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2014 NFL Draft: Predicting Landing Spots for Top 8 QBs

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Predicting Landing Spots for Top 8 QBs

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    Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

    With all the smoke in the air, trying to figure out where a player—especially a quarterback—will land this year is a lot like how Simon Pegg's Scotty described the math for transporting in the 2009 Star Trek.

    So with apologies to Pegg: the notion of hitting on where a quarterback will land is like trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet whilst wearing a blindfold, riding a horse.

    That said, I always like a challenge.

    So join me as I try to figure out where the top eight quarterbacks might land in the 2014 NFL draft. To help us out, I scoured the web in some cases for some news that might help us hit that smaller bullet.

Teddy Bridgewater to the Houston Texans at No. 33

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    At this point, no matter how much I like Teddy Bridgewaterand it’s a lot—there’s a good chance some/all/most of the NFL teams don’t share my enthusiasm.

    Well, at least that’s what much of the rest of the media throngs say (as compiled in this piece by Eric Adelson of Yahoo! Sports).

    Assuming I am wrong and they are right, what does the NFL draft hold for the Louisville product?

    It seems to me he would be a great fit for Houston at pick No. 33.

    While some posit that new head coach wants a quarterback with a huge arm, O’Brien has said he actually values accuracy more. While you could make a case for several quarterbacks at this spot then, I think Bridgewater’s accuracy, along with how pro-ready he is, makes this a good fit.

    The Texans aren’t far away from contending and nobody really expects them to start the year with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum or T.J. Yates as the starter.

    They need a guy to step in and Bridgewater is the guy.

    At No. 33, he would be a phenomenal value.

Johnny Manziel to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 8

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    As with the Bridgewater slide, I’m just connecting dots here, but it actually seems like a great fit to me.

    Forget that new head coach Mike Zimmer feels there are a lot of “red flags,” per Chase Goodbread of NFL.com, and felt Manziel’s pro day was “a sideshow” and “choreographed,” per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Charean Williams.

    Remember this was Lying Month, April before the NFL draft where you can’t take anything you hear seriously, even if some of it was.

    Analysts and media are still sending Manziel to Minnesota. Andy Fenelon of NFL.com puts them as one of the front-runners (along with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) with a 45 percent chance of actually drafting Manziel (a pretty good chance all things considered).

    The Vikings have a very good offensive line, a Hall of Fame running back, a solid corps of wide receivers and a defense which is going to be excellent in 2014.

    I’m not worried about his off-the-field stuff, or work ethic and I am convinced most of the NFL isn’t either. Manziel has the ability to stretch a play when things break down and the arm to throw the ball vertically, using Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson to full effect.

    Having Adrian Peterson will keep defenses honest but even when they do sell out, Manziel can make them pay outside the pocket. And as Mike Evans made impossible catches when things broke down, so can Cordarrelle Patterson.

    The Vikings could finally have the quarterback they’ve been looking for since Brett Favre breezed out of town.

Blake Bortles to the Tennessee Titans at No. 11

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    It’s interesting to me how little you hear about UCF’s Blake Bortles these days. Considering the assault on Bridgewater’s value and the continued questions about Manziel, maybe that’s a good thing.

    While it’s no sure thing that the Tennessee Titans are going to move on from Jake Locker, it seems like the writing is on the wall since they didn’t exercise his option for 2015, per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

    Bortles makes some bad decisions, but his big arm and mobility—as well as his obvious willingness to work on his game and improve—make him a solid pick for the Titans at No. 11.

    While the offense is in a bit of a transition—goodbye Kenny Britt and Chris Johnson, stick around Kendall Wright and Shonn Greene—there are some good weapons there.

    Bortles would even be able to sit behind Locker for at least part of the season, unless and until Locker implodes. It would be enough time to round out some of the rough edges in his game and give the Titans a chance to see what he can do going into 2015.

    And remember, with rookie contracts being worth a ton less than they used to be, even missing on a first-round quarterback isn’t the end of the world.

    Still, in the end, Bortles has the ability and physical traits to be a successful quarterback for the Titans and someone for them to build around.

Derek Carr to the Cleveland Browns at No. 26

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    There are a few places Derek Carr could end up. While I’m not tremendously high on him (I feel he’s more of a project than my top three on this list), you can’t deny he has the arm and can both throw deep and drill the ball on short throws.

    As with Manziel and the Vikings, Cleveland affords him a solid offensive line to hang behind, at least one all-star wide receiver in Josh Gordon (and potentially Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans with that first pick) and what looks to be a great running back in Ben Tate, as well as a defense that can keep things close.

    Really, I think a landing spot like this is a best case scenario for Carr and one which could allow him to flourish more quickly.

