NFL Draft

2014 NFL Draft: 7 Quarterbacks Who Tumbled Down Draft Boards After Poor Seasons

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: 7 Quarterbacks Who Tumbled Down Draft Boards After Poor Seasons

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    Michael Conroy

    After a grueling collegiate season and the lengthy path to the 2014 NFL draft that amounts to the biggest job interview of their lives, several NFL-hopeful quarterbacks have seen their stock take a dramatic nosedive.

    It's tough for any quarterback to live up to lofty pro expectations heading into what is his final year of collegiate ball. Some rise to the occasion, while others fold.

    Some, such as Ohio State's Braxton Miller, smartly bowed out of the 2014 class in favor of another year of development with the hope that they might improve their game and stock in one fell swoop. It's a risky endeavor to say the least (Hi, Matt Barkley) but certainly worth the gamble.

    Others aren't as fortunate. Let's take a look at those signal-callers who now sit in a rough spot stock-wise when compared to their position on various boards before the collegiate season began.

    Remember, multiple facets of "performance" dictate current stock. Stats are one aspect, but a prospect can still post gaudy numbers but show up poorly enough on film to doom his stock. With that in mind, let's get started.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

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    Bleacher Report Preseason Rank: No. 3

    ESPN Preseason Rank: No. 4

    NFL.com Preseason Rank: No. 5

    There was a lot to like about Tajh Boyd as he went into his senior year. He had posted more than 3,800 passing yards and 33 touchdowns in each of the prior two seasons. There were whispers of his mechanics and the like, but by all accounts his ceiling was through the roof.

    Statistically, he held up his end of the bargain. But those who ranked him so highly before his senior campaign also needed to see development in a multitude of areas such as throwing motion, accuracy on the run and propensity to bail on a player too early.

    Rather than a first- or second-round selection, Boyd now rests in the seventh-round range at CBS Sports. Somewhere in the fifth round is more likely as staffs around the league see an intriguing backup with an impressive ceiling after a few years of development, but by all accounts, Boyd has taken arguably the biggest dive of all since last August.

Stephen Morris, Miami

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    Bleacher Report Preseason Rank: No. 11

    ESPN Preseason Rank: No. 3

    NFL.com Preseason Rank: No. 8

    Stephen Morris' stock was all over the place everywhere, not just at the outlets listed above as he entered his final collegiate season.

    Mel Kiper Jr. was especially high on Morris' upside, but noted areas where improvement was necessary:

    He can make all the throws, particularly deep down the field and to the edges, and took a huge step forward last year becoming the starter. Now it's about improving on consistency and accuracy. Good pocket movement, but not extremely mobile and probably took too many sacks looking for big plays.

    Keep this in perspective—Kiper had Morris ranked over the likes of Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr and even Blake Bortles, who didn't even make the list.

    That's not a knock on Kiper; it just goes to show how high the cliff was that Morris swan-dived off into stock oblivion. He now rests in the same range as Tajh Boyd at CBS Sports after completing just 57.6 percent of his passes, throwing 21 touchdowns to 12 interceptions and having an overall lackluster buildup to the draft, including this gem from CBS Sports' Dane Brugler:

    Ohh Stephen Morris. His answer on how he wants to perform on the Wonderlic: "I’m just trying to be somewhere in the middle."

    — Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 21, 2014

    Morris might get drafted, but he has a long road ahead.

Jeff Mathews, Cornell

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    Michael Conroy

    Bleacher Report Preseason Rank: No. 13

    ESPN Preseason Rank: N/A

    NFL.com Preseason Rank: N/A

    Credit to Matt Miller for knocking this one out, as Jeff Mathews could have been around Jimmy Garoppolo's current position had his senior year continued along his trajectory.

    At 6'4" and 223 pounds, he had developed on an upward trend his first three years at Cornell to the point where many in the draft community had him on their radar.

    But he went out as a senior and threw 13 interceptions compared to 11 in 2012 and 2,953 yards as opposed to 3,196 in 2012.

    More importantly, he showed little in the way of improved footwork—the biggest knock on his game—and remained inexperienced under center. For those who care for win stats, he went 12-25 as a starter against FCS competition.

    Rather than being a selection in the middle rounds after building on his budding stock, Mathews will be lucky to hear his name called at all. He has a monster arm, but the rest remains a work in progress.

