As championship Sunday gets rolling, one can’t help but notice the common denominator with the four remaining teams – upper echelon quarterbacks. Even more striking is the natural juxtaposition presented by the two different conferences. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are seasoned veterans with long records of playoff appearances in the AFC, while Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are young quarterbacks whose careers are just beginning in the NFC. With some luck and continued progression, both of the young quarterbacks can find themselves with similar success in a decade or so.
All the while, Jacksonville Jaguar fans continue to suffer with mediocre to downright horrific quarterback play. With the third overall pick the in the 2014 draft, David Caldwell will perhaps have the chance to alleviate the franchise’s quarterback woes. Caldwell’s board may look different from mine, but here’s how I see the 2014 quarterback class.
- Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (1st round)
- Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (1st round)
- Blake Bortles, UCF (1st round)
- Tajh Boyd, Clemson (2nd round)
- David Fales, San Jose State (3rd round)
I previously had Bortles ranked ahead of Manziel, but I feel the number 2 and 3 spots are going to flip flop quite a bit between now and May. Bortles has a lot of promising tape over the course of the whole season and has been very consistent. Manziel has been less consistent but his flashes of brilliance, particularly in his last game against Duke, are hard to ignore. Both players are going to have a lot of work to do in the NFL however to learn a pro offense and transition into a more complex scheme.
Teddy Bridgewater is still a notch above the rest as he should be. His ability to read defenses and go through progressions is by far the best in this class and his pocket presence lends itself well to the NFL.
Derek Carr dropped out of my top 5 after watching some more tape and noticing his lack of awareness in the pocket. It’s not quite as concerning as Blaine Gabbert’s pocket presence, but Carr is almost certainly not a viable option given the quarterback play in Jacksonville over the last three years.
Boyd still grades out fairly well for me despite what might be considered a disappointing senior season. He likely would have been the first quarterback taken had he declared last year, and most thought he would make even more strides this year. He was by no means bad, but he definitely didn’t make the same leap like he did from his sophomore to junior season.
Fales is the only quarterback who comes close to Bridgewater in terms of anticipation and accuracy. He put up huge numbers at San Jose State and will probably end up being a day 2 pick after teams delve into his tape.
The Jaguars will have at least one of the top 3 quarterbacks available at the third overall pick and honestly I think all of them are worth a selection that high. My preference is Bridgewater, but Houston would be insane to pass on him with such a glaring need at quarterback. Regardless, it will be very interesting to see if the Jaguars pull the trigger on someone like Manziel if he is available.
- Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89