Star is Rising for Fresno State’s Haener as Late-Round NFL Draft Pick
Teams searching for the next Brock Purdy should have plenty of candidates when it comes to Day 3 of the NFL draft.
After Purdy went from “Mr. Irrelevant” as the final pick of the 2022 draft to the starter in the NFC championship game for the San Francisco 49ers, other teams might be much more willing to take a chance on a late-round quarterback.
There are several intriguing prospects who all have some of the tools necessary to succeed at the next level but come with questions about size, arm strength or decision-making.
Among the possible quarterbacks who could be taken in the final four rounds of the draft are Fresno State’s Jake Haener, UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Houston’s Clayton Tune, Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell, Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, TCU’s Max Duggan and BYU’s Jaren Hall.
Haener Excels at Mental Aspects of Game
Here’s a look at some of those QBs:
Haener: A three-year starter, Haener brings some similar qualities to what Purdy had last year. He is undersized at just under 6-feet tall and lacks elite arm strength. But he is an extremely accurate passer, showed toughness with the ability to play through injuries in college and excels at the mental aspects of playing quarterback.
In 29 starts the past three seasons at Fresno State, Haener threw for 9,013 yards with 67 TD passes and a 68.2 completion percentage.
Thompson-Robinson: The mobile Thompson-Robinson started five seasons in college and showed improvement each season. He had career highs with 27 TD passes, 12 TD runs, 3,169 yards passing and 646 yards rushing last season.
He is a little undersized but has a strong arm and is one of the better dual-threat QBs in this draft.
Tune: A four-year starter in college, Tune showed improvement each season and had 40 TD passes and threw for 4,074 yards in 2022 in Houston’s version of the Air Raid offense.
His decision-making is sometimes suspect with 39 interceptions in 42 starts over four seasons. But he has a good enough arm that he should get a chance to make a team.
O’Connell: A zero-star recruit coming out of high school, O’Connell worked his way up the depth chart at Purdue from a walk-on backup to starter the past two seasons.
O’Connell completed 66.7% of his passes but sometimes struggles with deep throws and finished his career with 30 interceptions.
Bennett: Bennett went from a walk-on to a two-time national champion in college, beating out more heralded QBs to run the offense on the nation’s best team.
He measured at just under 6 feet and lacks a strong arm, but throws with great anticipation and performed well on the big stage, winning MVP in all four College Football Playoff games he started. Bennett also has good mobility and ran for 10 TDs last season.
Duggan: Duggan was a break-out star as a senior, helping TCU become the country’s surprise team to make it all the way to the championship game.
Duggan carried the team there with a strong arm, good running ability and toughness, but will need to improve his accuracy to thrive at the next level.
Hall: The dual-threat quarterback started two seasons at BYU. He comes into the draft at age 25 after taking a two-year mission and missing the 2020 season with a hip injury.
He has dealt with injuries throughout his college career and is a smaller QB at 6-feet, 207 pounds. But he is an accurate passer and has shown a good ability to scramble.