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2018 NFL Draft prospect profile: Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis

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Let’s learn about this lesser-known quarterback

NCAA Football: Liberty Bowl-Iowa State vs Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft is going to be defined by its quarterback class. The debate will rage for months over which is the best at the top of the class.

But after the top prospects, there are a number of quarterbacks that also offer intriguing potential. It is possible that the New York Giants might pass on a quarterback at the top of the draft and instead opt to select one later to compete with Davis Webb to be the heir to Eli Manning.

Memphis’ Riley Ferguson has one of the highest profiles of these second-tier quarterbacks and has intrigued scouts all season long.

Measurables

Pros

  • Strong arm. Has the ability to drive the ball on deep post or corner routes
  • Solid athleticism. Can scramble to extend plays or pick up yards with his legs
  • Isn’t afraid to challenge tight windows.
  • Generally shows discretion in throwing the ball away.
  • Flashes “clutch gene”.

Cons

  • Thin coming out. Durability might be a concern at the next level and asking players to add weight is always a risk.
  • Occasionally suffers head-scratching lapses in mechanics and judgment.
  • Mechanics break down badly when he moves to the left. Mechanics can also break down when under duress.
  • Accuracy and ball placement can be all over the place.

Prospect video

What they’re saying

“Norvell found a 6-foot-4 quarterback with elite retention of offensive concepts and a rare ability to translate plays from the grease board to the practice field. He also found a quarterback humbled by his path and locked in on straightening it out. Ferguson won the starting job at Memphis, and in 2016 he threw for 3,698 yards, 32 touchdowns and completed 63 percent of his passes in Norvell’s wide-open system. Ferguson is considered one of the top 10 quarterback prospects, as scouts see him as a potential late-round pick. “If he’s not a legit NFL quarterback,” Norvell said, “I don’t know if I’ll see one.”

- Memphis head coach Mike Norvell on Ferguson

Final thoughts

Ferguson is an interesting and frustrating evaluation. He flashes all the tools to be an NFL quarterback, but he is inconsistent and frustrating to watch. He has consistently been a slow starter in the games I watched (vs. Temple 2016, vs. Houston 2016, vs. Western Kentucky 2016, vs. USF 2016, vs. UCF 2017, vs. UCLA 2017), but he always seemed to turn it on as the half would wind down (first or second).

Ferguson probably isn’t a first-round quarterback, but he could be an option as a later-round selection to develop behind an established starter. If the Giants opt to trade down or not select a quarterback with the second pick in the draft, Ferguson could be an intriguing candidate to compete with Davis Webb as the heir to Eli Manning.