Will Teddy Birdgewater be the first overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft? Photo credit: SI WordPress
The quarterback position is not only the most important position in the NFL, it is also the hardest position to find quality talent for. Every year, teams without their franchise quarterback reach for young signal callers in the draft in hopes of finding someone who can lead their franchise.
This year will be no different, as there is only one safe bet coming out this year and many teams who will fall in love with the talented but flawed prospects who are declaring for the 2014 NFL Draft. Whether or not they will succeed or fail once they’re thrown in the fire is impossible to predict, but here are the top five quarterback prospects of the 2014 NFL Draft as they stand now.
1. Teddy Bridgewater: 6-3, 196 lbs, Louisville Cardinals
The general consensus surrounding the 2014 quarterback class is that Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the cream of the crop. The junior threw for 3970 yards, 31 touchdowns and just four interceptions along with completing 71% of his passes this season. While he isn’t the superhuman athlete teams are starting to look for in their quarterbacks, he does display the ability to escape the pocket and pick up yards if needed on the ground with his above average athleticism.
Bridgewater has the ideal height and arm that NFL teams covet. He needs to add a little muscle to his frame as he weighs in at just 196, but there are no real concerns for Bridgewater from a physical standpoint. He could improved his footwork and mechanics a bit, which would help his accuracy, but he is an all around great prospect. Bridgewater should go in the top five, if not number one overall.
2. Blake Bortles: 6-4, 230 lbs, UCF
Unknown by many until his draft stock rose significantly over the past month, I have been high on Bortles for awhile now and his recent hype is for the most part warranted. He has the prototypical cannon arm and frame, shows the ability to extend plays with his feet and footwork, and can wing it when plays break down with success. So basically, Blake Bortles is a young Ben Roethlisberger.
Just like Roethlisberger, however, Bortles does display some major flaws that need to be worked on if he wants to find NFL success. His tendency to try and extend plays rather than throw it away have led to costly interceptions and uneccessary sacks, and his slow release also will be something that needs some coaching.
All in all, Bortles is an excellent project quarterback who people are hyping up a little too much. He does not currently have the ability to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and if a team drafts him early throws him to the wolves before he’s ready, they will likely regret it.
3. Derek Carr: 6-3, 215 lbs, Fresno State
Another project quarterback who has shot up draft stocks in recent months, Derek Carr is a familiar name that makes most NFL fans cringe at the thought of drafting him due to his pedigree. Though Derek Carr does display some of the same tendencies as his brother David, this is not the same old song and dance, as Derek seems to be a better NFL fit in almost every facet of the game.
Carr does have the same hitch in his delivery that made NFL teams drool when scouting the elder Carr, and his mobility is something that will be highly coveted. He has an NFL caliber arm, and when asked to make NFL throws he delivers in epic fashion. His pocket presence, though shaky, is improving every week, and is a natural born leader.
While Carr has shown the rocket arm and has the size that NFL teams covet, his scheme seems to be holding him back from developing as an NFL quarterback. The senior hasn’t been asked to display his skill in making NFL throws, and his footwork has not been worked on as needed due to the quick screens and dump offs in Fresno States offense. He also breaks down with his mechanics when pressured, though he has improved that aspect of his game this season.
Carr is yet another project quarterback who will be taken too high, and may be asked to do too much too soon. Though I believe he will eventually be a success in the NFL, the first season or two may be rough sailing for the team that drafts Carr if he is expected to contribute immediately.
4. Johnny Manziel: 6-1, 200, Texas A&M
The biggest and most controversial name in the 2014 NFL Draft, Johnny Football has fans and scouts divided on his future success in the NFL. Supporters of Manziel claim his play making ability and elusiveness will help him achieve Russell Wilson-esque success in the NFL, while detractors claim his size and schoolyard football style of play will put him on IR and not the record books.
Manziel is quite small for the quarterback position, but due to the success of Wilson and Drew Brees, that shouldn’t deter NFL teams from drafting him as much as it would have in recent years. He displays a rare play making ability with his feet, and is incredibly hard to bring down due to his mobility and agility. He displays good accuracy both in the pocket and on the run, and makes good decisions with the football.
Where Manziel struggles is with his throwing velocity. While his arm isn’t the strongest, he can make NFL throws and fit the ball into tight windows downfield. His velocity will get him in trouble in the NFL, as his balls sometimes float in the air too long and in general take too long to get there. That can be improved with footwork and staying in the pocket more, so his flaws are correctable.
Another area of concern is his frame. His height isn’t concerning, but Manziel’s frame doesn’t seem to have the ability to bulk up any more than it is, and with his style of play he may wind up with an injury riddled career. His off-field issues are another cause for concern, as is his attitude.
Overall, Johnny Football will either make a franchise or break it. He will sell out stadiums, play football how he wants, and his track record of success cannot be denied. It is buyer beware for this loose cannon, but the rewards will be plenty if it pays off.
5. Brett Hundley: 6-3, 227 lbs, UCLA
Plain and simple, Brett Hundley is a physical specimen. The moment he stepped onto the field for UCLA, a play which ended in a 72 yard touchdown, he had scouts and fans whispering hailing him as the next Cam Newton. His punishing style of running and his cannon arm have backed up those claims, and at just 20 years old can make NFL caliber throws with ease.
He is not without his flaws, however, as the young quarterback has major mechanical flaws that will doom his NFL career if not corrected. His slow release on longer throws, footwork, and lack of experience reading defenses are all major red flags that can be corrected, but will take time.
Hundley may be better off in the long run if he goes back to school, as he is an unfinished project that could go first overall next year if he polishes his game. At this time, however, he will need time and a good coaching staff if he wants to find success in the NFL.
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