May 3, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks Quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws the ball down field at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more 2014 Fantasy Football Rankings visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
The 2014 NFL Draft isn’t even in the books for a month, yet we’re already talking about what’s going on in camps and what position battles will leak into the preseason.
Naturally, some light 2015 NFL Draft chatter has been sparked, as well, as diehard college football and NFL fans alike are looking ahead to the new college season in anticipation for the league’s biggest non-Super Bowl event of the year.
One of the key things this year’s draft lacked was a slew of elite quarterback prospect. Even more noticeable? The lack of big name quarterback selected early by teams that actually needed a passer pretty badly.
A few teams may have addressed their need at the position in round one, while sleepers like Tom Savage and Zach Mettenberger just might turn out to be the answers for quarterback-needy teams like the Texans and Titans.
But there are still other teams that will be in search of a legit franchise passer come 2015, and those two might be back in the running again next year, too.
To start narrowing things down, let’s first take a look at the top five quarterback prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft. Who could potentially go number one overall? Who is locked into the first round?
Let’s break it all down as we get our draft fix with the next draft still almost a full year away:
1. Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
There probably isn’t a more NFL-ready passer heading into the 2015 NFL Draft. There just aren’t many things to complain about when it comes to Mariota’s game, as he has the size, arm, accuracy and athleticism to turn into an elite franchise passer at the next level.
He’s a major threat to take off running, which probably makes him an ideal fit for a team using read option packages, but he still has the size and arm to fit in any offense. His 2014 college season is going to be all about proving he can operate from the pocket effectively on a consistent basis, as well as refining his footwork and mechanics.
Even if teams have doubts about him as a true pocket passer, he still projects too well at the next level with the new offenses we’re seeing to drop him down much. Competing with a mega talent like Jameis Winston doesn’t make him the locked in #1 quarterback that everyone suggests he is, but he’s pretty close. A quality 2014 to show he’s the better player from a fundamental and character point of view should finish the deal, though.
2. Jameis Winston (Florida State)
If Mariota isn’t the first quarterback taken in the 2015 NFL Draft, Winston will be. He absolutely has legit off field issues, while it’s understandable if some aren’t sure he’s fully committed to football (also played baseball at FSU). That being said, he’s an exceptionally gifted athlete and natural play-maker with his arm and legs.
Not only is Winston a physical marvel with fantastic size and athleticism, but he also has good arm strength and in just one season of college football showed impressive poise and decision-making. It wasn’t by accident that he guided the Seminoles to the NCAA title.
The best part is clearly Winston’s raw ability and the fact that he dominated as a freshman. Entering his second season, he has a real chance to make a claim to be taken #1 overall or at least be the first passer selected if he can get more disciplined and accurate. He needs to work on his control and ball placement, but even if he doesn’t make marked improvement, he’s too physically gifted to see his stock drop by much.
3. Brett Hundley (UCLA)
One of the top three dual threat quarterbacks in this draft, Hundley has terrific size and athleticism, with insane upside. He could have been a high draft pick in this year’s draft, but wisely stayed one more year to work on his remaining flaws. He lacks flaw and will need to get more consistent throwing inside the pocket, but he has a remarkably high ceiling.
At the moment he’s a virtual lock for the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and depending on how much better he can get, it’s not out of the question that he could work his way into top-two discussions.
4. Bryce Petty (Baylor)
Petty operates out of a very potent offense that might inflate his numbers a bit (or a lot) but he also has great size and a nice combination of quality arm strength and solid accuracy. He’s played second fiddle to Robert Griffin III earlier in his career, but broke out when he finally got his chance last year. He also offers some nice athleticism and running ability, making him a solid dual threat quarterback.
He has some interesting upside as a true pocket passer, but he can appear a bit rigid and even predictable at times. He clearly lacks experience, so how he fares in a second season could go a long way in projecting his potential at the next level. He is a guy to watch that could slowly crack into the top-three discussion.
5. Kevin Hogan (Stanford)
Hogan isn’t the studly, polished guy Andrew Luck was coming out of Stanford, but he does have the same size/athleticism combo. Hogan doesn’t dazzle and seems to still be a bit of a work in progress, but he faces a high level of competition and has shown well at times.
Hogan can improve his 2015 draft stock considerably if he can show well in some big games and maintain a high level of consistency. He also has the physical tools and the accuracy inside the pocket to get NFL GM’s to bite. Now he just needs to prove he can keep getting better and make sound decisions on a regular basis. He doesn’t have the upside as the guys ahead of him, but he could still find himself drafted inside the top three rounds.
Other quarterbacks could sneak up into this list, but for now the top-five is pretty well sealed off. We’ll have to wait until college football returns before we can start assessing which of these guys will or won’t prove their critics wrong about their flaws.