This is not a great quarterback class. I only have one player with a first round grade and none in the top 15 overall. While this class is not top heavy, there is good depth. If you need a guy who can carry a clipboard for a while and potentially develop into more, this is your year to draft a QB. This is a pick-your-flavor group and the top 5 could go in really any order on draft day.
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Bridgewater is loved by draftniks, but seems to be all over the place on NFL team’s boards. Is Teddy’s fall a smokescreen? We’ll find out. Bridgewater has the best combo of smarts, accuracy, touch and success in a pro style offense. Bridgewater is a very good athlete as well, even though he does most of his work from the pocket. The knocks on Bridgewater are his frame and some people question his arm strength. I think his arm is fine, though you never see him crank up a fastball. That’s something teams will undoubtedly ask to see in workouts. Best fit is probably in a west coast offense. I’m not a Bridgewater truther, who fights the twitterverse about his merits, but he is the only QB I rank solidly in the 1st round.
2. Jimmy Garappolo, Eastern Illinois
This may be a surprise to some, but Garappolo in the two spot is more indicative of how I feel about this QB class as a whole. There’s a large group of 2nd round types that Garappolo is at the top of. He has one of the quickest releases I’ve ever seen. As you’ll notice, I err on the side of accuracy and quick decision-making in the pocket. That’s where Garappolo shines. Good, not great arm. He works through his reads, anticipates throws and gets the ball out instantly. You want to see a guy from a small school dominate his competition and he did. He proved up to the competition at both the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. Jimmy Garappolo would probably be my #1 QB if he did it vs top competition. Could be a steal in the 2nd or 3rd round.
3. Blake Bortles, UCF
Bortles is getting a free pass on a lot of deficiencies because he is the only high ranking QB that matches the physical prototype. Despite his size, his arm is only average. Bortles is tough, stands strong in the pocket and can extend plays with his feet in the Ben Roethlisberger mold. Has some work to do with throwing mechanics. Aside from size, his best assets are leadership and maturity. Bortles would benefit from going to a team with a good QB coach where he can sit for a year, like Minnesota or Arizona, but may get drafted too high.
4. Derek Carr, Fresno State
Carr has a very good arm and is as ready as any QB in the draft to play right away. Those two factors may get him drafted in the first round. He’s been tutored by his older brother David since he was a child for a job in the NFL. Not a lot of wow factor with Carr. Has trouble when the pocket isn’t clean. Will miss a lot of throws down the field and his offense at Fresno State padded his completion numbers with a ton of screens. Has the arm and motivation to be a starter.
5. Johhny Manziel, Texas A&M
I’ve written about Johnny Manziel already. Bottom line is, he can’t play his college style in the NFL. Manziel has a good arm and athleticism. He can turn a dud into a spectacular play, but he must prove he can be a leader and operate from within the pocket in the NFL. Manziel could be a star or an epic flame out. I would not want any part of that circus if I’m an NFL GM. This could be the next Tebow (from media perspective, Manziel is a much better passer). The best thing for him might be to fall in the draft and play the underdog role rather than going top 10 and be expected to lead a team from day one.
6. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
There’s a big gap after the top 5. Most of the rest are day three prospects. Mettenberger stands out on tape due to his 6-5 frame and strong arm. Makes great throws on all levels. Had the benefit of super talented WRs (Landry, Beckham) at LSU. Injury and character concerns could have a big impact on his draft status.
7. Aaron Murray, Georgia
There are some very good backup types in the 2014 class, like Aaron Murray. He’s a winner and leader who played very well for a long time in college football’s toughest conference. Average arm. Experience in pro style system. Has some scrappy in his game. Good footwork in the pocket and athletic when he has to leave it. Undersized by NFL standards and has some balls batted down at the LOS. Will probably go in the 4th-5th round range.
8. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Thomas wasn’t the 8th best QB on the field, but he has #1 overall tools. At 6-6, 250 with a 4.6 40 and canon arm, Thomas is a frustrating player to watch. My full scouting report can be found here. He might be worth a mid round selection as a converted TE, so teams have a backup option if he doesn’t develop. Some teams might even skip the QB part and just play him at TE from day one.
9. AJ McCarron, Alabama
Very poor decision to not play in Senior Bowl. He could have really helped his stock by standing out like Derek Carr did on an even playing field. McCarron is a guy without any standout traits. Good size. Productive and played within the scheme at Alabama. Teams have to decide how much of his success was due to playing with the most talented team in college football.
10. Garrett Gilbert, SMU
Was hearing a lot about this guy, so had to go back and check him out. Was impressed. Big time recruit at Texas before transferring. Played in shotgun spread offense under June Jones at SMU. Good size and some athleticism. Decisive. Can sling it pretty good all over the field. Will stare down his #1 receiver. Missed too many deep throws in the games I watched. Strong in pocket. Talent is there. If the light came on at SMU, Gilbert could be the sleeper QB of the draft.
11. David Fales, San Jose State
Productive. Average tools. Accurate and efficient. Could surprise.
12. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Good arm strength and athletic for position. Strong, tough player. Productive career at Clemson throwing to extremely talented WRs. Leaves you wanting more. Will make one great play then miss next throw.
13. Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
Don’t get the hype with Savage. Doesn’t stand out. Strong arm. Sluggish feet. Transferred twice. You have to wonder why couldn’t stick at this first two schools. Rumors that he will go in top 40. I just don’t see it.
14. Brett Smith, Wyoming
Athletic. Funky delivery. Below average arm. Reminds me a little of Jeff Garcia.