By: James Johnson If you all recall, back when Zach made his spreadsheet and grades on the QB prospects of 2014, I told you all I would post my very own QB rankings in due time. Well…. I final got to it. Here is my top 10 rankings for this years QB class!
1.) Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville – Do I really need to go into details here? You guys have listened to me go on about this kid since the beginning of last season as he is the clear cut #1 QB in my book. Furthermore, to me, he’s second best prospect overall in the whole draft only second to Clowney. He has a high QB IQ, reads defenses like you’d expect from a franchise QB, is accurate, and practices great QB mechanics routinely. What more could you ask for, right? The only major flaws most can find on him is his size, but guess what? That’s a fixable flaw, and if that’s the only major issue for a QB prospect, then that’s a prospect well worth considering if you’re a franchise that needs a solid signal caller.
2.) Blake Bortles, UCF – I thought long and hard on who to rank first between these next 2 QB’s, and what it came down to was who is the most NFL ready, and which of the two has the better skill set to start day one if needed. That prospect to me is Bortles, who also has the size, arm strength, and physical tools you’d like to see in a top tier QB. Despite that, however, Bortles still has a lot of room to grow as a overall passer, and could afford to be a little smarter with the football at times.
3.) Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M – Now as I said above, if we’re talking about who’s the most NFL ready… give me Bortles. But if we are talking about who was the most prolific in college, Manziel gets the nod. Manziel was statistically more accurate and played in the toughest college football conference there is. That said, Manziel’s style of play isn’t one that I’m 100% sure will work in the NFL, and to me he’s going to either be a really good QB or a really bad one. He’s just too much of a risk to take in the top 5 in my book, but he’ll likely go there somewhere because of the dire need in this league for a potential franchise QB. In the end, maybe he can prove a doubter like myself wrong, as he certainly is a special talent.
4.) Derek Carr, Fresno State – Very raw, yet he has all the physical tools you want in a QB. His arm strength is probably the best in this class and he has a ton of upside. He also had a good showing at the Senior Bowl and was by far the best QB there. I personally believe he should be drafted in the late first round, but I’m not quite sure that he’s ready to start as a rookie. His pro day is on the 20th of March, so he’ll have one last chance to up his stock in the draft process.
5.) Jimmy Garappolo, Eastern Illinois – If you heard me on my good friend Arden’s podcast, you likely heard my high regards for Garappolo. He’s really used the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl the way that they should be used — he really made a name for himself in the process of both. That said, he’s now looked at as a 2nd round prospect and after a lengthy evaluation, I believe he’s slightly better than McCarron due to upside. He’ll be a commodity as a second day name and I think an ideal situation that would really benefit him is one where he could sit a year or two.
6.) A.J. McCarron, Alabama – Like most, I feel McCarron is maxed out in terms of potential and I also feel he’s as good as he’s going to get. For the most part, he’s the same McCarron he was in his first year of starting, though I could argue he’s gotten a little better in time. One thing McCarron does have going for him is the fact that he’s coming off a good Combine and pro day workout, and as we all know, when draft day rolls around momentum is key.
7.) Zach Mettenberger, LSU – At 6’5 and 229 lbs, he’s all you want in a QB in terms of measurables. He also has NFL caliber physical tools. My biggest question for him is his mobility in the pocket, and I also think he could do better scanning the field as a whole instead of making predetermined throws. All of that taken into consideration, I believe he will come off the board anywhere between the 2nd and 3rd round, and I see him as a possible suitor in the Houston Texans based on what Bill O’Brien looks for in a QB.
8.) David Fales, San Jose State – Other than Bridgewater, he’s the most mechanically sound QB in the draft. On top of that, Fales was one of the WAC’s most prolific passers in his career there. His biggest issue, however, is arm strength, as most question whether his arm will cut it in the NFL. I believe with good anticipation he just may be able to get by. He appeared a bit overwhelmed in Mobile and not quite up to par with Carr or Garoppolo for that matter, which leads me to believe he will need time to sit and develop in the league. That said, he’s going to make a interesting developmental pick for some team.
9.) Aaron Murray, Georgia – He has some of the same issues Mettenberger has as both suffered from ACL injures late in the season. Also like Mettenberger, Murray needs to work on scanning the field and reading defenses as well because a lot of his throws are predetermined. If Murray can learn to read defenses and look them off, I’m telling you now: he can be special. One perk he has going for him is his mid-field accuracy, which is rare for a QB with his height (6-0) and could possibly get him a long way when it’s all said and done.
10.) Tajh Boyd, Clemson – You didn’t believe I’d leave him off the list right? You all know here at IES we are team Boyd all day! And despite all the reports on him, I believe that he would flourish with the right system and staff . No, he won’t be a starter right away, but if you draft him and sit 2-3 years he’ll get there. I can say one thing is for certain: he’s got the work ethic and determination to get him where he needs to be and I would love to see him go to a team with a good veteran presence at the QB position.
Honorable Mention: Brett Smith, Wyoming – Smith was snubbed as a prospect who didn’t get an invite to the combine, but certainly has some tools that will intrigue most teams in the late rounds (4th – 6th). Love his arm strength and release, and his mobility is killer too. He’ll have to get used to dropping back, reading defenses, and throwing through windows on the next level as the current system he’s in is a “turn, rock, and throw” style offense (as Mike Mayock would call it). He’ll also need to drastically work on his deep ball accuracy, but the upside is certainly there.
Alright so there you have it, my first rankings of the year. Stay tuned as there will be more to come in the future on the other remaining positions in the draft. In the meantime, feel free to give me your insight and feedback on the rankings above because as we all know I can talk QB’s all day!
Note: My rankings are subject to change as the draft gets closer.
As usual, I appreciate the reads and as always you guys can feel free to follow me on Twitter for more interaction. @IES_Don