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2015 QB Rankings: Russell's Next Bear to Roar

Mario Puig

Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.

1. Seth Russell, Jr., Baylor

A highly productive backup the last two years, Russell replaces Bryce Petty as the starter this season. Impressive as Petty was, Russell might be better, especially as a runner. On 128 career attempts, he's thrown for 11 touchdowns, and he's rushed for six more on just 56 career carries. His situation this year could hardly be more favorable. He plays in a high-scoring conference for a team that annually ranks among the nation's leading scorers (48.2 PPG last year, 1st in the nation), and he has arguably the nation's best trio of wideouts in Corey Coleman, Jay Lee and KD Cannon.

2. Trevone Boykin, Sr., TCU

After splitting time between quarterback and receiver his first two years, Boykin made huge strides as a passer last season, establishing himself not only as TCU's best quarterback, but also as one of the nation's most productive players. After scoring 42 touchdowns last year -- particularly impressive considering it was his first year in a new offensive scheme -- he enters this season as a top Heisman candidate. All but one starting offensive lineman return for 2015, and Boykin will also be joined by his top three wideouts from last year. With continuity in his favor, Boykin could be even better this year.

3. Dak Prescott, Sr., Mississippi State

A dual threat at a well-built 6-2, 230, Prescott is the offense's workhorse, totaling 64 touchdowns the last two years (37 passing, 27 rushing). Prescott's elite rushing production gives him a high floor every week, and his heavy frame gives him the bulk to withstand the beatings he takes. Prescott's passing game is above average as well, and he has a strong trio of wideout targets in De'Runnya Wilson, Fred Ross and Fred Brown. He might be the nation's best bet to post 20 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns this year.

4. Patrick Mahomes, So., Texas Tech

Mahomes needs to beat out Davis Webb to start for Texas Tech, but it's hard to see how that won't happen. Not only does Mahomes have better running skills than Webb, but he was a far better passer last year, totaling 16 touchdowns and four interceptions on just 185 pass attempts while Webb threw for 24 touchdowns and 13 picks. When you mix Mahomes' dual-threat skills with a pass-happy offense (46.6 attempts per game, 3rd) on a team that traditionally plays bad defense, it's a weekly recipe for huge numbers.

5. Jeremy Johnson, Jr., Auburn

Auburn probably won't throw enough for Johnson's upside to catch higher-rated quarterbacks, but Johnson should be as consistent as any QB this year. Playing in a machine-like Gus Malzahn offense and boasting top passing and running skills, Johnson should be a matchup-proof workhorse each week. Johnson (6-5, 240) flashed elite passing ability the last two years, throwing for 858 yards (11.0 YPA) and nine touchdowns on just 78 attempts, with a reported 4.51 40. Johnson should be an upgrade over Nick Marshall, who totaled 3,330 yards and 31 touchdowns last season.

6. Luke Falk, Jr., Washington State

Falk heads into fall the favorite to replace Connor Halliday, making him a top breakout candidate for 2015. Mike Leach's Air Raid offense attempted 64.3 passes per game last season, 15 more than the next most prolific passing offense. That makes WSU's quarterback a borderline elite fantasy option by default, but Falk is even more intriguing considering his 7.7 YPA. In four starts last year for the injured Halliday, Falk threw for 1,859 yards and 13 touchdowns. Even if his YPA drops a bit, Falk still appears to be a lock for at least 5,000 passing yards, as the Cougars have plenty of receiving options and their entire offensive line returning.

7. Fredi Knighten, Sr., Arkansas State

Knighten's light frame (5-11, 189) and heavy rushing workload (16.2 attempts per game in 2014) make him a bit of an injury concern, but he had no trouble holding up last year, throwing for 24 touchdowns and running for 11 more in his first year as starter. Arkansas State averaged 36.7 points per game last season, with Knighten scoring 45.3 percent of the total. After one elite season, more of the same should be expected this year in the high-scoring Sun Belt, especially with the Red Wolves returning at least five productive pass-catchers and an explosive backfield.

