Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2015 NFL Draft Prospectus: Quarterbacks

When it comes to the 2015 Quarterback class in the NFL Draft, the only word or phrase that makes any sense is simply...ugh. When it comes to this group of underwhelming marvels, you have what may possibly be one of the worst classes to grace us in the last 20 seasons. Simply put, there is not one game changing QB in this class, and that includes the top five QBs in the group, who, in my analytical opinion, include not one single player worthy of a first round pick, the top two (Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota) included.
If you are a team that is in dire need of a QB, you have two choices. One, work through an average at best free agent class, or two, wait until next year and deal with what you have. There is absolutely no help coming from this group in the immediate future, if ever.

The Top Ten
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State
2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3. Brett Hundley, UCLA
4. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
5. Bryce Petty, Baylor
6. Shane Carden, East Carolina
7. Sean Mannion, Oregon State
8. Blake Sims, Alabama
9. Connor, Halladay, Washington State
10. Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion

Dark Horse
Garrett Grayson, Colorado State

Most Likely to Find Success
Garrett Grayson, Colorado State

Biggest Bust Potential

Jameis Winston, Florida State

Top Small School Prospect
Kevin Rodgers, Henderson State

Jameis Winston, Florida State
6-4, 232
4.73 40 Time
Projection: Round 1

Overview: No QB in the last few years has garnered more interest than the divisive Florida State RS sophomore. Some of my biggest stories involved his recruitment and eventually landing at Florida State over Alabama just a few short seasons ago, so that tells you what his interest level is nationally. The problem with Winston is that a good most of the interest in him comes from the stories evolving off-field than on. He narrowly evaded the suspension bug during his career, and in the process, narrowly evaded prosecution as well. His myth was always bigger than the man, and he basically ran into a situation where even if he wanted to return to FSU in 2015, it was never likely that he would be welcome to. In short, Winston did what was expected...he won a title, and came close to a second, but it was not always so wonderful, or even pretty to watch at times.
Pros: He certainly looks the part, and has an NFL QB prototype build. His overall size can limit his overall running ability, but he is more adept at staying in the pocket, hanging in there and making the throws, than most. He had the uncanny knack of leading FSU out of some deep holes, and always seemed to find a way to win games. If you are looking for a rally machine, he has proven his depth in that area.
Cons: Far to often, especially in 2015, some of the reasons that FSU ended up in the holes that they found themselves in, especially in the first half of games, Winston was primarily responsible for the team being there. Winston, like Johnny Manziel in 2014, was a turnover machine in 2015. He regressed big time statistically last season, making his RS freshman numbers that earned him the Heisman seem like a blip rather than the norm. His biggest issue, however, is character. A few teams that interviewed him at the combine felt comfortable that he would overcome his issues that have publically plagued him prior, however many teams felt off put by his general demeanor, including his constant smile, even when grilled about heavy topics. He came off as narcissistic and completely unfeeling about issues that had been a part of his last few years, and really, came off a bit clownish at times. His constant jovial, goofy, on-field demeanor is going to rub some veterans the wrong way, especially when winning isn't happening. He has a ton of growing up to do, and seems, like Manziel, years away from doing so.
Final Thoughts: Tampa Bay is going to do something that I find absolutely idiotic, and they will draft Winston with the top overall pick. If I could consult them, I would say trade the top pick for a rich package, and run as far away from this as possible. Not only do I see Winston as a liability, I see him as potentially being one of the bigger draft busts in recent memory. Too much baggage, and not nearly enough production overall, despite the winning, because let's face it, he won many games which he should have lost, and that was possible because he played in the ACC, which is hardly a base of college football powerhouse programs. In short, stay away and let some other idiotic personnel guy make the mistake.

