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.
Here are the quarterbacks ranked from 5-1 according to the professionals:
5. New England Patriots, Jimmy Garoppolo – Eastern Illinois: Five Points
The Walter Payton Award winner was on two of the guru’s board including receiving a second-place vote from Steve Clarkson.
“There is something about him that is almost (Tom) Brady like. Wasn’t highly recruited and nobody expected him to be that franchise guy. Very quick release, extremely accurate, knowledgeable where to go with the ball, anticipation is off the chart. Biggest confidence is that Bill Polian sees the same things. They throw so many passes that he has seen everything. Played in the all-star games and matches the level of play. I have no hesitation about him.” – Steve Clarkson
“I think he is a sleeper. I think he had tremendous success at the FCS level. Success at the senior bowl and a live arm.” – Todd Krueger who rated Garoppolo fifth.
“I like him. Fast player who gets the ball out quick and plays with a fast clock. He comes from that fast-
paced kind of offense. I don’t know if I would put him in my top five right now. There is something to be said about playing at the highest level of football. Has that Romo type of characteristics. I want to see longer, developing routes. Him coming off play action passes. Very good at quick throws to the slot.” – Ken Mastrole
“I saw the all-star games. A lot of upside. Really quick release. Great job of anticipating. It’s a small question of whether or not he can do it against better competition.” – Steve Calhoun
“Solid arm talent. With the system that they ran, not sure if it transfers well to the NFL. Threw a lot of bubble screens, slip screens, tailback screens and forced the ball vertically. Did not see a lot of going through progressions. Nice touch on the ball. Passes the eye test when you look at him.” – Donovan Dooley
4. Oakland Raiders, Derek Carr – Fresno State: 11 Points
One of four quarterbacks to receive a top five placement by four of the five gurus, the new Raiders signal-caller was Steve Calhoun’s top quarterback. While Todd Krueger did not comment on Carr’s play, he did say that he had a chance to talk with the Rutgers coaching staff who all said Carr was very impressive.
“Great kid. I think he is the best quarterback in this year’s draft. Ready to take over a franchise. Most capable right now. Intangibles is something that Johnny (Manziel) and Derek have that you cannot teach. Cannot teach leadership.” – Steve Calhoun
“When he has a very clean pocket, very good protection, he is dead-on accurate. USC Game, pressured and struggled a little bit. How is he going to play with hands on him or play with tighter pressure? Has the physical tools and intangibles. Is he going to display and demonstrate that when the pocket is collapsing, when he has color around him? Did well at the Senior Bowl but look at the tape and see all the little things that show for him.” – Ken Mastrole
“Intriguing because his brother was the number one overall pick. A lot more athletic than his brother. A really strong arm. You don’t want one game to be a capsule of his career. I don’t want people to look at the USC game and say “Ha! This is what he is!” I expect NFL General Managers are going to be a lot smarter than that. Doesn’t excuse some of the throws Derek threw in those games. His workout went well from what I’ve heard. How much credence do they put into the body of work or is that last game such a deterrent.” – Steve Clarkson
“Question mark with him is the conference. Did he face tough enough competition. It’s a coin toss.” – Donovan Dooley
3. Cleveland Browns, Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M: 12 Points
The polarizing former Heisman Trophy winner did not receive a single first-place vote but finished fourth or higher in four the five gurus rankings.
“Wild card factor. I think he is smart enough to understand to get down when running, he will understand that. I think he will learn as he gets older that he is going to take a couple of those shots. He has very good field vision and he played in a tough conference in the SEC. What offensive system does he go to? If he is going to stand in the shotgun and can move around and pick-up 5-8 yards, that is going to help him. If he is an under center guy that is doing play action and long developing routes, that is not going to help him. Teams are going to try and make him beat them passing the ball. Show week in and week out that he can drive the ball down the field.” – Ken Mastrole
“Very athletic. Reminds me a lot of Michael Vick. Super athletic. Unbelievable scrambler. Much more polished thrower (than Vick). He can feel the pressure, escape the pressure. At the pro level he is going to learn to get rid of the ball and just throw it. Johnny is electric. Has that Joe Namath buzz kind of thing going on. On the slight side. Afraid one of those 250-260 lbs. is going to put a hit on him.” – Todd Krueger
“Unique skillset and temperament. Confident but a good confidence. Not enough credit for the work that puts in. Had Texas A&M overachieving to a large degree. They played as well as he led them. The Alabama games is all I need to know about Johnny Manziel. Whoever gets them I would caution them it is like getting a new car. They want to put it max gear but you need to caution him.” – Steve Clarkson
“All the ad libbing I don’t think will translate. He will have to beat teams from the pocket. Defensive coordinators in the NFL don’t have anything else to do than gameplan. Heck of a football player though.” – Steve Calhoun
“I have some question marks. He won’t be able to get away with what he did in college in the NFL level. Didn’t see him make sound decisions from the pocket on a consistent basis. Johnny tries to go for the extra yards all the time. At the next level you have to learn how to move the chains and manage the game.” – Donovan Dooley
“I think if you are a general manager or owner then that is a concern. Can you reel that in? Can you be a professional athlete? Those extracurricular comes secondary. I would have a concern. I have to believe teams are talking about that. Not a reason why I wouldn’t draft him.” – Todd Krueger on Manziel’s off-
2. Minnesota Vikings, Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville: 16 Points
The only quarterback to appear on every gurus board, opinions of Bridgewater as another polarizing prospect was evident among this group. He received one first-place vote from Ken Mastrole while received a second, two thirds, and one fifth place vote.
