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B/R CFB 250: Top 15 Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in College Football

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterDecember 26, 2013

B/R CFB 250: Top 15 Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in College Football

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    USA Today

    Editor's note: This is the 12th installment in Bleacher Report's CFB 250 for the 2013 season. This signature series runs through December, with National College Football Lead Writer Michael Felder ranking the best players at every position. You can read more about the series in this introductory article. See the CFB 250 page for more rankings.

    Who is the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback?

    The idea has evolved from a runner who could throw a little to a quarterback who is adept at doing both. This advancement in the art of quarterbacking has led to increased production from the position and, more importantly, put incredible stress on defenses.

    To define a “dual-threat” QB” for the purposes of the B/R CFB 250, we went to the numbers. If rushing yards comprised 15 percent or more of the quarterback’s total production, he fell into the dual-threat category. If they accounted for less than 15 percent, "pocket QB" was the classification.

    Accuracy, arm strength, decision-making and elusiveness were the criteria used to evaluate these quarterbacks. Decision-making was quite interesting because, through packaged plays, zone-read and option plays, run-threat quarterbacks have plenty to process on any given play. If there were any ties, the edge went to the player we would rather have.

    Keep in mind, these dual-threat quarterbacks are rated on their performance in college, not NFL potential. But to see where these players may go in the NFL draft (whether they are eligible in 2014 or later), check out Bleacher Report draft expert Matt Miller's projections at the end of each slide.

15. C.J. Brown, Maryland

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

     

    Accuracy

    20/30

    C.J. Brown has had a rough go of it, and his accuracy has suffered as a result. He battled injury and then lost his two leading receivers. In working to jell with their replacements, he missed some throws.

    Arm Strength

    10/15

    Maryland’s quarterback is not big on driving the football vertically. He makes his best plays in the intermediate area, finding holes in zones to give his playmakers room to operate.

    Decision-Making

    18/30

    After being hit hard, Brown become a bit indecisive and skittish in the pocket. Mix in the new receiving corps, and Brown had to pick his spots very carefully. In the run game, he can be hit-or-miss at times, but when he gets into a groove, like he did against Virginia Tech, he can roll.

    Elusiveness

    19/25

    Brown can get out of trouble at times, but he struggles when bigger defenders also possess speed-rush capabilities. He is not a big player, so he must avoid contact to make plays.

    Overall

    67/100

    Brown is a good quarterback who did not have the year that he seemed poised to have at the start of the season. He still managed to help get the Terps bowl-eligible and beat a tough Hokies team. That’s a plus for the senior.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Undrafted free agent. Doesn't flash NFL-level arm talent or consistency.

14. Devin Gardner, Michigan

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

     

    Accuracy

    19/30

    Devin Gardner has struggled all season with hitting his targets. Balls have been high and low, too far ahead of and too far behind his receivers. The quarterback has also thrown plenty of balls to the other team when trying to find his targets.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    The Wolverines quarterback can spin the ball deep with real power. He’s able to get the ball through the wind and down the field, and that helps him stretch the field with tight end Devin Funchess.

    Decision-Making

    18/30

    Gardner has been a bit shell-shocked this season. His offensive line was reshuffled, and as a result, he’s been hit a lot, leading to indecision in the pocket and a quick push to escape pressure.

    Elusiveness

    20/25

    Gardner has a deceptive ability to evade the rush. However, as the season has worn on, he’s become more of a target due to the number of hits he’s been unable to avoid.

    Overall

    69/100

    Gardner did not have the year many Michigan fans wanted or expected. But as the issues mounted, the best part of Gardner showed up: He’s a fighter. Despite being banged around and hit repeatedly, he got up off the mat and competed to keep the Wolverines in games.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Undrafted free agent. Doesn't show the passing ability to be an NFL quarterback.

