2014 NFL Draft Quarterback Update: Mariota, Manziel Rise, Hundley Falls


Oct 26, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws the ball against the UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

While UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has cemented his status as a first round quarterback whenever he should choose to leave UCLA, I think right now is stock has hit a bit of a decline. UCLA has been the ‘flavor of the week’ so to speak with a big win over Nebraska, but in consecutive losses to Stanford and Oregon (the class of the Pac 12, to be fair), UCLA has scored a mere 24 points.

On the other side of the coin, you have guys like Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel playing flat out awesome football, showing NFL scouts exactly what they want to see their future quarterback do out on the field.

In this week’s quarterback update, we take a look at some risers and fallers.

Marcus Mariota, RS Sophomore, Oregon — Stock UP

Marcus Mariota is slowly creeping up, up, up in the quarterback rankings. Don’t look now, but some scouts are already placing him ahead of Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville. You know, the guy who has been the consensus top pick all year (sorry Clowney)?

Mariota is showing a complete game. We all knew from last year that he could sling the ball around, but the way he plays such complementary football as a runner and thrower is very impressive. One thing I noticed last night in the second half when Oregon’s offense was really rolling was how similar it looked to how the Denver Broncos are running things. There’s nothing overly complex about what Oregon does, save for the fact that they run the read-option better than almost any team in the nation. However, what you notice about Oregon  is obviously the pace with which they run what has clearly now become an NFL-style offense.

The way that Mariota operates the offense with such efficiency is astounding, even against some of the best defenses in the conference. He only threw 28 passes and had just one touchdown, but it’s clear that Mariota is rising to the top of his class (just a RS Sophomore) even if that turns out to be the class of 2014.

Brett Hundley, RS Sophomore, UCLA — Stock DOWN

As I previously mentioned, it might be a bit of an omen for Hundley, who has made public his desire to get UCLA back into national prominence. Well, two blowout losses later, it might be time for NFL Draft pundits to start buying into the fact that Hundley won’t be coming out in 2014.

The redshirt sophomore is as sharp as they come, and has the potential to be a number one pick someday if he works hard enough, but I don’t think that is going to be in 2014. The hype around UCLA simply isn’t big enough yet, and Hundley has shown some flaws against the top two teams in the conference.

Let me be clear about something — that’s OK. Hundley doesn’t have to be an elite NFL prospect right now at this point in time. He is still in his second year, and is growing, and is growing with a team and university that has a chance to be a top team in the coming years.

I have heard/read from people in the industry I trust that they don’t expect three redshirt sophomore quarterbacks to declare for the draft this year, maybe two at the most. I think Hundley could be the guy who goes back for a junior season.

Johnny Manziel, RS Sophomore, Texas A&M — Stock UP

Johnny Manziel continues to prove to me that his freshman season as an Aggie was not only not a fluke, it was merely a sign of things to come. Manziel has shown serious poise and development in the pocket this season, and coupled with his ability to create plays out of nothing, he is a first round pick to me.

Sure fire top 20 selection unless some off-field issues develop, but those would be unforeseen at this point.

Manziel is not as big as you’d like for a QB prospect, but guys like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees have shown that playmaking ability and the ability to play QB are the traits that matter most, not height.

Of course, you have to be willing to take the good with the bad when you talk about Manziel, because his style of play can get him into trouble at times or maybe even hurt, but I think some team in the first round is going to be really enamored with Manziel, and he’ll eventually wind up a starting QB in 2014 or 2015.

A.J. McCarron, Senior, Alabama — Stock EVEN

I still think McCarron is one of the more underrated QBs in the nation, but the lack of hype surrounding him is probably warranted. He’s not the most dynamic athlete, he doesn’t have a bullet for an arm, and he’s not putting up ridiculous numbers.

McCarron is simply playing very efficient football for the best team in the country, and he’s been doing it for a lengthy period of time.

When you talk about McCarron, it’s not usually in the first round discussion but his collegiate accomplishments, especially if capped off with yet another National Title, will prompt NFL scouts to look again at the tape and see what this guy can do as the leader of a team.

In the end, McCarron will be a clipboard holder maybe for a year or two or three, but I think someday he can be a capable starter in the NFL.

Stephen Morris, Senior, Miami (FL) — Stock Slightly DOWN

Morris is a bit of an enigma at the QB position, and pardon me if you’ve read that before.

Morris has the qualities you’d seek in an NFL QB prospect, but his consistency is maddening. He completed just 17 of 28 passes against Wake Forest, but somehow the Hurricanes came away with another win.

This is the type of prospect that could attract Ryan Nassib’s kind of hype leading up to the draft, but in the end I think he’s a mid-round selection.

Bryce Petty, Junior, Baylor — Stock UP

You had to wonder when people might start talking about Bryce Petty as a potential 2014 NFL Draft candidate, and the time is now. Petty has 18 touchdowns compared to just one interception for the Bears this season, as well as six rushing touchdowns.

The 6’3″ 230 pound kid out of Texas has been wildly productive all year, helping Baylor to the highest scoring offense in the country at just a hair under 64 points per game. The way he operates the offense with mistake-free football and crazy production is starting to catch the eyes of scouts.

Tajh Boyd, Senior, Clemson — Stock DOWN

Boyd was considered a top five pick before the season, but I don’t foresee that happening at this point. Aside from Clemson getting absolutely blown out by Florida State this year, they’ve been winning a lot of games but Boyd has been average at best in his last three contests, throwing just three touchdown passes and three interceptions.

I’ve seen enough from Boyd to know he can be a starter in the NFL, but instead of being a projected top 10 pick, he’s falling down into the 20s, maybe 30s or 40s.

Teddy Bridgewater, RS Junior, Louisville — Stock EVEN

It remains status quo for Teddy Bridgewater, who is still among the best QBs in the country. Against the University of South Florida, he completed 25 of 29 passes with three touchdown tosses. Bridgewater has shown throughout the year why he is considered by many to be the best QB prospect in this year’s draft, and why he may just be the number one overall selection to the Jaguars, Buccaneers, or some other dark-horse team if he declares.

The question is, will Bridgewater hold out for a better situation, or take the number one pick now while it’s hot?