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Monday, April 21, 2014
2014 NFL Draft Prospectus: Quarterbacks
2014 NFL Draft Prospectus
The 2014 NFL Quarterback class is
largely an enigma. What started out last fall as potentially a top tier class
of QBs ended up to be one of the worst in recent memory, and that’s saying a
lot. Heading into this draft, there are absolutely no locks for instant impact
or star power in this class. Blake Bortles went from a guy who wasn’t even
being discussed last summer, to probably being the top QB taken in this draft,
even over Teddy Bridgewater, who, while solid, did little to erupt on the
national scene in 2014 and level himself up.
The real news in this class isn’t
who is in it, but who stayed out and stayed in school. Both Brett Hundley of
UCLA, and Marcus Mariota of Oregon stayed in class rather than bolting for the
NFL, as both QBs displayed issues that really had them better served staying in
school for one more season.
On the level, this class has a few
flashy names, but little actual substance up front where it counts…day one
impact and consistency.
Johnny Manziel-Texas A&M
Derek Carr-Fresno State
Jimmy Garrapolo-Eastern Illinois
Johnny Manziel-Texas A&M
Jimmy Garrapolo-Eastern Illinois
David Fales-San Jose State
Best Small School Prospect
Jimmy Garrapolo-Eastern Illinois
Dustin Vaughan-West Texas A&M
Blake Bortles, UCF
4.93 40 Time
Projected Pick: One Through Five
Bortles came through big time in
2013, and made some huge strides as far as his stock is considered. A big,
physical QB, Bortles still comes with some questions, but there is no doubt
that there is some talent here, although he may still be a raw prospect.
Bortles passed for 3581 yards and
25 TDs in 2013, 3059 yards and 25 TDs in 2012, and 958 yards and 6 TDs in 2011.
His INT totals did increase in 2013 from seven to nine year to year, but his
completion percentage increased dramatically from 2012 (62.9%) to 2013 (67.8%).
Pros: Bortles is a great big, NFL styled QB at 6-5 and 232 lbs.
What’s more impressive is his ability to get out of the pocket and move under
pressure, despite his lackluster 40 time at the combine. Due to his excellent
footwork, he can move despite his slower straight line speed. This helps him
move the pocket and adjust to blitzing and pressure. He constantly keeps his
head up, and is always searching downfield, making multiple reads per play. He
has averaged eight picks per season for the last two seasons, but he is not a
turnover machine, and knows how to take what a defense gives him. He could
improve his accuracy, but has only been a starter for two full seasons, and
that’s learned with time. Bortles knows how to win the big game, as was
evidenced by beating both Louisville and Baylor in 2013. His pacing is solid,
and has good strength on his throws, with excellent zip ability. His leadership
is evident as he has helped UCF become an underestimated power the last two
Cons: Despite flashes of great ability and talent, he still feels
raw at times to me, and I think it would be a mistake to make him a number one
QB from day one. He feels like he needs a year in a system to overcome this,
but it is something that is fixable. He has yet to hit for 70% accuracy, which
is a big thing for me when it comes to stamping elite on a QB. Some have made
comparisons to Andrew Luck, but he’s not there yet. While his accuracy is
solid, it’s not elite status in that he has not hit for 70% completion
percentage. He takes risks, and often will allow defenders to read into his
intent. His TD per game numbers are not elite either. In 27 games between 2012
and 2013, he passed for 50 scores, which does not even average two TD passes
per game. He has to do better if he is to be a top five pick in the 2014 draft,
even if he falls from one to five.
Final Assessment: It’s not that I am not a fan of Bortles, but I
don’t see a top five pick in him at this point in his development, and the fact
that he is a top QB in this class, and a top five pick, basically shows me how
thin and out of depth this QB class is. I feel that he has talent and size, but
the overall package rates as second round material to me, not an elite instant
impact player that is derivative of an elite pick. I feel that Bortles is a
year away from being a decent starting option, and would be better suited
taking a year in the sidelines, but if he is drafted where I think he will be,
he won’t get that developmental time, and he’ll be thrown to the wolves before
he is entirely ready. He has great long term potential, but in the wrong
system, at the wrong time, he may get wrecked before he reaches that potential,
just like David Carr back in the day.