13. Vad Lee, Georgia Tech

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    Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Accuracy

    15/30

    Throwing the football is an adventure with Vad Lee. His mechanics make it tough to be consistent, and the lack of game repetitions make it even more difficult. His balls truly could go to either team when they are in the air.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    Despite not being very accurate, Lee does have a strong arm. The Georgia Tech quarterback can push the ball down the field. The problem is, no one is particularly sure where it will end up.

    Decision-Making

    24/30

    Through the air, Lee is a liability. Luckily, most of his decisions come on the ground, where he is very solid. The quarterback reads the dive, keep and pitch very well and is the key cog in the Yellow Jackets’ attack.

    Elusiveness

    20/25

    Lee is a threat to pick up big yards on every play. That is why he is more elusive than many realize. He can not only run away from defenders, but he also has the ability to break tackles at the point of attack.

    Overall

    71/100

    Lee is underrated because he plays in an option offense. The truth is, Lee, like Keenan Reynolds of Navy, makes decisions on every snap, and although he is not a traditional passer, he is just as critical to his team’s success.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Undrafted free agent. If he plays in the NFL, it won't be at quarterback.

12. Taysom Hill, BYU

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    Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Accuracy

    19/30

    BYU’s quarterback struggles mightily with his accuracy. He misses short, he misses deep, and he throws the ball into coverage.

    Arm Strength

    13/15

    Taysom Hill has a strong arm. He can push the ball through wind and get it down the field with power. If he could harness that strength and be more accurate, he would give defenses fits.

    Decision-Making

    20/30

    Hill’s issues with decision-making are twofold. First, he has a knack for calling his own number; second, he has a penchant for pushing the ball into coverage. He must do a better job of distributing the ball in the run game and avoiding coverage in the pass game.

    Elusiveness

    22/25

    Hill is a true runner at the position, which gives him the ability to evade tacklers. He can buy time in the passing game, and when he has the ball in his hands down the field, he truly becomes a running back-type athlete.

    Overall

    74/100

    In Hill, BYU has a quality athlete and a developing quarterback. Hill is lacking in the passing game, but his ability to use his legs has helped BYU be productive on the ground for the bulk of the season.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Fourth Round. A player you can't rule out having a big jump if he develops well.

11. Keenan Reynolds, Navy

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

     

    Accuracy

    20/30

    Because of his accuracy, Keenan Reynolds can find success through the air when needed. There have been some drops and errant passes, but that is more rooted in the lack of game reps.

    Arm Strength

    10/15

    The Navy quarterback is not a strong-armed passer, but he can spin the intermediate and short throws when asked to do so.

    Decision-Making

    26/30

    Here is where Reynolds moves toward the top of the quarterbacking ranks. This QB understands how to run the option. Whether it’s the opening give to the dive back or carrying out the give-or-pitch portion of the play, it is clear he is making the right choices.

    Elusiveness

    22/25

    Reynolds is a tough player to tackle. He embodies the idea of being a ball-carrier, not just a quarterback who is out on the field running around. He is not afraid to run behind his pads and is rarely brought down by arm tackles.

    Overall

    78/100

    Reynolds is poised to go down as the best quarterback in recent history at the Naval Academy, and that speaks to the current sophomore’s ability to run his offense. He is phenomenal with the ball in his hands and understands exactly how to pick up the first downs that power this offense.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Undrafted free agent. More of a multi-purpose guy in the NFL than a quarterback.

10. Nick Marshall, Auburn

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    Accuracy

    20/30

    Nick Marshall struggles with hitting his targets, whether in or out of the pocket. He is most confident throwing shorter passes in the screen game. When he is asked to press the ball down the field, his accuracy drops off.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    The Auburn starter does have a strong-enough arm. He can get the ball to the edges and down the field with good velocity. His problem is accuracy. Marshall lacks the control needed to be accurate.

    Decision-Making

    24/30

    In the air, Marshall has problems deciding where to go with the football. For all the credit given for his game-winning throw against Georgia, the pass was into triple coverage. However, in the run game, which is an important part of Auburn’s attack, Marshall is consistently reliable. The junior knows when to give, when to keep and how to maximize his gains.

