It wasn’t too long ago that the quarterback class of the 2014 NFL Draft was thought to be one of the deepest of the last decade. Nowadays, it’s not deemed quite as highly as it was four months ago.
Here’s how the class was shaping up before the season.
Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) was a lock to be go top-5. Marcus Mariota (Oregon) was supposed to challenge for the first pick overall, but wouldn’t fall past the fifth pick. Brett Hundley (UCLA) was deemed top-10 to 15.
Tajh Boyd (Clemson) and Aaron Murray (Georgia) were the top senior signal callers, both deemed mid-first round caliber, and in Boyd’s case, potentially higher because of his mobility. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) was too full of intrigue to fall past round one.
Zach Mettenberger (LSU) and A.J. McCarron (Alabama) were rugged SEC signal callers who saw their stock fluctuate rapidly throughout their senior seasons, and were viewed as potential round one QB’s. And finally, Derek Carr (Fresno State) and Blake Bortles (UCF) were the non-powerhouse gunslingers who were also viewed as possibilities at the end of round one.
But now the season is over for all the prospects listed above, and the list has changed considerably.
Bridgewater is the one guy who never moved. He’s been projected as the top pick since last April, and that still rings true today. His stock went down a little bit due to the Cardinals season, but an outstanding performance against Miami in his bowl game confirmed his draft status. Mariota and Hundley both withdrew their names from draft consideration. The youngsters were only redshirt sophomores, and both have decided to return back to their respective schools for at least one more year of seasoning and refinement.
Boyd has seen his draft stock fall to second round, not a huge tumble, but one nonetheless. Murray had an up and down season that ended with a torn ACL, and is now looking more like a 4th rounder.
Manziel has actually improved his stock with another phenomenal season in College Station. His freshman season was no fluke, and this kid is a legit playmaker. He could go top-10.
Mettenberger and McCarron also ended their seasons on sour notes. The former tore his ACL after struggling down the stretch and the latter endured two of his four career losses to end the Tide’s season. Both are looking more like solid second or third round picks instead of first rounders.
Then we have Carr and Bortles who’ve both taken advantage of shoddy defenses on their weak schedules to continue rising up the draft boards, and both now seem poised to be first rounders.
We went from potentially having ten first round quarterbacks taken (the record is six in 1983), now to four at the most. And considering we haven’t even gotten to the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, Pro Days’, etc., that number figures to change again.
What do we know for certain? Nothing, which is one of the many reasons the NFL Draft is so wonderful. But the one thing about this QB class we can feel most confident about is that Bridgewater’s status atop the list of QB’s isn’t likely to change. If he’s smart (and he is), he won’t do a thing for scouts until his Pro Day, and there he’ll have a nice script throwing to his favorite receivers who will continue to make him look good.
The point of this all is that it’s still very early in the scouting and evaluation process, and not just for quarterbacks. Lists and rankings being compiled should be taken with a grain of salt. Think of how much this QB class has changed over the last four months.
Now imagine how much more it could change in the next four leading up to the draft?