Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles highly the 2014 class. How does the quarterback crop look for the 2015 NFL draft?
Marcus Mariota – Oregon
For a time last season it looked like Oregon sophomore Marcus Mariota was the next big thing. For ten-straight games he did not throw an interception while throwing 24 touchdowns passes and running four nine more. At 6’4″ he seems like the total package with the height, strong arm and mobility required of a pro quarterback. Unfortunately his mistake-prone end to the year prompted him to return to school for more seasoning. If the Ducks finish strong this season, Mariota is in line for a top five pick.
Bryce Petty – Baylor
One of the bigger surprises of 2013 was the latest success story the Baylor Bears had going at quarterback. Bryce Petty lived up to that growing tradition his first full year as a starter with 35 total touchdowns and just three interceptions. His Bears offense scored 60 or more points six times and he played well in the Fiesta Bowl against UCF despite losing 52-42. Petty has the desired size of a quarterback along with the requisite accuracy. He also can move. Whether he can run a pro-style scheme will determine his status in the 2015 NFL draft.
Sean Mannion – Oregon State
His latest showing at the Manning Passing Academy was a clear sign that what Sean Mannion accomplished for Oregon State last season was no fluke. The kid can throw the football and throw it well. He’s more of the traditional type, stands tall in the pocket and trusts his 6’5″ frame to let him find the open man and using his strong arm to deliver it. There are still some growing pains to work through, namely with his decision-making and ability to read defense. Another year of work should clean that up.
Jameis Winston – Florida State
The talent was plainly evident for all to see for Jameis Winston, even as a freshman. His national championship victory for Florida State only validated that further. The young man has an immensely bright future in the pro provided he can mature properly. He’s big, strong, mobile and can deliver the ball like a top tier pro. Whether he will be ready for the 2015 NFL draft is the question on many minds. Word is he wants to stay and get his degree, but history shows the allure of pro money has changed many minds before.
Brett Hundley – UCLA
For a time he was a threat to join Manziel and Bortles in the 2014 draft but Brett Hundley was convinced that his best course of action was to hone his mechanics and instincts as a quarterback at UCLA for another season. His incredible progress under Jim Mora Jr. was one of the highlights of last season but it was clear his mental faculties had not yet caught up to his dual-threat physical gifts. No one should be surprised if he looks much more polished and prepared come the draft next May.