NFL Draft 2014 Rankings: Quarterback

  • Post Author
    by Web manager
  • Post Date
    Mon Feb 03 2014

The NFL season is over. And even though the 2014 NFL Draft is not until May 8th, NFL teams have been scouting and evaluating players for the upcoming draft for months, and for some prospects, since they started playing college football. With that in mind, it is never too early to set rankings for the prospects in the draft, which is the intended purpose of these posts. To assign a ranking to the top 5 prospects for each position in the NFL Draft.

It is constantly referred to as the most important position in all of sports, so what better place to start than with the quarterbacks? However, before we do get started, I would like to go over how this is going to work, and a couple of things to keep in mind.

How it works-

I will start each of these posts by examining which teams need the players in question. By in large this is only going to be teams that are in need of a new starting player, not necessarily a backup.

For each player I will provide analysis, statistics from the 2013-2014 season, and a general idea of where I believe they will be taken in the draft.

Things to keep in mind-

The rankings that I post here are based on my observations of the player's statistics, game tape, and any rumors that leak out to the general public. I make no claims to have insider knowledge into the draft process or any teams overall plan this is merely my own ranking system if I were evaluating these player for any given NFL team.

As with any ranking system, it is all relative. Scouting reports by professionals can differ greatly for the same individual for the same game. So my rankings by no means the definitive order.

I love football. I love the NFL, and college football, and I love sharing what I love with other people. And that is the ultimate point in creating these rankings: To share what I know about the players who will be a part of my favorite football event of the year, namely the draft. Whether you love the draft process as I do, just want to know a little bit more about some of the top college players outside of those at Wisconsin, or are simply interested in who your favorite team could be looking at in May, I want these rankings to be informative.

With that, let's get down to business.

Teams looking to take a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft:

Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder showed little if any improvement this year. He overthrew his receivers, was jumpy in the pocket, and to top it off, he was injured and lost his job to Matt Cassel, who would be a backup quarterback on most teams. The Vikings will look to get a new signal caller in May, although perhaps on Day 2, and they could let the new guy learn under Matt Cassel for a year.

Oakland Raiders: In fairness, they need talent up and down the roster, so its anyone's guess as to whether or not they will take a quarterback in the first round, but theoretically one should be available for them at #5. Matt McGloin is not a starting caliber quarterback, and neither is Terrelle Pryor. There's not much doubt that Oakland needs to revamp the quarterback position.

Cleveland Browns: Ah the Browns. Two years ago they take Brandon Weeden, and who would have believed it, the man who was 29 when he got drafted is not the future of the Browns organization. The question remains, how many QBs does it take to fix the Browns? Assuming they take a quarterback with their first round pick, the count will go to 20 since 1999. As miserable as that as, I think that if they do get any of my top 3 guys, I think that streak may end. Rumor has it that the Browns are very high on Johnny Manziel…

Houston Texans: Truth be told, I'm not sold that they will take a Quarterback in the first round, and from the sound of it, neither is Head Coach Bill O'Brien. The Texans will evaluate Case Keenum and Matt Schaub, in order to determine their need at the position. So assuming that Coach O'Brien feels comfortable with one of the two, they may pass on a quarterback this year and wait at least another year, when the talent at quarterback will be even richer.

Jacksonville Jaguars: I don't know why the Jaguars continued to put Blaine Gabbert out on the field. Eventually they did replace him with Chad Henne, although that's not exactly much of a long term answer either. The Jaguars will certainly look to find a new quarterback, and at #3 overall, one of the top quarterbacks will definitely be available for them.

Tennessee Titans: This is tricky. The Titans would probably need to trade up to get a quarterback that could step in and play immediately. But at the same time, Jake Locker has been so injury prone, he is a big question mark as to whether or not he can play enough to be effective, although when he has played, he's been very good. Keep an eye on the Titans though. The AFC south is owned by the Colts right now, and a good quarterback could make the Titans much more competitive.


1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Height: 6'3, Weight: 196 lbs.

2013 Season: 303-427, 71% Completion, 3970 yards, 31 TD – 4 INT, 171.1 QB Rating.

I need to start by saying that there has been a lot of negative buzz around Teddy Bridgewater recently. It varies from his lack of weight being a potential indication of fragility, to the idea that his quiet demeanor may not be ideal to lead a football team, and that he isn't as good as Andrew Luck. Which, in my opinion, is a ridiculous comparison. There hadn't been a quarterback prospect like Andrew Luck since Peyton Manning, and now all of a sudden the expectation is for any potential #1 pick to meet those standards? Completely unfair to any future quarterback. But I digress.

There is so much to love about Teddy Bridgewater. His completion percentage and touchdown to interception ratio indicate a guy with pinpoint accuracy and an excellent ability to avoid throwing the ball into coverage or try dangerous passes, and it holds up on tape. The accuracy he put on display everytime he played was truly spectacular. He consistently makes the routine throws, and has a knack for the dramatic as well. Going back to my earlier statement about concerns over Teddy's size, he is not afraid to stand in the pocket and can still deliver the ball with accuracy, even when he takes a hit. That being said, he also has great mobility and seeks to extend the play before looking to tuck and run.

