favorite characters – The Avengers.
College Football and Marvel movies may not seem like a realistic pair on the surface, but the two surprisingly have a ton in common. 22 MCU movies have come out. The best CFB film comes by way of the All-22. Many athletes enter the transfer portal. Doctor Strange often saves the day with his own portals.
Ultimately, slinging webs and slinging throws aren’t all that different. Let’s get into it.
(If this concept seems familiar it’s probably because you’ve seen it before – by me. The 2019 version of the NFL Draft Avengers can be found here.)
Jacob Eason (Washington) – Mysterio
We haven’t yet seen Mysterio don the big screen. That’ll all change this week when he suits up in Spider-Man: Far From Home. However, until then, we can’t really comment on his hero capabilities (or lack thereof). Through numerous trailers, we know he’s recruited by Nick Fury to form a new team with Peter, but little else is known – and that’s exactly how Mysterio wants it. After all, Quinten Beck is a master of illusion. You never know what to expect – which is where Washington QB Jacob Eason comes into play.
A former 5-Star recruit, Eason is an NFL Draft prospect with all the tools. Starting as a true freshman for Georgia back in 2016, he showed off elite arm talent and the ability to make any throw in the book. Sure, he struggled with accuracy and consistency – something not uncommon amongst 18-year-old kids – but it was a bright start to a bright career. Or so we thought.
Returning as the Bulldogs starter in his sophomore season, Eason was injured just minutes into his first game. In his absence, Georgia turned to Jake Fromm, who played so well that he was made the full-time starter – even when Eason returned.
Sitting from the sidelines, Eason transferred to Washington, where he had to sit out a season to satisfy NCAA regulations. Now he heads into 2019 as the Huskies starter – nearly 2 years removed from his last meaningful snap. Truth be told, no one knows what to expect. It’s been that long. Maybe he’s made major strides and he’s a legit Avenger. If he’s regressed, we might be looking at a full-blown villain.
Jacob Eason with a dart from the far hash to the sideline. pic.twitter.com/Jcz9HqVWdO
— Randy Capps (@randycapps) April 16, 2016
Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) – Spider-Man
I think by this point everyone likes Tua Tagovailoa. I mean, it’s near impossible NOT to. Whether it be his scramble ability, deep ball placement, or movement within the pocket, the left-handed signal-caller is a fantastic prospect – and one with a legit chance at a Top 5 NFL Draft pick. Spider-Man is the same way.
Extremely easy to root for, Peter Parker is an elite Marvel character, and maybe the most relatable superhero there is. He uses his spider-sense (or Peter Tingle) to recognize danger on a continuous basis, much like how Tagovailoa is able to feel pressure before the defender comes. Now the problem with Peter is that he’s yet to really do it alone. At every step he’s had help, whether it be from Tony Stark, Nick Fury, or even Doctor Strange. Sure, we saw him take down the Vulture in Homecoming, but the big question is if he can take that next step on his own.
It isn’t necessarily his fault that Alabama is so loaded, but Tagovailoa also hasn’t proven his full worth. Despite the gaudy numbers and flashy tape, Tua has been surrounded by one of the most ridiculous supporting casts of all-time, featuring Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith, Irv Smith Jr., and Jaylen Waddle. So the question becomes, is he the product of their play, or are they the product of his?
Unfortunately, that question can only be answered once the Crimson Tide QB bolts to the NFL Draft.
Nobody can throw a better ball than Tua Tagovailoa pic.twitter.com/NTLBkhRZA3
— Alabama DieHards (@AlabamaDieHards) October 20, 2018
D’Eriq King (Houston) – Ant-Man
Baker Mayfield and Kyer Murray have been at the forefront of a short quarterback movement in the NFL Draft that doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon. D’Eriq King seems to be the next in that ever-increasing line.
Positioned outside at wide receiver to start his college career, King had a breakout 2018 season, putting up 3,000 pass yards and a whopping 50 total touchdowns. An electrifying dual threat, he may only be 5’11, 195 pounds, but he uses every ounce of that frame to the best of his ability. Able to make most throws, the Houston prospect is strongest outside the pocket, using his mobility and off-platform ability with ease. He needs to quicken his trigger, show off more anticipation, and stay calm under pressure, but the Houston prospect just has that “it” factor every team craves. Scott Lang shares a lot of those same similarities.
Having a captivating personality, Scott may not be the most powerful Avenger, but he’s proven his worth, especially with his knowledge of the Quantum Realm. Ultimately, when the team needs him, he’s able to step up and deliver his biggest moments, despite his incredibly tiny stature.
Try to spot the difference. pic.twitter.com/ZyMeBmYa3E
— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick3) May 27, 2019
Justin Herbert (Oregon) – Thor
Given that he was expected to declare for the NFL Draft last year, Justin Herbert was also featured in my 2019 Avengers concept as Thor – and that doesn’t change the second time around.
The god of thunder struggled through his five-year hiatus, putting on severe weight and going into a deep post-snap depression. Although Herbert didn’t hit those types of lows, he did put up a worse 2018 season than many expected, struggling with consistency and accuracy for large stretches.
Like Thor, there are no doubting Herbert’s raw talent tops this class – but it needs seasoning. The flash plays and blonde flow are great, but he needs to prove he’s worthy of a Top five pick this upcoming NFL Draft.
We’ll see if he lives up to those high expectations.