Marcus Mariota, Oregon
6-4 215
4.48 40 Time
Projection: 1st Round

Overview: The Oregon program has had several top flight college QBs in the last 20 years. Here's the problem...not one of them has had a huge and successful career in the NFL, unless you count Tony Graziani's time as a third stringer with the Atlanta Falcons and the Arena Football League. Mariota has won, and has put up some special numbers, but can he fit in every possible scheme that the league would implement?
Pros: Compared to Winston, this guy practically wears a halo off-field. Angels sing in his wake as he walks down the street passing out lollipops to small children, and he turns rivers of gutter water into wine. You get the idea. You will never have a concern with this guy in the character department. He has good height for an NFL QB, and his athleticism is incredible. His very nature moves the pocket with him, and he can make most throws without effort. His speed is top notch, and he knows how to direct receivers.
Cons: System guy. The biggest swear words you can use in the NFL today are system and guy together. Oregon runs a very specific scheme, and it is something that most of the NFL is not running right now. Many of his biggest plays came while moving on his swift feet, but ask most NFL guys who are runners how that's working out for them. It's not. Another issue I have with Mariota is that while he has solid height, his build actually concerns me. He looks skinny most of the time, and if he is going to run in the league, that will not help him. Another issue is that he epically failed at his pro day workouts, and looked marginal at best during his combine throwing drills. Most receivers had to slow down their routes to catch the ball, and that's a huge concern for me. He looks like a good college player who may have limited, if any upside on the next level.
Final Thoughts: Mariota is a good kid with some good college skills that may not translate very well as a pro. In short, he will fit very well for a few limited teams, and none of those teams needs a QB right now, which means that some foolish personnel guy (and there are several of those in the NFL) will draft Mariota and force him into his team's preexisting system, and he will fail, and maybe do so miserably. That would be a shame.

Brett Hundley, UCLA
6-3, 227
4.66 40 Time
Projection: 2nd Round

Overview: I've watched this player intently for three solid seasons now. He had hype coming out of high school in Arizona, and many people felt that had Rick Neuheisel played him as a true freshman, Neuheisel may have kept his job for another year or two. Now I am not sure that is true, but that was a thought process for many folks in and around Westwood, and is something that he may regret to this day. Hundley redshirted that season, and came on the scene with flair in his first start against Rice. Hundley his a risky player, however, as he seemed to hit a ceiling that very season.
Pros: Hundley has the size you wan for an NFL QB, and is athletic enough to buy time in the pocket with his feet, which is something every NFL coach loves. He can gun the ball to all parts of the field, and has a quick release and pop behind it. Has confidence, and likes to portray himself as a leader. Good character guy, and comes from a strong family. Has elusiveness out of the pocket and in the open field, and can bust a big run now and again.
Cons: Inconsistent enough to make the most patient man scream, Hundley still seems to be learning in areas where that kind of thing should have happened long ago. Hundley still has to think about check offs and progressions, which is so elementary at this stage for most. He has never taken a snap from under center, and has lived in the shotgun his entire career. Hundley has not had the luxury of playing behind a top notch line throughout his career, and while that is true, his line was improved in 2014, and he still either held the ball too long most of the time, or wrongly chose to run rather than wait out the play. He is too lax in the pocket, and has little in the way of an internal clock while setting up for a pass. His peripheral vision is lacking, and he has little feel for the environment around him. While he has arm strength, he has little in the way of downfield accuracy, and depends on receivers to make too many plays for him.
Final Thoughts: Hundley is not ready to be a top flight NFL QB. The problem is that even if he stayed for his senior season, I doubt that he'd still be ready. He just has too many holes in his overall game, and even though he strives to learn, he is trying to learn things that he should have locked down already. Most UCLA fans I have spoken with are ok that he left after his RS junior season, and that should never be the case. If Hundley finds the right system, right QB coach, and right team to work for, he is still a work in progress, and I feel that he has never accelerated his career or his abilities. He has basically hit his ceiling.

Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
6-2, 215
4.84 40 Time
Projection: 3rd Round

Overview: Grayson was a big time performer at Colorado State under the tutelage of offensive minded head coach Jim McElwain. As a matter of fact, few QBs in the nation had as nice a four year run as Grayson had for the Rams, and the team came along right along with him in a developmental stance. In the last two seasons (his full seasons as starter) he passed for over 7600 yards and 55 TDs. He was injured early in his career, however maintained his health over the last two years. Grayson, overall, may be the surest bet in  this draft at this position.
Pros: Grayson is one of the few QBs in this draft who has showed a consistent improvement in a more standardized offense that is palatable with what NFL teams are running. His accuracy has improved every season, and Grayson has improved his arm strength at a normal and expected rate. Grayson has learned and improved every season, and despite an early injury, he has maintained his health, and has gotten stronger, and has learned what it takes to lead.
Cons: Grayson is a bit undersized, and may not be able to stand in the pocket and take shots like a bigger guy can. While he has improved his arm strength, he still hasn't developed top shelf arm strength. He does possess a strange windup motion in his throws, and it may become a problem if not coached out of. His level of competition wasn't outstanding in a weak Mountain West, but I believe he has it in him to overcome that.
Final Thoughts: Grayson projects as a career backup like Charlie Whitehurst, but Whitehurst has had quite a long career in the league. That being said, Grayson could be the guy in this class who could surprise everyone, because nobody expects it from him at this point. If put in the right situation, and given time to develop, he could be quite a nice surprise down the line. He is by far my favorite QB in this class for different reasons.

Bryce Petty, Baylor
6-3, 230
4.67 40 Time
Projected: 3rd Round

Overview: Petty may have been the best of a recent group of solid Baylor prospects including Robert Griffin and Nick Florence. Of course, RG3 and Nick Florence have not provided any kind of strong performance levels as a pro, so there is that. Petty has put up video game type numbers with the Bears, and has run the Baylor spread offense like a well timed machine. That being said, Petty never could lead Baylor to a big bowl win, losing to both UCF and Michigan State in bowls the last two years while favored.
Pros: He's a great leader, and his teammates really seem to like him and seem willing to follow him, which is a huge trait for a pro QB. He has solid size, and also has decent mobility to move around a pocket. He is able to make most throws. Has decent touch on his throws, and has decent accuracy.
Cons: System guy, like RG3 and Florence before him. He has no idea what being under center even means. Right now we have absolutely no clue how he would fit in a more conventional offense, and we certainly did not see anything encouraging at the senior bowl workouts. Like I mentioned before, he also has failed in some big games.
Final Thoughts: Petty is probably the best senior in the group, but he doesn't translate well to the NFL game. He would take at least two or three years of development before he could be considered playable, so if he's drafted before the fourth round or so, it would be a waste of time and a pick. He had a nice college career, but he may not see much more of that success without some serious work.

Shane Carden, East Carolina
6-2, 218
4.98 40 Time
Projected: 6th Round

Overview: Carden had a very nice run at East Carolina, and will go down as one of the better QBs in program history. He helped elevate the Pirates into a national threat, and passed for over 8500 yards over the last two seasons, and has 85 career TDs.
Pros: He's a winner and a leader. He has stayed healthy, and has decent accuracy considering how much he had to fling the ball around in the ECU offense. He has good accuracy, and can put the ball in the box on deep throws.
Cons: Has an average arm, and it can seem a bit like a noodle sometimes. He can toss it deep, but sometimes one had to wonder if his receivers made him look better than he was. He may not have much pocket presence, and makes some nonsensical throws at times.
Final Thoughts: Carden is a pretty limited prospect, and may or may not be drafted. He has a limited at best skill set, and is probably yet another one of those system guys you've heard so much about. He is likely never going to be a front line starter in the league, and could be limited to a number three role for a short time.

Sean Mannion, Oregon State
6-6, 229
4.94 40 Time
Projected: 6th Round

Overview: Mannion came back for his senior season, and maybe that was a huge mistake. Mannion looked like a surefire number one pick in 2014, and seems like he may not ever see the field now. It's certainly amazing how far a guy can fall, and just how quick.
Pros: He has excellent size, and pro level arm strength, and he has played for four years in a pro offense, which helps his case tremendously. He has a quick release, and understands working under center. If given time, he can really fire the ball out and has strong accuracy.
Cons: Speaking of the accuracy thing, if the pocket collapses, so does Mannion. He has very little to no athleticism, and doesn't do a good job of moving the pocket when in trouble, and buys zero time with his feet. Grows roots in the pocket and becomes a tree. For such a big guy, one would think that he would fend of tacklers and have more regular zip on his ball.
Final Thoughts: Mannion has crashed hard in one season, and it seems like he is almost off of the grid now. He lost his best receiver in 2014, but that should not have crashed his career that badly, and he came unhinged regularly. What a difference a year makes.