Beyond that, he's smart. On tape you can see him make his reads, go through the progressions, and finds the open man. If the primary route is open, he will hit it. If it's not, he looks elsewhere, or dumps the ball off for a checkdown, which is really underrated in a quarterback, the ability to take what is given to him by the defense, and get positive yards on the play. He's also go poise. He never looks rattled, even when the pass rush is coming down on him, and he has great awareness of where the pocket is and where the pressure is coming from.

The only thing that does not jump out on film is his arm strength. It's good, and good enough to play in the NFL, but he does not have a cannon like Ben Roethlisberger or Matthew Stafford. But his release is quick, his vision is great, accuracy is excellent, and arm strength is not a huge concern to me. Coming out of Cal, Aaron Rodgers did not have a phenomenal arm, and he has turned out pretty darn well. Not that someone drafting Teddy Bridgewater should expect Aaron Rodgers, I am merely explaining my view that arm strength isn't everything. Ultimately, I think Bridgewater should be a top-5 pick in May, and if he does fall (as Rodgers did) due to superficial flaws, whoever does end up with him will get a steal in my opinion (As the Packers got in Rodgers).

Final decision: Top-5 Pick

2. Blake Bortles, University of Central Florida (UCF)

Height: 6'4, Weight: 230 lbs

2013 Stats: 259-382, 67.8% Completion, 3581 yards, 25 TD – 9 INT, 163.4 QB Rating.

There are two things which immediately jump out when you watch Blake Bortles. First, he's a big man, prototypical NFL QB size. Second, he's got an arm to match his size. And this is why some people say that Blake Bortles has higher upside than Bridgewater. He's got the size and the big arm that you love to see in a potential franchise quarterback. There are plenty of comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger, and they are well deserved. He has more mobility that you would expect from a man of his size, which allows him to move within the pocket to avoid a pass rush and extend plays, much like Big Ben.

Like Bridgewater, he has a flair for the dramatic as well, and in his games against Penn State and Louisville, he had several very impressive throws. With strength and very good accuracy, it's not hard to see why some people prefer Bortles over Bridgewater, despite Borltes lack of complete polish.

The knocks against Bortles really aren't that bad, either. He may not be as NFL ready as Teddy, he's still got a great skill set and would probably be able to start from the word go. Any rookie has his fair share of problems and mistakes, but the ones with talent and a good work ethic overcome those issues, and I think Bortles does match that description. The other thing I would say about Bortles is that he doesn't always make the best decisions. He's not afraid to throw into coverage, most likely a sign of confidence in his arm. This is a fairly common symptom of the gunslinger type quarterback. More confidence can lead to more dangerous passes, and as a result, more picks. But in any case, his TD to INT ratio is still fantastic, and he has great accuracy. I would just like to see him dissect a defense like Bridgewater does before I could proclaim him as #1 on my list.

Odds are, Bortles is a top-5 pick, and possibly even the #1. Some people do prefer him over Bridgewater, because there is more perceived upside with Bortles. Whoever does get him may deal with some growing pains, but ultimately, I think that Bortles has a great chance to be a franchise quarterback.

Final Decision: Top-5 Pick

3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Height: 6'1, Weight: 210 lbs.

2013 Stats: 300-429, 69.9% Completion, 4114 yards, 37 TD – 13 INT, 172.9 QB Rating

First and foremost, Johnny Manziel is a playmaker. He jumps off the screen, and there is a reason that he was widely considered the most exciting player in college football for the past two years. And this past year, Manziel actually improved his passing numbers, however it was the drop off in rushing numbers which cost him a second Heisman.

So let's talk passing before we get to his mobility. The arm strength is somewhat lacking, but he made improvements this past year. The accuracy downfield is still a little shaky, but he's better now than he was before, and that's a promising sign for anyone interested in drafting him. His mid to short range accuracy is very good though, and his completion percentage indicates that. He does have excellent vision, he keeps his eyes downfield constantly and is always scanning for a hole in the defense or an open receiver.

The mobility is obvious. On almost any single play, Manziel does a little fancy footwork and uses it to make a play. He has good speed and vision, but it's the elusiveness that really stands out, in that even when a defender has a hand on him, he finds a way to wriggle out and keep a play alive. I am a little concerned that his speed won't play as well in the NFL, in that the defenders at the next level are a lot faster than in college, and from that standpoint, I doubt his rushing stats will hold up in the NFL, but he can certainly use his mobility to extend plays, like Russell Wilson does.

Overall, Manziel improved his passing game and his quarterbacking as a whole this past year, but I do have a few concerns. Obviously there are some off-field concerns, but he did show some more maturity as the season progressed. Any NFL team taking him just has to manage him in the offseason, because he's locked in during the season. Next, he rarely ever took snaps under center. I understand that works in college and in a spread offense, but in the NFL it is a little more necessary. I was also concerned watching the game against LSU. He really struggled when the Tigers dropped 7 or 8 into coverage, so if NFL teams rush 4 and play disciplined man to man, I think Manziel may struggle. But one way or another, he has a ton of talent and is a playmaker, hands down. I think Manziel may have the worst of the growing pains out of my top 3 QBs, especially once NFL defenses get some tape on him.