Grade: B overall based on potential, but not elite.
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
4.67 40 Time
Projected Pick: 1 through 5
Bridgewater may be one of the more
celebrated QBs in Louisville history, and certainly came into the Cardinal
program with enough hype preceding him. Most of the time, he lived up to the
billing, and led Louisville to great success.
Bridgewater started in 2011 as a
freshman after jolting Miami to join the Cardinal program, and passed for 2129
yards and 14 TDs, but also tossed 12 picks while he learned how to be a college
QB on the job. He followed up in 2012 by passing for 3718 yards (a 1599 yard
difference) and 27 TDs to just 8 picks, dropping his picks by four, while
increasing his TDs by 13. He followed up in 2013 by passing for 3970 yards, and
tossed 31 TDs to just four picks, increasing his TDs by four, while dropping
his INT numbers by four.
Bridgewater’s accuracy progression
over three seasons has been impressive as well, as he went from a 64.5% rate in
2011, to 71% in 2013, an increase of 6.5%, which is an impressive movement
statistically. Every season saw progress and improvement, both in Bridgewater’s
development, as well as that of the Louisville program, which saw bowl wins
over Florida and Miami
Pros: The first thing that stands out is Bridgewater’s high
accuracy rate, which has increased year to year during his Louisville career.
He keeps his eyes constantly downfield, and nobody in this class has his
ability to complete passes under pressure. He has nice touch on all of his
throws, and can make all of the throws that he will have to make on the next
level. His TD to INT ratio improved every year as well, with his TD number
increasing in his final season by 17 over year one, with his INT numbers
decreasing yearly, and finishing with eight fewer picks in 2013 than he did in
2011. The +/- was astounding for a three year guy. Bridgewater has an innate
ability to throw defenders off of his true target by using eye manipulation,
and looks off targets with ease. While not a true runner, Bridgewater can get
up and move, and has more than adequate QB speed in straight line situations.
He uses this speed and footwork to move a pocket to his advantage, and can then
stand in and make the throw in intense pressure situations. He can take a hit
and keep on ticking. He puts in the work, and has a very high football IQ, and
is a natural leader in a huddle.
Cons: When I talk about taking a hit and getting back up,
Bridgewater does that well, but he takes too many hits, and has had some injury
concerns while at Louisville. He has to get better about throwing balls away to
live another day, rather than take unnecessary hits at the NFL level, or risk
getting injured to the point that it effects his career. He did not play
against great competition in the American Athletic Conference, and that could
be an issue down the stretch. As great as Bridgewater could be at times, his
team did not seem to elevate around him, and when Louisville should have gone
unbeaten in 2013, they fell to UCF, and lost out on a BCS bid that should have
been all theirs. Bridgewater’s fault? No, but a great QB elevates his team, and
is a rallying point, something that I felt that he could have improved upon in
the locker room. He is a leader by nature, but is he a great leader? That’s a
question that he will have to answer in his, one expects in an NFL QB. Has a
slight build which may be an issue when standing into hits he will take on the
Final Assessment: Bridgewater is not yet an elite QB, but may be
closer than some of his classmates in 2014. He has the accuracy and touch one
would expect, but is he a guy who makes a team better around him? In a
situation like Jacksonville, he’ll be expected to do so, and may have a
learning curve in that area. He wins the big games, but not all of them. If he
can add some muscle to his slight build, he may have a better chance. Remember,
he is not a dual threat QB, even if he can run like one when necessary. He will
need to avoid running too much on the next level, but he can play. Bridgewater
is probably overall my favorite QB prospect in this draft, but like the others,
he has question marks around some things.
Final Grade: B+…Has ability, but must get bigger, and take fewer
hits. Plays well, but also has to win games that he should win, and not coast
based on clippings in the press. Long term, if healthy, Bridgewater could be a
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
4.67 40 Time
Projected Pick: 6 through 10
Johnny Manziel is probably one of
the most polarizing prospects in NFL draft history. Everyone has an opinion,
and those opinions vary wildly from up to down, and everywhere in between. In a
short time, Manziel has definitely fallen from consideration as the number one
overall pick, which is where he was about eight weeks ago.