Blake Sims, Alabama
6-0, 223
4.72 40 Time
Projection: 7th Round

Overview: Sims was a big time winner in a short career at Alabama. He beat out Jacob Coker last fall when everyone in the country had tabbed the Florida State transfer as the next Kenny Stabler. Sims was another great game manager in a line of them under Nick Saban, and really produced more than anyone really thought he was capable of.
Pros: Overcame expectations at Alabama. Played every bit as well as AJ McCarran at times, and managed to toss 28 TDs on a season which he was never expected to play in. Plays with some swagger, and steps into his throws nicely. He is athletic enough to move the pocket and buy time with his feet. Nick Saban loves the kid, and that is a huge compliment.
Cons: Size is his worst nightmare. He is not his listed 6-0, and I believe him to be more in the 5-10 range. He will have a great deal of trouble seeing over the top of large pro lines, and may have to be a rollout QB to succeed. If he can be a game manager in the league, much like Russell Wilson, then he will have some success as a strong backup, but that may be his ceiling. He has good, but not top shelf arm strength.
Final Thoughts: He may work hard enough to earn his way into the league, and he may win over a coach in the NFL by working as hard as he does. He will be the kind of guy who makes a career as a backup, but he wouldn't kill you in a spot start. He may be a dark horse much in the same way Garrett Grayson is. Worth keeping an eye on.

Connor Halladay, Washington State
6-3, 200
4.87 40 Time
Projected: Undrafted

Overview: Halladay is a video game type QB who slings the ball all over the field, and has passed for over 8400 yards and 81 TDs in three seasons, most of which were marred by injuries, some very severe. A product of a pass happy Mike Leach system, Halladay has some issues to overcome despite his successes in college.
Pros: Live arm. He can zing the ball all over the field, and played in miserable weather at times in Pullman. He has a tall build, which helps in the pocket. Loves tossing the deep ball, and does so with abandon. Has built up his accuracy. Fun to watch when healthy.
Cons: Injuries have derailed his career, and he has some severe knee/leg injuries to deal with, and had a Nasty broken leg last fall while enjoying a career year. He isn't great under pressure, and can get rattled when being pressed. He tossed 46 INTs in his career, which is problematic to say the least, and never quite got to a three to one ratio on his TDs to turnovers.
Final Thoughts: With his injury history, and his being a system guy, I just don't see Halladay getting drafted. I like watching him play, and I find him entertaining, but that's not enough on the next level.

Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion
6-1, 211
4.76 40 Time
Projection: Undrafted

Overview: Played all four seasons as a starter at ODU, and led the Monarchs to a very nice start to their existence in college football. Passed for over 14,000 yards in four years as a starter, including 132 TDs for his career. Heinicke, statistically speaking, was one of the best QBs in the nation for the last four seasons.
Pros: He has a nice, quick release, and tosses the ball with some zip. Big number guy, and can make some serious throws. Makes solid pre snap reads, and has a decently high football IQ.
Cons: Does not have solid size that one would like to see, and looks small on film. May not have much pocket presence on the next level. Plays in a quick read dink and dunk system, and doesn't see downfield all that well.
Final Thoughts: He was too productive in college to be overlooked entirely, but I've seen that before, and those guys didn't make it either. I respect his game in college, and like what he has done on that level, but he may have to many pro flaws to succeed.

