The 2014 NFL draft is right around the corner, and the mock-draft mavens of the world are doing their best to decipher where the top quarterback prospects will land. What isn't necessarily discussed in those mock drafts is whether or not the team picking the player is the best fit for them as they develop and learn how to be a complete professional.
Most young, promising quarterbacks need the same comforts when they get to the NFL: a couple of steady receiving options, good coaching, a chance to learn the pace of an NFL game and the opportunity to play once they are adequately developed.
The majority of the teams looking for new signal-callers at the top of the draft can provide that. But some franchises are better fits than others for the top quarterbacks in this year's draft, based on some factors outside of the typical ones necessary for any quarterback, let alone a rookie.
Johnny Manziel, Jacksonville Jaguars
Manziel is almost destined to become one of the more polarizing players in the league, no matter where he ends up. He would immediately become a star if the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him, and he is a great fit for a team that could use a new starter and a change of pace right away.
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Jaguars are in consideration for Manziel with the No. 3 pick.
Johnny Football is the instant hero that the Jaguars need, and being a hero is what Johnny Football is all about.
Manziel's improvisational ability is light-years ahead of what the Jaguars were getting out of Blaine Gabbert, who is now in San Francisco. NFL.com's Bryan Fischer points out a lesser-known component of his game:
That quick clock means the Jaguars could use Manziel right away, as he possesses the necessary skills to utilize short timing routes as he adjusts to the professional game.
The Jaguars could also use an attendance boost. They averaged 59,940 fans in 2013, 89.2 percent of full capacity, according to ESPN.com. That percentage left them at 27th in the league.
The monumental task of bringing more fans out to EverBank Field is the challenge we all know Manziel would love to take on. Force him to be a star, and it's a good bet Manziel rises to the challenge.
Blake Bortles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bortles is the ultimate prototypical quarterback from a physical standpoint. He is 6'5" and 232 pounds with a strong arm and excellent pocket presence. However, he needs more time to develop than some of the other highly touted quarterback prospects in this year's draft.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the team that can give Bortles the best chance to develop before he is ready to hit the gridiron.
Bortles entered the draft after just two full years as a starter at the University of Central Florida. His statistics are solid, but he doesn't have nearly the same amount of reps or numbers as the other top quarterback prospects.
|NCAA Totals, 2014 Quarterback Prospects|
Josh McCown proved in Chicago that he can play caretaker quarterback at a very high level. He is an excellent stopgap option while Bortles develops, which many analysts, including NFL Network's Mike Mayock, insist he needs time to do.
On the other hand, the possibility of McCown cementing a starting spot in Tampa Bay should push Bortles to compete as much as possible early and often. McCown was good enough for some to question the Chicago Bears' commitment to Jay Cutler as their starting quarterback.
Mike Glennon adds competition at the quarterback spot as well, as he showed some panache as a starter in 2013, throwing 19 touchdowns against just nine interceptions for a QBR rating of 45.6. However, there is speculation the Bucs could trade Glennon, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
Bortles needs time to develop but has all the tools to thrive once he picks up on the pace of the NFL. Serving as a potential No. 2 behind the veteran McCown would help him adjust in proper fashion.
Teddy Bridgewater, Cleveland Browns
The perils of the pro day. Bridgewater's pro day brought up all kinds of questions about his true throwing ability, and Mike Mayock called his workout "average at best," per NFL.com's Mike Huguenin. This threw Bridgewater's perceived value into turmoil.
After all the confusing peaks and troughs that Bridgewater has gone through, he will need to go to a team that shows immediate trust in him, without necessarily forcing him to play right away. The Browns fit the bill.
According to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, Browns GM Ray Farmer is "enamored" with Bridgewater and "will strongly consider him at No. 26." Bridgewater could continue to develop his skills while quarterbacks Brian Hoyer, Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen give him plenty of veteran tutelage and competition.
Bridgewater has demonstrated a high football IQ on numerous occasions. He discusses his reads with aplomb in this video with ESPN's Jon Gruden:
The Browns also have a dynamic young wideout in Josh Gordon and a sure-handed tight end in Jordan Cameron (80 catches, 917 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013). A safety valve like Cameron is a young quarterback's best friend, and Bridgewater showed an excellent ability to go through his progressions in Louisville's pro-style offense.
Not only that, but Bridgewater might also have a chance to unleash a few more skills in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Shanahan worked with Robert Griffin III in Washington and could help Bridgewater use his natural mobility and athleticism to add a few more wrinkles to his already sound pocket-passing game.