The 2014 NFL Draft was supposed to be a dynamite class for quarterbacks. After the 2013 class, it was hard to go anywhere but up, right? Only, by the time draft day rolled around, the class of ’14 had lost an awful lot of it’s luster. Fear not, 2015 will be different.
Much of the reason the class of ’14 took a hit was because of guys surprisingly going back to school instead of entering early. Marcus Mariota (Oregon) and Brett Hundley (UCLA) were the two best examples of this. Both were projected top-ten picks by just about everyone, and both decided they needed another year of collegiate seasoning before playing for pay. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where they return to school again in 2015 (remember, they were just redshirt sophomores last season), and they instantly add credibility to next years draft class.
It’s not just Mariota and Hundley who would’ve been early draft picks that are returning for at least another season. Remember that guy who won the Heisman? Jameis Winston from Florida State? Yea he’s back as well, assuming he’s not in jail or kicked off the team when August rolls around. Winston has an unbelievable physical skill set, probably the best in the country, but just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines for the wrong reasons. Regardless of his past transgressions, he probably would’ve been the first QB taken in this years draft, and could be in 2015.
Just those three guys right there would’ve been ranked ahead of all the QBs in ’14. Blake Bortles would never have been taken third overall if those three guys would’ve been in the draft. But it’s deeper than just those three.
Bryce Petty has also been shooting up draft boards, and not just because he throws for 8,000 yards a year in Baylor’s absurd offense. Kevin Hogan (Stanford) has size and intelligence you look for in a franchise QB, and he could leave after his redshirt junior year just like his predecessor, Andrew Luck (ever heard of him?). Jacob Coker (Alabama) received rave reviews from FSU HC Jimbo Fisher before transferring to Tuscaloosa. Just because he couldn’t beat out Winston for the starting gig doesn’t take anything away from his skill set or potential.
And no draft class would be complete unless it featured an unsung hero from a smaller school, one who doesn’t have the best size or speed but just gets it done on the field. That guy in 2015 could be Chuckie Keeton (Utah State), who was putting up staggering numbers last year before injuring his knee. If he proves he’s healthy and back to normal this fall, he’ll be making some noise for scouts.
The depth of next years class may not be as good as it was this year (about the only strength of this years class), but it’s much more talented at the top.
A lot can and will happen between now and draft day 2015. But the way things are going, there could be twice as many first round quarterbacks in next years draft as there was this year.