Quite simply, a franchise quarterback is the most important building block in the NFL and possibly in all of professional sports. But finding a QB to build around is harder than discovering a new planet with a magnify glass. Players like Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck simply don’t come around often. Yet, every year teams will build up a couple quarterbacks as if they are the next Joe Montana and use multiple first round picks on them.
Well as we all know there is no position that busts more than the QB. I don’t know if teams are just blinded by hope or are just really bad at evaluating talent. But when I see players like Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden and Jake Locker chosen in the first round year after year it makes me sad.
Let’s help these teams out by going over all of the QB’s in this years draft and seeing which are difference makers and which will be changing tires in a couple of years.
Top 5 In Need
1) New York Jets – Just because there is a QB competition doesn’t mean either competitor is worthy of a starting job or capable of making any sort of difference. The Jets have some real WR threats but need somebody who can deliver them the football.
2) Buffalo Bills – Poor Rex Ryan just can’t get paired up with a franchise QB. When Matt Cassel and E.J. Manuel are your only options at the QB position your squad is in some real trouble.
3) Cleveland Browns – It is only fitting that the worst organization in the NFL (sorry Raiders!) cannot identify a QB that can play from the whole in the crack of their ass.
4) Tennessee Titans – I actually think that Zach Mettenberger has the tools to be a third tier starter in the NFL. I see a lot of similarities between him and Ben Roethlisberger especially in size and arm strength. It looks as though the Titans are going to use their second overall pick to take Oregon’s Marcus Mariota if he is there.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Glennon has got to wonder what exactly he needs to do to prove that he deserves consideration to be the Bucs full time QB1. Not that Glennon is the second coming of Johnny Unitas but he’s played well in stretches over the last two seasons. Since the Bucs own the first overall pick this year it only makes sense that they draft the future of their franchise assuming they see him in this years class.
Other In Need
Houston Texans, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings
Before we see what they can do on the field it is important to understand just what physical and mental skills these players are working with. For QB’s we are looking for a few attributes above all else. First, we need someone with proper height (6’2”+) and athleticism. Speed is not a necessity but enough quickness to get out of pressure and step up in the pocket to deliver the ball. But the most important attributes for a QB is intelligence and personality makeup. Since players wonderlic scores are confidential we will just focus on the physical measurements instead.
Let’s take a look at the top QB performers from the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine:
|Brandon Bridge||QB||South Alabama||4.72|
|Bryan Bennett||QB||S.E. Louisiana||4.81|
|Shane Carden||QB||South Carolina||4.94|
|Jameis Winston||QB||Florida State||4.97|
|Jerry Lovelocke||QB||Prairie View A&M||4.99|
|Sean Mannion||QB||Oregon State||5.14|
|Sean Mannion||QB||Oregon State||6'6"|
|Brandon Bridge||QB||South Alabama||6'4"|
|Jerry Lovelocke||QB||Prairie View A&M||6'4"|
|Jameis Winston||QB||Florida State||6'4"|
|Connor Halliday||QB||Washington State||6'3"|
|Bryan Bennett||QB||S.E. Louisiana||6'2"|
|Shane Carden||QB||South Carolina||6'2"|
|Garrett Grayson||QB||Colorado State||6'2"|
|Bryan Bennett||QB||S.E. Louisiana||7.13|
|Jameis Winston||QB||Florida State||7.16|
|Shane Carden||QB||South Carolina||7.17|
|Brandon Bridge||QB||South Alabama||7.18|
|Sean Mannion||QB||Oregon State||7.29|
|Jerry Lovelocke||QB||Prairie View A&M||7.3|
1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon, 6’3”, 222 lbs – Mariota is the best blend of physical tools with passing ability in this draft. Though his running ability at this point outweighs his passing skills but there is enough of a foundation there for a coaching staff to develop. Mariota is the type of QB that will put pressure on the defense on every snap. His tape shows the ability to be active in the pocket and even escape it completely without losing much velocity or accuracy on his throws. He also is a very humble kid that has been a star since the 9th grade but hasn’t waivered from his strict family beliefs. Mariota enters the NFL as one of the most coachable QB’s in the class. He is a hard worker and strong leader, which rally teammates around him. Mariota has as little baggage as any QB in this year’s class.
On the downside, Marcus Mariota has no experience playing in a pro style offense. Oregon QB’s have not translated well at the NFL level. This is because of a number of reasons. The reads are very simple and direct in the Oregon offense and require limited check down ability. The Ducks also have been loaded with offensive talent during Mariota’s stay and pretty much run through the Pac-12 quite easily. When presented with pressure he has shown a tendency to get flustered and throw the ball up for grabs. He doesn’t generate a lot of velocity on his throws either, which is something that will have to be worked on mechanically.
2. Jameis Winston, Florida State, 6’4”, 231 lbs – Winston is probably the most natural quarterback in this years draft. He has that rare instinct that is found in many of the greats where he can deliver the big throw into the smallest of windows when all of the chips are on the line. Winston gets better as the stakes get greater. He’s a big man that stands tall in the pocket and doesn’t crumble when he is contacted. He can anticipate and escape pressure very well and often won’t go down on the first hit. Winston’s played in a pro style offense for two years now and is quite accomplished at reading the defense and making good decisions.
As good as Winston’s decisions are on the field, he has a lot of growing up to do off of the football field. He has been charged with destruction of property, investigated for sexual assault and charged with shoplifting crab legs from a grocery store. He was also suspended for a game last season for obscene behavior during a student union meeting. This guy is a complete mess off of the field. It is as if everything he does so well and naturally on the football field is completely lost once he takes the uniform off. There are players who have had problems in college but that matured into All-Pro players at the NFL level. That is the lure of Jameis Winston. He is so incredibly gifted at playing football that it would be a shame for him to lose that opportunity because he can’t stay out of trouble.
