Browns Quarterback Watch: Week 17 Ranking for Top 2014 Draft QB Prospects

Andy McNamara@@AndyMc81Correspondent IIDecember 28, 2013

Fresno State QB Derek Carr didn't have his best day at the Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State QB Derek Carr didn't have his best day at the Las Vegas BowlEthan Miller/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns limp to the end of another miserable season and fans have a familiar question in mind. Who will be the next franchise quarterback?

From December 21 to January 6, NCAA bowl games take over many living rooms across North America. A handful of these matchups include quarterbacks who are entering the NFL entry draft this upcoming May.

Could the next Browns savior be among them? 


Power Rankings: Week 17 

The below power rankings are based on which quarterback's skill set and most recent statistics suggest a suitable fit for Cleveland's philosophy of pushing the ball downfield.

Ideal qualifications include an accurate arm with deep-ball strength, quick decision-making ability and some mobility in and out of the pocket.

Power Rankings: Top Five Week 17 QB Prospects for Cleveland
Name & RankingSchoolHeight/Weight2013 TD/INT2013 Passing Yards2013 Completion Percentage2013 Passer Rating
1. Derek CarrFresno State6'3"/21850/85,08268.7156.1
2. Blake BortlesUCF6'4"/23022/73,28068.1163.3
3. Teddy BridgewaterLouisville6'3"/19628/43,52370.2169.7
4. Jimmy GaroppoloEastern Illinois6'3"/22253/95,05066.0168.3
5. Zach Mettenberger (injured)LSU6'5"/23022/83,08264.9171.4

Despite a below-average showing at the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Fresno State's Derek Carr remains first in Cleveland's quarterback prospects power rankings.

The senior threw for his second-lowest passing yards total of the season at 216 in a two-touchdown, one-interception losing effort to USC. It was also the first time in 2013 that Carr's passer rating was under 100 (95.8).

Carr looked flustered under USC's surging defense, being forced to release the ball faster than he wanted to, and that led to rare inaccuracy.

The Bulldog did display some positives.

He moved the pocket well, threw on the run and effectively delivered passes at various speeds depending on the situation. Carr demonstrated that he can make adjustments on defenses prior to the snap and rarely put the ball in danger when hurried.

There are still plenty of wrinkles in the senior's game, but he absolutely possesses the tools for Cleveland offensive coordinator Norv Turner to groom him into an effective NFL starting QB.

As it appears with most signal-callers in this year's draft, a year on the bench watching and learning would go a long way.  

Bowl Games Browns Fans Should Watch
Quarterback / SchoolBowl GameOpponentDate / Time (ET)Network
Teddy Bridgewater / LouisvilleRussell AthleticMiamiDec. 28 / 6:45 p.m.ESPN
Logan Thomas / Virginia TechHyundai SunUCLADec. 31 / 2 p.m.CBS
Brett Hundley / UCLAHyundai SunVirginia TechDec. 31 / 2 p.m.CBS
Johnny Manziel / Texas A&MChick-fil-ADukeDec. 31 / 8 p.m.ESPN
Blake Bortles / UCFTostitos FiestaBaylorJan. 1 / 8:30 p. m.ESPN
A.J. McCarron / AlabamaAllstate SugarOklahomaJan. 2 / 8:30 p.m.ESPN
Tajh Boyd / ClemsonDiscover OrangeOhio StateJan. 3 / 8:30 p.m.ESPN
Braxton Miller / Ohio StateDiscover OrangeClemsonJan. 3 / 8;30 p.m.ESPN

Out of all the quarterbacks still to play in a bowl game, UCF's Blake Bortles has the most on the line.

Still undecided on whether he'll leave school, Bortles' comparisons to Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger will have the Browns watching his performance very closely on Jan. 1 against Baylor.


Why no Teddy?

Being the top-ranked quarterback on many prospect lists across the country does not mean that Teddy Bridgewater would be the best fit in Cleveland.

Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville QB Teddy BridgewaterAndy Lyons/Getty Images

The junior out of Louisville's statistics and athleticism are obviously impressive; however, it is his durability that should give teams a reason to pause. 

Bridgewater has taken a number of huge hits over his collegiate career, and one wonders if his slender 200-pound frame can withstand the physical toll at the pro level.

Another factor is that the Browns would most likely need to trade up to draft Bridgewater. At this point, it doesn't seem worth it when the likes of Carr or Bortles could still be available.


Don't forget about Jimmy

Jimmy Garoppolo put up insane numbers during his senior campaign. Even though the competition may not have been elite, 53 touchdowns and only nine interceptions is no joke. Plus, he won the Walter Payton Award.

The Eastern Illinois Panther can make accurate throws to all depths of the field and is able to effectively evade pressure to finish plays. A quick release and above-average arm strength polishes off this hidden gem.

If the Browns win Sunday in Pittsburgh, then they will draft near the bottom of the top 10. That could lead to the first-round-graded quarterbacks being taken before Cleveland reaches the podium.

In that scenario, the Browns should look to scoop up Garoppolo (currently predicted to go 100th overall by CBS Sports) in the second or third round. 

He has all the makings of a future star without all the fanfare. In a perfect world, he too would sit in the shadows for all of 2014 and mature behind a healthy Brian Hoyer.


Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist.

Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81


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