For teams looking to draft a quarterback, 2014 might not be their year. While this class looks more impressive than last year's, there are far too many question marks surrounding the top prospects.
The even worse news is that Teddy Bridgewater may chose to stay another season at Louisville, per Bleacher Report's Matt Miller.
I considered Teddy Bridgewater a slam dunk to enter this year's class, but people close to him tell me it's not a sure thing right now.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 16, 2013
Is the 2014 QB draft class better than the 2013 QB class?
Should Bridgewater take his name out of the hat for 2014, this draft is bereft of any blue-chip prospects. It's unrealistic to expect a draft like 2011, which had Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and Nick Foles, but you'd hope that at least one of those guys would be available in a few months' time.
Teams will look for any reason not to draft a player, and when it comes to these three quarterbacks, that level of criticism will only lead to a drop down the draft board.
Derek Carr, Fresno State
Right now, the scouts love Derek Carr. Here's what Miller wrote about Carr back on December 4:
I spoke with three area scouts this week who all like Derek Carr as a top-five pick. Possible destinations for him include Houston, Jacksonville, Minnesota and Oakland, but keep an eye on the Cleveland Browns. Carr fits the profile that general manager Michael Lombardi and head coach Rob Chudzinski want in their quarterback.
The closer the draft gets, the more Carr's flaws will be exposed.
Although he has dealt with pressure better lately, he doesn't have the kind of pocket presence you'd want to see in a top-10 guy, and the pressure he's facing in the Mountain West is nothing compared to what he'll see in the NFL.
He's got a very good arm, but so did Tyler Wilson, and look where he ended up.
With Carr, you find yourself asking so many of the same questions that pertain to the stars from smaller schools in non-AQ conferences.
Is his talent being overestimated as a result of playing against weaker competition? Can he handle a more pro-style offense after taking fewer snaps under center than other draft prospects?
When teams try answering those questions, they'll likely decide that Carr isn't worth the risk.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
There's no doubting Johnny Manziel has improved as a passer this season. He's made a concerted effort to rely less on his feet and instead try and beat opposing teams with his arm.
However, Manziel remains a major wild card when it comes to his NFL potential.
At 6'1", he remains undersized for an NFL quarterback. Many will argue that Drew Brees (6'0") and Russell Wilson (5'11") are both shorter than Manziel. But those two are outliers. Not every quarterback who's undersized can be as successful as they are.
There's also the problem of Manziel's mechanics. He remains a bit of a gunslinger, taking far too many chances with passes that have a low probability of succeeding.
To his credit, Manziel remains confident that he's ready for the NFL (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jimmy Burch):
In my mind, I think I am. I feel like I’m playing, for the most part, at a really high level of football. I’m putting the ball where I want it to be and I’m throwing it with a lot of velocity.
If the read-option had been more successful this season, perhaps a team would be willing to take a chance on Manziel early in the first round. Unless he makes radical improvements as a passer, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner could end up dropping out of the first.
AJ McCarron, Alabama
With the success he's had at Alabama, AJ McCarron is bound to attract some attention from NFL scouts. They'll probably rave about his intangibles much in the same way they did about Tim Tebow.
Collegiate success also leads scouts to make comparisons to Tom Brady (via NFL.com's Chase Goodbread):
Good size, outstanding touch on all throws, can make all the throws but only has average arm strength. Average running ability but very good feet and movement in the pocket to avoid sacks. Outstanding progression-read quarterback, makes throws to his second and third reads consistently. Doesn't turn the ball over. Winner. Mentally tough. Has the moxie and cockiness most great QBs have. Very similar to Tom Brady in stature, athletic ability, arm strength, touch and the most important category—wins.
Simply put, no college quarterback should ever be compared to Tom Brady. The guy's won three Super Bowls and is one of the greatest QBs ever to play the game. Nobody in college has deserves a Brady comp.
And if this is where some scouts are starting, they're only bound to find stuff they don't like.
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey has a much more realistic comparison for McCarron.
From what I've seen of McCarron, he passes the minimums in athleticism/arm to be a potential starter ala Dalton, but that's his ceiling— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) December 2, 2013
McCarron is the kind of quarterback who does some stuff well, but nothing jumps off the page. He manages the game, but his arm strength isn't otherworldly, and he's not very mobile in the pocket.
There's a chance the Crimson Tide star becomes a Kevin Kolb, where he bounces around from team to team, picking up the occasional starting job. That's about as good as it's going to get.
That's not the kind of player you draft in the first or second rounds.