Who are the best quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class? Times NFL writer Sam Farmer got together with scouting expert Greg Cosell, who breaks down his top five, listed alphabetically:
BLAKE BORTLES, Central Florida: He’s big, he’s physical, he gives you the option elements that a lot of teams look for in their run game because of his movement. He has a naturally strong arm, but he needs a lot of work on his lower-body mechanics to throw the ball that way all the time. There are many throws in which he doesn’t drive the ball because his lower-body mechanics are a little bit off. That can be coached. Some people might look at him and on a lower level see a Ben Roethlisberger, but he’s not as good a thrower.
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, Louisville: There’s a rhythm and tempo to his game. He understands how to play quarterback the way we think about it in the NFL. He’s been in an offense with NFL route concepts and reading progressions. He’s been asked to do a lot at the line of scrimmage, so he has a feel for audibles, checks, protections¿ He’s a good thrower, not a great thrower. You could make the argument, depending on team and coaching staff, that he’s the most ready to play right now of all the quarterbacks in this draft.
DEREK CARR, Fresno State: He’s got an NFL arm. The kid can really spin it. But he played in one of those true spread offenses, where he had a lot of one-step drops. He’ll have very little sense of three-, five-, seven-step drops in NFL passing games. That doesn’t mean he can’t learn it. He’s a little stiff. He’s not as fluid, but he’s got a powerful arm and can snap off throws with a really compact delivery. I think he has the mentality of a pocket quarterback. You did see vertical seams, back-shoulder throws, deep posts in his offense. Those are the kind of throws that you need to evaluate with an NFL quarterback. His biggest issue will be footwork and the rhythm of the drop.
JOHNNY MANZIEL, Texas A&M: He’ll very much be in the eye of the evaluator. He has positives — when he’s able to set his feet and deliver, he’s not a bad thrower. He’s not a great thrower, doesn’t have a big arm. He throws certain kinds of passes well, a nice fade ball. But what you ultimately have to decide with Manziel is, what’s in his DNA? Is he by nature a freelancer, so that no matter how much you coach him he won’t truly play with instructions? Everyone understands that extending plays is a good thing, but if that’s your first inclination — taking off and running — it’s hard to play in the NFL that way.
ZACH METTENBERGER, Louisiana State: He’s one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in this draft. Many will view him as old school, and the NFL is moving theoretically against that kind of quarterback. He’s a pure pocket quarterback who played in a true pro system under Cam Cameron. He did a really good job understanding the concepts. He’s a big, strong-armed kid. He’s willing to turn it loose. The biggest issue for him is, from the waist down, he’s a little lead-footed. The question becomes, can he avoid the rush, keep his downfield focus, then re-set and deliver the football?