2014 NFL Draft: 5 Small-School Quarterbacks You Need to Know About

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5 Small-School QBs Worth Knowing About

Garoppolo
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure you already know about some of the 2014 NFL Draft’s top quarterback prospects. You’ve heard of Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Tajh Boyd and the rest of the names floating around the blogosphere as potential picks this upcoming May.

But what about the small-school guys who have the physical and mental tools to make it in the NFL?

Every year, it seems as though a couple small-school quarterbacks come out of the woodworks and make a splash during the months leading up to the NFL Draft. From Tony Romo to Joe Flacco, history has shown that these little-known passers are capable of becoming something at the next level.

Last year, there were several small-school studs who grabbed scouts’ attention leading up to the draft. One my personal favorites was Brad Sorensen, a Southern Utah product who landed with the San Diego Chargers as a seventh-round pick. Others including Zac Dysert and Sean Renfree also heard their names called, proving that small-school passers can’t be taken for granted.

This year, expect more of the same. There are several intriguing small-school talents who have the potential and raw skills to develop into quality NFL quarterbacks. While the majority might not be anything more than projects at this point, the fact remains that they’re worth a look or two at the next level.

Whether or not they get drafted in May, though, is still to be determined.

Here’s a look at five small-school quarterback prospects that you should know about before the 2014 NFL Draft rolls around.

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Brock Jensen, North Dakota State

Jensen
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Plain and simple, Jensen is a winner. Throughout his career with the Bison, he’s racked up two national titles while picking up a few FBS upsets along the way. He might not possess any overwhelming talents, but he offers a promising mix of arm strength, accuracy and athleticism that could make for an intriguing project. NFL coaches will like Jensen for his size and accuracy, but his leadership and knack for winning will make him a serious prospect this upcoming draft season.

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DeNarius McGhee, Montana State

McGhee
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

McGhee wasn’t really recruited as a quarterback, but he has spent his time at Montana State proving that he’s capable of handling the position. The things that make him an exciting prospect are his outstanding arm strength and athleticism, both of which have helped him excel throughout his college career. While he hasn’t put up any gaudy numbers this year, he’s keeping the ball out of the defenses hands and making them pay with his legs. He might not have a future as quarterback, but he’s an intriguing talent nonetheless.

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Keith Wenning, Ball State

Wenning
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Possessing good size and a great head on his shoulders, Wenning has quietly made a case for himself as a prospective NFL quarterback. Before his latest game against Akron, he had amassed over 300 passing yards in every contest this season with a 23:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. With outstanding arm strength and plenty of production as evidence of his ability, Wenning could convince an NFL team to call this name in May if he can keep Ball State on the path towards MAC domination.

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Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

Garoppolo
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

One of the quickest rising names of the 2014 class, Garoppolo is no longer flying under the radar. Producing huge numbers and grabbing the attention of scouts around the NFL, the Eastern Illinois gunslinger is moving up draft boards rapidly. Possessing solid arm strength and outstanding accuracy, he can make just about every NFL throw. He already has a phenomenal mental grasp of the position and is an excellent leader. With time, Garoppolo could develop into one of the best passers of the 2014 class.

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Jeff Mathews, Cornell

Mathews
Cornell Football Official Facebook Page

While some may question his ability to consistently win games for the Big Red, Mathews undoubtedly has the physical tools to get the job done at the next level. With a big arm, above average accuracy and plenty of pocket awareness, Mathews has the potential to develop into a quality NFL quarterback. He doesn’t have the speed to consistently hurt defenses with his feet, but moves well in the pocket and can occasionally move the chains on the scramble. All of the tools are there for Mathews to play on Sundays.


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