Practice week for the 2014 Senior Bowl is slowly beginning to wind down. One thing that’s beginning to heat up however, is the competition for the third and fourth quarterbacks selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.
It’s not guaranteed, but as of now it looks very likely that both Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) will be the two first quarterbacks selected in the draft upcoming in May, and not necessarily in that order. Considering neither have played in any of the all star games, and more than likely won’t throw until their very well scripted Pro Days, their draft stocks likely won’t change much.
Blake Bortles (UCF) is close to having that third spot locked up, because he, like Bridgewater and Manziel, likely isn’t participating in anything until his Pro Day, and he’s very well received in scouting circles because of his raw skill set. Don’t get me wrong, I like the palate he’s working with as well, but I think he’s still incredibly raw, and will need to work heavily with a proven developer of young quarterbacks.
But my, oh my, is there a battle for the next slot after that. Considering how many teams, particularly in the top-10, need quarterbacks, the market will likely put them at a draft slot much higher than they probably should be, meaning teams will reach for them if need be. The battle for number four is tight, between Derek Carr (Fresno St.), Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois), Zach Mettenberger (LSU) and A.J. McCarron (Alabama).
Carr and Garoppolo have really made themselves some money this week in Mobile with their strong Senior Bowl practices. Garoppolo also played very well in last weeks Shrine Bowl practices and game, so to have two strong weeks of all-star performances against top flight competition has all but eliminated the notion his game film looked so good mainly because it was against FCS talent. His quick release and good mechanics have been evident, and has shown good accuracy. He doesn’t have elite arm strength, but he can still make all the necessary throws.
Carr has proven to have a cannon, and has been coming in early to watch film and stay after practice to work on routes with his receivers, all of which have been duly noted by NFL execs. His footwork needs refining, but overall he’s displayed strong mechanics and good touch.
Mettenberger is coming off a torn ACL, so he can’t really do much right now to either help or hurt his stock, but McCarron is a different story.
McCarron voluntarily skipped the Senior Bowl, and I noted at the time he was making a mistake. If he’d be having the week Garoppolo is (who filled McCarron’s roster spot), there’d be no doubt he’d be a first round quarterback. Instead, he felt he was already worthy of a first round pick, and now he’s being passed by the guys who are playing (and excelling) in the game.
Overall these are all positive developments for a quarterback class that has lost a lot of it’s luster the last few months. At the beginning of the 2013 season, the class was being viewed on prodigious levels, but by the end of the season, it was deemed moderate at best. It would’ve been thought of even worse had it not been following the historically bad quarterback class of 2013. But now, with some strong all-star games and practices, the 2014 quarterback class is slowly gaining more respect.