Aaron Murray, Georgia

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    Michael Conroy

    Bleacher Report Preseason Rank: No. 7

    ESPN Preseason Rank: N/A

    NFL.com Preseason Rank: No. 9

    Aaron Murray is another player whose stock is all over the place as some onlookers value certain aspects more than others.

    It's no secret he was statistically productive his first three years, but his passing yardage last season dropped by more than 800 yards in comparison to 2012 and his touchdowns dipped by 10.

    One aspect of his stock that he couldn't change last season was his size. He's a tad small at 6'1" and 207 pounds, and while the likes of Russell Wilson have made that easier to overlook in recent years, a torn ACL brought it back to the forefront of the conversation in regard to Murray.

    He is an accurate quarterback, but he also did little to shake the Andy Dalton comparison as a senior. His arm is simply weak when throwing down the field, and he's not the type of quarterback who will upgrade the play of those around him.

    As a result, Murray barely rests inside the top 150 at CBS Sports. Unlike the others on this list, he can still do much to improve his stock. But for now, more questions than answers remain.

Bryn Renner, North Carolina

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    Gerry Broome

    Bleacher Report Preseason Rank: N/A

    ESPN Preseason Rank: N/A

    NFL.com Preseason Rank: No. 10

    It's an unfortunate reality of the business that an injury can derail what would have been a solid draft position.

    Such is the case for North Carolina's Bryn Renner, whose collegiate career came to a premature end back in November. After two years of solid mechanics with a minimum of 3,000 passing yards and 26 touchdowns in each one, he attempted just 231 passes and was on pace to set a career high in interceptions before the injury.

    Still, Bucky Brooks had written before the season that Renner's stock was on a major upswing:

    After quietly posting back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons, Renner has started to create a buzz in the scouting community after shining at the Manning Passing Academy. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior stood out as one of the best pure passers in the camp by displaying superb arm strength, accuracy and touch in drills.

    Renner has done little on the path to the draft to reignite that stock. He sits with an undrafted grade at CBS Sports well out of the top 350. Until he can prove he is the same before the injury, his stock unfortunately won't budge.

Keith Price, Washington

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    Ted S. Warren

    Bleacher Report Preseason Rank: N/A

    ESPN Preseason Rank: N/A

    NFL.com Preseason Rank: No. 16

    Let's dig deep for another candidate.

    Marred by rampant inconsistency in year-to-year production, Keith Price was an intriguing dual-threat option who never saw his completion percentage dip below 60.9 percent. Regardless of the system, that's a rather impressive number.

    Bucky Brooks put it best, noting that Price had a legitimate shot to further climb the board:

    The rise in prominence of dual-threat playmakers in football helps Price earn a spot on the list despite a shaky junior season. The 6-foot-1, 202-pound senior perplexed observers with his inconsistencies and poor decisions a season ago after terrorizing the Pac-12 as a sophomore (3,063 pass yards with 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions). If he can regain his superstar form from a few seasons ago, Price might catapult more prominent names on this list to become a legitimate consideration in the 2014 draft.

    Most concurred before last season that Price would warrant perhaps as high as a fifth-round pick. But the pros were clearly not impressed with his production, and he was subsequently not invited to the combine.

    Now well outside of the draft looking in, he will likely have to battle for a roster spot as an undrafted hopeful.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

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    Michael Conroy

    Bleacher Report Preseason Rank: N/A

    ESPN Preseason Rank: N/A

    NFL.com Preseason Rank: N/A

    There was a semblance of interest in Jordan Lynch as a quarterback before the 2013 season. The year prior he had thrown for more than 3,000 yards and 25 scores while completing better than 60 percent of his passes. Rushing for more than 1,800 yards was icing on the cake.

    A selection in the fifth or sixth round was not that difficult to see, but Lynch went out as a senior and attempted more passes but tallied fewer yards and touchdowns. Outside of stats, he had done little to convince scouts his mechanics had changed for the better.

    This offseason, he has spent time working as a defensive back and running back, but says his heart is still at quarterback, per Zach Zaidman of CBS 2 Chicago:

    NIU QB Jordan Lynch on what he tells NFL teams: "They're going to make a huge mistake if they don't put me at quarterback."

    — Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) February 21, 2014

    As a quarterback, Lynch comes in at No. 475 overall at CBS Sports. His final collegiate season did little to change the minds of those in charge as to his potential at the position.

     

    Note: Bleacher Report preseason quarterback rankings via Matt Miller, NFL.com's via Bucky Brooks, and ESPN's via Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription required). Current round projections via CBS Sports.

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