8. Taysom Hill, Sr., BYU

If Hill was guaranteed to play a full season, he'd be a top-3 QB. Durability has been a problem, however, with 15 career missed games the cost of his heavy rushing workload. He tore an LCL in 2012 and broke his left leg last season, both season-ending injuries. When he suffered the latter he ranked first among quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns (7) and was third in rushing yards per game (107.0). A healthy season in 2013 gave a glimpse of his true potential as he threw for 19 touchdowns and ran for 1,344 yards and 10 more scores in 13 games. If he stays healthy, Hill should continue to post elite rushing numbers throwing to a talented group of receivers.

9. Marquise Williams, Sr., North Carolina

Williams' fantasy value was limited last year by a dubious rotation with backup Mitch Trubisky, but coach Larry Fedora said the experiment won't extend into 2015. If not, Williams could be one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterbacks, and an elite fantasy option. Despite playing on a highly unstable team that routinely let him down, Williams totaled 35 touchdowns last year (21 passing, 14 from scrimmage). His entire starting offensive line is back, and the Tar Heels have four proven returning wideouts. Still, it's possible the dysfunction North Carolina displayed a year ago could last into this year. Williams is also recovering from offseason hip surgery, which adds to his risk.

10. Brandon Doughty, Sr., Western Kentucky

Doughty was an improbable hero last season, transforming himself from one of the nation's worst passers into one of the best in the span of a year. After 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as a third-year player in 2013, Doughty's 4,830-yard, 49-touchdown 2014 only seems possible with hindsight. Still, the new Doughty is again the engine in an offense that figures to play aggressively this season. Doughty has a deep and talented group of receivers to target, and the Hilltoppers' running game will keep the chains moving.

11. Joshua Dobbs, Jr., Tennessee

Tennessee hoped to keep Dobbs packed away until this year, but an injury forced the Volunteers to turn to Dobbs earlier than planned. Dobbs was electrifying, reinforcing the idea that he might be the program's long-awaited savior. The dual-threat quarterback totaled 1,206 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions as a passer while running for 469 yards and eight touchdowns in six games with the ability to take over games in the right matchup. Dobbs should improve in his first offseason as the starter, and he has a lot of talent around him with the likes of Jalen Hurd, Marquez North and Josh Malone making plays.

12. Greg Ward, Jr., Houston

Although he began the year as the backup, Ward became one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterbacks by season's end. In eight starts, he threw for 12 scores and rushed for 573 yards and six touchdowns. He enters this year as the clear starter with further optimism warranted by the hiring of Tom Herman, Ohio State's offensive coordinator the last three years. Ward is a perfect fit for Herman's offense, which created highly productive campaigns by Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett at Ohio State. Expect Ward to take a significant step forward this season.

13. Malik Zaire, Jr., Notre Dame

Zaire only narrowly lost the starting job to Everett Golson last year, and by season's end it looked like Zaire was the better player. We'll find out this season, as Golson transferred to Florida State, leaving Zaire the starter at Notre Dame. Zaire showed elite dual-threat upside last season, running for 96 yards and a touchdown in the team's bowl victory over LSU, and likely will produce more in the run game than Golson. Zaire should build on his dominant finish to last year with a good group of receivers and all but one starting offensive lineman returning.

14. Drew Hare, Jr., Northern Illinois

Hare managed to separate himself in a three-man quarterback race that extended into last season, eventually establishing himself as the next dual-threat starter after Chandler Harnish and Jordan Lynch. He likely won't approach the productivity of those two, but he was efficient as a sophomore last year, throwing for 18 touchdowns and two interceptions with 900 rushing yards (5.7 YPC) and eight scores. With the offense to himself this year, it's reasonable to expect improvement from Hare, who should once again prove too much for MAC defenses.

15. Dane Evans, Jr., Tulsa

Evans' stock is on the rise with the hiring of former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery as new head coach. Evans has an excellent wideout tandem in Keevan Lucas and Keyarris Garrett, as well as just enough dual-threat ability to meet the quarterback running demands in a Baylor-style offense, which Montgomery is expected to install. After scoring 26 touchdowns (23 passing) as a sophomore, Evans could be facing a breakout season this year.

