By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
As soon as the 2013 draft went in the books the transition to preparing for a whole new crop of prospects begins for us true draft die-hards. April’s draft was historically anemic in terms of talent at the QB position and while its early still, here are some thoughts on the 2014 class and if I think their stocks are worth buying at this point.
Notable Exclusions who I deem are fairly valued: Teddy Bridgewater Louisville (Top 5 Overall), Tajh Boyd Clemson (Round 1-2), Johnny Manziel Texas A&M (Wide range: Round 1-late 2).
Blake Bortles UCF (Redshirt Junior)
Still a hidden gem that no one is aware of but could really pick up steam as more of his tape gets out there. He is currently buried very deep on the 2014 QB rankings almost everywhere around the web so I’m buying low at this point. He has enough height at a true 6’3 and the same can be said of his arm. His 227 pound frame is also very healthy and likely durable. It’s a little tough to judge on limited tape, but he showed the ability to make all the throws to all levels. He also throws a nice ball with a consistent spiral. He’s no Johnny Football but is very mobile and can not just escape pressure effectively, but actually eludes defenders with his legs. The current census seems to be that Brotles would be lucky to even make it as a UDFA (Undrafted Free Agent), but I think he has a realistic upside of the 4-5 round range.
Braxton Miller OSU (Junior)
I don’t think anyone doubts his talent, but I also don’t think the scouting community really respects the enormous upside present. Miller is an elite athlete with the speed and agility to make defenders look silly in the open field as well as very good strength to break tackles. However, the elite label doesn’t just fit his athleticism. His arm strength is also among the best you’ll see. Yes he is light years away from harnessing that arm and showing the consistency and accuracy in the passing game needed to excel at the next level, but all the tools are there in spades. Again, he is nowhere close to what he could ultimately become but in my mind is the most physically gifted quarterback that could potentially be taken in 2014 and it’s not really close.
Zach Mettenberger LSU (Senior)
The junior college transfer (who was dismissed from Georgia before that) is a classic pocket passing prospect. He uses his 6’5 frame to easily see over the line and scan the field and when given time can zing it almost anywhere down the field. If he can prove to be fully committed, both on and off the field, he has plenty of natural passing talent to build on a strong second half of his 2012 campaign and work his way into the mid first round range.
Jeff Mathews Cornell (Senior)
I’m starting a Jeff Mathews bandwagon, and there is plenty of room aboard! The true 6’3 signal caller for the Cornell Big Red is poised to make a big rise up draft boards. He has a smooth release, very nice throwing mechanics and a great arm. While not the most mobile guy you’ll see, calling him a statue in the pocket wouldn’t be fair. Mathews (yes not Matthews) is an Ivy leaguer with great experience and poise. If he can handle the surge of attention he is sure to see don’t be surprised if he becomes a hot name very soon. I like him a lot as a prospect. Top 3-5 quarterback level like…yeah really.
Jeff Driskel Florida (Junior)
Consistency and accuracy keep Driskel from being a potential (and maybe likely) Top 50 prospect for 2014. He is tough, physical, very mobile and capable of making every throw in the book. If he can master the art of the passing game by improving on his mechanics, making reads in the pocket and accuracy then he could be a top 5 college quarterback sooner rather than later. I like that upside and dual threat ability.
Wait and See:
Brett Hundley UCLA (Redshirt Sophomore)
The athletic tools are there for sure, but I’m still taking the cautious approach with Hundley at least in terms of giving him a surefire top 5 QB grade and projection of round 1-2. The fact that he was able to step in as a (redshirt) freshman and play extraordinarily well was certainly impressive and he has that dual threat element to his game. His arm is also above average, but I don’t see a very smooth release and his throwing motion is just awkward. All that can be corrected, and if it is don’t be shocked to see him consider coming out for the 2014 draft.
David Fales San Jose St. (Senior)
People are falling head over heals for Fales and I am NOT one of them. He has a slightly above average arm, is well below the 6’3 mark and is not a great athlete. He has a consistent and near ideal throwing motion and can excel in a West Coast, completion heavy attack, but I don’t think the top 30 overall or first round projection is justified.