Which QBs Are Worth Noting at the NFL Combine?
|Date & Time||Monday February 9, 2015, 12:00 PM (EST)|
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I don’t know about where you are today, but I’m looking out the window at one of the dreariest Mondays I’ve seen in awhile. I’m going to try to brighten things up by looking ahead to the 2015 NFL season. The Combine is almost here, so today, we’re going to break down the top ten QBs in a notoriously low-ranking class (just 15 QBs will be appearing at the Combine this year). No Brees, Manning, and Romo this year, I’m afraid.
1. While there are some very real concerns about Oregon Ducks QB Marcus Mariota’s pocket awareness and overall transition to the NFL, he’s still where the smart money is this year. Mariota is a true leader and hasn’t had the myriad of off-field issues that today’s No. 2 guy has dealt with. I like him at Tampa Bay, personally, and I won’t be surprised if they take him with the No. 1 overall pick.
2. As you might’ve already guessed (since there are really only two QBs of note in this year’s class), Florida State's Jameis Winston slides easily into the No. 2 position on today’s list. There are a number of good things about Winston, namely the facts that he’s already played in a pro-style offense and that he’s won a National Championship. Not so good? The character issues that have plagued him off-field. Winston should be prepped for NFL scouts to grill him during his interview sessions.
3. Garrett Grayson, QB for Colorado State, had an impressive senior season (his head coach, Jim McElwain even got the coaching job at Florida based somewhat on his performance). Although Grayson certainly doesn’t have experience in a pro-style offense and hasn’t played in the same high-profile games as the first two guys on this list, he has excellent eyes and a decently strong arm. With some work, Grayson could become an NFL starter down the road. “Could” being the key word, folks.
4. Auburn's Nick Marshall showed improvement during his 2014 senior season. Playing under head coach Gus Malzahn has given Marshall experience in a pro-style system; he’s also a running threat, which is something some NFL scouts love. Marshall needs serious work to actually make it in the NFL, but I expect him to be a mid-to-late round pick come draft weekend.
5. UCLA QB Brett Hundley was once considered a prospective high first-round pick. This no longer the case, particularly given his pocket issues during his senior season, but Hundley may still go in the top 50 given the lackluster options at QB this year. Hundley has potential, but he simply doesn’t seem motivated to ever truly reach it. With the right system and the right coach, there may a future for him in the pros, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
6. Chris Bonner, QB for Colorado State at Pueblo, may come from a Division II system, but he’s got more size and arm strength than most of the guys in this class. At 6’6 and 235 pounds, Bonner has the frame to become a pro player. He also enjoyed an excellent game during the 2014 Medal of Honor Bowl, making Bonner one of my top sleeper picks this year.
7. Baylor's Bryce Petty entered the 2014 college season with high expectations for the 2015 NFL draft. Then, Petty bombed a couple of big games, got hurt, and generally looked inexperienced all season long. Petty definitely isn’t a first-round option these days, but some desperate team will probably take him in rounds 5-7, especially if he impresses at the Combine.
8. Southeastern Louisiana's Bryan Bennett is an Oregon transfer who has intrigued NFL scouts since his days in the Pac-12. Bennett can both run and pass successfully, which is desirable in a pro prospect. He’ll need a good Combine appearance to improve his draft stock, though, since he didn’t play in a Bowl game during the 2014 college postseason.
9. East Carolina QB Shane Carden began his senior season with a few impressive games. Overall, though, his career hasn’t been all that illustrious. A good showing at the Combine could put Carden into draft contention, but he isn’t particularly athletic or strong. I see Carden as a back-up at best in the pros.
10. Taylor Heinicke, QB for Old Dominion, has remarkable pocket composure and football intelligence. While Heinicke will probably never become an NFL starter, he’s attracted interest as a long-term back-up option. He’ll need to get into the gym to improve his arm strength, but overall, he has the potential to be a solid No. 2 for a pro team.