Sep 21, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger (8) prepares for the snap against the Auburn Tigers in the second half at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Auburn 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
With the buzz building around a quarterback class expected to be stacked for the 2014 NFL draft, it’s time to take a look at which names stand where in the power rankings, and perhaps on big boards.
#1 – Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville
Another week, another efficient beat down for Louisville courtesy of Teddy Bridgewater. The junior isn’t a lock for the 2014 draft yet but it’s safe to say he on track to go first overall if he does declare. Through four games he has 1,214 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and only one interception. His physical tools are among the best in college football and his mental side of the game from the footwork to the poise in the pocket are as advanced as there is. That is why he is tops.
#2 – Brett Hundley – UCLA
The UCLA product wasn’t a heavy favorite coming into 2013 but Brett Hundley is changing a lot of minds in the early going. Another kid who has the optimum body and arm along with a coaching staff heavy in NFL experience. His ceiling is high and his progress has been on a steady climb. He has five touchdown passes and two touchdown runs through two games against Nevada and Nebraska. His inspiring comeback against the Cornhusker was a sign of his progress in terms of his poise under pressure.
#3 – Tajh Boyd – Clemson
The wins keep coming along for Clemson and the main reason is Tajh Boyd. Best among the senior quarterback class, he has his team hot on the trail of a national title and continue to make plays with his arm and feet. He has thrown six touchdown passes, no interceptions and scored three times on the ground. Though his height is slight issue at 6’1″ he athleticism, arm strength, toughness and leadership win out over that minimal problem. A big bowl run will cap an outstanding college career and signal his readiness for the pros.
#4 – A.J. McCarron – Alabama
Calling him a game manager over and over hasn’t stopped reality from setting in. Scouts wonder if there was more to A.J. McCarron than simply steering the car straight for Alabama. Already a two-time national champion he is entering his senior season looking for a third and hoping to prove he is more than just a guy who hands the ball off every play. He proved that when he carried the Crimson Tide to a hugely important shootout victory over Texas A&M, throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. If he continues that sort of improvement teams won’t be able to ignore him for long in the 2014 NFL draft.
#5 – Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M
Speaking of Texas A&M their superstar Johnny Manziel continues to build ridiculous stat lines and ticking off people along the way. He shredded the Alabama defense for five touchdown passes and has 11 through three games to along with another one rushing. The reason he is slightly lower is because he’s still a sophomore but more importantly he’s had a problem with turnovers lately. That is a problem pro coaches take very seriously, especially for somebody who likes to scramble and make big throws down the field. Manziel must correct that problem before he can consider himself pro-ready.
#6 – Marcus Mariota – Oregon
A classic case of is it him or is it the offense? Oregon has always been a team offense. The quarterbacks were just along for the ride. However, scouts aren’t sure the same is true for Marcus Mariota. The sophomore is off to a roaring start in 2013 with 11 total touchdowns and no interceptions. His Ducks have demolished their competition thus far while averaging over 60 points per game. Those opponents include Virginia and Tennessee. He still has a ways to go before he’s ready, but the talent is there in spades.
#7 – Zach Mettenberger – LSU
Only until recently have NFL draft scouts caught win of Zach Mettenberger. Much like McCarron he is installed in an offense built around the run in order to accent a powerhouse defense. That makes it easy to miss how much potential he has. At 6’5″, 230 lbs he has ideal size for the pros along with the arm to go with it. Best of all he has the coaching too, with former NFL offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in charge of developing him. Cameron is a renowned quarterback guru and it has shown with Mettenberger’s start to 2013, averaging over 250 yards passing and throwing 10 touchdowns to one interception for an undefeated record. If he hasn’t caught the attention of the nation yet, he will soon.
#8 – Aaron Murray – Georgia
A main reason that Aaron Murray ranks below Mettenberger is simple math. Murray is four inches shorter at 6’1″. He has the pocket presence and all the other necessary tools, not to mention a growing big game mentality. The one thing holding Murray back from challenging for the top spot is his size. He’s got wins against good teams like South Carolina, averages over 300 yards passing and had nine total touchdowns to two interceptions. The Bulldogs aren’t out of the national title picture yet despite their opening week loss to Clemson. Making a run could be the one boost he needs. Otherwise he may have to settle for going late in the first round.
#9 – Stephen Morris – Miami (Fl.)
A variety of issues have dropped Stephen Morris down the list. Most recently is was a leg injury suffered against SavannahState, which is a shame because his draft stock isn’t ready to take that kind of hit. Morris is a classic Miami of Florida player: big, athletic, and fast with all the physical tools. His lagging problem was development in his passing game. Thus far this year he was barely complete over 50% of his passes with four touchdowns to two interceptions. Scouts wanted to see more progress before they passed judgment on his 2014 NFL draft stock but if his injury is serious that might undo everything he’s been working towards. The physical talent is there but not enough polish.
#10 – David Fales – San Jose State
Some call him an overachiever and others think he’s a system quarterback. The fact is David Fales has plenty of numbers and some intriguing prospects going for him. One thing everyone really likes about him is his accuracy. He can hit receivers in stride and on timing routes with regularity. There is also some decent mobility in his game. Problems start to arise as he gets pressured, normally by better competition. He’s not very adept at handling blitzes, often not worrying about them because of how quickly he throw the ball. There is also a bad tendency to stare his receivers down. These problems need to get fixed if he’s going to move up in the draft.
Fast riser: Derek Carr