The future stars of college football will be in action from July 5 to July 10, as the 2014 Elite 11 quarterback competition will show the nation which signal-callers are poised to excel at the college level.
Quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford, Matt Cassel, Jake Locker, Andrew Luck, EJ Manuel, Geno Smith and others are all alumni of the Elite 11 competition, so it's reasonable to say that a few of the athletes we see in action in a few days will eventually find their way to the pros.
Then again, their goal is to focus on the competition at this point, as it's often a good precursor to how successful they'll be in college.
There will certainly be a ton of buzz surrounding the nation's top recruits once the tournament kicks off, so get familiar with the names of the top guys before the action gets underway.
Josh Rosen, a UCLA commit, already has the size (6'4", 205 pounds) to get scouts buzzing. Despite not yet throwing a pass in college, Rosen should have his sights set on the pros.
His junior season was remarkable, throwing for 3,200 yards and 39 touchdowns. His skills were on display all season, as his great touch and refined mechanics from the pocket make him one of the best pure passers in the Elite 11 competition.
Rosen has very good arm strength to generate good zip on the ball, and he doesn't sacrifice accuracy to get the ball to his receivers in a hurry. He'll put the ball where his receivers can catch it, and he'll do it quickly.
The kid is certainly an exciting prospect, and Pac-12 Network analyst Yogi Roth, via Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, thinks that he looks like one of the game's all-time greats: "I don't know what Troy Aikman looked like in high school, but I bet this is what he looked like. The ball rips out of his hand. He's got a good frame, and on tape he's athletic."
It'll be interesting to see how he fares against higher-level competition, but all signs point to success for Rosen.
Committed to USC, Ricky Town actually made headlines back in April when he turned down Alabama head coach Nick Saban in an email, via Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
I sent Coach Saban an email and said ‘Thank you for everything, but I have to do what’s best for me.’ I never heard back from Coach Saban. But one of the girls that works in his office, she wrote back and said ‘Best of luck.’
There are multiple reasons why he was coveted by Saban. First of all, Town has great size at 6'4", 205 pounds (yes, the same as Rosen's measurements). Town moves well in and out of the pocket, and his accuracy isn't affected when he has to go on the run. He completed 70 percent of his passes last season.
He has great arm strength that allows him to go over the top of defenses, but sometimes he gets a little too excited. Too frequently Town can be seen throwing the ball well over his intended receiver. While they often drop for incompletions, it's a dangerous game to play. Those passes can easily get picked off and taken the other way.
For Town, the Elite 11 competition will be all about staying within himself and making the right passes. He doesn't always have to go down the field, but he needs to be accurate when those opportunities present themselves. At the next level, quarterbacks don't always get long incompletions back.
Kyler Murray has committed to Texas A&M, and the Aggies are getting a very quick quarterback in and out of the pocket. Elite 11 tweeted a clip of his strong footwork and speed while rolling to his right:
Being invited doesn't mean you've made it. 2014 invite Kyler Murray continues to work on his craft at the D... https://t.co/cO9FNUIJSm— Elite11 (@Elite11) May 4, 2014
Murray is a bit small at 5'11", 185 pounds, but he could gain a few pounds over the next couple of years. He's right on the cusp of 6'0", and it's not completely out of the question for him to gain an inch or two in the near future. That said, he's still capable of destroying collegiate defenses.
He's a dual-threat quarterback who usually takes what the defense gives him. If the opposition plays him up in the box, he delivers strong strikes down the field. If the defense backs down to defend against the pass, he will burn them on the ground.
Good mechanics allow Murray to be extremely accurate in mid-range situations, but he needs to work on accurately throwing the deep ball with consistency. When he puts that part of his game together, he'll be difficult to stop.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR