With the 2014 NFL Draft quickly approaching, it is time to start analyzing the prospects from a fantasy point of view. We’ve seen the Bowl Season, the Senior Bowl, the Combine and Pro-Days so now is the time to let all of this information digest and figure out which players can and will make an impact on your fantasy rosters in 2014.
We’ll start out at the top of the food chain and that means Quarterback. The 2014 class is being hyped as one of the best in awhile but to be honest I am just not feeling it. While I feel like players like Blake Bortles & Teddy Bridgewater possess the raw skills to potentially start in the league, I truly don’t see an All-Pro amongst this group.
But as we all know, these guys don’t need to be Andrew Luck or Cam Newton to come in and help a team out. There are few teams in which up to seven of the QB’s in this draft could start for tomorrow. So, before diving into the prospects let’s first take a look at which teams need a Quarterback in this draft.
Top 5 In Need
1) Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars very likely will choose two QB’s in this draft because after Chad Henne there is nothing but pure garbage.
3) Cleveland Browns – Brian Hoyer showed brief promise last year but the Browns are in search of a franchise QB at the top of this draft.
4) Minnesota Vikings – It is simply astonishing that Matt Cassel got resigned. Having Adrian Peterson to hand the ball off to will be a huge advantage to whichever young QB the Vikings draft this year.
5) Arizona Cardinals – Pay close attention to who Bruce Arians brings in this season because the future QB in Arizona will be a major fantasy asset going forward.
Others In Need
Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City, Chicago Bears
Now that we know which teams are in need of a QB it is time to unveil the options that are available. Here are my QB prospect rankings for 2014:
1. Blake Bortles, Central Florida, 6’5”, 230 lbs
Bortles is the closest thing to the total package in this draft. He has the height, build, athleticism and tenacity that you look for in a franchise QB. I love his pocket presence and mechanics. He does a tremendous job of knowing where he is on the field in relation to his teammates. He is the most NFL ready QB in this years draft and his atitude and work ethis suggest he could have a long career at the next level.
He has a good arm but lacks top end velocity especially on his deep ball. Bortles tested poorly in the 40 yard dash at the combine (4.93) but plays way faster than that time indicates. He played in a simple offense and will need to learn a pro offense rather quickly.
Best Fit: Houston Texans
2. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville, 6’2”, 214 lbs
No single player has more upside in this draft than Teddy Bridgewater. He has the natural feel to be an elite level passer. Some worry about his durability and playing in colder weather but I am not concerned on either front. He has the mental ability to run a high octane spread type of offense however his physical skills seem to call more for a west coast style.
Bridgewater isn’t very elusive nor does he step up in the pocket well. Speed pass rushers could give him fits at the next level. At times he tries to get too cute in tricking the defense and loses sight of his downfield receivers.
Best Fit: Minnesota Vikings
3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, 5’11”, 205 lbs
I am very tempted to move Manziel down on my board because honestly I just don’t like his attitude. The good of Manziel is that he is an unparalleled competitor who wants to win at all costs. He is a strong leader and does not get afraid or timid in big game situations.
His size and his attitude make is very difficult for me to see him succeed at the NFL level. His fierce competiveness was enough to let him dominate at the college level but many of his big plays in college aren’t viable in the pros. He will never have the scrambling success that he saw in college and will also not get away with throwing off of his back foot time after time either.
Best Fit: Houston Texans
4. Derek Carr, Fresno State, 6’2”, 214 lbs
Derek is the younger Brother of former #1 overall pick David Carr and will benefit greatly from his Brother’s NFL triumphs and failures. Derek has exceptional awareness and pocket presence, which allows his to escape near impossible pocket collapses. He is a highly improvisational QB that can make a positive play out of almost anything. His confidence and leadership is well beyond his years. Carr has had the look of an NFL QB for the last two seasons at Fresno St.
I don’t like his deep ball whatsoever. The first thing that NFL coaches will work with him on is stepping into his throws. Carr, like many college QB’s got away with lofting his deep balls and throwing off his back foot. That won’t work with the speed of NFL defensive backs. I’m not as worried about him playing out of the spread offense as some folks because he has the footwork to adapt to a drop back style rather easily.
Best Fit: Kansas City Chiefs
5. Logan Thomas, Vigrinia Tech, 6’6”, 248 lbs
Logan Thomas is a big, strong QB who is also surprisingly athletic. He is a vocal leader who gives it his all on every play and inspires teammates to do the same. Thomas has a very strong arm yet could get so much more out of it with proper mechanics. He’s got all of the plus raw tools that you want in a franchise QB.
Despite his talent, Thomas hasn’t progressed as a passer as much as you would like. He doesn’t hit receivers in stride and doesn’t use the touch pass as much as most collegiate QB’s. I actually see that as a good thing but many NFL front offices may not. In watching tape on Logan Thomas I see a player who clearly didn’t trust his receivers or other teammates very much. From all accounts this is not a makeup problem rather speaks to the lack of other talent on the Virginia Tech offense. He is the type of player an offensive guru would love to get his hands on in the middle rounds of the draft.
Best Fit: Arizona Cardinals
6. Tajh Boyd, Clemson, 6’1”, 222 lbs
Boyd is an exciting player on and off the field. He has an infectious personality that inspired teammates and coaches alike. The raw talent is all there. He can fling the ball 50+ yards with minimal effort and is by far the best combination of rushing/passing QB in this draft. Boyd plays much faster than his combine times suggest. He plays unafraid, willing to give up his body to secure a first down every time.
Throws the football like a dart player trying to hit a bulls-eye. While it’s great that he doesn’t float the short and intermediate pass attempts, Boyd hasn’t had a lot of success in hitting receivers in stride down the field. While many complain about his height, he is 2-3 inches taller than Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel. A traditional offense would cripple him but a fast paced vertical system would fit his skills perfectly. Boyd is probably the biggest boom or bust QB in this draft.
Best Fit: Jacksonville Jaguars
Other QB’s Of Note
7. A.J. McCarron – Alabama - 6’3”, 220 lbs – Proven winner will need to improve mechanics and reads against the blitz.
8. Zach Mettenberger – LSU – 6’5”, 240 lbs – Big time arm strength but is coming off a torn ACL. Could be a short term starter and long time NFL backup.
9. Jimmy Garoppolo – Eastern Illinois – 6’2”, 230 lbs – Some scouts love him but I saw way to many floaters to trust his arm strength at the next level.
10. Aaron Murray – Georgia – 6’1”, 207 lbs – Coming off a torn ACL and isn’t a threat to be an NFL starter. But his skills across the board are that of a very good career backup who will help a team with his knowledge and work ethic.
Those are my top QB’s going in to the 2014 NFL Draft. Agree? Disagree? Let me know by posting your comments below or hitting me up on Twitter (@Jeff_Mans) with any questions you might have.