The 10 Best College QBs Likely Returning For 2017

The 2017 college football season is shaping up to be a loaded one for quarterbacks. Two previous Heisman finalists will be back, plus a winner. Three of the quarterbacks from College Football Playoff teams are expected to return and there are several talented QBs who are just sophomores or freshmen. Because there's so much talent, we're taking a look at the best QBs for 2017. 

This list only focuses on the ones coming back next year. That means no DeShone Kizer and Deshaun Watson, who are both gone. Guys like Patrick Mahomes, Brad Kaaya, Luke Falk and even Mason Rudolph would be candidates for this list, but it's very unclear if they'll return for another season. After all, it is a down year for QBs in the NFL Draft and they could turn pro. Several players have legitimate cases to make the top 10, like FSU's Deondre Francois. 

With that in mind, here are the 10 best college QBs likely to return for 2017. 

10. Shane Buechele, Texas

Buechele showed a lot of promise as a true freshman at Texas. He completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 2,958 yards, 21 TDs and 11 INTs. He's got some running ability too, chipping in 151 yards and two scores. Those are impressive numbers for a true freshman QB. Now he gets to play under Tom Herman, who helped develop both Greg Ward and J.T. Barrett. We're projecting a bit here, but Buechele could be in for a big breakout season at Texas. 

9. Josh Rosen, UCLA

The key for Rosen will be staying healthy. His potential is evident, something he showed while playing through several injuries that cut his season short. Rosen has all the talent teams want and he might have the highest NFL ceiling of anyone on this list. But because he's only shown a fraction of what he can do in the NFL, this is as high as he can go. And even that might be a bit high. 

8. Wilton Speight, Michigan

Speight had to beat out John O'Korn for the Michigan starting job, but he exceeded expectations this season. In a run-first offense at Michigan, he completed 62.5% of his passes for 2,375 yards, 17 TDs and just 6 INTs. He's not the dynamic athlete most of these players are, but he was perfect for Michigan this year. Another year under Jim Harbaugh should only help Speight. 

7. Jalen Hurts, Alabama

Assuming he takes another step in his development (which is expected), Hurts could become a better version of Joshua Dobbs. Hurts is a talented dual-threat, although he does need some work on his passing. But his numbers as a true freshman, 65.3 completion percentage, 2,592 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTs, plus 841 yards and 12 TDs on the ground, are mighty impressive. Don't be surprised if he's in the discussion for the Heisman at the end of the year. 

6. Quinton Flowers, USF

You might not be all that familiar with Flowers, but he's one of the best players you've never heard of before. His passing numbers are solid: 2,551 yards, 22 TDs, 6 INTs with 61.5 completion percentage. But he thrives in the ground game, where he racked up 1,425 yards and 15 TDs. He's Lamar Jackson-lite and one heck of a player. 

5. Sam Darnold, USC

Darnold hardly played in USC's first three games, throwing no more than eight passes in each. But he took over the starting job after that and never looked back. He was fantastic for USC, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 2,633 yards, 26 TDs and 8 INTs. He's a pocket passer for the most part, but did add 230 rushing yards and two TDs. Just a freshman last year, he's one of several young Pac-12 QBs with very bright futures. 

4. Jake Browning, Washington

At the start of this year, anyone suggesting Browning was better than Josh Rosen would get some funny looks. And yet, that's what happened. Browning was fantastic this year, completing 63.2 percent of his passes for 42 TDs and just 7 INTs. He even add four rushing TDs, although he doesn't have the best running ability. He's just outside the Top 3, but he's a very gifted QB. 

3. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State

The top three is pretty obvious, although OSU fans might argue Barrett should be higher. He's a better runner (847 yards and 9 TDs) than thrower (61.9 completion percentage, 2,428 yards, 24 TDs and 5 INTS) and while he wasn't as good as he was in 2014, Barrett is a great college QB. He'll be back next year and if he lights it up in the College Football Playoff, maybe he'll be at No. 2 in the preseason rankings. 

2. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Mayfield struggled against Ohio State and that helped tank his Heisman hopes. But, his season overall was once again impressive. He completed 71.2% of his passes for 3,669 yards, 38 TDs and 8 INTs. He didn't run as much as he did last year, but still picked up 143 yards and 6 TDs. He'll be back next year for Oklahoma and will try to get them to the CFP. 

1. Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Well, duh. Jackson is the Heisman winner and is coming off a fantastic year. Sure, he might not repeat next year, but there's no way anyone other than Jackson deserves top billing. He's a dual-threat and he'll once again carry Louisville.  

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Related Topics: Shane Buechele, 2017 College Football, Lamar Jackson, Josh Rosen, Jalen Hurts, Baker Mayfield, J.T. Barrett, Wilton Speight, Sam Darnold, College Football QBs, Quinton Flowers, Jake Browning