16. Vernon Adams, Sr., Oregon

Make sure Adams wins the job, but the Eastern Washington graduate transfer is expected to start over Jeff Lockie. Adams had an incredible three years at EWU, throwing for 10,438 yards (9.7 YPA) and 110 touchdowns in 37 games while running for 1,232 yards (4.1 YPC) and 11 more scores. He's not Marcus Mariota, but Adams should provide Darron Thomas-like production. Oregon's offense is always among the nation's scoring leaders (4th last season), and the Ducks are exceptionally deep at wideout.

17. Matt Johnson, Sr., Bowling Green

Johnson is back for another try after suffering a season-ending hip injury in the opener last year, cutting short a promising campaign. He exited spring as the clear starter for Bowling Green, which was expected, considering he scored 30 touchdowns as a first-year starting sophomore in 2013. Johnson takes over a Bowling Green offense that attempted 39.1 passes per game last year, and he even has a bit of dual-threat ability. In addition to a pass-happy scheme, Johnson has strong receivers led by star sophomore Roger Lewis.

18. Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson

If not for a November ACL tear, Watson would be a top-5 QB entering this season. He's expected to be healthy for the start of the season, but it is hard to tell whether the knee injury will linger into the year. Furthermore, he gets exposed to a lot of hits due to his running ability, and he looks smaller than his listed 205 pounds. Still, Watson looked like a borderline transcendent talent before the injury last year, throwing for 1,466 yards (10.7 YPA), 14 touchdowns and two interceptions with 200 rushing yards and five more touchdowns, mostly across five starts. Watson has two elite receivers to target in Mike Williams and Artavis Scott and could dominate if he stays healthy.

19. Gunner Kiel, Jr., Cincinnati

The No. 1 quarterback recruit in 2012 finally got onto the field in 2015, and he was just about all anyone could have asked for from a first-year starting sophomore. He threw for 1,041 yards and 14 touchdowns in the first three weeks before a rib injury largely derailed his season. After just seven touchdowns in the final four games, Kiel should finish stronger this season if he stays healthy. Kiel has a deep and experienced receiver group with five returning targets who caught at least four touchdown passes last year.

20. Blake Frohnapfel, Sr., Massachusetts

Frohnapfel enters his second year as the starter after transferring from Marshall. His first season was a major success, as he threw for 3,345 yards (7.7 YPA), 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 10 games. Frohnapfel's starting offensive line is back, and he has solid receiving threats, led by star wideout Tajae Sharpe and tight end Rodney Mills. Although he didn't run last season, his 164 yards (6.8 YPC) and two touchdowns at Marshall show his rushing upside, which could be tapped this season.

21. Cody Kessler, Sr., USC
22. Keenan Reynolds, Sr., Navy
23. Tommy Armstrong, Jr., Nebraska
24. Mike Bercovici, Sr., Arizona State
25. Anu Solomon, Jr., Arizona
26. Paxton Lynch, Jr., Memphis
27. Tyler Jones, Jr., Texas State
28. Jared Goff, Jr., California
29. Kyle Allen, So., Texas A&M
30. Kurt Benkert, So., East Carolina
31. Matt Davis, Jr., SMU
32. Everett Golson, Sr., Florida State
33. Austin Grammer, Jr., Middle Tennessee
34. Chuckie Keeton, Sr., Utah State
35. Zach Terrell, Jr., Western Michigan
36. Michael Birdsong, Jr., Marshall
37. Reggie Bonnafon, So., Louisville
38. Sam Richardson, Sr., Iowa State
39. Sefo Liufau, Jr., Colorado
40. Taylor Lamb, So., Appalachian State
41. Justin Thomas, Jr., Georgia Tech
42. Nick Arbuckle, Sr., Georgia State
43. Thomas Sirk, Jr., Duke
44. Jaquez Johnson, Sr., Florida Atlantic
45. Reginald Bell, So., Eastern Michigan
46. Kevin Ellison, Jr., Georgia Southern
47. Jacoby Brissett, Sr., North Carolina State
48. Cardale Jones, Jr., Ohio State
49. J.T. Barrett, So., Ohio State
50. Braxton Miller, Sr., Ohio State