NFL Draft 2014: Matching Remaining Day 2 Quarterbacks to QB-Needy Teams
Blake Bortles to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Johnny Manziel to the Cleveland Browns. Teddy Bridgewater to the Minnesota Vikings.
The first round of the 2014 NFL draft was full of surprises, trades and surprise trades for the top quarterbacks selected. Now, as we get ready for the second and third rounds of the draft to kick off Friday at 7 p.m. ET, we also get ready to watch history unfold as the second crop of quarterbacks land with their new teams.
Some, like Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo and Fresno State's Derek Carr, were considered potential first-round picks and could be gone within the first few selections in the second round. Others, like LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Alabama's A.J. McCarron, sit square on the cusp of a third- and fourth-round grade.
Here's a look at the five quarterbacks who could most likely be selected on Friday, and for kicks, we'll match them with potential landing spots.
Derek Carr: Tennessee Titans
This is truly an ideal situation for all parties. Derek Carr spent most of his career in spread offenses that didn't call for him to take snaps from center and made his reads simpler. However, he could spend some time on the bench, learning the game before taking the reins as a starter. There would be less pressure for him to start right away with Jake Locker still in house—although Locker's future with the team is tenuous, at best.
The Tennessee Titans and head coach Ken Whisenhunt may not run a spread offense like the one Carr ran at Fresno State, but Carr's experience in a spread offense won't be as detrimental under Whisenhunt, who loves to throw the ball.
Carr has the physical tools that teams desire in a franchise quarterback, with the arm strength to throw the ball all over the field and the athleticism to throw on the move. In fact, CBS Sports' Rob Rang called that the most underrated element of his game:
Perhaps the most underrated element of Carr's game is his athleticism. Good vision, lateral agility and speed to elude. Typically keeps his eyes downfield and completes passes when receivers are able to break open late, but also shows the decisiveness to scramble when easy yards are available.
He'll have to hone his accuracy, but in a Titans offense that features solid pass-catchers on the outside, Carr should be successful when he hits the field, which should be sooner than later.
Tom Savage: Houston Texans
Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage was a late riser on draft boards, but the 6'4", 228-pound quarterback has all the physical tools to be a success in the NFL. He comes from a pro-style offense that will have him more prepared for Texans head coach Bill O'Brien's system than some other quarterbacks.
Savage took a long, arduous journey through the college ranks before getting to the NFL draft, but that hardship only adds to his high character and will only better prepare him for the difficulties of his transition to the NFL.
Through that journey, though, Savage didn't get as much experience as other quarterbacks his age (24). NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki praised his physical makeup and ability to make all the throws, but he warns that Savage is "inconsistent and in need of more reps" before he'll be ready for the NFL:
Terrific size. Sets with balance. Easy, compact, high three-quarters release. Spins a catchable ball. Excellent arm strength to complete NFL throws—capable of sticking outs from the deep hash or launching balls 60 yards on the money.
Under the tutelage of O'Brien, those tools may be enough to lay the foundation for a future as a franchise quarterback.
The Texans could wait until the beginning of the third round and still grab Savage, or if their conviction is strong, they can trade up into the end of the second round to take him.
Jimmy Garoppolo: Arizona Cardinals
At present, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback position has a shelf life. Carson Palmer is 34 and will not be playing much longer. It's time for head coach Bruce Arians to restock the shelves with someone who can eventually come in and fill the void.
Enter Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a four-year FCS starter who saw his draft stock slowly rise during the predraft process, beginning with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl.
There are questions as to whether Garoppolo has the arm strength to make tough NFL throws into tighter windows than the ones he saw in the Ohio Valley Conference. His quick reads and quicker release are tools that help him overcome that lack of velocity when he can anticipate a receiver coming open.
"Both lack elite physical skills," CBS Sports' Dane Brugler said, comparing Garoppolo to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, "but are productive due to their timing, smarts and quick release to get the ball out."
A.J. McCarron: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two quarterbacks already in the fold in Mike Glennon and Josh McCown, but they are certainly not indelibly tied to either one. Glennon was a third-round pick by the previous regime, and the 34-year-old McCown was signed to a two-year, $10 million contract that is not guaranteed beyond 2014.
If the Buccaneers want to keep their long-term options open, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron is one to consider. McCarron was highly successful throughout college, winning back-to-back national championships and breaking school passing records for single-season touchdowns (30), passing yards (9,019) and career touchdowns (77).
Was it all an illusion, though?
Was McCarron's success not founded on his own efforts but instead based primarily on the talent that surrounded him? The answers to these questions are both "yes" in the eyes of many draft pundits, and McCarron has been panned as a game manager with a lack of elite arm strength.
One thing everyone can agree on: He is an excellent decision-maker and an accurate passer on short and intermediate throws. He'll have plenty of talent in Tampa Bay, with the likes of Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Doug Martin at his disposal in the offense.
Zach Mettenberger: Oakland Raiders
Right now, it only looks like there are four quarterbacks who will be taken in the first three rounds. If there's a fifth, it could be LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, and one potential team that could use his services is the Oakland Raiders.
The 6'5", 224-pound quarterback has a cannon arm, and NFL Films' Greg Cosell believes Mettenberger is the best prototype dropback quarterback in this year's draft. That being said, there are significant question marks about how he will translate to the NFL. There are character concerns as well, according to NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki:
Pure dropback, strong-armed thrower who will require patient, confidence-building play-calling and a clean pocket to function at a high level in the NFL. Has starter talent in a vertical, downfield passing attack if he can learn to take command of a huddle and continue progressing as a decision-maker. How he interviews with teams could go a long way toward determining his draft status.
As it turns out, his interviews may not be the biggest factor in his draft stock. Mettenberger failed a drug test at the scouting combine in February despite knowing weeks in advance that he would need to pass one.
The Raiders recently traded for Matt Schaub from the Houston Texans, but there's no certainty that he'll be the starting quarterback. The Raiders brought in Mettenberger for a predraft visit, so they have shown some interest and could be in play for his services.