This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
The 2014 NFL Draft is just around the corner, yet in just the next couple of weeks we’re sure to hear ridiculous rumor after ridiculous rumor. Player stock should rise and drop at alarming rates, as well, while NFL GM’s try to figure out their final draft boards.
A huge part of most team’s draft boards will be the quarterback position, as several teams badly need to land a franchise passer and several others should at least consider adding another arm in the right scenario.
At the top of the draft, the Houston Texans have a need under center and could easily kick things off by taking one of the top-rated passers. Not long after them are the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and even the Minnesota Vikings – all of which have a hole at quarterback and reside in the top eight.
However, teams at the top of the draft are supposedly pondering waiting on a passer, hoping the guy they covet drops to round two.
Whether or not that happens, some teams will inevitably end up having to take a passer that’s a bit lower on that list. With that being the case, let’s take a look at five guys that might qualify as sleeper options that could end up being gems beyond round two:
1. Zach Mettenberger (LSU)
Mettenberger is far from a sleeper to the draft community, but there’s a decent chance to he could be available come day two of the draft. Blessed with excellent size and a rocket arm, Mettenberger offers prototypical attributes that NFL scouts look for in a franchise quarterback.
In addition, Mettenberger faced stiff competition in the SEC, while displaying solid accuracy and decision-making. He also has terrific pocket presence and awareness and has displayed the ability to make every throw that will be asked of him at the next level.
Mettenberger isn’t the greatest athlete and could stand to be a little more mobile in the pocket, but otherwise has all the tools to be a very good NFL starting quarterback. He also is still recovering from a torn ACL. He has an outside chance at sneaking into bottom of the first round, but he’ll head our top-five quarterback sleeper list due to the likelihood of being taken in round two.
2. Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
After Mettenberger, the sleeper quarterbacks are far less likely to be considered locks. Rather, they’re true sleepers in every sense of the word. Garoppolo ranks second behind Mettenberger, possessing solid size and better than average arm strength.
Garoppolo put up elite numbers in college, displaying a beautiful and quick release, along with terrific timing and touch. Garoppolo will certainly hear cries due to facing less than stellar competition on a regular basis in college, while he tends to take too many unnecessary risks, as well.
Overall, Garoppolo appears to be a gem after solid showings at both the Shrine game and Senior Bowl, while the numbers and game tape paint the portrait of solid pocket passer with some untapped potential. He’s a legit candidate to be taken before the middle of the second round.
3. Aaron Murray (Georgia)
Murray was a fiery competitor for the Georgia Bulldogs, but has seen his stock suffer due to a knee injury he sustained in 2013, as well as his small stature (barely over 6 feet). These are understandable concerns, but Murray otherwise appears to have all the necessary tools to succeed at the next level.
Murray does a great job reading defenses and looking coverage, using good anticipation and accuracy to set up his receivers and routinely make big plays. His throwing mechanics in general are what you look for, as he’s a natural, smooth passer who also moves well in and out of the pocket.
While Murray has most of the qualities you look for, he does not have elite arm strength and can often make questionable decisions. His biggest knock in general has to be his inconsistency, as he can appear to be a different player from game to game.
He needs some work refining some flaws, but Murray has the skill-set to be a starting quarterback at the next level. If he can overcome height and durability concerns, he just might be a steal for someone in the second or third round. If not, he should at the very worst serve as a competent backup.
4. Tom Savage (Pittsburgh)
Is any other quarterback’s draft stock rising faster? Savage is ascending the ranks due to elite size and arguably the draft’s strongest arm. While he’s a tantalizing prospect with serious upside, he also has major questions regarding his footwork and overall inconsistency.
Savage actually adds nice running ability to his other great physical attributes, making him a very interesting project. Overall, Savage is going to need time to develop inside the pocket and become more accurate. Decision-making is another aspect in which Savage needs to improve his game.
Every passer has their red flags, though, so the mild concerns surrounding Savage may prove to be unheard if someone falls in love with him. At the pace he appears to be rising, he’s a real threat to have his name called in the second round.
5. A.J. McCarron (Alabama)
Last, but certainly not least, is the game managing McCarron. The funny thing about McCarron is that he’s a proven winner and leader, but seemingly just because he plays for Alabama, all he can do is manage a game. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though, as he’s shown up big in some explosive duels – most notably against Johnny Manziel this past season.
McCarron lacks elite physical tools as a passer and on the run, but does appear to have the skill-set to be a starting quarterback at the next level. His size and arm strength are merely adequate, but his pocket presence, leadership, accuracy, timing and decision-making are at a moderate to elite level. McCarron may slide in the draft due to some thinking he’s a middling talent, but he actually might have the goods to be a gamer at the next level.
In the end, he could be taken somewhere in round two, but is probably more likely to hear his name called in the third or fourth round.