Everybody is so focused on the first round of the 2014 NFL draft that it’s become easy to miss how important those on Day 2 might be. Where could those players possibly land?
Jimmy Garoppolo – Eastern Illinois – New team: Houston Texans
The FCS phenom has firmly established himself as an early 2nd round pick for sure with the possibility of jumping into the 1st. Jimmy Garoppolo has the tools. His frame meets with the desired parameters at 6’3″. His arm strength is adequate and his greatest selling points are his accuracy and his lightning quick release. Under the right guidance he can become the biggest sleeper in the 2014 NFL draft. Since the Houston Texans are likely going to take Jadeveon Clowney, having the first pick in the 2nd round should give them a clear shot at Garoppolo.
A.J. McCarron – Alabama – New team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
His arm strength isn’t ideal and he didn’t finish 2013 well but A.J. McCarron can’t be summarily dismissed. He’s a two-time national champion, stands 6’4″, has shown good accuracy, high intelligence and excellent leadership qualities at Alabama. His best fit will be with a team similar to Alabama: defensively driven with a balanced approach on offense. That Tampa Bay Buccaneers should definitely employ that style under Lovie Smith. He was known for a run-first mentality in Chicago and McCarron perfected the art of game management in Tuscaloosa. That doesn’t mean he can’t put a team on his back when the situation warrants. He’ll be a terrific successor to Josh McCown.
Zach Mettenberger – LSU – New team: Oakland Raiders
Greg Olson, the offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders has a reputation for loving big quarterbacks. The fact his team trading for the 6’5″ Matt Schaub is a clear indication of that. However, since Schaub is 32-years old the Silver and Black understand they have to get a young understudy into the system sooner than later. Zach Mettenberger of LSU would be the perfect pick. He’s not just tall at 6’5″ like Schaub but he’s big, boasting the strength to shrug off pass rushers and send the ball over 60 yards downfield. His arm is among the most powerful in this draft class and he’s had a chance to learn from some coaches who had success at the pro level. It won’t take him long to adjust.
Garrett Gilbert – SMU – New team: Chicago Bears
Arm strength and a thin frame will hold off Garrett Gilbert from reach too high on Day 2 but his stellar pro day for SMU was a perfect showcase for what he does well. He sees the field so well, partly thanks to his 6’4″ frame and his accuracy and timing are impeccable. The ball goes exactly where he wants it to. Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman once said quarterback don’t need strong arms in his offense to succeed. They must be accurate, precise and make good decisions. That is why Josh McCown was so successful. Gilbert can become exactly that as a long-term project for Chicago.