    Elusiveness

    23/25

    Marshall is one of the slipperiest players at the position. He can evade the rush but is at his best in the run game slipping past tacklers, running through arm tackles and finding daylight.

    Overall

    79/100

    Marshall has developed into a quality player at the position. He is growing into a confident passer, aided by the use of screens as long handoffs. In the run game, he is one of the nation’s most reliable rushers at the quarterback spot.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Third Round. A tough projection until we see him throw the ball more. The athletic ability alone is eye-opening.

9. B.J. Denker, Arizona

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    Kevin Casey/Getty Images

     

    Accuracy

    22/30

    B.J. Denker can get the ball to his targets with good accuracy. He helps his playmakers pick up good yards in the flow of the game. Denker has to be accurate because most of his passes are extensions of the run game that powers this Arizona attack.

    Arm Strength

    10/15

    The Arizona quarterback is not a strong-armed player, but in his offensive system, he does not have to be. He can hit the wide-open deep ball when he has time to get his body into the throw, but he is at his best hitting the short passes that power this scheme.

    Decision-Making

    27/30

    Despite not being the same caliber of passer as others in the category, Denker is a great decision-maker because he makes such quality moves in the run game. This offense is powered by the zone read, and he recognizes when to let running back Ka’Deem Carey do the work and when to keep it himself to get big yards.

    Elusiveness

    22/25

    Arizona’s quarterback is not an easy guy to tackle. He’s slippery behind the line while buying time, and when he becomes a true runner, he knows how to make himself into a small target.

    Overall

    81/100

    In a Pac-12 with Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley, Denker is the guy many people forget. He’s a quality quarterback capable of getting the ball to his targets, and he has a great understanding of the zone read.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Undrafted free agent. Intriguing upside, but inconsistency as a passer makes him a long shot.

8. Brett Hundley, UCLA

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    Accuracy

    27/30

    Hundley is an accurate passer. He puts the ball on his receiver’s body and allows him to get up the field in a hurry. Unfortunately for the Bruins signal-caller, the lapses in his accuracy are most often disastrous.

    Arm Strength

    13/15

    UCLA’s sophomore has one of the strongest arms in the nation. He can push the ball down the field with good velocity, and he has a knack for fitting slants into tight windows with good pop.

    Decision-Making

    20/30

    Here is where Hundley is behind the curve. He is indecisive with the football in his hands. He holds the ball, wavering between throwing or running, and that indecision costs him. It allows rushers to get to him and close run lanes. It also allows defenders to close on receivers to shut passing windows. Uncertainty limits his effectiveness.

    Elusiveness

    22/25

    When Hundley makes up his mind to move, he can get loose with the best of them. He’s big, can shake off tacklers and is fast enough to outrun front-seven defenders to the corner for first downs.

    Overall

    82/100

    All of the tools are there, but the indecision handcuffs Hundley at inopportune times. It limits his real production, despite his numbers looking good. Hundley has to improve his decision-making and find a way to get comfortable looking down the field in the face of a rush.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Late First Round. Has the tools to be a future No. 1 pick, but it all depends on his development.

7. Kenny Guiton, Ohio State

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

     

    Accuracy

    27/30

    Kenny Guiton, a backup, is one of the most accurate passers at the dual-threat quarterback position. He puts the ball out in front of his receivers on deep routes and shows an ability to hit his targets in holes in zones that help them gain extra yardage.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    The senior has quality arm strength, as evidenced by his deep balls that stretch the field. He is capable of getting the ball in front of his speedy receiving corps, and that was a plus in Braxton Miller’s absence. Guiton can also deliver the ball with good pace into tight windows.

    Decision-Making

    26/30

    Guiton is a reliable decision-maker in multiple facets of the game. On the zone read, he trusts his reads of give versus keep, and in the passing game he does not test traffic; rather, he takes what the defense gives him.

    Elusiveness

    20/25

    Here is where Guiton is not quite the player Miller is. He can get loose, but he’s not as much of a home run threat as the other Buckeyes player at the position.

