A few months ago, 2014 NFL Draft pundits and scouts alike were salivating at the crop of quarterbacking talent that would be available for General Managers and team executives to choose from. In fact, the class looked like an embarrassment of riches where a GM could hardly make a bad decision if they were in the market for a new signal caller. The class had it all, from run-first guys, to dual-threats to traditional pocket quarterbacks.
In just a matter of days with the 2013 college football season winding down, however, the 2014 QB crop has gone from promising to wishy washy, at best.
Concern over the weakening class began with rumors that UCLA Bruins sophomore phenom Brett Hundley would remain in Westwood for his senior season, especially if the program was able to retain the highly-popular Jim Mora Jr. as its head coach. This appears to be the case as word of Mora’s looming extension with the Bruins has made the Twitter circuit earlier this afternoon.
More devastating to the overall QB pool, however, was the announcement by Oregon Ducks redshirt sophomore Marcus Mariota he would indeed return to Eugene for his redshirt junior season and bypass the 2014 NFL Draft, for which he is ranked as high as No. 2 overall in the crop of signal callers, just behind early-season Heisman Candidate Teddy Bridgewater of the Louisville Cardinals.
Assuming you remove both Hundley and Mariota from the equation for 2014 availability, the Top 10 definitely takes a marked hit. Although these two guys are longer-term projects than some of the more NFL-ready players like Bridgewater, A.J. McCarron, Zach Mettenberger and Tajh Boyd, a decision by both to stay behind would change the face of when quarterbacks are actually taken.
The verdict is still out on Fresno State’s David Carr, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and to some extent, even San Jose State’s David Fales as to whether each is NFL-ready and worthy of a draft pick. The difference here, though, is that there’s no eligibility left for any of them, only for Hundley and Mariota. To make a case, flat out, that the talent has been diluted to an extreme at this point isn’t a reasonable position, but given there are only a few sure-fire prospects in the top 10, three of them being Hundley, Mariota and Johnny Manziel, it would only take one more decision to force a mass re-evaluation of what talent is truly available to be chosen from by NFL GMs next summer.
Will the seniors now in the middle of the pack need a second, third, or fourth evaluation to see if the needle in the haystack is there?
Possibly. We’ll know very soon as the college football season winds down, and decision-making season immediately afterwards, ramps up.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer, Business Analyst and College Content Coordinator for Rant Sports.