    And, if the team wants to follow new head coach Mike Pettine’s idea that a rookie quarterback should sit, per Pat McManamon at ESPN.com, well, Brian Hoyer is on the mend.

Jimmy Garoppolo to the Oakland Raiders with No. 36

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    I like Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a lot, but he’s still a second-round (at best) prospect who needs some time to smooth out the rough edges.

    The Raiders have Matt Schaub and even if that doesn’t prove to be a long-term solution, short term they aren’t likely to be looking for a quarterback to throw under center immediately.

    Garoppolo has some mechanical issues, but I am confident those can be fixed, and he’ll need to get used to working under center—also not a big concern.

    The Raiders will have to put some more weapons in place for whomever is the future quarterback down the road, and having Schaub there buys the team time to work on Garoppolo while they do that.

Aaron Murray to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 39

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    As with most of the second half of this list, I’d imagine Aaron Murray goes no higher than a second-round pick, though he could be tremendous value there.

    Head coach Gus Bradley came away from Murray’s pro day impressed, according to Marc Weiszer of Jacksonville.com.

    Said Bradley, “We have, as much as you can, a good feel for his personality, his competitiveness. That’s off the charts. Then to see how fast he came back and how he’s doing it and the drills that he did, very impressive.”

    Bradley also indicated that for the most part, Murray just reinforced what they already knew.

    While you can read a lot of different things into that, it gives me a pretty positive feel when I think about who could land on the Jaguars, a team in need of a quarterback.

    Murray was really productive against top-shelf SEC competition and is a four-year starter from a pro-style offense. There are some concerns about his durability and he needs to work on raising his release point, but he’s a guy who doesn’t get rattled in the spotlight or on big moments.

    The Jaguars are a team in transition. While they have a solid defense, the offense needs almost a complete overhaul. Murray could come in and build with the team or hang behind Chad Henne for a year and take things over when the offense has more tools.

    Ultimately, he has the tools to step in and be the foundation for the offense. He could be there in the third, but I don’t know that I would argue with a high second-round pick, depending on who else is there.

A.J. McCarron to the St. Louis Rams with No. 44 or No. 75

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    While Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron says he’s been told that he will go between picks No. 16 and 35, per Andrew Gribble of AL.com, I think that’s a bit high.

    However, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (relayed by NFL.com’s Mike Huguenin) reports the St. Louis Rams will end up in Alabama to work McCarron out on Thursday—including GM Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher.

    Now, I don’t for a minute believe the Rams will take McCarron with either of their first-round picks, but they do have the No. 44 selection and the No. 75 in the third.

    Either of those picks could be used to bring in a quarterback to serve as both a backup and, potentially, a replacement for Sam Bradford.

    McCarron is comfortable in a pro-style offense, both under center and in a shotgun formation and has good accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws, though he does struggle a bit on longer throws. He doesn’t have a big arm, but he proved at Alabama that he has enough to take advantage of good talent around him.

    With two picks in the first round, you can expect the Rams to add some talent to the stable they already have in Zac Stacy, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens and Jared Cook.

    If McCarron had to step in (if Bradford was hurt again or next season if Bradford isn’t re-signed), he’d be in as good a position to succeed as he could ask for with solid weapons, a decent offensive line and a good defense.

    Then it would be up to him, but as far as fit goes, this would be a good one for him.

Tom Savage to the New England Patriots with No. 62 or No. 93

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    It’s been well documented I am not on the Tom Savage train, but at this point it’s hard to avoid having him mentioned in pieces like this because it certainly seems as if he’s going in the top two or three rounds.

    We know this because he was invited to the NFL draft in New York and the NFL doesn’t do that if they aren’t confident a guy will be gone by the end of Friday night. He declined, which might also be telling, but the fact that he was invited means people believe he will be chosen in the first half of the NFL draft.

    So where does he fit?

    We’ve seen him mocked to Houston recently, per Todd McShay, ESPN (subscription required), but I’ve already got Bridgewater there. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah concurred Houston is a potential spot and added Jacksonville as well.

    For me, I think that he could end up falling to the end of the second round, perhaps the third and landing—in New England?

    If you believe what Tony Pauline has told us at DraftInsider.com, the team is “incredibly high” on Savage. While I will stop short of buying the “Tom #2” hype Pauline was selling, Savage does fit a bit of a similar profile as the soon-to-depart Ryan Mallett. A big arm, a raw game and potential.

    I don’t see this as a first-round pick but maybe a second-rounder with the No. 62 pick or, if he’s still there, No. 93 in the third?

    That I could see and I can’t imagine a better place for Savage to learn than behind Brady and from Bill Belichick.

     

    Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him @andrew_garda on Twitter.

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