Stay or Go Advice for Top Eligible NFL Draft QBs
The 2014 NFL draft class is laden with talent at the quarterback position.
Several touted senior quarterbacks will be on the board, but the big question surrounds the underclassmen. Who will stay and who will go?
Oregon's Marcus Mariota answered that query, saying he will return for his redshirt junior season.
We'll provide each with wholehearted advice on whether to go pro, or return to campus in 2014.
Teddy Bridgewater: Go
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is widely considered to be one of the top picks in the 2014 NFL draft, if he decides to leave.
It was widely assumed that the junior would bolt from Louisville after this season.
However, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller recently tweeted, what once looked like a sure thing might not be so clear.
Still undecided, Bridgewater really has just one choice—go pro.
If he goes, he's essentially a top 10 lock. Miller projected him to go No. 4 overall in a recent mock draft.
If he comes back, he not only runs the risk of injury, but he is also at risk of having a poor season. Louisville will make a transition to the ACC, which is always an unpredictable situation.
A bad season could drop him out of the first round entirely. With his stock so high already, he doesn't stand to gain much through a good season.
Johnny Manziel: Go
It would be great if Johnny Manziel returned to Texas A&M. The excitement he brings to college football would be tough for any individual star to replace.
But for his own sake, the right move is to head to the NFL.
He recently commented that he believes he is ready for the NFL, but he also went on The Dan Patrick Show and said that, if he wasn't projected to go in the first round, he would probably head back to A&M (h/t Chase Goodbread, NFL.com):
Manziel was asked on "The Dan Patrick Show" what he would do if his draft projection isn't first-round favorable. Manziel paused before answering, then said: "I don't know what I would do. It would be a decision I would have to make with my family, and see what was best for me. It would probably mean returning to A&M another year. ... I still have a big choice ahead either way."
That will be irrelevant, though, as Manziel and his unique skill set likely won't make it out of the first round. Miller's most recent mock draft has him off the board at No. 7.
If he returns, his stock won't stand to drop too much. Even if Texas A&M has a down year, Manziel will still make his plays.
His biggest risk will be injury. He spent much of 2013 banged up and, as a likely first-round pick, he has no real reason to head back and risk further injury.
Braxton Miller: Stay
Unlike several other top junior quarterback prospects, Miller has plenty left to prove in the college game.
As reported by Kyle Rowland of ElevenWarriors.com, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. commented that Miller would benefit from another season at OSU.
“For Braxton, another year would really help him," Kiper said. "He could improve as a passer, throw with a little bit more anticipation, be a little more precise with his ball placement, and be an early-round pick next year.”
Rowland also quoted Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko saying Miller could potentially drop to the fifth or sixth round:
His lack of ideal size is a big factor. I could see him getting a third- or fourth-round grade because of his talent and upside. But if he came out this year based on this senior class and the juniors who are likely to declare, he could fall very late in the draft – the fifth or sixth round, simply because there are guys who can do what he does a little bit better.
If Galko is right, Miller should be headed back to the Buckeyes. OSU will be right back in the Big Ten and national title hunt.
Miller will also be on the short list of Heisman Trophy contenders. If he has a great year, he has plenty of room to rise on draft boards.
Blake Bortles: Go
Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles won't make his decision about the NFL draft until after the Fiesta Bowl.
While he is holding off on his choice until after he leads UCF in its first ever BCS bowl, the decision should be easy afterward.
Thanks to a remarkable season, the redshirt junior has seen his stock go through the roof.
On Sunday night during NBC's Football Night in America, Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King said Bortles is the top quarterback on the board for some NFL teams.
"The fastest rising quarterback in the first round, should he choose to come out, is fourth-year junior Blake Bortles of Central Florida," King said. "I’ve spoken to a team that’s likely to have a top 10 pick, and they like him better than any quarterback in this draft.”
If that is the case and a team is willing to pull the trigger early in the first round, Bortles must go.
A relatively unknown a year ago, it will be very difficult for Bortles to raise his draft stock any further on an unheralded team in a nameless conference.
At 6'4", 230 pounds, Bortles is physically ready for the NFL, and after taking the Knights to the BCS, there is little left for him to realistically accomplish at the collegiate level.