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NFL draft takeaways from semifinal matchups reveal

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5) Quarterback quartet includes two intriguing seniors

The College Football Playoff games traditionally have set the stage for at least one quarterback due to enter the upcoming NFL draft. And more often than not, they’ve been highly rated ones, too.

Since the inception of the CFB Playoff in the 2014 season, each year has featured at least one quarterback drafted in the first four rounds the following April. That span has included playoff games from eventual top-five picks Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.

Last year’s group produced one QB pick: Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, in Round 3 to Atlanta. At this point, however, there isn’t much of anything settled when it comes to the stock of the four quarterbacks participating in the national semifinal games.

Stroud was a Heisman finalist last year and has long been a highly touted prospect. TCU’s Max Duggan and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett IV were not considered top-tier quarterback prospects entering this season, but through their own improvement and their team’s success this season, each have helped themselves earn a better shot at making it in the league.

Bennett, a sixth-year senior who turned 25 in October, might be similarly sized to Alabama’s highly touted signal-caller, Bryce Young, but he lacks Young’s arm talent and ability to make off-script magic. Even still, Bennett’s toughness, smarts, better-than-average arm and other intangibles are likely to land him on an NFL roster. He’s added arrows to his quiver, with improved scrambling and having fewer passes batted down at the line.

Duggan is a fourth-year senior and has the option of returning for a fifth season at TCU due to the NCAA’s COVID-19 waiver. He plays with an unusual style and might not be a fit for every NFL team. But his improved accuracy, rugged toughness, running ability, experience and ability to deliver in the clutch are a bit more appreciated now. Duggan has turned in career bests in completion percentage (65%), pass yards (3,321), yards per attempt (9) and TD passes (30), along with improved ball security (four INTs in 368 passes), in 2022.

Both Bennett and Duggan could end up as Day 3 picks and profile as competitive backups with spot-starter potential.

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