    Overall

    85/100

    For most teams, Guiton would be the unquestioned starter; he just happens to play with a physical phenom in Miller. Guiton brings real skills to the table, and he shows them when he gets the opportunity. The Buckeyes senior is the rare backup who elects to stay despite having legitimate options for success elsewhere.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Undrafted free agent. A developmental player, but Guiton showed some promise as a passer in limited reps.

6. James Franklin, Missouri

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    Accuracy

    27/30

    James Franklin is hidden in the SEC behind bigger stars, but he’s one of the most accurate passers in the conference. The senior finds a way to consistently deliver, and that’s a testament to his understanding of how to distribute the ball. He puts it on the money and lets his playmakers make plays.

    Arm Strength

    11/15

    Franklin is not a strong-armed player, but he is strong enough at times to take shots downfield. In the intermediate zone, he can drive the ball to the sidelines, but he is not a player who consistently can throw the deep ball.

    Decision-Making

    27/30

    He’s one of the best, not only in his conference, but in the collegiate game this season. He understands how to work the zone read, and more importantly, his decisions throwing the ball continue to put his team in a position to be successful.

    Elusiveness

    21/25

    Franklin is at his best buying time in the pocket with subtle movements. Down the field, he is a solid runner, although he is not quite the same escape artist as others on the list.

    Overall

    86/100

    He’s another underrated player because he is overshadowed by the star power in his league. Franklin is a quality player, and although he missed time with an injury, he quickly picked up where he left off when he returned.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Undrafted free agent. A talented athlete who could see Brad Smith-like treatment once in the pros.

5. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

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    Brian Kersey/Getty Images

     

    Accuracy

    25/30

    Operating out of a system where he is asked to hit his spots, Jordan Lynch is an accurate passer at a very consistent level. Lynch puts the ball where it needs to be, lets his playmakers find open spaces and delivers.

    Arm Strength

    11/15

    Lynch is not a driver of the football; he’s a dink-and-dunk player. That is not a knock, because he does well in his system. However, when asked to push the ball down the field, he struggles spinning it with distance.

    Decision-Making

    28/30

    The Northern Illinois quarterback is at the top of the food chain when it comes to making choices with the football. He’s great on the give versus keep and phenomenal in choosing when to throw and when to run the ball. He is a tough player but not a guy who takes unnecessary risks.

    Elusiveness

    23/25

    Every week, Lynch goes out and opponents know he is going to try to beat them with his arm and legs, and every week, he cannot be stopped. Even when opponents know Lynch is the key, they cannot corral him and stop him from making plays.

    Overall

    87/100

    Lynch is the best that the non-BCS ranks has to offer, and he grew into an almost household name in his second season as a starter. The quarterback is a solid short passer and a great runner at the position.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Undrafted free agent. A position change is likely in his NFL future.

4. Connor Shaw, South Carolina

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    Accuracy

    26/30

    Connor Shaw is an underrated passer, even with several drops that have cost the Gamecocks. He finds his targets, delivers the football and seems to get even better at that delivery when he’s on the move.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    He’s another QB with a strong-enough arm for the college game. His deep balls have good drive and he can find his targets at the sideline, and he's capable of all of these things while moving laterally. That is the trait that best reveals his surprising arm strength.

    Decision-Making

    28/30

    Shaw is one of the best in the game with the football in his hands. He knows when to give and when to keep on the zone read, and he knows when to scramble, when to move in the pocket and when to throw the ball away.

    Elusiveness

    21/25

    Not as slippery as some of the other quarterbacks in this list, but Shaw is capable of getting out of trouble consistently. Part of his elusiveness comes from defenders consistently underestimating his ability to get loose on the edge. Shaw has good wheels, and he can put pressure on a defense with his legs.

    Overall

    87/100

    One of the most underrated players in the country at any position, Shaw belongs near the top of this category with other players who are viewed as superstars nationally. The senior makes South Carolina go, and he uses his arm and legs to power the Gamecocks.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Seventh Round. A lack of accuracy and mechanics make him a long shot in the NFL.

