The highly competitive derby to become the top quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft took another swing in week 10 of the college season. Who sits at the top and which other names made surprising moves?
#1 – Teddy Bridgewater
Sometimes the hot topic can claim the top spot for a week or two, but nobody has argued that Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback prospect in the 2014 class. He has all the tools, mental and physical along with success in big games like his upset of Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Fans just sometimes like new stories. The point is Bridgewater is consistently good. That is what a franchise quarterback is.
#2 – Marcus Mariota
Quarterbacks with huge momentum always seem to crash back down to earth when they come up against Stanford. Red hot sophomore Marcus Mariota was no different. He did throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns but he was completely shutdown when trying to run and he also had problems holding onto the football. The loss likely ends the national title hopes for Oregon though Mariota shouldn’t get too much of a hit on his draft stock.
#3 – Johnny Manziel
His lone loss of the season occurred weeks ago against the best team in the nation. Otherwise Johnny Manziel has been on a tear ever since. It doesn’t matter how defense play him or hit him, he finds a way to score points, be it with his arm or legs. Nothing is clear about his future with Texas A&M, but his star is reaching its peak. Declaring for the 2014 NFL draft would likely make him a first round pick.
#4 – Bryce Petty
If anybody could use the “overlooked” label with good reason, it is Bryce Petty. While others have grabbed headlines for their accomplishments, the junior has directed perhaps the best offense in college football at Baylor. Praise has been held back because of not facing quality opponents. Those doubts were put to rest when he decisively routed #10 Oklahoma for three touchdowns passing and two running. Not a major topic before, he certainly is now.
#5 – A.J. McCarron
From this point forward A.J. McCarron will continue to rise up the power rankings until somebody proves they can beat him. Despite the ongoing questions about his mediocre statistics, the fact is McCarron has managed Alabama brilliantly and always made the passes when called for. He doesn’t throw the ball much because he’s not asked to. That doesn’t mean he can’t. The Crimson Tide know better, and little by little others should start to as well.
#6 – Brett Hundley
Back-to-back rough outings proved how inexperienced Brett Hundley still is, but by and large his body of work in 2013 shows the vast potential he has as a dual threat quarterback with a live arm and accuracy. He needs to learn how to execute in big game situations, which may require another year at UCLA. Still if he can finish the season strong there is a great chance a team will take him early.
#7 – Zach Mettenberger
Almost every draft has that “elite” arm that will get everybody talking. Zach Mettenberger appeared to be that guy. At 6’5″ he looks like the new breed of big, powerful quarterbacks who can deliver the football anywhere on the field regardless of how many defenders are draped over him. That being said the LSU senior has some chinks in his game, specifically with accuracy and decision-making. He might go in the first round, but if he doesn’t it will be because of those problems.
#8 – Tajh Boyd
The talent is certainly there. Tajh Boyd has the arm, toughness and leadership qualities of a starting quarterback. His ongoing drawback is his height and consistency. Too often his passes sail on him, but get covered up by a strong group of receivers. There is no questioning his potential. What is in question is whether he can learn to operate a pro style offense that demands standing the pocket and going through progressions.
#9 – Jimmy Garoppolo
Of all the names coming out of the FCS programs, the one that has the best shot to climb the entire way to the first round is Jimmy Garoppolo. His accomplishments at Eastern Illinois are popular news in the scouting community. Records are getting shattered that were set by Tony Romo when he was there. Garoppolo is accurate, poised, athletic and features a live enough arm with a quick release. The tools are there. Getting past the small school stigma is the only obstacle.
#10 – Aaron Murray
Production alone hasn’t been enough for Aaron Murray heading towards the 2014 NFL draft. He clearly is a quarterback with a lot to like from his ability to deliver on difficult throws and showing good mobility in the face of pressure. At the same time his short stature and inconsistent fundamentals make him a talented passer with a high bust factor in the pros.