2014 NFL Draft: Quarterbacks Whose Stocks Will Surge in Coming Months

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2014 NFL Draft: Quarterbacks Whose Stocks Will Surge in Coming Months
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Even Santa Claus can't make a franchise quarterback fall into the laps of NFL teams looking to upgrade at the position in the 2014 NFL draft.

Many fans will measure up subsequent draft classes to that of 2012, when you had Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill drafted in the first round, while Russell Wilson and Nick Foles went in the third. It was the kind of QB crop you only see every decade or so.

Looking ahead to the 2014 class, you don't see any players you'd consider at the level Luck and Griffin were.

Teddy Bridgewater is No. 1 on most experts' boards, but he has his fair share of issues. From there, it only gets murkier.

That means there's room for quarterbacks hovering a little further down the board, and they have the opportunity to impress coaches and scouts, jumping at least a round or two between now and next May.

Among those QBs primed to make a move upward, these three stand out.

 

Blake Bortles, Central Florida 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Perhaps this is the low-hanging fruit.

Should Blake Bortles enter the NFL draft, he'll immediately be one of the best quarterbacks available. It says a lot about his potential that Todd McShay mocked him to the Oakland Raiders at No. 3. That's quite a jump from where other experts would have had Bortles on their respective boards.

The Central Florida star has everything you look for in a quarterback.

He's listed at 6'4" on UCF's official site, so there won't be any concerns about whether he's big enough to play quarterback in the NFL.

When it comes to the attributes, Bortles has enough mobility to not be a statue in the pocket, his arm strength is good enough and he's an accurate passer.

Having a great arm isn't the best indicator for success, though. If it was, Jeff George and JaMarcus Russell would be Hall of Famers, while Peyton Manning would have washed out in the league after a few years. That's why it's nice that accuracy isn't a concern with Bortles.

There's little not to like about him, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him as the first quarterback off the board.

 

David Fales, San Jose State

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

David Fales will inevitably have to deal with the same questions surrounding Derek Carr. Is the Mountain West an optimal proving ground for a draft prospect? Was his talent inflated by the nature of his team's offense?

Unlike Carr, Fales isn't projected as a first-round prospect right now, so the level of scrutiny won't be as intense.

However, Fales can only go up between now and the draft.

NFL.com's Charles Davis is high on the San Jose State QB's potential:

When league evaluators do their due diligence on Fales, I think they will be coming back saying, "You know what, I'm not sure he should be ranked behind some of those big-name guys."

I've talked to people that played against him and they all say he's legit. You could take him and put him at many big schools and they would be very happy to have his services.

The things that are wrong with Fales aren't the kind that raise a bunch of red flags. The biggest critique that gives you pause is that he's too willing to throw into coverage if he sees the tiniest of windows. Jay Cutler and especially Brett Favre have been successful as gunslingers, but they're the exception rather than the rule

Other than that, scouts shouldn't be too scared away.

Fales has a great pocket presence. He knows where to take that one step that will help him avoid the rush. It's the kind of thing that you can't easily instill in a player.

As Davis says, when scouts and coaches take a look at Fales, they'll see a solid quarterback with room to improve. He's got the mental side of the game down, and with some slight mechanical tweaks, he can be a productive NFL starter.

 

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There's a lot on the line for Tajh Boyd in the next month. He's got the Orange Bowl against Ohio State on Jan. 3 and then the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26. With strong performances in both, he can silence some of the critics' doubts, while simultaneously making many forget about those poor performances against Florida State and South Carolina.

Boyd acknowledged how important this stage is for him, per The Greenville News (via NFL.com's Mike Huguenin): "I think everything toward the end of this process is going to be a deciding factor in how high I go (in the 2014 draft)."

The Clemson star has plenty of flaws in his game, and he's far from a can't-miss prospect. However, he's got a solid arm and demonstrated an ability to make the short and intermediate throws. In addition, his interception numbers dropped slightly from last year to this year, illustrating an improvement in Boyd's decision-making.

Boyd likely won't crack the first round, but he could see a big jump in the event of a good showing at both the Orange and Senior Bowls.

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