Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Top 10 Quarterback prospects

With all of the talking heads debating about who should be drafted where, I want to give you “the reader” an objective, no hype, no drama analysis of the players I consider the top ten quarterback prospects and why I have them ranked where they are.  These rankings are based on my scouting notes for each player:

1.  Blake Bortles (University of Central Florida) 6’5” 232 Lbs.

Analysis: Has best upside of any of the Quarterbacks in this years draft; absorbed instruction and playbook like a sponge.  Very good decision maker in the pocket, whiling to hang in and take a hit from the defender in order to make the right play down field.  Good accuracy on deep ball, great leader.

Comparable to: Bortles is a combination of Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill.  He is sturdy and moves well in the pocket like Big Ben; is athletic and quick learner like Tannehill; also similar arm strength to Tannehill, has Roethlisberger’s accuracy.


2. Derek Carr (Fresno State University) 6’2” 214 Lbs.

Analysis: Has the highest Football IQ of the Quarterbacks in this year’s draft; he called many of his own plays in college and orchestrated an offense with multiple formations.  Great leader and communicator with teammates; excellent mechanics and arm strength.

Comparable to: Carr is a combination between Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.  He has mechanics similar to Matt Ryan but arm strength and deep ball touch comparable to Flacco.  Carr is tough like both Ryan and Flacco; Carr also brings out the best in his teammates like Ryan does.


3. Zach Mettenberger (Louisiana State University) 6’4” 224 Lbs.

Analysis: Big Arm, solid all-around Quarterback who can make all of the NFL throws.  In college he ran a Pro-style offense under the coaching of long time former NFL Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron.  Mettenberger has shown the willingness to learn and to grow with instruction.  Great footwork and solid mechanics.  Does not force the fall often, which limits his potential for turnovers.

Comparable to: Mettenberger is very similar to a young Carson Palmer.  Both guys stand tall in the pocket, doing a good job evaluating the defense pre and post-snap; both quarterbacks have underrated arm talent and can make all the throws.


4. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M University) 5’11” 207 Lbs.

Analysis: Good arm strength, can make all the NFL throws.  Doesn’t go through progressions post snap very well.  He is a playmaker so he does not always make the “safe” play, instead trying to make the big play down field or force it into the End Zone.  Excellent mobility in the pocket and great throwing on the run.  Manziel has show willingness to work on his craft which is a positive sign that he is teachable at the NFL level.

Comparable to: Manziel is comparable to Robert Griffin III; both players have similar arm strength, accuracy, mobility in the pocket and are playmakers.  Like Griffin, Manziel must learn to avoid taking big hits and avoid the zealous desire to “make the big play” and instead make the sure play.  Both Quarterbacks are intelligent and are willing to learn in order become better.


5. Teddy Bridgewater (University of Louisville) 6’2” 214 Lbs.

Analysis: Excellent pocket presence, does a good job at sensing the rush post-snap.  He is a great leader who is able to elevate the play of his teammates and put them in a position to be successful.  Good arm strength, very accurate short to intermediate routes but needs enough time in the pocket to make accurate deep throws.  He is good rolling to his right and throwing but as trouble rolling to his left and throwing across his body accurately.  Has a good football IQ and is willing to put in the work to become the best he can be at his position; very high ceiling/potential.

Comparable to: Bridgewater reminds me of a young Tom Brady.  Both players are natural leaders who elevate their teammates and bring out the best in them.  Both Quarterbacks have very good post-snap instincts and are fluid maneuvering the picket while under pressure.  But just like Brady, Bridgewater can be rattled by heavy, blind side blitzes that disrupt his timing.


6. Aaron Murray (University of Georgia) 6’0” 207 Lbs.

Analysis: Great pocket presence and delivery on all throws.  Mentally and Physically tough Quarterback who has underrated arm talent and athleticism.  Can run multiple offenses and has the intellect to be able to adapt based on coaching demands and skill of players around him.  In college was not always put in the best position to succeed and he at times tried to do “too much” instead of staying within himself.  Hard worker, very driven, prototypical “first guy to arrive, last guy to leave” player that coaches love.
Comparable to: Murray is comparable to Russell Wilson.  Both Quarterbacks are natural leaders who adapt to the talent around them.  Both guys have underrated arm strength, accuracy and mechanics.  Both players are considered “undersized” but play tall in the pocket.


7. AJ McCarron (University of Alabama) 6’3” 220 Lbs.

Analysis: Excellent pocket presence, good but not great arm strength yet is able to make all the NFL throws.  High football IQ and is a true leader.  He is driven to win and is not interested in putting up “great stats”.  Very saavy pre and post snap, seeing progressions very well.  Great decision maker, does not force anything, not prone to make turnovers.

Comparable to: McCarron is very similar to Alex Smith.  Both players have good arms, great accuracy and a surprising deep ball.  Both guys work well within the system and because they have high football IQ are very adaptable to their situation.  Both Quarterbacks are not flashy so their skill sets tend to get overlooked.  McCarron is not as athletic as Smith but has better pocket presence.


8. Stephen Morris (University of Miami) 6’1” 213 Lbs.

Analysis: Talented Quarterback with a very good arm and can make every NFL throw no matter what the defense is throwing at him.  There are durability concerns with Morris but he has great potential and is an underrated passer.  His athleticism and down field vision allow him to be a playmaker if the situation calls for it but Morris is not a flashy player.  Performs under pressure well and a great competitor.

Comparable to: Morris is comparable to EJ Manuel.  If you go back and compare game tape of Manuel and Morris when they were in college you see many similarities it their pocket presence, arm strength, ability to make throws under pressure, and competitive nature.  Both players do a good job at going through progressions while avoid pressure on third down.


9. David Fales (San Jose State University) 6’1” 212 Lbs.

Analysis: Great arm, quickest release of all the Quarterbacks in the draft.  But he knows he has a great arm and tries to force the ball into spaces when he has other options available.  Good pocket presence, is not afraid to take a hit after the ball has been released.  Despite his gaudy college stats when he played high level defenses (for example, versus Stanford last season) he over thinks plays and doesn’t make a decision quick enough.  Needs to learn to trust his instincts the same way he trusts his arm.

Comparable to: Fales is a “Poor Man’s” Jay Cutler.  Both guys have great throwing arms, and they know it; which means they force throws sometimes.  But with maturity and the right coaching staff, these guys can really excel.  Fales has a quicker release than Cutler on his throws and has better touch on the deep ball. 


10. Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech University) 6’6” 248 Lbs.

Analysis: Still raw talent wise as a Quarterback.  Excellent arm, very strong and tough.  Footwork and mechanics need refining; takes too long to read defensive coverage sometimes.  His college statistics would be better if his receivers didn’t drop passes or run poor routes.  Wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line and will do whatever it takes to win.  Needs to improve pre and post snap blitz recognition.

Comparable to: Thomas has Ben Roethlisberger’s size and toughness while having Geno Smith’s potential and inconsistency.  Thomas needs to work on his mechanics and footwork just like Geno Smith was inconsistent in college.  But Thomas is tough and has a great arm like Roethlisberger.  If Thomas is drafted by the right team he could develop into a solid, productive starting NFL Quarterback.

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