The Rest:

Bryan Bennett, SE Louisiana: Oregon transfer put up good numbers, but is a system QB.
Brandon Bridge, South Alabama: Good, not great numbers in college. Needs a lot of work.
Jake Waters, Kansas State: College offense guy. Doesn't translate well to next level.
Taylor Kelly, Arizona State: Undersized, and is coming off of injury. Slowed in 2014.
Cody Fajardo, Nevada: Pistol offense guy, but not as good as Kaepernick.
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss: Had up and down career, and his skill set is questionable.
Cole Stoudt, Clemson: Lost job last fall, won't be drafted.
Hutson Mason: Georgia: Didn't show enough last season. Good manager, but that is it.
Anthony Boone, Duke: Wasn't a full timer in college, and his game is stuck there.
Rakeem Kato: Great production, but is very small. That limits him.
Jerry Lovelocke, Prairie View: Intriguing size. Worth a free agent invite.
Kevin Rodgers, Henderson State: Productive D2 QB must overcome level of competition.
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State: Injury plagued career broke up promise. May be too late for him
Quinn Epperly, Princeton: Could have been great, but not enough experience as a starter.
Andrew Manley, Eastern Illinois: Transferred from New Mexico State, never impressed.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Top Ten 2015 FBS Quarterbacks

Here's a list of our top ten QBs entering the 2015 season. One could consider this our early All-Bilo QB of the Year candidates:

1. Jared Goff, California
Goff has been explosive in two seasons for the Golden Bears, and is coming off of a season where he passed for over 3900 yards last fall, with 35 TDs against just 7 picks. With Cal improving by leaps under head coach Sonny Dykes, Goff may surpass the 4000 yard, 40 TD mark.

2. Trevone Boykin, TCU
Boykin exploded onto the scene in 2014, and improved his passing immensely. That improvement places him within range of the Heisman in 2015, and a national title chance. Boykin could also pass the 4000 yard mark this fall.

3. Cody Kessler, USC
In the first half of the game against arch rival UCLA, Kessler looked like the better pro candidate than UCLA's Brett Hundley. Kessler passed for 39 scores to just 5 picks in one season under Steve Sarkisian, and he could actually be better this fall.

4. Braxton Miller, JT Barrett, Cardale Jones, Ohio State
There are three QBs who could all start for anyone in the nation all in a battle for one job at Ohio State. Miller could have transferred after missing all of last season, but stayed on to battle. This ill be by far the most interesting QB battle in the nation this spring, and whomever wins will be one of the most explosive QBs in the nation.

5. Anu Solomon, Arizona
He is still learning the game in many ways. As a freshman, he passed for over 3700 yards and 28 scores. Solomon is only going to get better, and the Arizona program is going to get better around him. Solomon is just one more QB in a conference rich at the position.

6. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Prescott has helped Mississippi State football get back on the radar as a program. Prescott is improving in his passing ability, and can run like the wind. His ability has made the Bulldogs into a dark horse contender in the SEC West in 2015, and may place the Bulldogs as a top ten program early.

7. Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
The Broncos made major improvements in 2014, and Terrell was a central reason for many of the improvements for coach PJ Fleck. Terrell will be the best QB in the MAC heading into this fall, and WMU is one of the early favorites for the league title.

8. Fredi Knighton, Arkansas State
The best in the Sun Belt coming into the 2015 season, Knighton passed for 3277 yards and 24 scores last season, but the numbers he put up in 2014 could be far eclipsed with the right breaks in 2015. Knighton may be a dark horse heading into next fall.

9. Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
We finally got to see Kiel in full bloom last season, and despite 31 TD passes to 13 picks last fall, we have not yet seen him at his best. He could have a real breakout performance this fall.

10. Connor Cook, Michigan State
Largely believed to be more a game manager than a true driver of the bus, Cook may take a huge step forward in 2015, but remember, what he does best suits him in the Spartan offense. He passed for 24 scores and 8 picks, and that is exactly what works for Michigan State.

2014 All-Bilo Defense Awards: FBS, FCS, D2

Here is a list of our 2014 All-Bilo Awards for Defense:

Defensive Line
FBS: Vic Beasley, Clemson
FCS: James Cowser, Southern Utah
D2: Anthony McDaniel, Bowie State

FBS: Scooby Wright III, Arizona
FCS: Nick Dzubnar, Cal Poly
D2: Jared Koster, New Mexico Highlands

Defensive Back
FBS: Gerod Holliman, Louisville
FCS: Jarrett Dieudonne, Wagner
D2: Solomon St. Pierre, Sioux Falls

Due to our source sites for statistical date being down for service for some time, we were unfortunately unable to give these award winners the full treatment deserved. That being said, congratulations to all of our recipients and their programs.