Pro Football Spot’s Josh Gleason talks to five professionals about who they consider the top quarterbacks are in the 2014 draft class.
The group of quarterback prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft is one of the most polarizing in recent history. If you talk to five people, you could likely get five different answers on which the top quarterback in this NFL Draft is.
I decided to ask five individuals whose job is to know the quarterback position inside and out. A few of them also worked closely with some of the prospects in this Draft. Quarterback trainers Donovan Dooley, Todd Krueger, Ken Mastrole, Steve Calhoun, and Steve Clarkson all took time out of their schedule to discuss the quarterbacks in this NFL Draft class.
Before diving into the quarterback prospects, let’s take a quick look at our quarterback gurus:
Donovan Dooley – The young gun of this group that is not even 30-years old yet. Dooley already established himself as a notable high school quarterback tutor in the Midwest and got involved in draft preparation this offseason training Keith Wenning of Ball State and Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois.
Todd Krueger – Krueger is one of the key high school quarterback trainers on the east coast, specifically in the northeast region. He is a former NFL quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings out of Northern Michigan. Krueger had the chance to see many of these quarterbacks in high school at the Army All-
American game a few years ago, including Tajh Boyd, A.J. McCarron, Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray, Tom Savage, and Logan Thomas.
Ken Mastrole – The trainer of the lone first round quarterback last year, E.J. Manuel, the former Maryland and Rhode Island quarterback became a successful quarterback and coach in the AFL and AFL2 before becoming the notable quarterback instructor he is now. This offseason, Mastrole worked extensively with Tajh Boyd and also spent time with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Steve Calhoun – Another former professional quarterback out of New Mexico State, Calhoun has worked with the likes of NFL quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jake Locker. He has seen many of these quarterback prospects up close most specifically being Washington’s Keith Price and FCS Champion Brock Jensen of North Dakota State.
Steve Clarkson – Clarkson has worked with a plethora of NFL quarterbacks that features Ben Roethlisberger and Nick Foles. The former three-year starter at San Jose State has also spent time with Heisman winner and national champion Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater. He has also worked with Boston College’s Chase Rettig.
I talked with each one of these guys about multiple quarterbacks in this draft class and at the end, asked them to rank them from one to five. In the end, ten different quarterbacks received votes while three of
them earned first place honors. Before we get into the top ten, let’s start with some of the quarterbacks who did not crack the top ten (in alphabetical order) with the highlights of what was said about them.
David Fales – San Jose State
“Watched him week in and week out. Very knowledgeable. Great leadership skills. Extremely accurate. Solid player in the NFL. Size is a little bit of a question. Arm strength is okay, not great. Can make all the plays. Put in the right situation where you can go in and learn he would be great.” – Steve Clarkson (Clarkson previously held the majority of the Spartans passing records before the likes of Fales)
“Any time San Jose State needed a play throughout the year, he was able to make those throws. He really rose to the occasion. He is going to be a really good number 2 QB and maybe develop into a number one QB.” – Steve Calhoun
“Got a chance to meet David. Watched him throw a bit. Typical west coast guy. Laid back. Good arm, not a cannon. Played in that wide open offense. I don’t know if he is a long term starter. Strikes me as a smart guy, system guy. Can move the ball outside. I’m interested to see if he has the dynamics.” – Ken Mastrole
Brock Jensen – North Dakota State
“Just like A.J. McCarron in that they have something you cannot teach; absolute winner. State championship in high school. In high school and college career he is 72-8. You want that guy in your locker room.” – Steve Calhoun
Jordan Lynch – Northern Illinois
“One of the toughest kids. Definitely a true leader. Above his years in terms of maturity. Retains information well. Never took a snap from under center in his college career, but it came second nature to him.” – Donovan Dooley
“No doubt in my mind he can be a quarterback in the NFL. Reminds me of Russell Wilson. If they had to switch places, they would look identical. Jordan did what his coaches asked him to do. They asked him to be a running back playing quarterback.” – Donovan Dooley
Jeff Matthews – Cornell
“Huge arm. Can throw the deep ball. My question is I’m not sure how athletic he is. Day one I was there (at the East-West Shrine Game) he looked really (good). But throughout time did not really see that understanding in terms of ball placement. A lot of upside. And went to Cornell so he is obviously a smart guy.” – Donovan Dooley
Stephen Morris – Miami (Fla.)
“I think he will have to fight to get in. Higher expectations on him than how he played.” – Ken Mastrole
“Being in that environment with 35-40 of the other top quarterbacks, you don’t want to be labeled as this guy trying to impress Peyton or Eli, but he was one of those guys who was like ‘hey guys lets go, let’s go down.’” – Steve Calhoun talking about Morris at the Manning Passing Academy
Chase Rettig – Boston College
“Four different coordinators in four years. Big games at Boston College early in his career. Big arm, prototypical size. Somebody people should keep an eye on. Similar to Matt Cassel.” – Steve Clarkson
Brett Smith – Wyoming
“Can make a lot of plays with his legs. Can extend plays. Not a pure thrower.” – Steve Calhoun
Logan Thomas – Virginia Tech
“Unbelievable kid. Most upside in this year’s draft. If he could put it all together, work with his footwork and be balanced when he throws the football. Smart kid. Sometimes what gets him in trouble is throwing off his back foot and not being balanced.” – Steve Calhoun
“All the tools. Big, strong, but could be like a Tony Banks. Does he warrant a high draft pick? If you draft by looks and size and arm strength then yes.” – Ken Mastrole
“Watched him throw at the Senior Bowl. Absolute cannon. But that is a somewhat controlled environment. I want to see him when the bullets are flying. As strong as your arm is, if you don’t complete it on time, you are going to be laying on the ground in the backfield.” – Ken Mastrole
“Fairly decent season but in terms of the measurables, big kid, very strong, a lot of upside. From the neck up, I am curious as the how well he understands coverage’s, alignments, check with me’s.” – Donovan Dooley
“Interesting because he is almost like Cam Newton in terms of size and the athleticism… Downside is the system at Virginia Tech is not necessarily conducive for early success in the NFL. If he can be drafted in the third to fourth round and learn and nurture, could have an outstanding career.” – Steve Clarkson
Keith Wenning – Ball State
“Put up crazy stats. Positive about him is he had the opportunity to throw the football a lot. Polished. Big arm. Has that it factor. Probably will get drafted 4th-5th round.” – Donovan Dooley
“Asks a lot of questions, asks a lot of why. Wants to prove he is the best quarterback in the entire draft class. True sign of a competitor.” – Donovan Dooley
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