Nathan Stanley (Iowa) – Hawkeye
Well besides the fact that Nathan Stanley literally plays for the Iowa Hawkeyes, this comparison was pretty easy.
Hawkeye isn’t flashy, all that talented, or even physically imposing. He’s just a guy. But that “guy” does all the little things right, holding the team together in the process. After all, there’s a reason the Avengers lost without Clint Barton on their side. He’s integral to their success.
Nathan Stanley definitely has his limitations, but he’s a pro-style player with the chance to be a very productive back-up at the next level. He’s not going to wow you, but he’s a high character kid with an even higher floor.
Nick Fury loved Clint and organizations will likely also love Stanley, even if he’s just asked to hold a clipboard or shoot a few arrows at the next level.
Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) – Falcon
Based off of his freshmen and sophomore tape, Jalen Hurts simply isn’t an NFL quarterback. Whether it be his run-first mentality, inaccurate throws, or mind-numbing decisions, the Alabama QB showed very poorly during the early portion of his Alabama career. Between his impressive mop-up duty and transfer to Oklahoma, however, Hurts has potentially become a legitimate prospect.
The ultimate QB whisperer, Sooner coach Lincoln Riley has developed his last two signal callers – both transfers – into 1st overall pick material in the NFL Draft. Now I’m not saying to expect that same absurd growth out of Hurts, but the opportunity is certainly there. Much like how Falcon has now been given the Captain America mantle in the MCU, Jalen has the platform to get into the Heisman discussion and prove his worth in the 2019 season.
Brian Lewerke (Michigan State) – War Machine
Let’s be real. No one goes to an Avengers movie to watch War Machine. Sure, he’s Tony Stark’s best friend, but James Rhodes is simply boring. He’s had a solid arc all through Iron Man 2 up until Civil War, and that arc seemed to tie up nicely with a sacrificial death in Endgame – only it didn’t. In a movie trying to have real stakes, Rhodes dying felt like a necessary evil and one that would give him a real standalone moment for the first time. Instead, Marvel had him fight quietly in the background while surviving the final battle. Now we’re stuck with a character who’s run his course and is force-fed screen time. Enter Brian Lewerke.
Force-fed NFL Draft attention given his prototypical traits, Lewerke is a whole lot of hype and not much substance. Suffering through a dreadful junior campaign, the Michigan State signal-caller has been a big disappointment, and there’s little reason to think that changes this upcoming season. Given the quality flashes, I’m still holding out a little hope, but the odds of pro success for Lewerke aren’t promising. He looks the part and is a high character kid – but I just don’t know if he has what it takes.
Jake Fromm (Georgia) – Captain America
I’m not even that big of a Jake Fromm fan, but there’s no denying that he’s a perfect fit as Cap. The local kid who stole Jacob Eason’s starting role, Fromm has been in the spotlight ever since his childhood years and was even a star little league baseball player. He’s not the most talented guy. He has some flaws. However, Fromm is an exquisite leader and an ultimate competitor. He wins football games and that can’t be undersold.
Unfortunately, Fromm has also held back the Bulldog offense quite a bit during his time in Athens. A limited player, his deep ball needs significant work, and the majority of his yards come on hitches and timing type routes. Mainly asked to hand the ball off and let superstar D’Andre Swift do the work, Fromm is potentially just a game manager. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it means we have to temper the Top 10 NFL Draft expectations.
Jake Fromm is completely dialed in. pic.twitter.com/VD7lj3PNNh
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 1, 2018
Cole McDonald (Hawaii) – Winter Soldier
The Winter Soldier has the coolest arm in the MCU. Yes, it’s metal – not actually a part of him – but it provides Bucky with immense strength and a trait that allows him to stand out above the pack. Blessed with a howitzer, Cole McDonald’s arm allows him to do the same.
Able to make any throw off of any platform, the Hawaii QB’s pure talent rivals Justin Herbert at the very top of the class. Like Herbert, however, the consistency is a big issue – and one that needs major fixing. Like how Bucky Barnes got brainwashed and rewired, McDonald will need his mechanics and footwork changed drastically once he gets to the next level.
He’s a major work in progress, but if the Winter Soldier is able to go from super villain to hero, there’s no reason to think that McDonald can’t do the same.
Cole McDonald, you beautiful maniac. pic.twitter.com/66zVn7X4AK
— Bryce Rossler (@btrossler) February 26, 2019
Jordan Love (Utah State) – Professor Hulk
No, Jordan Love is not green. He doesn’t have weird purple pants on when he gets angry. What he does have, however, is the perfect blend of traits and production just like a certain Avenger we’ve become accustomed to.
A strong-armed and extremely talented passer, Love had a magnificent 2018 campaign, completing 64% of his passes and throwing 32 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions. He may be going under the radar right now, in large part due to his “smaller” school status, but the signal-caller has a legit chance at a 1st round NFL Draft pick, should he continue at this trajectory. It’s that balance that will intrigue teams, as he’s more talented than the likes of Jake Fromm and also more consistent than the Cole McDonald’s.
If you want to know if that balance will serve Love well, just ask Professor Hulk himself. Combining the brains and brawn, Bruce was his best self in Endgame and managed to fully wield the infinity gauntlet.
Not too shabby.
Went in watching MSU CB Justin Layne, but got my first exposure to Utah State QB Jordan Love and, yeah, I get it pic.twitter.com/Yc7o2TVMni
— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) April 22, 2019