The 2014 quarterback class will have, at least, three instant NFL starters and will shake up the world of fantasy football. The 2014 group is much more exciting than the 2013 class of signal-callers (that's not saying much) but will not meet the standards set in 2012, with a club that featured Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles and Robert Griffin III.
We will only look at quarterbacks with a significant chance to make an impact in 2014.
LSU's Zach Mettenberger tore his left knee's ACL on November 29 of last year and had surgery a few weeks later. It is unlikely that an NFL team will rush Mettenberger into action, no matter how well his recovery has progressed.
Ironically, Georgia's Aaron Murray also tore his left knee's ACL in November 2013 and had surgery on November 26. Murray will be allowed to learn a playbook while his knee heals and will not see action in 2014.
Alabama's AJ McCarron is an underwhelming athlete with subpar arm strength by NFL standards. Dane Brugler of CBS Sports claims McCarron "is not quite starting material."
Now, let's look at the five quarterbacks that will rack up fantasy points in 2014 as NFL rookies.
Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo is starting to gain notoriety as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2014 class. While EIU is not known as a football powerhouse, Mike Shanahan, Sean Payton and Tony Romo are some of its most notable alumni associated with the NFL. EIU's most famous alumnus, in any field, is likely John Malkovich.
Coincidentally, Garoppolo's game is very similar to Romo's, according to CBS Sports' Dan Brugler. In 2013, Garoppolo broke many of Romo's school records as he passed for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns. Garoppolo earned Associated Press FCS All-American first-team honors as well as the Walter Payton Award in his senior year.
Garoppolo has decent size (6'2", 219 lbs), speed (4.78 40-yard dash) and arm strength. What has impressed scouts such as CBS Sports' Rob Rang and Dane Brugler and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah (via B/R's Gary Davenport) in the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl practices is Garoppolo's quick release and touch. The obvious downside to the EIU quarterback is that, except for the mentioned all-star games, we have seen little of him against high-level competition.
Garoppolo is projected to be selected in the NFL draft's second round and could be a Day 1 starter for Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland or Minnesota.
Derek Carr has the pedigree, as former NFL quarterback David Carr is his older brother. The Fresno State product has a cannon for an arm to go along with decent size (6'2", 215 lbs) and athleticism. Carr had an unbelievable senior season in 2013, passing for 5,083 yards and 50 touchdowns and completing 68.9 percent of his passes.
According to NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, Carr outshined Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo at the Senior Bowl. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares Carr to Jay Cutler, and CBS Sports' Rob Rang and Dane Brugler believe the Minnesota Vikings will draft Carr with their selection, eighth overall in the upcoming NFL draft.
At Fresno State, Carr has played primarily out of the shotgun, and there are questions about how quickly he will grasp the art of reading defenses while dropping back. Carr's stock also took a hit after a poor showing at the Las Vegas Bowl, a 45-20 loss to the USC Trojans.
In Minnesota, Carr would start immediately and, with Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson at his disposal, could be a sleeper in the pass-happy NFC North.
Blake Bortles took a program in relative obscurity and, as a two-year starter, led the University of Central Florida to a BCS bowl. Once there, Bortles spearheaded a 52-42 upset of Baylor in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. Make no mistake, this is a huge statement for NFL scouts. In 2013 as a junior, Bortles passed for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Bortles has good size (6'3", 230 lbs), has decent athleticism (4.78 40-yard dash) and average arm strength and accuracy by NFL standards. Bortles' lack of arm strength and his inconsistent accuracy led Bleacher Report's Matt Miller to fairly compare him to Tennessee's Jake Locker. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler believes Bortles is somewhere between Andrew Luck and Locker.
When compared to Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel, Bortles is the safest choice, but he also has the least upside. Expect Bortles to be the starter for Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland or Oakland in 2014. Bortles could be a fantasy sleeper if he lands with the Browns and is paired with the electrifying Josh Gordon.
Teddy Bridgewater came into Louisville in 2011 as the No. 2 quarterback prospect in the nation and has not disappointed. A Miami native, Bridgewater was the big fish that the University of Miami saw slip through its hands. In 2013, Bridgewater passed for 3,970 yards, 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Bridgewater has above-average arm strength, accuracy and athleticism (4.67 40-yard dash) but has a very slender build (6'2", 205 lbs). Bridgewater appears to be a self-aware man and, despite having the ability to do so, seldom chooses to run. Last season, the Louisville standout rushed for only 78 yards and one touchdown. Can the skinny Bridgewater survive in the NFL?
Bridgewater will be drafted by Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland or Oakland. Like it was for Bortles, Cleveland is the most fantasy-friendly destination for Bridgewater because of Josh Gordon. Fantasy owners have to remember that Bridgewater can be a dynamic rookie passer but will rarely choose to run.
Here comes Johnny Football. Johnny Manziel is an exciting fantasy prospect because he will be a true dual-threat NFL starter in 2014. In 2013, Manziel passed for 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns while rushing for 759 yards and nine more touchdowns.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares Manziel to Robert Griffin III because the Texas A&M star is agile and lightning fast (4.45 40-yard dash).
Manziel's strength are his legs but he possesses decent arm strength and good accuracy. Manziel's weakness is his size (6'0", 210 lbs), and with his penchant for running, an injury will always be waiting around the NFL's corner. To his credit, Manziel survived two seasons of SEC football, which is as close as you get to the NFL at the collegiate level.
Combine measurements courtesy of CBS Sports.