However, that being said, he makes plays, works hard on game day, and can motivate his team. He is not my top choice, but I feel comfortable saying he will be taken in the top 10 picks, especially since Cleveland likes him a lot at #4.

Final Decision: Top-10 Pick

4. Derek Carr, Fresno State

Height: 6'3, Weight: 218 lbs.

2013 Stats: 453-659, 68.7% Completion, 5082 yards, 50 TD – 8 INT, 156.1 QB Rating

First impression of Derek Carr is that he throws lasers all over the field. Great vision, strength, and accuracy equals one very good quarterback. Carr has some mobility, more than you would expect, but he is a pocket passer first and foremost. The biggest issues I see with Carr as a passer is that he needs to learn to put touch on the ball from time to time. There was two plays in particular, one where he rocketed the ball into his running back's chest, and as expected, the back dropped it. Also, on a deep throw with a heavy blitz coming, he put too much on the ball and missed an open man for a touchdown.

And that actually brings up my next point, that Carr struggles with early pressure. If he has a clean pocket, he will find the open man and place the ball with precision. However, against USC, Carr really struggle when the Trojans sent multiple people after him quickly. As I said previously, he has good mobility, but he can't use it immediately on a play.

That being said, he still is a great QB. Even if he did beat up on weaker competition, that is what you need to see from a QB to justify his talent. I really can't say enough about how great his throws are, quick release, great power, and impressive accuracy. Furthermore, Carr has NFL bloodlines. He is the younger brother of David Carr, former Texans quarterback, but I will say that I think Derek may have a higher ceiling than his brother.

At the end of the day, Carr looks like a great pocket passer, and as Peyton Manning proved this year, even with all the hype around dual threat QBs, the true pocket passers never go out of style. There is still some work to be done, and it's arguable as to how high his ceiling actually is, which is why he checks in at #4, even though I feel he has a better arm than Manziel. But if he can be taught to take something off the ball when need be, and how to adjust to early pressure, then I think whatever team takes him will get great value out of him.

From a talent perspective, Carr probably checks in as a late first to a second round kind of player. It is certainly possible that one of the QB needy teams in the top 10 fall in love with him, but I think it might be a bit of a reach to take him in the top 10, and if the past few drafts have said anything, it's that you don't need to overdraft a quarterback to get good talent (Russell Wilson comes to mind). So with that being said, I'm going to go with a late first round to early second round pick being used to take Derek Carr.

Final decision: Late 1st-Early 2nd Round

5. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

Height: 6'3, Weight: 222 lbs.

2013 Stats: 375-568, 66.0% Completion, 5050 yards, 53 TD – 9 INT, 168.3 QB Rating

I know he's from Eastern Illinois. I know he's from the FCS. But he looks fantastic. Even if it is against weaker competition, on tape you see him make some truly amazing throws that make your jaw drop. And it really seemed like something clicked for him this year, as in roughly the same amount of attempts, he increased his yardage by about 1200, 22 more TDs, and 6 fewer INTs. And before I get into more analysis about him, let me just say that Tony Romo also played at Eastern Illinois. Some may say that's not a great person to be compared to, but say all you want about his postseason record, he puts up good numbers in the regular season.

Getting back to the actual player, Garoppolo is very impressive on tape. As I said, he can make some truly ridiculous throws, and he has a very good arm. He doesn't always make the best decisions though (I guess another trait he currently shares with Romo). He does take a few chances, and they don't always pan out in his favor, and that was fairly evident in the game he played against Northern Illinois.

At the same time, his arm is strong and accurate, he has a quick release, his footwork is good, and he scans the field, working through his progressions. And for all the complaints about competition level, he played very well at the senior bowl against the other senior players from more prestigious schools. In recent years, the stigma against quarterbacks from lesser colleges is disappearing. As I already mentioned, Tony Romo is from Eastern Illinois, Joe Flacco is from Delaware, and Roethlisberger is from Miami of Ohio. It's more about the skill set than the academic and football related pedigree of the program from which a player comes, and I think that Garoppolo does have the necessary skills.

When it comes down to it though, I'm still a little apprehensive about Garoppolo. after all this was his breakout year, and it is possible that it was a flash in the pan, like Logan Thomas' sophomore year at Virginia Tech. But the skills are there, and right now Garoppolo is riding a wave of positive reports coming out of the senior bowl. It's still a reach for any team to take him in the first round, but watch for him on day 2, in rounds 2 and 3. I don't know that he can start right away, just based on the deficiencies in reading a defense and sometimes locking on to a receiver, but I think with a little time and polish, he can play well for an NFL team.

Final decision: Round 2 or 3

That does it for my top 5 quarterback ratings, next week I will be posting my top 5 running backs.

By Michael Veldhuis