BBD Assistant Editor: Joe Marino
With a plethora of differing evaluations on the top quarterback prospects, there could be as many as four or as few as zero quarterbacks selected among the top 10 picks of the 2014 NFL draft.
Teddy Bridgewater ranks as the No. 1 quarterback and prospect in this year’s draft class, and the second-best quarterback draft prospect (behind Andrew Luck) since 2001. He is NFL-ready and has the intelligence and skill set needed to be a franchise signal-caller. A team needing a quarterback should not pass on his talent, which is why I feel the Houston Texans should select him with the first pick in this year’s draft.
First Round Grades
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: Bridgewater already has an advanced understanding of passing game concepts, pre-snap reads and execution. He has all the physical tools and intangibles to be the face of a franchise.
2. Derek Carr, Fresno State: Carr has big-time arm strength and intangibles. He has some footwork issues to clean up, but there is hope that he can be a franchise quarterback at the next level. Players with that potential are elevated in the draft.
3. Blake Bortles, Central Florida: Bortles had his share of big moments in his college career while leading comebacks and impressive victories. He has playmaking potential but it comes with flaws. He has arm strength and accuracy but those skills are held back by his inconsistent footwork. In the right situation, he has high upside.
4. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: Garoppolo has one the quickest, most compact releases I have ever seen. When you combine his release with his ability to make quick decisions and deliver an accurate football, you have a solid prospect. There are concerns with his ability to come off his first read and survey the entire field because he wasn’t asked to do so in college.
5. David Fales, San Jose State: Fales has a good release and throwing motion. He understands coverages and where to go with the football. He has the accuracy and decision-making ability to be a solid NFL quarterback.
6. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: Manziel’s playmaking ability is apparent, but it might not be translatable to the NFL. Few players with his size and skill set have proven to be viable starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
7. AJ McCarron, Alabama: McCarron is an efficient quarterback who can excel with a strong supporting cast and running game. He has proved his ability to win from the pocket and has a translatable skill set to the NFL.
8. Keith Wenning, Ball State: Wenning has very good deep-ball accuracy and intermediate ball placement. Adept at distributing the football, Wenning could be a solid prospect for a “West Coast” offense.
9. Zach Mettenberger, LSU: Mettenberger had an outstanding senior season in which he displayed excellent arm strength. He must speed up his ability to react to defenses and become more accurate, but Mettenberger is a classic drop-back passer with the skills to develop into an NFL starter.
10. Aaron Murray, Georgia: Murray has decent accuracy, consistently hits short crosses and slant throws and is good at finding open receivers and getting them the ball. He can throw on the run, has a quick release and throws the ball with decent anticipation. His ball placement is good and he gets the ball out quickly. While he has a slight frame, Murray has the potential to have a long NFL career as a backup quarterback.
11. Tajh Boyd, Clemson: Boyd throws a good deep ball and excels at making plays downfield. He can scramble and make accurate throws on the run. He has adequate arm strength and can get throws off at a variety of angles. In the pocket, however, Boyd is not very elusive. He holds onto the ball too long and needs to become a quicker decision-maker.
12. Brett Smith, Wyoming: Smith combines exciting moments with way too many erratic moments. He is very inconsistent with his accuracy but is a true gunslinger. He could exceed with the right coaching staff but his playing style forces caution.
13. Tom Savage, Pittsburgh: Savage looks the part of an NFL signal-caller and has NFL-caliber arm strength. He has a quick throwing motion and can be an accurate passer. A lack of consistent coaching in college led to some flaws Savage will have to iron out. He tends to be a one-read passer and sometimes panics if his first read is not available. When he needs the patience to allow a play to develop, he tends to get happy feet in the pocket and struggles with his internal clock.
14. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech: Although he has been inconsistent, Thomas’ skill set brings a lot to the table. He has terrific size combined with great athleticism. He has a strong arm and is capable of making any throw on the field. He goes through his reads and throws with decent anticipation. On the other hand, he is inconsistent with his accuracy and turns the ball over too much. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Thomas overdrafted because of his physical tools, but he will need to develop consistency in his game to succeed at the next level.
15. Connor Shaw, South Carolina: Shaw’s arm and measurables are not those of a solid NFL quarterback, but he has battled through injuries and adversity throughout his South Carolina career and had plenty of late-game heroics. He had an impressive ratio of 56 touchdowns to 16 interceptions for his career, and rushed for more than 400 yards in each of the past three seasons. If Shaw does not make it in the NFL, he could be a top-flight Canadian Football League or Arena Football League quarterback. He is a dual-threat quarterback who makes plays.
Top Undrafted Free Agents
16. Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M
17. Garrett Gilbert, SMU
18. Brock Jensen, North Dakota State
19. Jeff Matthews, Cornell
20. Stephen Morris, Miami
21. Bryn Renner, North Carolina
22. Kenny Guiton, Ohio State
23. Keith Price, Washington
24. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Tags: Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron, Blake Bortles, Brett Smith, Brock Jensen, Bryn Renner, Connor Shaw, David Fales, Dustin Vaughan, Garrett Gilbert, Jeff Mathews, Jimmy Garoppolo, Johnny Manziel, Jordan Lynch, Keith Price, Keith Wenning, Kenny Guiton, Logan Thomas, Stephen Morris, Tajh Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater, Tom Savage, Zach Mettenberger