The 2014 draft class does not lack for stars at quarterback.
Teddy Bridgewater and the class could not come at a better time with so many pro teams in need of a fresh start at the most important position of all.
Of course, the class could take a major hit if Bridgewater and names like Johnny Manziel elect to remain at the collegiate level another year—as Baylor's Bryce Petty and Oregon's Marcus Mariota have elected to do.
For now, three major names headline the class and are surely at or near the top of most NFL team's boards. Stock will fluctuate between now and draft day, but for now, three major names have clear destinations.
|Pos. Rank||Player||School||Proj. Round|
|2||Derek Carr||Fresno State||1|
|3||Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M||1|
|8||David Fales||San Jose State||2|
|10||Jimmy Garoppolo||Eastern Illinois||4|
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
It was not too long ago Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was widely considered the best quarterback in the 2014 class.
But remember, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller illustrates, that is primarily a media notion:
When you hear that Teddy Bridgewater is the “consensus” top QB in this class, it means he’s the media consensus. Teams have varying opinions— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 11, 2013
Now it turns out Bridgewater may return to Louisville next season rather than declare for the draft, per John Middlekauff of CSN Bay Area. Middlekauff also has an interesting scoop that confirms Miller's note about Bridgewater's stock:
Multiple sources tell me Teddy Bridgewater has contemplated returning to school. No decision has been made at this point— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) December 13, 2013
Alas, we will not know how teams truly feel until draft day. What we do know is simple—Bridgewater has been electric in three collegiate seasons despite noteworthy sack totals:
At 6'3" and 205 pounds, Bridgewater has the statistics and intangibles worthy of a first-round pick. It is interesting that he may opt for another year in college, but not totally unreasonable. Should he declare, there is no question the Louisville product will be one of the first at his position off the board.
Projected Round: First
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Perhaps the most polarizing quarterback prospect of all, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel also has tantalizing traits sure to turn heads at the pro level.
The 6'1" and 210-pound redshirt sophomore also has the right to stay in school another year, but it is hard to argue his stock will ever be higher. As a dual-threat player, his statistics speak for themselves:
Regardless, Manziel seems adamant in returning to school should he not be projected as a first-round pick, per the star quarterback himself on The Dan Patrick Show recently:
Good news for Manziel—he is a lock for the first round.
Quarterback is simply too important for an NFL team to pass on a prospect like Manziel. This is not Andy Dalton out of TCU (taken in the second round in 2011 despite gaudy statistics and wins), this is Manziel, who has made his body of work look rather easy in the face of SEC opposition.
Debates can be had about Manziel's size and decision-making at times, but there is at least one pro coaching staff out there chomping at the bit to take Manziel in the first and mold him into what they believe is a franchise quarterback.
Projected Round: First
AJ McCarron, Alabama
Go ahead and chalk up Alabama's AJ McCarron as perhaps an even more polarizing prospect than Manziel.
The Crimson Tide's 6'4" and 214-pound senior signal-caller has many in the draft community divided. For example, Chase Goodbread of NFL.com reports some NFL scouts compare McCarron to New England's Tom Brady, while others are not as kind:
Other scouting personnel have suggested to Breer that McCarron could wind up anywhere from a first-round to a third-round pick, so clearly, not every club in the league is sold on the two-time national championship quarterback. Still, one suggested that McCarron is better than three quarterbacks to go in the first round in recent years: Tennessee's Jake Locker, Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert and Minnesota's Christian Ponder.
Who is the best QB in the 2014 class?
McCarron was the beneficiary of playing on arguably the nation's most talented roster for the duration of his collegiate career, so he must shed the "game-manager" label in predraft workouts.
While 72 touchdowns to 13 interceptions since 2011 is outstanding, critics will always hesitate to give McCarron rightful credit provided the talent he was surrounded with at all times. The same goes for a completion percentage that was north of 66 percent in the same span.
With other first-round hopefuls such as Fresno State's Derek Carr doing arguably the same with less, McCarron will find it difficult to crack the first round. Barring an epic journey leading up to the draft, McCarron will have to settle for a Dalton-esque tumble.
Projected Round: Second