Florida QB Graham Mertz wasn’t able to keep the Gators competitive, let alone get the win, against the No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. But does this game have any bearing on his 2024 NFL Draft stock in what’s been a year of resurgence for a once-revered recruit?
Graham Mertz Steady Despite Loss to Georgia Bulldogs
The Gators ended up losing to the Bulldogs 43-20. Even after scoring the opening touchdown of the game, they were unable to sustain their momentum and keep the game close through four quarters.
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All this being said, the team’s failings don’t fall squarely on Mertz’s shoulders. The Florida QB completed 25 of 34 passes for 240 yards and two scores.
In all honesty, Florida was simply outmatched from a talent perspective and never had a great chance of competing against the Bulldogs. Considering the circumstances and the talent mismatch, Mertz played well and again gave evaluators an intriguing game to look back on.
Mertz was by no means perfect. He took several bad sacks and lost a crucial fumble on a strip-sack. But he was efficient as a passer, in rhythm as a quick-game and off-platform thrower, and flashed his high-level arm talent on high-velocity intermediate throws.
Also apparent was the risk aversion from Mertz — a newfound quality that was previously uncharacteristic of his game at Wisconsin. Mertz came into this game with 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions. And even with the pressure on against a stalwart opponent, he still rarely put the ball in harm’s way.
So, while it ended up being a disappointing outing for Florida overall, Mertz was a bright spot, and he at least maintained his status as a draftable quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft class.
Potential Landing Spots for Mertz in the 2024 NFL Draft
Right now, Mertz makes up part of the middle-to-late round group in the 2024 NFL Draft QB class. He’s not yet a top-10 signal-caller, but there’s been enough growth this year to couple with the natural arm talent and evasive ability that he possesses at around 6’3″, 230 pounds.
Mertz has always had a high-velocity arm with impressive angle freedom and off-platform reliability. But this year, he’s been more efficient and composed in structure, more autonomous with his pocket work, and more proficient at moving DBs with his eyes.
There’s still room for Mertz to expand within the structural phase, which is why he’s still in the Day 3 range. But anywhere on Day 3, he could be a wise investment for teams in need of heightened long-term security and starting upside at the QB position.
Teams that might demand a QB prospect like Mertz include the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, and Las Vegas Raiders.
All three teams have established starting QBs who haven’t earned complete security long-term. Jordan Love is still young and learning, but his accuracy has been a concern. Jimmy Garoppolo is proven in his system, but injuries are mounting. And Mac Jones has bright moments but has yet to prove he can get over the hump.
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In all of these situations, Mertz would have the luxury of time. He wouldn’t be pressured to start right away, but he also possesses the physical upside to make the most of a starting opportunity once he gets it.
The season isn’t over yet, so there’s still time for Mertz to add to his 2024 NFL Draft scouting report. But as it stands, he’s a high-upside Day 3 prospect. He’s played his way into draftable range with his improved discretion and efficiency but still has room to keep climbing.
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