Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson: Annual NFL Draft Stock Report


clayton thorson

One year ago, in this time and space, there was talk of Northwestern Quarterback Clayton Thorson going early entry into the NFL Draft.  “Do I believe he will be an NFL quarterback? Absolutely,” said NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald on this topic.

“If it’s after this year, that means he’s had a really good year and that’s win-win for everybody.”

Thorson did have a really good year, continuing to rewrite the Northwestern passing record book. After the regular season ended there was talk of his becoming the highest drafted Northwestern quarterback since Otto Graham, who went #4 overall in 1944.


Then everything changed when Thorson caught a pass on a trick play in the Music City Bowl.  Brought down on the 10 yard line, Thorson’s right knee buckled, and his anterior cruciate ligament was damaged to the point that surgery was required in order to repair it. He had been considered by many draftniks as a late first round/early second round prospect, squarely in that second tier of signal caller prospects. 

This year, if healthy and back to himself again, he’ll lead the Wildcats to 10 wins and become a first round pick. Given his measurables, size (6-4, 220), strength, arm, intelligence, it’s easy to envision him having a great combine and end up a high first round pick.  

 “I’m feeling really well,” Clayton Thorson said at 2018 Big Ten Media Days.

“Doctors said after three or four months you’re going to feel like yourself and we’re going to have to hold you back. And that’s what I’ve experienced.”

Fitzgerald says he’s fine now, and although it’s day-by-day (of course), he is projected to QB1 for that early opening game at Purdue on August 30th.

clayton thorson

“I’ll definitely have to prove that I’m healthy, which I know I’ll do right away,” Thorson added.

The Wheaton native attended the Manning Passing Academy in June of 2017, and he wears #18 because of Peyton Manning. That’s not his NFL role model though, as he actually takes a little bit from a lot of players.

“You see how Aaron Rodgers throws on the run and you’d like to do that cuz he’s pretty special,” said NU’s all time winningest QB (27-12). 

“I like Russell Wilson, how he’s just a ballplayer.”

Clayton Thorson has really developed over his three years as a starter in Evanston, and by midseason 2016, he really had established himself.


Clayton Thorson (7,548 passing yards, 44 TDs) sees a silver lining in the dark cloud of his serious knee injury.

“With the injury I feel that I can reset everything mechanically,” he said. 

“One thing I feel I’ve really done a really good job of is getting back and honing my drops, no wasted movement, being really efficient with my motions, and I actually think I’m throwing the ball much better than before the injury and more consistently and with more velocity and hopefully that’s something you guys will see.” 

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Sound Cloud and YouTube. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to any and all of his.

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