Manziel was an accidental success
at Texas A&M, after almost transferring after his redshirt year. In his
first year (2012), Manziel blew onto the scene by passing for 3706 yards and 26
TDs to Nine INTs, and even managed to beat Alabama. He increased his passing
yardage in 2013 to 4114 yards (+408) with 37 TDs (+11) and 13 INTs (+4). He ran
a ton as well, but as far as what I am looking at, I could care less about his
ability to run like a scat back. Manziel’s biggest problem is that he is a
maverick, and he takes too many chances, and shows a general lack of maturity,
but we’ll cover that later.
Pros: The numbers speak for themselves. Manziel can be magical at
times, and has come up with some stunning plays, and has made some showy throws
during his career. He can make some great throws on the move, and has shown
improvement in his ability to stay in the pocket. Manziel has solid ability to
get up and move when plays break down, and he can definitely buy time with his
feet. He has put up video game quality numbers during his short stay in College
Station, and will put in the work to improve.
Cons: Manziel is not 6-0, and was almost pouty when challenged
about it at the combine. His biggest deterrent is not his on-field ability, but
rather his off-field antics. He almost transferred after his redshirt year when
he was disciplined for his role in a bar brawl, when he never should have been
in the bar in the first place. Rather than take discipline for his actions, he
wanted to run away, and only stayed when he was named the starter. He is a
privileged kid, and acts like it. He comes from a well off family, and has a
sense of entitlement. He seems to enjoy the party life a bit much, and feels
uncoachable at times, and can make life miserable for his coaches with his
antics. He left the Manning Academy early, rather than sticking out the entire
session, and really gave no major or acceptable reasons for doing so, leaving
one to believe that he feels as if he needs no mentoring.
While he can turn bad plays into
magic in the college game, his running around in circles is bound to get him
killed in the NFL, where everyone is faster on defense. His wild throws that
seem to find a way to receivers will get picked on the next level. He will have
problems staying in the pocket in the NFL and will have to have a moving pocket
to be successful, because he certainly lacks elite or even really average NFL
QB size. He just looks so small on film, and I see that as a huge problem.
Basically, I see Manziel, in all
reality, as a mix of Doug Flutie and Colt McCoy, but with better numbers.
Neither Flutie, nor McCoy, ever had great NFL careers, and I see flop all over
Final Assessment: Manziel is the most overrated QB in this draft,
and may be one of the most overrated prospects in the draft. He reflects as a
classically great college player, who will not translate well to the next level.
He may have some successes here or there, but he likely will never be great,
and his ego is as fragile as they come. He is whiny, unpredictable, and is a
potential headache for any organization who will expect him to be the front of
the franchise. Manziel is a party boy who, while sometimes lucky, feels like a
cat that’s about to run out of lives.
Final Grade: C…Great college player who I believe will flame out
due to his inability to show maturity off of the field, or sometimes, on it.
Derek Carr, Fresno State
4.69 40 Time
Projected Pick: 25 through 30
Carr, like Manziel, has supporters
and detractors, but for many different reasons. Carr is the younger brother of
former Bulldog great David Carr, a former number one overall pick who was
decimated by sacks and injuries during his NFL career that left him a shell of
his former self. The younger Carr has also dominated at Fresno State, and has
made quite a career for himself in the college game. Carr got his first shot as
a starter in 2011 after largely riding the pine in 2009, and redshirting in
2010. In 2011, Carr passed for 3544, with 26 TDs and nine picks. Carr completed
62.9% of his passes that season. Carr returned in 2012, when he passed for 4104
yards (+560 YOY), with 37 TDs (+11) and seven picks (-2). Carr completed 67.3%
of his passes (+4.4% improvement). Carr had a huge breakout season in 2013,
when he passed for 5083 yards (+989 YOY, and +1539 from 2011), with 50 TDs (+24
from 2011), and eight picks (-1 from 2011). Carr’s TD to INT ratio improved
from +17, to +30, to +42 in his final season, and he completed 68.9% of his
passes in his final season, a 6% improvement from his first season as starter.
