The NFL Draft is still more than two months away, but it’s never too early to take a look at the players available. That’s especially true of the quarterback position, as a lot of teams are in the market for a quarterback this year. This year’s class isn’t as good as once thought, but it’s still a promising group of signal callers. Let’s check out the top-10 quarterbacks available in this year’s draft:
10. Connor Shaw, South Carolina – Shaw doesn’t have ideal size or arm strength, but he has great mobility that helps him make plays outside the pocket. He had a 26-5 record as a starter in college, and as a senior he threw just one interception, and that’s in the SEC, which is an accomplishment that’s hard to ignore. Shaw looks like an NFL backup, but he’s a leader and one of the toughest quarterbacks around, and those intangibles will help him secure a job in the NFL and give him a shot to become a starter one day.
9. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois – Garoppolo had an impressive college, breaking most of Tony Romo’s school records, albeit against a lower level of competition. He’s actually quite similar to Romo in that he has good but not elite physical abilities, but he has great instincts and timing, which allows him to have success throwing the ball. He’ll have to work on his pocket presence and decision-making, but he has enough arm strength to become an NFL quarterback if he keeps showing good intangibles.
8. David Fales, San Jose State – Fales doesn’t have elite arm strength, but he has great mechanics, good poise, good accuracy, and he’s a coachable player, so he’s a player that’s going to max out on his potential. The things he can improve upon in the NFL, he will, but he doesn’t have the arm strength to throw the ball down field, and he doesn’t always drive the ball on intermediate throws, so he’s going to need to play in an offense that revolves around short throws and quick decisions, but with the right team he can become a viable NFL starter.
7. A.J. McCarron, Alabama – McCarron was plagued with the “game manager” label throughout his college career, but he shouldn’t be blamed for having a lot of good players around him and not needing to play outside himself. He’s not a great athlete, so he’s a pure pocket passer, and he does have some trouble with the deep ball, which isn’t a great combination. However, he has sound mechanics, a high football IQ, and not only does he make good throws, he makes smart throws. McCarron is fringy as a starter in the NFL, but he profiles as an excellent backup, and that can be a useful thing to have.
6. Aaron Murray, Georgia – An ACL injury late in his senior season hurt his stock, and that’s on top of concerns about his height. But he was a four-year starter in the SEC and has excellent passing skills. He has a quick release, good footwork, the ability to drive the ball, and enough mobility to make plays outside the pocket. Some people will see the next Drew Brees when they look at Murray, while others will overlook him based on his height. There’s no guarantee he’ll be a successful NFL quarterback, but there’s no doubt that he deserves a chance to be a starter; he’s earned it with his resume and his impressive skill set.
5. Zach Mettenberger, LSU – Mettenberger has the size and arm strength that NFL teams covet. He didn’t come on until late in his college career, but he showed a lot of improvement during his senior season and could continue that in the NFL. He does have some drawbacks like a lack of mobility and a perceived lack of leadership by the fact that he’s not a vocal player. However, the size and the skills are too much to ignore, especially after a strong senior season, and that should make him a first round pick, possibly a top-15 pick.
4. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M – It’s going to take a lot of guts to draft Manziel, because he’s such a polarizing player and person. He has a ton of ability and is capable of doing some amazing things, but too much of his game is based on his ability to improvise, which may not translate to the NFL. There are also questions about his size and his ability to stay healthy when he starts taking hits from NFL linemen and linebackers on a regular basis, but his talent is too much to ignore, and should make him a top-10 pick.
3. Derek Carr, Fresno State – Carr is probably more talented than his older brother David, who was once the first overall pick in the draft. He has the arm strength to make all the throws to go along with great accuracy and the ability to read defenses at the line of scrimmage. But despite his great numbers in college, there are concerns about the level of competition he faced. He also struggled when put under pressure, which is a question he’ll have to answer at the next level, especially since he doesn’t have great athleticism, but his arm talent is elite and that makes him one of the top quarterbacks in this class.
2. Blake Bortles, Central Florida – Bortles emerged late in his college career as a viable NFL quarterback and he jumped close to the top. He has an NFL arm and an NFL, as well as the athleticism to pick up yards with his legs that has become increasingly common among quarterbacks in the league. He is still rough around the edges, and a lot of his mechanics could use refinement, but he’s coachable, works hard, and has a high football IQ, so having that combined with an NFL body and arm makes Bortles a good bet in the NFL, even if he isn’t set up for immediate success.
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville – He’s not a slam-dunk for the first overall pick, but he is the best quarterback available. His arm strength isn’t high-end, but he does everything else well. He has good mechanics, he’s good with his fakes, can manipulate defenses with his eyes, makes good reads, and has good accuracy, even when he’s on the run. He’s not a running quarterback, but he’s mobile and isn’t too quick to pull the ball down and run, which can lead to big plays. One of the few concerns about him is his durability, so he’ll need to put on weight in the NFL to hold up for a full season, but he’s the safest bet in this draft to become a quality NFL quarterback capable of leading his team deep into the playoffs.