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2014 NFL Draft: Grading the quarterback draft class-the Andrew Luck Effect

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Many experts said there is “no Andrew Luck in this draft class”. It seems that the Indianapolis Colts quarterback has redefined the expectations of what a quarterback will need to become in the draft. This concept is as daunting as the CSI effect is to prosecutors and jurors. It seems everyone is looking for that crystal clear answer.

One analyst who can provide clear answers is ESPN’s Jon Gruden, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach. His series, “Gruden’s QB camp” is in-depth, highly critical, and even comical at times.

Let’s take a good luck at the quality of this year’s class of quarterbacks:

Johnny Manziel (December 30, 2013 - Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)
Johnny Manziel (December 30, 2013 – Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

Johnny Manziel- Texas A/M Aggies

My take: His frame is a concern as well as his height He could be a starter if he bulks up significantly. Manziel has a cannon arm as well as pinpoint accuracy. His ability to make throws while enduring big hits can be useful to any team. He enjoyed a lot of success at Texas A/M, displaying a true aerial assault against the “NCAA’s toughest conference” the SEC.

Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson gave NFL fans the image of the successful, small-frame quarterback. If Manziel wants to give teams a logical appeal as to why he is a top choice he can point to Wilson and say “I’m the next one to do that.”

His attitude may come across as arrogant to some teams and very confident to others depending on different points of perspective. However, that kind of attitude is the attitude of a winner. This guy wants the reigns right away.

Some fans may be concerned that Manziel is either the next Robert Griffen III in terms of scrambling and facing a future of being injury prone) or Jimmy Clausen (Massive ego, has yet to live up to expectations).

Gruden’s take: Durability is a major concern. He may take hits to his throwing hand, he may land awkwardly. This quarterback is a high risk, high reward pick.

He can extend plays that seem to be broken. He can rally the team behind him even facing a certain defeat (think Chik fil-A Bowl against Duke, overcame 38 to 17 deficit to win 52-48).

He takes accountability for his shortcomings. He has a no-excuse mentality.


Grade- B+

Teddy Bridgewater- Louisville Cardinals

My take: This is another quarterback who has taken a lot of flak for his size just like Manziel. Bridgewater has bulky arms though and a decent arm. He is also very accurate like Manziel. The biggest upside to Bridgewater is that he played in a pro-style offense. His pro day hurt his stock tremendously. If he wore the glove, he would easily be a top ten pick.

He may need to improve on his arm strength a bit.

He delivers passes with great touch.

Gruden’s take: Why does he wear the gloves? In turns out he wanted to use them to make sure his hands are warm in cold weather games. He was making the transition from Florida to Kentucky by wearing them.

He has a lot of poise and toughness in the pocket. He is a natural leader who knows when to motivate his teammates but is also not afraid to yell at them.

He can play through tough injuries like a high ankle sprain.


Grade: B

Blake Bortles- Central Florida Knights

My take: Bortles could be another Brandon Weeden in the making. He looked more like Ben Roethlisberger at first but there are some doubts about his accuracy. He was a relative unknown for a while and his stock increased in some part due to several teams having a dire need to draft a quarterback.

In terms of his size, he still draws comparisons to Roethlisberger.

If he works on his accuracy, he can be a huge success in the NFL.

Bortles has the arm strength to throw into small passing windows when accurate which makes him an intriguing option.

Gruden’s take: He has a big frame like Roethlisberger.  Bortles can extend plays with his elusiveness but he needs to learn when to give up on certain plays. If he doesn’t, he can get smashed and cough up the football pretty easily. He can make big gains on plays that appear to be broken. If he gets into the open field, he can be very dangerous like Big Ben. The comparisons are there for both his size and play style. He is very capable of throwing into small passing windows.

He needs to develop more pocket awareness and eliminate the chances of throwing under pressure.


Grade: B+

Derek Carr- Fresno State Bulldogs

My take: Carr is like Bortles in terms of his size.  He possesses a solid cannon arm and should be able to throw into small passing windows.

Gruden’s take: Carr has the same advantage that Eli Manning had, an older brother who plays in the NFL. Although David Carr no longer plays in the NFL, Derek was reading NFL defenses since he was 12 years old. He knew exactly what the defense was doing. He was able to properly analyze a defensive formation and knew what was the defense would do at 12 years old!

Derek’s playing style differs from his older brother and the he enters a different era.

His stats are mind boggling.  He completed 70% of his passes, 113 touchdowns, 12,842 passing yards, and 24 interceptions.


Tajh Boyd- Clemson Tigers

My take: Boyd has enjoyed a lot of success. Part of that is having outstanding playmakers around him. He has the intangibles to be solid and with a few years of being a student of the game, he can have his way with NFL defenses.

The one interesting fact about Boyd is he is dual threat, much like Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton. When a defense flushes him out of the pocket, he can run for 10 or more yards easily.

Gruden’s take: This is another quarterback whose stats are just of this world. The one stat that jumps out is the new ACC record for most touchdowns in a career-107 of them. He is the man who finishes a job rather than leaving something half done. That is a huge credit to his personality.

He has a quick release; he is capable of making decisions very quickly which means he is could get rid of the ball before the defense can react. He can also make on-the-spot throws even while throwing off balance.

Grade: B

Jimmy Garoppolo- Eastern Illinois Panthers

My take: It is interesting that he broke Tony Romo’s and Sean Peyton’s records at Eastern Illinois. He has really good accuracy and strength.

He is gaining some popularity but the fact that he went to Eastern Illinois hurt his chances of being a surefire first round selection. He is an underdog because of it but he doesn’t play like an underdog.

Some experts and fans may have him ranked lower than McCarron and Murray, but he should not be overlooked just because he went to Eastern Illinois. He can draw comparisons to Joe Flacco, amazing quarterback of the small school- Delaware.  NFL teams should not sleep on Garoppolo.

Gruden’s take: There are a lot of people jumping on the Jimmy Garropolo bandwagon. The fact he broke school records at Eastern Illinois speaks volumes about his skill set. He is being discussed as a potential third round selection.

Grade: B

A.J. McCarron- Alabama Crimson Tide

My take: This quarterback could be a sleeper but he is also “buyer beware”. He may be the product of stars around him and savvy Head Coach in Nick Saban. He can be dead-eye accurate at times but it would be nice to see him improve on arm strength just a bit. He is a project quarterback in the making and could be a solid addition to a team that will need a stud replacement within the next 3 years. He should hope to land in New England or Denver so he can learn from Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

McCarron constantly hears the term “Game manager” when used to describe him but if Alex Smith gives fans a preview of McCarron, then he may struggle his first few years before being a huge hit and being part of a perennial playoff contender.

Gruden’s take: Calling him a game manager may upset this guy. However, he turns this into a positive thing.

McCarron describes himself as not being flashy.


Grade: B-

Aaron Murray- Georgia Bulldogs

My take: Murray is rising steadily. He broke SEC records in passing. Will he compete for a starting job this upcoming season? He may have that chance if he makes a strong impression right away. He has the skills of a winner but he is still relatively unknown when compared to Manziel, Bortles, and Carr.

He will need to throw the ball with more velocity at times. However, he is great at throwing deep passes and he is extremely accurate.

Gruden’s take: Many scouts say Murray has average arm strength. However, he delivers the ball with great touch and precision. He really knows how to throw the deep ball.

One thing he should never do is throw a back should pass to a fullback.

Grade B-


Other quarterbacks to watch: Zach Mettenberger- LSU, Logan Thomas- Virginia Tech, David Fales- San Jose State, Keith Wenning- Ball State




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