One common truth about the draft is that not every player ends up with a team they probably should’ve, but that shouldn’t stop from identifying which of those teams are. Among the top five quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft, where do they fit best?
#1 – Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville – Best Fit: Houston Texans
There is nothing overly flashy about Teddy Bridgewater. He just seems to play the quarterback position the right away, staying efficient, making good decisions and creating plays when the situation warrants. It is why Louisville remains a heavy contender for a major bowl bid and is why he sits as the favorite to be the first quarterback off the board. He is big, mobile, features a good arm with pinpoint accuracy and shrewd understanding of the game. That makes him an ideal fit for West Coast style offense, particularly the style run by the Houston Texans. Gary Kubiak’s offense loves to use the running game and the play action, similar to what Steve Young did for the 49ers and what Matt Schaub excelled at before his regression. Bridgewater is a more talented version of Schaub and could take the strengths of that offense to a new level.
#2 – Marcus Mariota – Oregon – Best Fit: Philadelphia Eagles
Who better could understand how to use Marcus Mariota than the man who recruited him in Chip Kelly. Indeed the rare athletic ability of the Oregon sophomore from his impressive speed to strong arm offers the kind of dual threat ability Kelly loves to have in his quarterbacks. The Philadelphia Eagles offense is very similar to the one Mariota has turned into a juggernaut with the Ducks. It is fast paced, precise and strikes a balance between the run and the pass, always looking for the big play. If Mariota could step in anywhere and play right away despite his obvious youth, it would be under Kelly in Philadelphia.
#3 – Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M – Best Fit: Cleveland Browns
It is still hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of quarterback Johnny Manziel would be in the pros. His unusual combination of running ability and playmaking outside the pocket makes him seem like a scrambler in the guise of Fran Tarkenton, but in truth he is a much smaller version of Cam Newton. He can pick up first down or score touchdowns with his legs but also sit back in the pocket and sling the ball around if given time. On top of that he is almost a magician at avoiding pressure and buying time to make a big play down the field. So who better to inherit those gifts than Rob Chudzinski. The Cleveland Browns head coach was the man who developed Newton with the Carolina Panthers, so he knows all about what Manziel can do and how to exploit it.
#4 – Derek Carr – Fresno State – Best Fit: Arizona Cardinals
The brash, confident gunslinger from Fresno State looks like a classic Wild West type who isn’t afraid to throw the football on every down. Derek Carr has the arm and the intelligence to do it. He has other physical tools as well including some mobility. His greatest strengths lay in vision and the ability to get the ball out fast. Sometimes he can make decisions that are too aggressive but by and large he has the leadership and poise to take command of an offense. A great place for him to fit in the 2014 NFL draft would be the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Bruce Arians has tutored some outstanding quarterbacks including Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck. He knows what a big arm and hard working mind like Carr can do. With Carson Palmer at the helm, the Cardinals would have a chance to groom him, so by the time he was ready their pass-heavy offense would be tailor-made for his skills.
#5 – A.J. McCarron – Alabama – Best Fit: Chicago Bears
Is he surrounded by a great supporting cast at Alabama? Yes. However, what must be remembered is that A.J. McCarron is doing what he’s supposed to with that cast. He’s winning championships. The senior is not a modern quarterback. He doesn’t try to cram the stat sheets with ridiculous numbers. His game reflects a team player, a thinking man who doesn’t mind playing the chess match. He’ll use the run game, lean on the defense, play the field position battle but when the chips are down and he has to throw, the talent has shown up time and again that he can do it. McCarron is a player who would be best served on a team devoted to protecting him and has the willingness to eat up yards in chunks rather than big plays. Ironically, the Chicago Bears seem like an ideal fit. Their new head coach Marc Trestman has installed a system based on protecting the passer with good blocking and an efficient passing game designed to get the ball out fast. Throw in the heavy doses of running plays and it is an offense that can take advantage of what McCarron does best: think.