Unlike 2013, high expectations keep growing for the 2014 NFL draft class of quarterbacks. While the superstars haven’t announced themselves quite yet, the talent pool is deep and people are anxious to see their fates. Where will the biggest names on the board end up?
Teddy Bridgewater – Jacksonville Jaguars
2012 season: 3,718 yards, 27 touchdowns, 8 interception
No quarterback ended the 2012 season on a hotter note than Teddy Bridgewater. The Louisville quarterback showcased his blossoming array of physically and mental skills by dominating powerhouse Florida in the Sugar Bowl. His mechanics are polished and he has no real big weakness in any part of his game from mobility, to arm strength or pocket poise. So where he will end up? That depends a lot on who picks first overall in the NFL draft because that is likely where Bridgewater will go. If one had to guess based on track record, the Jacksonville Jaguars are as safe a bet as any. Their quarterback situation is a mess with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. Head coach Gus Bradley spent his first year more focused on adding talent to a depleted roster. By next year he should be ready to find his quarterback.
Tajh Boyd – Oakland Raiders
2012 season: 3,896 yards, 36 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Physically gifted and tough were the trademarks of Tajh Boyd in 2012. The Clemson quarterback became a nightmare for defenses to stop all season long. For what he lacks in size he covers up very well with mobility, arm strength and accuracy. He is also a gamer, as evidenced by his last-minute comeback against LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Coaches rave about his work ethic and command of the huddle. Which team needs that the most? Don’t be fooled by their recent moves. The Oakland Raiders won’t hesitate to bring in another quarterback if they have another bad year. Matt Flynn is in the audition phase while fourth round pick Tyler Wilson is a long-term project at this point. If Boyd is there, they can’t afford to pass him up.
Johnny Manziel – Philadelphia Eagles
2012 season: 3,706 yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
The reigning Heisman trophy winner is barely into his college career and he’s already finding every way in the book to get out of it. Everything from arrests, to drunken parties, dismissals from camps represented by a future Hall of Fame quarterback and now a controversy surrounding sales of autographed memorabilia has highlighted his time at Texas A&M. Yet his abilities are hard to ignore. He beat teams with his arm every bit as much as his legs, which lent a huge edge to the Aggies being the only team to defeat eventual national champion Alabama last year. If he does try to get out after this season, and many expect he will, which team will tug the tail of that snake? Given his skill set, the Philadelphia Eagles make a ton of sense. Nothing is settled at quarterback for them with Michael Vick, Nick Foles or rookie Matt Barkely. Chip Kelly could find so many uses for Manziel.
A.J. McCarron – New England Patriots
2012 season: 2,933 yards, 30 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
Alabama quarterbacks just aren’t flashy. That is the nature of the offense they play in under Nick Saban. A.J. McCarron has one job. Manage the game, make the throws he has to and ride the rushing attack and defense to victory. This he has done beautifully since he became the starter, winning back-to-back BCS titles. Teammates though warn that their quiet leader is far better than people give him credit for. Indeed his physical attributes would work in the pros, and his ability to protect the football is something teams covet. One team that could really get the most out of him is the New England Patriots. McCarron is much like Tom Brady in terms of style. He won’t run away from anybody, but he stands tall in the pocket, knows where to go with the ball and can adapt to an offense quickly. Bill Belichick loves players like that.
Aaron Murray – Minnesota Vikings
2012 season: 3,893 yards, 36 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
No quarterback probably had a hotter hand in college football than Aaron Murray. The reason scouts aren’t high on him is their misgivings about his height and his showings against top competition. They were encouraged by his SEC championship game against Alabama, and believe another year honing his craft will make him a top option next April. Getting Georgia to a top flight bowl game won’t hurt. So why the Minnesota Vikings. Put simply, Christian Ponder is out of excuses. After riding Adrian Peterson to the playoffs last season, he has enough weapons in the passing game to warrant a breakout. Many wonder if he has what it takes to do that. While he was certainly efficient, he never made many impact plays. Murray did plenty of that for the Bulldogs and drafting him might put the Vikings over the hump.
David Fales – Chicago Bears
2012 season: 4,193 yards, 33 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
Yes, his great numbers came against weaker competition. Yes, David Fales plays for San Jose State but nobody should doubt his ability. Scouts are enamored with his ability to place such accurate passes, lead receivers and orchestrate a quick-hitting passing attack. For those who did their homework, that is the trademark of the West Coast offense. New Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman is at present installing that system, and the team is at a crossroads with current starter Jay Cutler. The 30-years old is in the last year of his contract. His one and only goal is to get the Bears to the playoffs for just the second time in seven seasons. If he fails, Trestman may want to find his own quarterback. Fales not only should fall around where Chicago will likely draft, he is a perfect fit for their new system. He loves to throw short and intermediate passes but has the arm to go long and the legs to keep plays alive on the move. With some touching up in his mechanics, he has everything it takes to succeed.
Derek Carr – Dallas Cowboys
2012 season: 4,104 yards, 37 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
Perhaps the biggest enigma of the 2014 class is Derek Carr. On the one hand he has quarterbacking in his blood. On the other, the best example is his brother David Carr who went #1 overall to the Houston Texans and flamed out. Still, Derek is red hot going into his senior year. Scouts love his mechanics and his arm. They need to see more poise against better competition but otherwise he is among the favorites to go in the first round. The Dallas Cowboys make a lot of sense for him for two reasons. Tony Romo is 34-years old and his primary backup is 30. There is no real young project waiting in the wings. Also, Carr won’t walk into a horrible situation like his brother did. Dallas has talent in place for him to succeed whether he replaces or succeeds Romo. Such is the way the NFL draft works.