2014 NFL Draft: Top 5 Read-Option Capable Quarterbacks

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5 QB Prospects Who Excel at the Read-Option

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In this day and age of the NFL, the quarterback position can be the difference between being a contender and earning a Top 10 draft pick. In recent years, though, the quarterback position has evolved.

With the arrival of passers like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, the read-option quarterback officially became a trend in the NFL.

The read-option is an offense that requires a speedy, athletic quarterback who can make things happen with his feet as well as his arm. Not only does the quarterback have to be able to pick up yards with his legs, but he also has to be able to quickly read and react to what the defense gives him, and be willing to take a hit in order to break open a run. More than anything, it’s an offense built around an electrifying passer who has the playmaking gene.

While some have argued that the read-option is a fad that will certainly die out in the not-so-distant future, there’s plenty of evidence that it is still alive and well in the NFL. That means teams will be looking to capitalize before someone figures out a way to shut it down.

The best way to cash in on this hot commodity? Go to the NFL Draft well and find yourself a young sparkplug who can ignite an offense and spur a team to the playoffs.

Here’s a look at five quarterbacks capable of running the read-option offense who are eligible to enter the 2014 NFL Draft and why they could be good fits for the league’s latest trend.

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5. Devin Gardner, Michigan

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Gardner has spent his entire collegiate career playing in the shadow of Denard Robinson. In 2013, though, he got his first opportunity to be the focal point of the Michigan offense and has filled in nicely. With tremendous athleticism and improvisational skills, Gardner has excelled at picking up yards on the ground and is gaining plenty of experience running the read-option. The only problem heading towards May is his passing chops are average at best.

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4. Braxton Miller, Ohio State

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Using outstanding speed and athleticism, Miller has shined as a dual-threat quarterback during his time at Ohio State. Injuries have hindered his 2013 campaign, but he is clearly an electrifying playmaker when he’s healthy. Whether it’s via scramble of read-option plays, Miller consistently produces big plays when he uses his feet to pick up yards. His passing is inconsistent and raw, but he has more potential than Gardner and is a proven winner.

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3. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

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Anytime a quarterback runs for over 300 yards in a game, you have to think that he’s a viable read-option runner. Albeit against a weak Central Michigan team, Lynch had a historic day on the ground, using his feet to weave his way through the defense time and time again. He was already considered one of the most intriguing mid-round quarterback talents of the 2014 class, and will now garner some serious interest as a dual-threat quarterback.

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2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

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The majority of Manziel’s success comes from improvisation, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t use his elite athleticism to be a sensational read-option quarterback in the NFL. With blazing straight-line speed, ridiculous elusiveness and a knack for big plays, he could have a tremendous impact on an offense while creating opportunities for his running back. He might not be as experienced in the read-option as No. 1 on this list, but he definitely has the potential to soar in the offense.

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1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

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While his throwing abilities are still a work in progress, Mariota is a dynamic runner who uses impressive top-end speed and elusiveness in the open field to rack up big chunks of yardage. The biggest factor in his ability to run the read-option, though, is the fact that he’s spent his last two years at Oregon perfecting the offense. Under the tutelage of innovative coach Chip Kelly, Mariota has become the model read-option quarterback.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Content Planner for Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.