-Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater 6’3 220 pounds
3,523 Passing Yards 28 TDs 4 int 70.2%
What he brings to the table: Football IQ, Accuracy, Toughness, Arm Strength, and Pocket Awareness
Teddy Bridgewater is considered the prize of the QB class this year. Rightfully so, he brings a very good skill set to the table. His pocket awareness and poise are incredible. Add that with pin point accuracy and you can see what all the hype is about. He doesn’t have the upside of past QB’s taken number 1, but he still is a great QB prospect. His ceiling isn’t as UCF QB Blake Bortles or Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel. What you see is what you get with Bridgewater. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Durability may be a concern for him though. He has taken a lot of hits over his career. Mostly because he hangs so tight in the pocket. The talented QB also has a tendency of playing down to his competition. The team’s you think he’s going to pick apart, you come away from the game wanting more.
Draft Projection: Top 5
-UCF QB Blake Bortles 6’4 230 pounds
3,280 Passing Yards 22 TDs 7 int 68.1%
What he brings to the table: Prototypical Size, Arm Strength, High Upside, and Mobility.
Bortles has snuck up on everybody this year and put himself into the conversation of being the first QB taken off the board. He has scouts drooling over his physical tools and upside. He’s very good in the pocket, but can escape when pressure is in his face. No, he won’t be Cam Newton, but having that ability to escape pass rushers is a plus. His downside would be he hasn’t played top competition at the collegiate level and his passing mechanics could use some work. With the right coach and qb coach, he could develop into a special quarterback. He reminds me a lot of another player who hadn’t faced topped competition in college, but you could clearly see all the physical tools. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Draft Projection: Top 15
-Alabama QB AJ McCarron 6’4 214 pounds
2,676 Passing Yards 26 TDs 5 int 67.6%
What he brings to the table: Leadership, Accuracy, Pocket Awareness, and Poise.
The Bama QB doesn’t have a high ceiling, but his skills translate well to the NFL. He may need to sit for a year or two, to hone his skills behind a vet. His leadership and accuracy will serve him well at the next level. His college numbers aren’t as guady as some of the other top passers in college football, but that’s mainly because Alabama runs a power run scheme. If not for that, his numbers would be right up there. McCarron doesn’t have ideal arm strength, but its strong enough to make all the throws at the next level. How he develops will play a major part on how the QB will turn out. If he’s thrown into the fire too soon, it could ruin him.
Draft Projection: Mid 1st-Early 2nd Round
-Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel 6’1 210 pounds
3,732 Passing Yards 33 TDs 13 int 69.1%
What he brings to the table: Playmaking Ability, Athleticism, Arm Strength, Instincts.
Johnny Manziel might be the greatest college quarterback ever. Statistically, you could make an argument. How that greatness translates to the pros, remains to be seen. Manziel’s biggest obstacle he has to overcome, to achieve that greatness is his immaturity. If he comes into the NFL ready to learn and work hard, no doubt he will be a star. His playmaking ability and instincts are second to none. Some may say he is too short to play QB in the NFL and be successful, but Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is putting an end to that stereotype. If you’re a playmaker as Wilson and Manziel are, height means nothing. It’s just a number. He also needs to work on his mechanics. He tends to try and make every play, and that leads to inaccurate passes and costly interceptions. Once that is corrected, sky’s the limit for this kid. But he has to put in the work.
Draft Projection: Top 10
-Fresno State QB Derek Carr 6’3 205 pounds
5,080 Passing Yards 50 TDs 8 int 68.7%
What he brings to the table: Elite Arm Strength, Accuracy, Pocket Awareness and Mobility.
Let me just get this out the way. Derek Carr is by far a better QB prospect than his older brother ever was. Carr is blessed with a cannon arm and is the definition of a gun slinger on the football field. When his mechanics are right, his accuracy is tremendous. But like his older brother David, sloppy footwork is an issue. While that bad footwork doesn’t rear its ugly head too often, it’s still an issue that needs to be corrected at the next level. This issue was front and center in Fresno State’s bowl game loss vs USC. If this is not corrected, you could see Derek Carr end up like Lions QB Matthew Stafford. Can throw the ball all over the field, but his sloppy footwork and mechanics result in a lot of back breaking interceptions. There is no doubt Carr needs a bit of refining, but his upside is extremely high. The lack of competition he faced will also raise some eyebrows, but his physical tools will be too good to pass up in the first 15 picks.
Draft Projection: Top 15
Conclusion: This is a very good crop of quarterbacks in this class. Everybody brings something different to the table. The slight edge goes to Teddy Bridgewater for the best QB in this class. But it’s by a very slight margin. Johnny Manziel would be my #1 QB, but the immaturity factor is too big for me to look past. While he might have the greatest upside of the 5 QB’s, he is also the greatest risk. Bridgewater is easily the safest pick at QB. You know exactly what you are getting. One things for sure, this 2014 NFL Draft is top heavy with great talent at the quarterback position and it’s going to be interesting to see who’s name is called first.