2015 NFL Draft QB Preview
By Mike Crocker
Quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater were some of the biggest names last year in college football. All three players declared for the NFL Draft and are going through rookie mini-camps with their respective teams.
With the start of a fresh college football season looming, a new wave of young college quarterbacks will emerge. So who might be in the next class of potential NFL Draft-ready college quarterbacks? Lets go ahead and throw out a trio of quarterbacks as possibilities.
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Winston has done everything you'd want from a college quarterback, let alone a true freshman. He joined Johnny Manziel as the only freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy, and led the Seminoles to a thrilling national title victory over Auburn. His 2013 campaign included more than 4,000 passing yards and 44 total touchdowns, which sets the bar high for his upcoming sophomore season.
He has a prototypical pocket passer frame at 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds, and also possesses the ability to use his legs to get crucial first downs. Winston seems like a sure-fire NFL franchise quarterback to some, but others point out factors that may decrease his pro stock. In limited time in Tallahassee, Winston has made several negative headlines. Some are as minor as taking soda from a Burger King or "forgetting" to pay for crab legs after walking out of a supermarket, but his sexual assault allegation remains his most high-profile incident.
Everyone saw those headlines on national TV, including NFL general managers and executives. Bortles, a seemingly quiet guy, can even testify that during the pre-draft process teams will pry and question you on just about anything, even your girlfriend. It's too far in the future to tell how teams will weigh the pros and cons of Winston's game, especially considering he hasn’t even been eligible to declare for the NFL Draft. Regardless of his off-the-field issues, I think a lot of people will see how special Winston's abilities are, and he should be considered a first-round NFL Draft pick.
Pros: Ideal frame, scrambling ability, clutch, national championship experience
Cons: Character questions, footwork, lack of experience at the college level
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Like Winston, Marcus Mariota started as a freshman, but now has played two seasons. He threw for more than 30 touchdowns in both, but he really showed improvement in his passing game last year, increasing his passing yarsd from 2,677 to 3,665 and cutting his interceptions from six to four.
Mariota possesses the ability to scramble or use his legs to make big plays amassing more than 1,400 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns and forcing defenses to account for him. His height is ideal for a quarterback to see over NFL-sized offensive lines, but critics worry about his size. Mariota was noticeably smaller in stature out of high school, but after two years of starting for Oregon and an offseason focused on building muscle, Mariota arrived at spring practice this year looking bigger. His new reported weight is 218 pounds and his goal weight is 220 pounds according to The Oregonian.
If Mariota can put together another accomplished season, he will have quite the resume heading into next year, should he decide to declare and go pro.
Pros: Pocket presence, decision making, scrambling ability
Cons: Size, durability
Brett Hundley, UCLA
When I see Hundley, one word comes to mind: Athlete.
He's got the physical makeup and a unique athletic skill set to be a game-changer. However, athleticism will only get you so far. Another word comes to mind when I see Hundley's game tape: Raw. Unfortunately this term isn’t 100 percent positive, but elements of his game need work.
Hundley tends to incorporate a lot of scrambling into his arsenal. If you take it away he appears to be a poor man's Marcus Mariota. Hundley's never passed for more than 3,000 yards or 30 touchdowns. While Hundley is great for UCLA and in his own right, it’s a whole different ball game at the NFL level. Hypothetically, if there is a spot for one guy and two great players compete to fill it, teams are going to compare. Mariota is better at this point as a passer. Hundley needs a 3,000-yard passing season with 30 touchdown passes.
Pros: Size, athletic ability, scrambling ability
Cons: Hangs on to the football too long, decision making, in-game adjustments
These three quarterbacks excite me the most, but it certainly does not mean there aren’t great quarterbacks out there who could potentially declare for the NFL Draft following this season.
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