“I saw a great player. A guy that obviously has the physical tools. I have seen him in high school and through college. He reconfirmed it this year that he is a winner. He understands the game. His intellectual level of the x’s and o’s can put his team in the best position to succeed.” – Ken Mastrole
“The biggest thing about Teddy is going to be his knowledge and football IQ is just off the charts. He has a very good grasp of the next level protection schemes and coverage’s. He is a guy that is very dialed in to what he is doing. Footwork is unbelievable. An all-around winner. A guy that you can trust and bring in as a day one type of guy. Comes in and compete with a veteran guy. Watching film with him has been impressive.” – Ken Mastrole
“Preseason and college season he was the number one rated quarterback. Average Pro Day. My opinion is one bad day doesn’t ruin the resume of three years. Very accurate. Played in a pro-style offense. Has the height, is very athletic. Strong arm, not a rocket. People underestimate how athletic he is and he is going to be a guy that can move in the pocket. You have to move in the pocket and avoid the pass rush. Bridgewater will do well. He seems to have this calm presence when he plays. Doesn’t seem to get rattled. When he played against Florida with the heavy pass rush, he handled it very well. He can make all the throws. Quick throws out of the shotgun, three-step drops, play action, rollouts.” – Todd Krueger
“I always crack up this time of year when they say their stock falls. I think some people had a snapshot of what they could be. Played in a system that is pretty much the closest thing to the NFL as you can get at the collegiate level. Extremely accurate, that shows on the tape. No concerns in terms of skillset. Capable of manufacturing all the plays you need to make. Can extend the plays and execute the plays that our called.” – Steve Clarkson
“The thing that hurt Pro Day was not throwing the ball well. Struggled a bit. I think he is fundamentally sound. Will do well in the NFL. Natural skillset to go into the NFL and perform at a high level.” – Donovan Dooley
“A lot of production in college. Seems like the background of that offense and the pro-style he seems like he is ready to go. Concern is level of competition and consistent competition. No fault of his and just played against the teams on the schedule. When he played against Rutgers, had a little bit more of a difficult time with the athletes on the defensive line.” – Steve Calhoun
“He has played at 227 before. He should be a 220 guy in the league and should sustain that in the league. I think Teddy is a guy with a very durable upper body.” – Ken Mastrole talking about Bridgewater’s weight concerns
“Start looking at his body frame and wonder if he can take the hits from the pocket. My concern with him is he needs to get stronger and put on more muscle to take the pounding of the NFL.” – Steve Clarkson
1. Jacksonville Jaguars, Blake Bortles – Central Florida: 19 Points
The top quarterback selected in the NFL Draft and tops in this list did not appear on all boards, but garnered the most first-place votes (three) to go along with a second-place vote. Blake Bortles is your top quarterback this year among the Quarterback Gurus and here are what they said about him to conclude this year’s edition of this article.
“I really love this guy. I think Blake Bortles reminds me so much of Andrew Luck it’s unbelievable. Same body type. Big, strong arm. Has that escapability. A lot like Ben Roethlisberger.” – Todd Krueger
“Reminds me of that Ben Roethlisberger feel. Big arm, more athletic than what people give him credit for. Pro-style, typical fit that most scouts look for.” – Donovan Dooley
“Big kid, 6’5”, 230+ lbs. Plays smaller than his size meaning he is agile. Expand the pocket within the pocket. Can make the subtle movements. Played better as the year went on. Played big in those games in which his team needed. You like his anticipation and he does a good job of going through his reads and presnap progressions. Even does that when on the move.” – Steve Clarkson
“First thing a lot of people are saying is the prototype size that you cannot teach. He’ll be able to take the punishment of the NFL. Really high ceiling. Doesn’t look super polished right now as a quarterback (scholarship to FSU?). A lot of potential and room to grow.” – Steve Calhoun
“Can move for his size, can throw the ball, accurate. Is it going to be like a situation like David Carr where he is going to get sacked a lot. If he plays like he showed in those tight games and against Baylor, he could warrant that first pick.” – Ken Mastrole
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