Pros: Carr has an NFL caliber arm, and is as accurate on the deep
ball as he is on short and intermediate throws. He has an innate ability to
thread the needle in tight spaces. Carr is solid against pressure and makes
solid reads, and his mechanical setup (shoulders, footwork) is the stuff of a
pro. He stands tall in the pocket and holds in to make the throws, but if he
has to, and only then, he will scramble with solid speed, and has surprising
athleticism to get out of the pocket and turn the corner for the extra yards.
His TD to INT ratio improved by leaps and bounds all three seasons as a
starter, and his completion percentage improved to a high degree from year one
as a starter until his final year.
Cons: Carr played against fairly weak competition most of the time,
and when faced with a big time program opponent in 2013 (USC in the Las Vegas
Bowl), he folded like a cheap chair. He also collapsed in a huge game late in
the season at San Jose State, which led to the Bulldogs missing out on a BCS
bowl. He has taken all of his snaps in shotgun, and has virtually no experience
playing under center. Carr looked rushed against USC, and suddenly looked very
mortal. His stats were possibly inflated by a pass happy system, and that is
more likely than not.
Final Assessment: Carr is a promising prospect, but will need some
work, and some development in his first couple of seasons. He is not starter
ready from day one, not by a long shot, but he could develop into a quality
starter in a couple of seasons in the right situation. He is an athletic
prospect with a bug gun, and he’s not afraid to use it. He has a chance to have
a better career than his brother had, but only in the right situation. Carr is
a late first round talent, but I doubt he goes until the second round because
of that USC tape, which will scare some people off around the league.
Final Grade: B…Has big time skill sets, but has to prove that the
horror show that was the USC game, and for that matter, the San Jose State
game, were just limited issues. Has to prove that he can win the big one, and
has to develop.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
4.97 40 Time
Projected Pick: 55 through 60
Garoppolo is from the same school
as Tony Romo, and is compared to Romo, but I’m not sure that this is a great
thing. Romo may be one of the most overrated QBs to play in the last 20 years.
Garoppolo has had a huge career at EIU, having broken all passing records in
the Ohio Valley Conference before leaving.
Garoppolo was a four year starter
at Eastern Illinois, and showed massive growth every single season. In 2010,
Garoppolo passed for 1639 yards with 14 TDs and 13 picks, and completed a
pedestrian 58.8% of his passes. In 2011, he passed for 2644 yards, with 20 TDs
and 14 INTs, while completing 62.2% of his throws. That was an increase in
passing yardage by 1005, and TDs increased by 6, but his INTs also increased by
one. In 2012, Garoppolo passed for 3823 yards, with 31 TDs and 15 INTs. This
was an crease by 1181 yards, with an increase in TDs by 11. Unfortunately, his
INT numbers went up by one again. In 2013, He passed for 5050 yards, with 53
TDs and nine picks, the first season his INT numbers dropped. From year four to
year one comparisons, Garoppolo finished at +3411 in passing yardage, +39 in
TDs, and -4 for INTs. Garoppolo finished with 45 career starts at EIU.
Pros: Garoppolo Has quick read ability in a multiple receiver, pass
happy offense. Solid mechanics in the passing game, excellent footwork, and
really showed those skills in the post-season all-star sessions. Gained a ton
of attention in workouts, and showed the ability to make all of the natural NFL
progressions and throws. Solid team and pocket leader, who made players around
him better. The ceiling is high. Has the physical build that NFL teams are
Cons: Garoppolo has decent athleticism, but not great. He only
improved his turnover number in one season, and that could be concerning, as he
tossed double digit picks in three of four seasons. As an FCS prospect,
Garoppolo can have some concern as far as level of competition, even though the
OVC is a quality FCS conference. Even though his mechanics are largely solid,
he does have footwork issues on occasion, and he needs to do a better job of
setting his feet. Nu,bers could have been inflated by style of offense and FCS
competition, but he did lead the Panthers to a win over San Diego State, and
almost beat Northern Illinois in his senior season.
Final Assessment: Garoppolo really sold himself in the postseason,
and may be sneaking up the charts. Nobody spent more time with him at the
combine than Jim Harbaugh, even though Harbaugh already has a QB on his roster.