3. Bryce Petty, Baylor, 6’3”, 230 lbs – After Mariota and Winston this QB class falls off dramatically. Bryce Petty gets my nod as the third best QB this here mostly because of his polished mechanics and leadership abilities. Make no mistake here, I am not a fan of these one read college offenses and have deep concerns about the QB’s they churn out. But Petty is very coachable and has the skills to make a big jump at the next level. I really like his ability to put something extra on his throws in big situations and then use proper touch when necessary too. Petty isn’t a runner by any means but is able to get outside the pocket and extend plays with his legs when the time comes.
The big knock on Petty is that he has had to look to the sidelines at the line of scrimmage for the past four years. Will he be able to make adjustments and arrange an offense at the line of scrimmage? If he’s able to develop these skills he could be a big time player in the league. If he cannot then he won’t last even as a backup QB at the NFL level.
4. Sean Mannion, Oregon State, 6’6”, 229 lbs – I love his experience in a pro style offense. Mannion was a four year starter in college and has outstanding height, throwing mechanics and footwork. He is a rare college QB that was able to make his own decisions at the line of scrimmage. Mannion runs hot and cold with his passing accuracy though he does quite well with his downfield throws. He isn’t afraid of taking chances down the field and put the defense on their heals.
I usually don’t like QB’s with small hands and sure enough Mannion’s hands measure just nine inches. When you look at his college numbers he did have a ridiculous 30 fumbles over his career at Oregon St., which is a pretty big problem. As much as I like Mannion and believe that he could be a starter in the NFL, he absolutely has to cut down on the turnovers.
5. Brett Hundley, UCLA, 6’3”, 226 lbs – Hundley has all of the upside in the world. He is a big, strong, fast athlete with a great arm and the swagger that you look for in a starting QB. His offense at UCLA was very basic and safe because the coaches never had confidence in his accuracy downfield. He has the arm to push it downfield but just doesn’t have the ability to make reads in a professional offense just yet.
Hundley has a tendency to run himself into sacks. He gets flustered when the pocket collapses and will occasionally run directly into the pressure. It will be an uphill climb for Hundley at the next level but he has as high of a ceiling as any other QB prospect in this years draft.
6. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State, 6’2”, 208 lbs – Taylor Kelly is going to play at the NFL level. That might surprise some people but this is a kid who has been overlooked and counted out plenty of times. All he seems to do however is get better. Kelly came from nowhere to become a very productive three year starter at Arizona. He has a great mix of power and touch in his arm. He can push the ball down field and put it where only his receiver has a shot at it. Kelly is underrated as a runner as well. He steps up in the pocket well and can get outside the tackles and pick up a first down.
It seems as though scouts are down on Kelly right now after he missed the final three games of last season with a foot injury. Kelly also takes too many sacks and has to learn how to throw the ball away instead. His skills don’t jump off the page but he is the kind of kid that will never stop competing. Coaches are going to love him.
7. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State, 6’2”, 213 lbs – It appears as though many draft analysts like Grayson but I just don’t share those opinions. Sure, he is of proper height and weight and throws a terrific deep ball, but there is just something that I do not like about him. Among the things that bother me is his throwing motion and slow footwork. The numbers he put up in the Mountain West Conference were very impressive but he’ll have a long way to go to make it as even a backup in the NFL.
8. Brandon Bridge, South Alabama, 6’4”, 229 lbs – At this point all of the QB prospects are littered with faults. Bridge is a small school kid that has a lot of raw skill. What I like most about his is his arm strength and body language. Bridge uses the shoulder fake similar to Aaron Rodgers that freezes opposing defensive backs. He’s got a big arm that can beat top corners and legs that can outrun pursuant linebackers. He’s got a long way to go with his accuracy and shouldn’t be on anybody’s fantasy radar even in the deepest of keeper leagues.
9. Bryan Bennett, Southeastern Louisiana, 6’2”, 211 lbs – Bennett has the look of an NFL caliber QB. He stands tall in the pocket, has professional mechanics and isn’t afraid of taking on a hit. But that is the limit of his professional capabilities. He is an erratic passer who doesn’t like to look off of his main target very often. He’s got a big arm and will chuck it down field but with very limited accuracy. He is going to need a lot of classroom time with a professional coaching staff. Bennett isn’t opposed to hard work and could eventually fit into a base west coast system once he learns how to read defensive setups.
10. Jerry Lovelocke, Prairie View A&M, 6’4”, 248 lbs – Jerry Lovelocke reminds me of LeBron James when he was in high school. He looks much older than his 22 years suggests. I really like his size and strength combination. This kid doesn’t have an impressive college resume but watching him on tape leads me to believe that he can play at the next level. He’s got a competitive fire that comes through on nearly every play. He had absolutely not protection at Prairie View and got hit quite often. Still, there were times when he would break tackles, evade pressure and either deliver a big throw on the run or make the first down himself. He is a project QB for sure but I think that multiple coaching staffs have him on their late round target list.
Other QB’s Of Note
Shane Carden, East Carolina, 6’2”, 218 lbs – Very smart, efficient QB with great leadership ability. Carden is probably not strong enough physically to make it at the next level.
Hutson Mason, Georgia, 6’2”, 207 lbs – One of the smartest QB’s in this class. Mason isn’t a difference maker either passing or running the football.
Chris Bonner, Colorado State-Pueblo, 6’7”, 231 lbs – Tall and mechanically sound QB that needs to get strong physically.