There is not much clarity in this year’s quarterback class. There is the first tier of
. There is the second tier of
, Jimmy Garoppolo,
, A.J. McCarron, David Fales and
There are wild cards named
Tahj Boyd and Brett Smith; maybe Jeff Matthews, too. Note: Stephen Morris was intentionally left off this analysis – he is awful. How to rank them? Ask 10 different people and you will get 10 completely different opinions. As free agency winds down and the draft takes center stage, this quarterback class is going to be an even hotter debate topic than it is most years.
Teddy Bridgewater –
No matter what anyone tells you, there is only one concern about his game – his stature. I am far less concerned about this than most because of his displayed toughness throughout his collegiate career. He played injured (not hurt) on several occasions, notably playing with a broken wrist to vault his team to a BCS bowl game. He is a born leader, deadly accurate and manages the pocket well. Even though he doesn’t run much he has the ability to if needed, he reads the field and is mechanically sound. If there is one area outside of his stature that could be nitpicked it is his deep ball accuracy. It’s more noticeable with him because he is so accurate in the short and intermediate game that his deep ball misses almost surprise onlookers. There is talk of him not being the No. 1 quarterback by many and I think they are crazy. Bridgewater was hands down the No. 1 quarterback coming into 2013 and he did nothing to change that. He is a franchise quarterback.
Johnny Manziel –
There are two pools of analysts in regards to Manziel in the NFL – those that think he has the makings of a future Hall of Famer and those that think he is going to be a colossal bust. Well, I am here to create a third pool.
I’m not afraid to admit I have no idea if his game will translate or not. To defend the pro-Manziel crowd, he has natural instincts that cannot be coached up, his improvised plays may look crazy in live action but analyze them all and he is actually very consistent in his approach. He gets away from the rush, keeping his eyes down field, seeing where a weakness in the defense will develop, and just waits for his intended target to get there; buying more time if he has to. He’s not tall, but he’s big and has large hands. He’s as tough as nails and as competitive as one could expect once the game starts. However, there is just as good of an argument for him failing as there is him being a glowing success.
While his improvised plays are remarkably and consistently successful, he misses a lot of open wide receivers down field because he is trying to take advantage of the weakness in the defense that he sees instead of seeing the whole field. Obviously there are many concerns about his character as well. He is doing all the right things now, but is this a sham designed to get him drafted highly then he will revert to his old “party” days? Or is this really a formerly immature kid growing up before our eyes? There really is no way of knowing for sure until after he is drafted, but I will not take a side right now. I will only evaluate based on what he has done on the field.
While it is equally hazy, I have seen enough to leave me thinking that if my team drafts him I will be hesitantly excited, but you won’t see me going for any bridges. He is a clear No. 2 to Bridgewater on my board, though.
Blake Bortles –
Now, if my team were to draft Bortles early, you will see me heading for a bridge. I understand the upside he provides that neither Bridgewater nor Manziel will ever have. However, I cannot get past what he has shown to be on tape. He is a weaker armed
I get it, he possesses all of the tools one would want in a quarterback. He has the size, is very mobile, can make most (if not all) throws, and by all accounts is very intelligent. The problem is it has not translated to the field.
Sloppy mechanics cause him to be inaccurate, he gets tunnel vision at times (causing him to be too reckless) and he makes at least a couple of ‘what are you doing?’ plays per game. If he were drafted late Day 1 by a team with a starter already in place and given the
treatment, I would feel good about his prospects. However, by all accounts he is going to be picked early and by a team with quarterback issues that will throw him into the fire before he is ready on a team that is not designed to win. It’s a recipe for failure. How I feel about him ultimately depends on where he ends up, but in ranking the top 3 he is clearly last in my mind.
Zach Mettenberger –
This tier is all about picking your poison. There are known flaws with all of them, so you will need to pick the one that fits best your system. I feel more comfortable with Mettenberger than the rest, but I am in the minority. He has major character questions and is coming off a blown out ACL, but he answered a lot of questions about his long term upside under the leadership of Cam Cameron in 2013. Off the field is still hazy, but on it he was a lot more consistent under his direction, showing signs that he has the ability to be a starting (pocket) quarterback. He may get the
treatment, but long term I favor him over the rest of the lot.
Derek Carr –
Carr has all the tools one would want from a starting quarterback, but he lacks any special qualities, the ‘wow factor.’ He’s just a guy, and if you do not have an adequate offensive line he may cause problems as he has shown issues against the rush.
Jimmy Garoppolo –
He is very similar to Carr, but the unknown of him coming from a small school (Eastern Illinois) makes him more interesting. The problem is he has even worse tape under duress than Carr. If this makes any sense, I like Garoppolo more for my fantasy team while I like Carr more for my real team.
Aaron Murray –
Like Mettenberger, he is also coming off a serious injury. Unlike Mettenberger, there are not any questions about his character. The problem is there is nothing about his actual game that would lead you to believe that he’s anything more than a good backup.
David Fales –
The NFL puts too much emphasis on a strong-armed quarterback, but any decent one needs at least average arm strength. Fales does not. He possesses just about everything else one would want in a quarterback, but unless arm strength magically develops without negatively impacting other aspects of his game, he is at best a good backup.
A.J. McCarron –
I can say more good things about Murray and Fales than I can about McCarron, and I realize I did not say many positive things about Murray and Fales. At best, McCarron is just a guy and he has legitimate
redux tendencies. Murray, and the rest in this tier, have a legitimate argument for Round 2, but McCarron should not go in the top 100. Roll the dice on a wild card instead.
Brett Smith – Want a potential
without the risk? Well, here you go. The tape can get ugly as his play between receiving the snap and making a throw can best be described as nerve racking, but he just makes plays. He needs serious development, but there is a strong foundation to work from and he should not cost more than a mid Day 3 pick.
Tahj Boyd –
I really thought Boyd’s game was coming together last year, but he took all of his good stock developed in 2012 and threw it in the trash can in 2013. He has all of the potential to be a starting caliber quarterback, but despite excellent weapons in college he just did not produce enough on the field. He is a great candidate for a good organization to draft, stash and develop and just see if they can get the light switch to turn on. He will remain on my watch list until the NFL gives up on him, but my first-round evaluation on him last year was way off.
Logan Thomas –
Someone is going to roll the dice on him Round 2, and that team is making a huge mistake. I cannot emphasize how awful his ‘bad tape’ is; it’s unwatchable. He’s big, fast and strong – the prototypical build in today’s NFL. On the field? He is an absolute train wreck. Unless he tells me he will move to tight end if quarterback does not work out, I would not touch him before the middle of Day 3. Even then, I wouldn’t consider him much higher, but at least if he attempted to convert to a situational tight end I could get a return on my investment.