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NFL Draft 2014: The quarterbacks
Another NFL Scouting Combine is in the rearview mirror and scouts around the league are now on the Pro Day circuit of on-campus workouts as they continue their evaluations of the players available in the May 8-10 NFL Draft.
Free agency also begins Tuesday, which undoubtedly will impact teams’ needs during what will be the latest draft in league history.
NFL Network and NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock has released his updated position rankings for the draft-eligible players. So we figured it was a good time to take a position-by-position look at the 2014 Draft Class, starting with the position that was the most talked about at the Combine – quarterback.
The assessment of this QB class seems to be as varied as whoever is asked. Some teams need one, so they might see something that isn’t really there or overlook something that is but shouldn’t be. Other teams don’t need one, and feel fortunate because of the varying opinions about the available passers.
“I think you have to see the potential. You have to have the raw potential of the arm strength and the ability to move around and to process information,” John Elway, the Hall of Fame quarterback and now general manager of the Denver Broncos, said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Those are the three things you try to find out about in a quarterback. It’s up to us in that point in time to coach them and see if they can mature and become the player you want them to be at the position.
“You have to have that ability, first, and then hopefully we can get it out of you.”
Here are Mayock’s rankings at the position, as well as the analysis from Rob Rang, senior analyst at NFLDraftScout.com:
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Mayock’s ranking: No. 1
Rang’s take: “While Bridgewater's arm is impressive, the poise, vision and touch he demonstrates could serve as a ‘how-to’ video on effective quarterback play. Critics will continue to point out Bridgewater's flaws. He is not as big or strong as Andrew Luck or as nimble as a healthy Robert Griffin III. Among the quarterbacks potentially available in the 2014 draft, he's the most polished and accurate.”
Bridgewater’s take: “Yes, no doubt, I feel that I’m the best quarterback in this draft. I’m not just going to sit up here and say it. There’s obviously actions that have to back up these words, and I’m just confident in myself and my capability to be able to play this position. I’m just going to go out there and prove that I’m the best guy.”
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Mayock’s ranking: No. 2
Rang’s take (he ranks Manziel No. 3): “Ranks among the more dynamic college football players in recent history. Remarkable maneuverability. Excellent agility and burst, as well as straight-line speed, but what makes Manziel so difficult to contain is his vision. Seems to possess eyes in the back of his head, showing incredible spatial awareness of those around him.”
Manziel’s take: “Johnny Manziel is a guy; I’m from a small town of Kerrville, Texas – 20,000 people. Get lost in kind of the people who make me out to be a big Hollywood guy, really just still a small-town kid. Sometimes you get caught up in certain things, but at the same time continuing to learn and continuing to adapt to everything that’s going on in my life. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but continuing to be who I’ve always been is a big thing for me.”
Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Mayock’s ranking: No. 3
Rang’s take (he ranks Bortles No. 2): “With his strapping frame (6-5, 232) and success in a pro-style offense, no quarterback captured the attention of the scouting community over the final month of the college football season like Bortles. What scouts saw in UCF's marathon victory over Baylor was a young quarterback with intriguing traits but whose technique may require a bit more polish before heading to the NFL.”
Bortles’ take: “I think kind of the skill set I possess is being able to extend plays, being able to handle a lot of offense. Having played at UCF, dealing with a lot of things as far as handling offense, making all the throws, being trustworthy. I think making the right decisions on and off the field, not embarrassing the franchise or your last name I think is huge, especially when you’re playing quarterback in the National Football League. I think those things, the competitiveness, I think are all traits that are great to have as a quarterback, and hopefully there’s other teams that believe that.”
Derek Carr, Fresno State
Mayock’s ranking: No. 4
Rang’s take: “Carr comes from good NFL bloodlines, as his brother, David, was the No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Texans in 2002. Derek followed in his brother's footsteps in choosing Fresno State as the No. 12-rated quarterback prospect in the nation by one recruiting service. … Carr will need to impress at his Pro Day in order to prove he is worthy of a first-round pick.”
Carr’s take: “The No. 1 thing my brother has taught me is, you’re going to be praised a lot, you’re going to be criticized. Ignore both, because neither matter. Just work hard, be yourself, trust the people around you that care about you. Listen to them and continue to work hard like you do.”
A.J. McCarron, Alabama
Mayock’s ranking: No. 5, tied
Rang’s take (he ranks McCarron at No. 6): “McCarron plays like a seasoned veteran with good leadership traits and is always under control, flashing clutch ability and the moment never seems too big. His arm strength and ball placement are just good enough, but far from ideal for the next level. A proven winner, McCarron won’t make a lot of mistakes, but he can also be underwhelming as a passer and projects as a borderline NFL starter – too good to be a back-up, but not quite starting material either.”
McCarron’s take: “I don’t try to worry about any of that (draft status). If you ask anybody, any GMs or head coaches, nobody knows where anybody is going to fall. The draft is just kind of here and there really. One guy could get picked up earlier than expected and it can change the whole draft. I’m just worried about what I can control. And that’s me going out there and performing to the best of my ability. Wherever the chips fall they fall.”
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
Mayock’s ranking: No. 5, tied (Garoppolo is the only addition from his pre-combine rankings)
Rang’s take: “Garoppolo is much more than a funny looking last name. He isn't the biggest and lacks a huge arm, but he has an above average understanding of offensive football and uses his quick eyes and touch to push the ball downfield. He grades as a Top 100 prospect for several NFL scouts, and could continue to rise with strong pre-draft workouts.”
Garoppolo’s take: “The exposure really helps a small-school guy like me. It’s tough for us to get our names out there. We’re not always on ESPN and on TV and everything like that, so every little bit of exposure like that (playing in postseason all-star games) helps me and helps get my name out there. Playing well in both the games really helped me too throughout the week and everything and mentally helped me too. Just getting ready for that pro-style offense, that NFL-style practice every week and all of that just adds up.”