Again, Garoppolo is a high ceiling player, but he needs time to develop into a
starting QB, as he will not be ready to go out the gate. In a weak year for
QBs, Garoppolo may have an edge here.
Final Grade: B-…I like small school guys sometimes, but Garoppolo
will need some seasoning. He has some ability, but he has to learn how to
operate in a traditional NFL system, something he has never done before.
AJ McCarran, Alabama
4.94 40 Time
Projected Pick: 85-90
Nobody has won more than McCarran,
who has a couple of rings to his name, and fell just short of another in 2013.
McCarran is a three year starter, who started 52 games during his career. He
started in 2011, and passed for 2634 yards with 16 TDs and five picks. In 2012,
he passed for 2933 yards, with 30 TDs and just three picks. In 2013, McCarran
passed for 3063 yards, with 28 TDs, but increased his picks to seven. He
completed 68.7% of his passes in his first season, dropped to 67.2% in year
two, and 67.3% in year three. His numbers stayed within 300 yards from year one
to three, while his TD numbers increased from 16 in year one to 28 in year
three. McCarran tossed more INTs in year three than he had during his first two
Pros: McCarran is a winner, and an excellent game manager. He makes
solid decisions, and does not lose games. He is disciplined, and is a team
oriented leader who does not try to put a spotlight on himself. He has a solid
NFL build, and isn’t afraid to make the easy throws instead of taking risks on
deep balls or on trying to toss into tight windows. Solid pocket presence.
Cons: McCarran is not a star player, and will not carry a team in
need of carrying. He’s great at being told what to do in an offense, but has
never had to really create on the field, and was never really encouraged to do
so. Average athleticism, and seems to get more hype for who his girlfriend is
than for his on field abilities. He won’t likely break out of too many blitzes
with his feet, and may be prone to take some sacks. No recent Alabama QBs have
found success in the NFL coming out of this system, so he has a mold to break.
Final Assessment: McCarran is a game manager, but not a game
changer. He’s great at reading a script, but is not a great improviser. He has
a low ceiling on the next level, but could be a solid backup for years. He was
a winner, but it was more the system than him making it happen. I love the
intangibles as far as what he has done, but he may have peaked.
Final Grade: C…Average NFL ability, but could surprise a few. Has
room and smarts for improvement, but he may not be dealing with elite tools for
an NFL franchise in need of a starter. He could be a great backup.
Zach Mettenberger, LSU
5.18 40 Time
Projected Pick: 105 through 110
Mettenberger began his career at
Georgia out of high school, but after falling on the depth chart and into
trouble (off campus bar brawl amongst some other issues), and left UGA for
Butler Community College before transferring to LSU. Mettenberger spent three
seasons at LSU, and started for two of them. His first season was largely
wasted in 2011, and then he started full time in 2012. During that season,
Mettenberger failed to live up to billing by passing for just 2609 yards with
only 12 TDs, and was picked seven times. In a comeback season in 2013,
Mettenberger came out of his shell a bit more, passing for 3082 yards (+473)
and 22 TDs (+10), with eight picks (+1).
Pros: Mettenberger has an NFL build, and an NFL arm. He can make
some solid throws, and seems to just be coming into who he is as a QB. Seems
totally coachable, and eager to improve and learn. He marginally improved in
2013 statistically, but seemed much more confident than he was just a year
earlier. He showed a major improvement while moving the football in the red zone,
and increased his scoring by 10 TDs through the air.
Cons: Mettenberger hasn’t been a success for very long, and still
lingering is that nasty knee injury that cut short his 2013 season. He has been
largely inconsistent during his short career, and has one season that you can
look at start to finish and be able to accurately grade out. While he has an
NFL build, he is not very athletic, and is not a guy who will buy time with his
footwork. He can get into the pocket and grow roots there, and will be an easy
sack target. Accuracy is an issue as well, as he completed just 64.8% of his
passes in 2013, and never got close to 60% during the 2012 season. I’m not
jumping around about his general intangibles long term. Also had some character
flaws that got him bounced out of Georgia early, and seemed to not work too
hard to beat out Aaron Murray.
Final Grade: D…just not enough positives to go on.
Final Assessment: While Mettenberger seems to just be coming into
his own, that is a huge problem at this point, because you have to know that he
is nowhere near plug and play ready in any system in the NFL. He has some
character issues from early in his college days to answer for, and has some
major shortcomings with both agility and injury. That knee injury may also cost
him some serious developmental time in his rookie season. Mettenberger could
either go in the mid rounds, or fall out entirely.
Aaron Murray, Georgia
4.84 40 Time
Projected Pick: 140 through 145
Murray was largely the best QB in
the SEC for the last two seasons, but it seemed like the Bulldogs never really
played up to full potential under his leadership, but more on that later.
Murray was a four year starter for the Bulldogs, and will go down as one of the
UGA greats at the position. His first season (2010) saw Murray pass for 3049,
and hit for 24 TDs against 8 picks, a 3 to 1 ratio. In 2011, he passed for 3149
yards with 35 TDs, but saw an increase in picks with 14. In 2012, Murray had a
huge season, passing for 3893 yards with 36 TDs and 10 picks, and showed much
better decision making skills. Murray returned for his senior season in 2013,
and passed for 3075 yards, but his TD number fell to 26, and he tossed nine
picks. Murray was also injured at the end of the season, missing the Georgia Tech
win, and the bowl game.
Pros: Murray has always shown great skill in the huddle, and shows
great ability to use all of his weapons at this disposal. He has the ability to
know that he doesn’t always have to be the star, and doesn’t always show the
need to take on all the strains of the game on his own shoulder, and showed
better decision making ability in his junior and senior seasons, reducing his
picks by five in two seasons. Never had a season under 3000 yards, and it was
not a product of his offense, as UGA did show balance. Murray shows solid
athleticism, and can keep plays alive with his feet, and can make throws on the
Cons: A glaring issue is Murray’s size, as he is just small for an
NFL QB. His second issue is that he tore up a knee at the end of the 2013
season, and it may alter his development in 2014 depending on his rehab time.
Murray hasn’t always been a sure decision maker, and was forced to be more the
center of the offense than he is comfortable being at times, and when he had to
be the man due to a lack of a consistent run game, he was prone to more
turnovers. Depending on the recovery from knee surgery, his showcase
athleticism in the backfield may be a bit more limited, and his lack of size
may make him more prone to injury on the next level. Bulldogs never really
played to great championship caliber potential despite his leadership, making
me wonder if he can drive a team to another level. UGA actually under performed
during most of his career in Athens.
Final Grade: C…Does not possess great size, and that knee injury
worries me. Under productivity of teams under his leadership is another
concern. Still an intriguing talent at times.
David Fales, San Jose State
4.99 40 Time
Projected Pick: 165-170
Fales is one of the more
intriguing prospects in the QB class of 2014. He bounced around a bit, from
Nevada to Peninsula College, finally landing at San Jose State as a starter in
2012. Fales blew up right out of the gate in 2012, passing for 4193 yards, 33 TDs,
and nine picks, while also completing 72.5% of his passes on the year. Fales
came back in 2013 to pass for 4189 yards, 33 TDs, and 13 picks, but his
completion percentage fell off to just 64.1%. Fales defeated David Carr and
Fresno State in 2013, knocking the Bulldogs from BCS consideration.
Pros: Fales is a fearless gunslinger, and beat David Carr in 2013
to knock his Bulldogs from the BCS. He showed consistency in output as far as
yardage and scoring were concerned. He makes some very solid throws, and showed
great leadership for the Spartans, making the team better around him in his two
short seasons. Fales has solid mechanics and a very pro like release on the
football, and makes quick reads in the passing game. High football IQ. Has
enough athleticism to move the pocket under pressure.
Cons: Has issues when on the move to throw the ball into situations
that don’t benefit him. When he got on the radar in 2013, and teams knew who he
was, his percentages dipped in completions as defenses found ways to stop him.
Good, not great athlete, and doesn’t have solid get out of the pocket speed,
even though he can run a bit. His level of competition can be questioned.
Physically speaking, he could use another ten pounds on his frame, but that may
slow him further still when moving out of the pocket.
Final Grade: C+…Not an elite prospect, but his production and his
fearlessness makes me wonder if this guy won’t surprise someone in the NFL. He
can play the game, and his flaws are mostly coachable.
