Top Ten 2014 Draft Prospects: Quarterback Edition
Your Comprehensive Guide to the 2014 NFL Draft's Best QBs
2014 NFL Off-Season
As we wind down our position-by-position rundowns, we finally discuss the QBs who appeared in Indy earlier this week. We’re adhering to a save the best (or at least the most hyped) for last mentality here, people. Every year, QBs who are the darlings of the draft go on to become the faces of their new franchises. We’ve heard it a thousand times and it’s true: this is a QB driven league. This year’s crop of QB hopefuls hasn’t disappointed. I think some of these boys have the potential to become solid, long-term players in the pros, but others have me a little scared. Everything is broken down below.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
1. Blake Bortles (QB-Central Florida) - 6’5, 232 pound Bortles is just about the QB ideal size-wise. Bortles is remarkably accurate on short to mid-range throws and has confidence in his ability to get the ball to his receivers. Bortles became the second QB in UCF history (the first was Daunte Culpepper) to throw for 3,000 yards in multiple years. Furthermore, Bortles has intangibles (notably, leadership skills and athleticism) that could make him a franchise QB in the future. One downside to Bortles is that he hasn’t had much experience on the national stage, so we’ll have to see how he adjusts to the NFL spotlight.
2. David Carr (QB-Fresno State) - Carr comes from a football family (remember the Texans’ David Carr, anyone?), so he has an understanding of the rigors that come with playing in the NFL. Carr enjoyed three consecutive 3,000+ yard seasons, becoming the first ever Fresno State QB to do so. Carr’s football smart and, as a three-time captain, well-liked by teammates; these are critical attributes for an NFL QB to possess. Furthermore, Carr is deceptively quick and has the ability to still make plays without the security of the pocket. He’s one of my favorites in this year’s class and I think Carr could definitely help out a team (I’m specifically thinking of the Browns) that is lacking solid leadership at the QB position. Carr may not become an instant star, but he has the potential to be a consistent player for years to come.
3. Teddy Bridgewater (QB-Louisville) - While I think Bridgewater has been somewhat overhyped, especially at the start of the off-season, he definitely has the potential to become an NFL starter in short order. One of Bridgewater’s best qualities is his toughness; he played well with a broken left wrist and badly sprained ankle in 2012. Bridgewater is also a smart, alert player, which translates to excellent timing and anticipation on the field. One of Bridgewater’s less glowing qualities is that he often has trouble eluding the rush, which could be problematic in the pros. He’ll go early in round one, but Bridgewater isn’t likely to excel unless he goes to a club that wants a true pocket passer.
4. AJ McCarron (QB-Alabama) - McCarron, who became a household name by starting (and winning) two National Championships, is a game-manager in the truest sense. McCarron’s 66.9% pass completion rate in college speaks to his accuracy and he clearly has the ability to handle pressure on a big stage. McCarron had the luxury of playing on a ‘Bama team that was rife with NFL-level talent, which may have padded some of his stats. However, McCarron is an experienced player who has the athleticism and football IQ to make it in the pros. Look for him to go anywhere from the first to the third round, depending upon how impressed teams were with his combine interviews.
5. Johnny Manziel (QB-Texas A&M) - I’ll start this off by being honest. I’m not a Manziel fan; I think he’s reckless and lacks football smarts. That said, I understand the intrigue and I can certainly be objective about a player who isn’t my favorite. Manziel is sitting mid-way through this list for a couple of reasons. Maziel’s size is the big one; I don’t like a (barely) 6’0 guy, coupled with his style of play, against NFL defenders. Secondarily, Maziel’s ego could stand to be checked. I’m not basing this on nothing; the kid is having his own special pro day. Maziel will go in round one, undoubtedly (sorry, Jaws), but we’ll have to wait and see how he performs on the field in September. Personally, I’m at least giving it until training camp to pass judgement…I get an “A” for effort, right?
6. Jimmy Garoppolo (QB-Eastern Illinois) - Garoppolo, who comes out of the same program that groomed Tony Romo (personal call on whether that’s good or bad, y’all), is a poised QB who gets the ball out quickly and accurately. Garoppolo is well-respected by his peers and won the 2013 Walter Payton Award. Physically, Garoppolo looks the part of an NFL player, but coming from a small conference, he’ll probably need some time to adapt to the stiff competition that exists in the pros. I see Garoppolo as a solid third-round pick.
7. Tajh Boyd (QB-Clemson) - Boyd is the first ACC QB in the history of the conference to throw 30 or more TDs three seasons running. Boyd’s the kind of guy front offices love; he’s a locker-room leader and an all-around good guy. Boyd has the ability to accurately throw long passes and has quick feet, which are both excellent traits. Boyd, though, at 6’1, 222 pounds, is slightly undersized and doesn’t tend to slide on the run, which could concern some scouts. Overall, Boyd is a likely mid-rounder who might find his place as a pro back-up.
8. Logan Thomas (QB-Virginia Tech) - Thomas intrigues me. A top performer in all five combine tests, Thomas also boasts exceptional size at 6’6, 248 pounds. At first glance, Thomas, who started 40 games in a row and possesses natural athleticism at the QB position, seems to be a tough, durable sure-thing. His numbers, though, were inconsistent throughout college and he fumbles/throws interceptions with remarkable frequency. Shockingly, these are not things that are high on scouts’ lists of desirable qualities. Thomas could benefit immeasurably from going to a team that has an exceptional QB coach who will work with him to truly refine his skills. Look for a club to take him in a mid to late round.
9. Zach Mettenberger (QB-LSU) - Mettenberger, clocking-in at 6’5, 224 pounds, has the size that NFL scouts are looking for. Mettenberger also has experience playing in Cam Cameron’s NFL-style offense at LSU, which should benefit him in the pros. Mettenberger injured his ACL in 2013, but is said to be recovering even faster than anticipated and is expected to fully participate in LSU’s pro day. He has had some behavioral issues in the past, but if Mettenberger can prove that he’s matured during his interviews, he’ll probably go in the third or fourth round.
10. Aaron Murray (QB-Georgia) - Murray started all four years for the Bulldogs, which gives him the kind of experience that NFL front offices love. However, Murray is undersized and suffered a torn ACL in 2013. Murray hasn’t fully recovered from the injury, which could impact his draft stock negatively. On the plus side, Murray is a team leader who has solid knowledge of the game. Murray won’t start in the NFL, but he could be a serviceable back-up. Look for him to be taken in a later round.