Dec 5, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Ben Natan's Top 10 Quarterbacks

The field general, the driving force of a team and the be all, end all of every football position, no team is complete without their quarterback. Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are all top five quarterbacks in the league and every one of them have led their teams to a Super Bowl. In this class, while it doesn’t have all the blue chip talent we have seen in the past years, there is still a blue chip player followed up by a ton of untapped potential. It is important that teams are patient with some of these quarterbacks because if they are given an opportunity to grow, a few have potential to be big time players.

  1. Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville): The media can take their pro-day and shove it. Throw on the tape and Bridgewater is miles ahead of any QB in this class. Bridgewater has incredible ability to manipulate the pocket and stand in and go through his read. He has great feet and is an above average athlete. As a passer, he is incredibly accurate from the short to intermediate range and has advanced anticipation and touch. He needs to improve his deep passing ability, but that could be a product of the offense more so than him. While Bridgewater might not blow people away with pure physical ability, his coolness on the field is that of a ten year vet. He will walk into whatever team he is drafted to and will make them competitive.
  2. Derek Carr (Fresno State): Of all the players in this class, few quarterbacks have as high an upside as Carr. He is a very good athlete with perhaps the best overall arm talent of the group. He has mechanical issues, but his ability to overcome footwork issues with pure arm strength is impressive, but it is something that he needs to improve. There is a concern about his ability to stand in the pocket, but I believe it is overblown and has more to do with the offensive structure than Carr. Regardless, if he can clean up his footwork and show some poise in the pocket on a more consistent basis, I think he can be a very good player.
  3. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M): Possibly the most polarizing figure in this entire class, Manziel has every ounce of talent in the world to be an electric NFL player. As a passer, when he sets and throws, he has impressive accuracy, touch and timing on his passes. He does a great job of using his eyes to manipulate defenses and does even more damage using his feet to not only outrun defenders, but also buy time for his receivers and allow them to create separation. Despite impressive physical abilities, it is important to note that Manziel has his issues with seeing the field and his decision making. Too often does he focus on his first read and miss open guys underneath and sometimes he throws a lot of errant passes that would be in big trouble if he didn’t have a player like Mike Evans on the other side of them. That may be a product of him knowing his weapons, but some throws suggest otherwise. Finally, it seems that the threat of Manziel’s running ability is what makes him so dangerous, but when he is forced to sit in the pocket, it often ends poorly for him. Also, outside the pocket, though he is a dangerous runner, too often he puts slight frame in a position to be injured. Maybe adding more weight will allow him to be a running threat while preserving himself.
  4. David Fales (SJSU): Unlike The previous quarterbacks, Fales is not some superb athlete with a high powered arm, but rather an intelligent, poised passer who wins soley from the pocket. What he lacks in arm strength, he makes up for in anticipation, touch and overall accuracy. Fales is a very good decision maker who is very consistent in the pocket with his mechanics. He may not have the incredible ceiling that some others have, but he has the ability to be a higher level starter in the right situation.
  5. Brett Smith (Wyoming): Smith is one of the many great athletes at this position. He is probably the fastest QB in this class in a straight line among the top prospects. However, Quarterbacks, hopefully, should do more than run and it is a good thing that Smith can throw the ball too. He shows a very good ability to hang in the pocket despite it being very muddy at times. He also shows good accuracy down the field despite not having a great arm. His issues mostly come mechanically, but while they don’t hinder the function that much, now doubt he improves as his mechanics do. He also needs to anticipate better in the intermediate passing game. Another knock on him is that he seems very hurried on field unlike Bridgewater or Manziel who go through everything in a collected way. If he can make these improvements, I think the future is bright for Brett Smith.
  6. Blake Bortles (UCF): Bortles no doubt passes the eye test as he has a pro ready build and is a very good athlete. Bortles also incredible pocket presence and is a very dangerous passer on the run. However, he has very bad mechanical issues that affect his accuracy and velocity which limits his game a lot. Not only that, but Bortles is an inconsistent decision maker and has trouble reading defenses. There is no doubt that teams will fall in love with Bortles’ upside, but he is more a project than given credit for.
  7. Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech): Speaking of upside… Few players in this entire class have what Thomas has physically. His build, speed and rocket arm make him an impressive specimen that teams will fall in love with. He is also a stalwart in the pocket, almost to a fault but also has displayed impressive accuracy at every level of the field. His main issues come in mental consistency. When he gets into a rhythm he is very impressive, but he tends to get into his own head and it can get ugly. Regardless, he is a lot better than given credit for and I think a team who is patient with him will be very pleased with what he can do down the road.
  8. Aaron Murray (UGA): Unlike the previous two quarterbacks, Murray does not have the limitless upside that Bortles and Thomas both have, though he does have the ability to contribute right now in the NFL. Murray, despite being rather small, is able to stand in and manipulate a pocket well, displaying quick feet and a calm demeanor under pressure. Murray, despite not having a very strong arm, still accomplishes one of the best deep balls in the class. His timing, anticipation and accuracy down the field is very impressive. He may not be a guy who will be the next Cam Newton, but I feel Murray has the ability to possibly become a starter in a few years and could be a good player.
  9. Zach Mettenberger (LSU): Mettenberger is a strong armed pocket passer. He is poised in the pocket and has the arm to deliver the ball anywhere on the field. His accuracy is very spotty all over the place, but it could be part of his mechanics. He has impressive physical tools and he can stand in the pocket, but I worry that his movements, both in throwing, seeing things and actually moving are way too slow at this point for him to contribute immediately. If he can speed up his game, he could be a starter.
  10. Jimmy Garoppolo (EIU): Garoppolo is a well built, athletic quarterback who wins with an impressively quick release and very good short to intermediate accuracy. He works very well within a system that gets the ball out of his hand quickly. However, he has a very concerning shortcoming in the pocket. He has really bad habits while facing pressure and breaks down completely when pressure develops. He has impressive abilities, but one’s tools have to be otherworldly to take a high chance on a player with his pocket presence.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Quarterbacks

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