3. Braxton Miller, Ohio State

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    Accuracy

    25/30

    Miller has made tremendous strides throwing the football. He has shown more trust in his receivers and an improvement in his willingness to distribute the ball. That shows in his ability and his willingness to hit tight ends, receivers and backs.

    Arm Strength

    14/15

    Of the dual-threat passers, Miller is the guy who best epitomizes arm strength. He has the ability to throw long-distance off his back foot and still drive the ball through cold and rain with accuracy. He’s a quarterback with a cannon attached to his torso.

    Decision-Making

    24/30

    This is another area where Miller has shown serious growth. He has gone from a player who would rather keep the ball than trust his playmakers if they were not wide open to a guy who understands how to take what the defense gives him. That’s a plus, and it shows in how the Buckeyes offense has expanded.

    Elusiveness

    24/25

    Miller brings a unique ability to evade defenders to the position. Not only is the junior able to run away from most tacklers, but he is also a stronger player than most at the quarterback spot. With that option, he’s able to physically break tackles and shed defenders, in addition to juking opponents.

    Overall

    87/100

    Miller has put together a great season, despite missing two games due to injury. He is one of the premier athletes at the position, and under the tutelage of Urban Meyer, he has grown into a quality quarterback as well.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Fourth Round. Has intriguing talent, but isn't pro-ready as a passer.

2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

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    Accuracy

    25/30

    The quarterback has misfired on some critical throws through the season. He is a quality passer in the short zone but is still trying to develop more accuracy and consistency in pushing the ball down the field.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    Mariota does have the arm strength to push the ball vertically. He has shown an ability, both out of the pocket or on the run, to find his targets down the field and deliver balls out in front of his receivers.

    Decision-Making

    27/30

    The bulk of the season saw Mariota be one of the premier decision-makers at the position. He struggles at times when he gets rattled or when defenses change looks late, but he does know when to call his own number to get out of trouble. The sophomore does not force the ball into traffic, and that keeps him from throwing interceptions.

    Elusiveness

    23/25

    Aside from a knee injury that limited his mobility—most notably during the Stanford game—Mariota has been one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the nation. He has shown an ability to buy time behind the line and in the open field. He is one of the nation’s most dangerous runners.

    Overall

    87/100

    Mariota is still developing as a passer, but he manages the run-pass element of his position very well. He’s a home run hitter running the ball and continues to show true growth in stretching the field vertically. The Oregon Ducks quarterback is one of the game’s best.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Early First Round. Has everything NFL scouts want in a dual-threat quarterback. He's special.

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

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    Accuracy

    27/30

    Johnny Manziel has seen his accuracy improve tremendously in 2013. The quarterback has found his receivers, put the ball on the money and then allowed them to make plays. He has had some crucial drops that hurt him, but he’s delivered quality balls.

    Arm Strength

    12/15

    The best way to term Manziel’s arm is certainly “strong enough.” The quarterback has no issue getting the ball vertically down the field, and he puts zip on it to get it into tight windows with relative ease.

    Decision-Making

    23/30

    Here is where the pressure of being "Johnny Football" shows itself. He tries to make plays where there are none, and that leads to forced throws, which then lead to interceptions. These chuck-and-duck scenarios look great on the outside, but they are big errors in judgment.

    Elusiveness

    25/25

    Simply put, he’s the best in the game at avoiding tacklers. Manziel is Houdini on the field, escaping bigger defensive linemen’s grasp and then making defensive backs look silly as he gives them a leg and takes it away. He is tough to tackle, and that’s both when he is buying time to make throws and when he breaks the line of scrimmage to run.

    Overall

    87/100

    Manziel has been phenomenal in 2013, even with a step-back game against LSU. Despite his decision-making dragging him down, he’s been an elite player at the position.

    NFL Draft Projection

    Early First Round. Doesn't have pro size, but instincts and all-around talent are rare.

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