Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2014 Draft Class Preview: Quarterbacks

It's been a little over a week since the 2013 NFL Draft ended, and it's never too early to start looking ahead. Today, in the first of my six part series looking at the top 2014 NFL Draft prospects, I'm going to start at the most important position on the field, the quarterback. The class of quarterbacks in this years draft was disappointing to say the least, with only one going in the first round, and by all accounts he shouldn't have been drafted that high. The 2014 class, however, should be considerably better, especially if underclassmen decide to declare. Without further adieu, let's begin:

1.) Teddy Bridgewater, University of Louisville*. Bridgewater is only a junior this season, but he headlines a class of quarterbacks who, although stronger than this years class, is in my eyes pretty weak. By all accounts, he is NFL ready and will almost certainly declare for the draft. Despite being an athletic quarterback, Bridgewater is also an accomplished pocket passer and should be a good fit for any system, whether it be the read option that is sweeping the NFL lately or a more conventional, pocket passing system.

2.) Tajh Boyd, Clemson University. It was thought that Boyd would declare himself eligible for this years draft, as he also seems ready for the NFL game. After a disappointing junior campaign, Boyd decided to go against the conventional thought and decided to come back for his senior season. This is a great choice for Boyd, as he probably would have been the fourth or fifth selection at his position in this draft after such a disappointing season. By choosing to come back, Boyd will give himself the chance to redeem himself and answer some of the questions that remain about him. I anticipate him answering these questions in a resounding manner and pushing Bridgewater for the top of this class.

3.) David Fales, San Jose State University. Not much is known about this small school kid. He started last season for San Jose State after transferring from the junior college level. Fales is a conventional quarteback with ideal size and a cannon for an arm. After watching some tape on this kid, I fully expect him to be in the discussion with Boyd and Bridgewater, assuming that he can reproduce and improve upon the successes of his first season with the Spartans. 3,800 yards, 31 touchdowns and a 73% completion percentage is a pretty good start to his quest to prove that you don't have to come from a powerhouse school to succeed as a quarterback at the next level. 

4.) Aaron Murray, Georgia University. When focused and playing up to his potential, Murray is the best quarterback in this class. He has all the physical tools necessary to be a Heisman trophy winner (which is a possibility for Murray this season) and a top 10 pick in the draft. Murray's problem is that he struggles with consistency. Murray reminds me a lot of Tyler Bray in this respect, a kid who is immensely talented, but doesn't always look like he's into the game. Murray has a strong arm and is more athletic in the pocket than people give him credit for, and if he can work on his poise and concentration in big games and situations, he should end up higher on this list.

5.) A.J. McCarron, Alabama University. McCarron is a guy that I don't see making much of an impact at the next level. He's a natural born leader and has had a lot of success at the college level, but I'm not sure that his game translates well to the next level. I think he's more in the mold of Tim Tebow in that respect, though he has a much more NFL caliber game than Tebow does. The reason I have decided to put McCarron on this list ahead of some other notable quarterbacks (Logan Thomas being the most obvious one) is simple. Two championships in three years with a chance to make it three in four years has to earn you some respect. I don't care how much your game doesn't translate to the next level, if you have a winning pedigree like that, you're going to be looked at by some NFL clubs. I guarantee you will see McCarron at the next level, but most likely as a backup who the crowd chimes for every time the starter makes a mistake.

Tomorrow I'll be taking a look at who I think are the top 5 Running Backs for the 2014 draft. Come back tomorrow and every day this week!