Final Assessment: What he lacks in ability, he makes up for in
gaminess and desire to lead. Fales beat better players and teams, and showed
some flashes of what he could do with the right coaching. He may be better than
players ahead fo him, such as Mettenberger and Murray, and may be a great value
in the lower middle rounds.
Brett Smith, Wyoming
4.83 40 Time
Projected Pick: 180-185
Smith was a three year starter at
Wyoming, and will go down as an all-time great in Laramie. In 2011, Smith
passed for 2622 yards, 20 TDs, and 11 picks. He completed 61% of his passes
that season. In 2012, Smith passed for 2832 yards, and connected on 27 TDs,
with just six picks, getting himself on the national radar. He had his best
season as a junior in 2013, passing for 3375 yards, 29 TDs, and 11 picks.
During his junior season, he averaged 281.3 yards per game.
Pros: Smith took off as a junior, and really took the reins of the
offense, and made himself a factor in the Mountain West, and on NFL radars. Shows
solid athleticism, and fluid arm mechanics. He can move a pocket and keep
passing lanes in sight on the move. Makes mostly solid reads. Solid on short
and mid –range reads, especially while moving and throwing on the run.
Cons: Smith is a move the pocket kind of dink and dunk QB, but
isn’t always great while having to hang in the pocket, and does not have elite
arm strength. As much as he got himself noticed, Wyoming never did win around
him, and eventually, his coach got fired. He’s not for every team, and if you
want him as your QB in a power run setting, he may fail you. Works best in a
system like what the New England Patriots run, where emphasis is on timing and
short routes. Will need some development, and will take a while to ripen, if he
ever does on the next level.
Fin Grade: D
Final Assessment: Sure, Smith did some nice things personally at
Wyoming, but the team was average to awful, and his coach is looking for work
based on that. Smith comes off to me like a one trick pony, but a bad class makes
him look more attractive. In a good year, we likely would not be talking about
smith, but it’s a thin class, which gives him a mid to late round chance at
Connor Shaw, South Carolina
4.66 40 Time
Projected Pick: 200-205
Shaw was mostly a part time player
during his career at South Carolina, but took the reins in 2013, and led the
Gamecocks to a huge, but eventual letdown year, falling short of playing for an
SEC title. Shaw played his first substantial time in 2011, passing for 1448
yards and 14 TDs to just six picks in ten games. In 2012, Shaw played in 11
games, passing for 1956 yards, with 17 TDs to seven picks, while completing
67.5% of his passes. Shaw started 13 games in 2013, passing for 2447 yards,
with 24 TDs to just one pick all season, an incredible accomplishment.
Pros: Shaw is starting to play more like and organized pocket QB,
rather than a playground QB that he resembled early in his career. He is making
more traditional throws and has learned proper mechanics and his touch on the
football has gotten better with each season. He is starting to think more pass
before run at this phase of his development. Tossing only one INT in the SEC
all season is really a special mark.
Cons: Shaw is a bit of a China Doll, with injuries constantly
plaguing his career at South Carolina. His build is small for an NFL QB, and he
looks a lot like Johnny Manziel on the field, and that is not a good thing. He
has rarely been the soul QB in the offense, often sharing time, especially with
Derek Thompson. He does not translate to a starter on the next level very well.
Final Grade: D
Final Assessment: Shaw is not starting material in the NFL, and
would likely struggle to be a starter even in the CFL. He is mostly a part time
guy, or backup, but will never be a starter full time. He lacks the size, and
the experience, to be the guy in any system.
The Next Group
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Underperformed, and maddeningly
inconsistent. Garbage player despite elite size and arm strength that you would
want to see. A real disappointment.
Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Has great skill set and
leadership, but his lack of overall size has hurt him, and he looks like a
system QB. Still has a shot because of IQ and intangibles. I would love to see
him tear up the CFL.
Stephen Morris, Miami
Never lived up to his billing in
Miami, and was largely flat lining most of the time in development. Was never a
big time gamer, and would be a waste of time.
Bryn Renner, North Carolina
Renner plays the game with guts
despite lacking overall intangibles. As good as TJ Yates in the end, but has
several questions around his overall ability.
Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
He took the Jeff George
route…three schools before he finally found a place to start. Not worth your
time, but someone may bite. Largely a waste of talent.
Brendan Kay, Cincinnati
Came on to start after Munchie
Legeaux went down with injury, and led the Bearcats to a surprising season.
Still, likely not an NFL talent.
Garrett Gilbert, SMU
Gilbert was a turnover machine at
Texas and transferred to SMU when June Jones came on. Played better at SMU, but
really never seemed to maximize his potential.
Nathan Scheelhasse, Illinois
Was better early in his career,
but became largely regressive, much like the entire Illini program, during his
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
A guy with amazing physical
skills, but became regressive at Nebraska, and never lived up to his billing.
Martinez largely flamed out with injury his senior season.
Kenny Guiton, Ohio State
Intriguing CFL or Arena player
here, who played like an animal when given the chance. Lacks experience, but
the talent is there.
Clint Schelf, Oklahoma State
Basically, a system guy who
wouldn’t likely be very good in a traditional setting. Short on overall experience,
but could get invited to a camp.
Casey Pachall, TCU
This guy is a character train
wreck, who struggled with substance abuse issues that derailed a promising
career. A real waste of talent.
Logan Kilgore, Middle Tennessee
Kilgore is a gutsy gamer who
really took the Blue Raiders on his shoulders to winning much more than was
expected. Not a great prospect, but could end up in an alternate league, like
the Arena League, or even All Eleven.
Taylor McHargue, Rice
Solid dual threat QB who may have
been a batter prospect had he played at a bigger program. Has talent, but I’m
not sure where he fits.
Eric Soza, UTSA
Led the Roadrunner program during
its infancy, and played admirably well, helping establish UTSA as a program to
be reckoned with moving forward. Solid leader.
Cody Green, Tulsa
Transferred away from Nebraska
after being unable to unseat Taylor Martinez early on despite opportunity to do
so. Became a solid contributor at Tulsa, but hardly a major prospect.
Keith Wenning, Ball State
Wenning will likely get an invite
to a camp if he isn’t drafted, and I can see him making a roster as a number
three who can develop. I like his skill sets a great deal, as he can really
play the game.
Alex Zordich, Buffalo
Zordich largely flew under the
radar at Buffalo, and came alive in 2013. Worth a shot at a camp, and could be
drafted late. If not, the CFL could be a landing spot.
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Great athlete, who may not be a
great QB for NFL teams. Blew some big game opportunities during his career, and
may be more hype than real potential. Definitely a system guy.
Tyler Tettleton, Ohio
One of the more gritty QBs in the
game, he has real potential based on his drive and motor to succeed. Not a
gifted athlete on any level, but he just gets it done.
Terrance Owens, Toledo
Was never a real full time guy,
and shared the load in a two QB system. Has some nice intangibles, and can win
big games, but experience is a factor.
Keith Price, Washington
Was once a big time prospect, but
he fell like a rock. A real CFL prospect, but NFL future looks bleak.
Tyler Russell, Mississippi State
Russell was probably the best QB
to play in MSU in over ten years. Has decent athleticism, but his arm may not
get it done.
James Franklin, Missouri
Dual threat who battled injuries
at Mizzou wasn’t even the best QB on his team when he graduated. China doll
type who never stays healthy.
Kolton Browning, UL-Monroe
Browning is a very nice athlete
who happens to play QB. Had some injury issues, but may be too dual threat to
be a prospect to many NFL eyes.
Corey Robinson, Troy
A true dual threat master, but
like Jordan Lynch, that may have been his undoing, and Troy wasn’t great around
him. Solid athlete on a bad team.
Tommy Rees, Notre Dame
Spent a whole lot of time in the
dog house at Notre Dame, and only a suspension of Everett Goulston helped him
get the starting job back. Despite the abuses he took from Brian Kelly’s
rampages, he never gave up.
Jeff Matthews, Cornell
Matthews is a decent FCS prospect,
with solid arm strength and NFL traits, but his TD to INT ratio isn’t to my
standards. 22 TDs to 13 picks in 2013. Only had a two to one ratio once in four