Another shakeup came about for the top quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft. How do the power rankings stack up before the bowl season?
#1 – Teddy Bridgewater
It’s hard seeing anything other than a complete meltdown during the bowl game for Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to lose his place as the top quarterback on the list. His mental and physical capabilities remain the best in the class. Nothing aside from returning to school or a horrific combine process can derail him from being the first or at the very least second quarterback off the board. He’s got the arm, the body, the mind and the work ethic to succeed at the next level.
#2 – Derek Carr
One might argue that the second spot was already in hand for Derek Carr even before Marcus Mariota announced he was returning to Oregon. Now that he has, Carr is firmly entrenched in that #2 spot and still has a very real opportunity to take on Bridgewater for the top spot. There really isn’t a serious weak part of his game. He can throw the ball with strength and accuracy, can extend plays with his legs, stand tall in the face of pressure and elevate the play of his teammates through both words and actions. That sounds like a franchise quarterback.
#3 – Blake Bortles
A very similar story to Carr with a cool twist. Blake Bortles has posted good numbers at UCF, displaying all the facets of a future pro passer with arm strength, mobility and a steady head on his shoulders. Yet where Carr is a stats machine, Bortles has built his reputation on taking his game up a notch late. He’s posted a number of late comebacks in 2014, against good competition too. Aside from a narrow loss to South Carolina the Knights are flawless thanks to his clutch factor. Bortles has the physical capability of a first rounder, and can go even higher if he finishes strong.
#4 – Johnny Manziel
He may have dropped slightly on the list but Johnny Manziel still firmly remains in first round territory. There are just too many things he can do on the field that offset what he can’t. Height and arm strength arguments aside, his mobility, instinct and rapidly developing technique has created a far better player from the Heisman trophy winner a year ago. Manziel can now throw from the pocket with accuracy if he chooses but it far more dangerous when he’s on the move. If he is as smart as many say, he’ll find a way to hide those pesky weaknesses experts keep going on about.
#5 – A.J. McCarron
This argument is going to rage all the way up until the 2014 NFL draft starts. From a success perspective, A.J. McCarron is an obvious first round choice with two national titles under his belt. Production also isn’t terrible while efficiency is excellent. The problem scouts continue to have is a lack of serious game tape showing that McCarron can run a pass-first offense. His success at Alabama has been by running the ball and leaning on the defense, making big throws only when required. He is not a physical specimen, but he does a number of things well. A good combine could really get the momentum rolling for a first round run.
#6 – Jimmy Garoppolo
It doesn’t happen often but sometimes there are some gems waiting in the FCS and Eastern Illinois has a very interesting one in their midst. Though he doesn’t possess the bulk of several top picks, Jimmy Garoppolo has the height and accuracy to run a pro offense. His greatest asset is a quick release that allows him to get the ball out fast, making difficult for defenses to get to him. He has dominated most of the season for his school and can further his push his stock up if he puts in good workouts.
#7 – Zach Mettenberger
Fortunately tearing the ACL doesn’t really cripple the future for Zach Mettenberger. He was never viewed as much of a running quarterback at LSU. His strengths are size and power. There probably isn’t a quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft with a stronger arm. His development has come along steadily for the tigers and he should be a day two selection provided his knee is healed. Some are concerned about his decision-making and accuracy but given enough time there is a chance he can become a very dependable starter.
#8 – Aaron Murray
He just can’t seem to win. Aaron Murray is the most productive passer in the history of the SEC, the best college football conference in the nation. That has to say something about his skills. His arm has the strength to throw any pass in the playbook and with accuracy too. Excellent footwork allows him to avoid pressure in the pocket despite limited mobility. Tragically a torn ACL and height issues at 6’1″ have derailed his stock. However, that doesn’t erase three years of game tape. The kid can play against the best players in football. All he requires is a chance.
#9 – Tajh Boyd
Strong, tough, mobile and having a great arm hasn’t masked the problems with Tajh Boyd. It’s a problem that came out at the worst possible times for Clemson, and is something that may scare teams away from him early in the draft. For all his physical capability, Boyd has shown tendency to get antsy in the pocket when under pressure. It often leads to killer mistakes such as interceptions or fumbles. That is not the kind of player befitting a day one starter in the draft. Boyd must show he can correct this problem, otherwise coaches will be hesitant to give him the ball.
#10 – David Fales
Arm strength can take a player a long way. If David Fales had more of it he might be rising up boards fast. Sad to say he doesn’t, but he has shown the ability to work around that problem. He is extremely accurate with his passes, constantly putting the ball in the right places. Size is not an issue as he had adequate height and he also shows deceptive mobility outside the pocket. Intelligence and mechanics are all in place as well. He won’t go in the first, but the second round is not out of the question for the San JoseState star.