2014 NFL Draft: The New Quarterback Class
The 2014 NFL draft was only a few short days ago; however, the hype surrounding the newly drafted players has already begun. Obviously, because the NFL is a passing league, the quarterback is the most emphasized position on the team. This season, there were three quarterbacks taken in the first round. Let’s take a look at those three players of the new quarterback class they stack up against each other.
When Blake Bortles’ name was called with the third pick, there was a mix of reactions. Some people thought that Jacksonville had made the worst decision in franchise history. They questioned how a team could draft Blake Bortles, a quarterback who was ranked as the fourth best quarterback in the draft, to essentially be their new starter. For the last year, all of the hype surrounding the draft was regarding one quarterback, and it wasn’t Blake Bortles. It was Johnny Manziel. The hype surrounding Manziel was huge, and many don’t understand why Bortles was taken as the first QB. On the other hand, there were others who completely agreed with this decision. Sure, the hype surrounding Bortles was not as loud as the hype surrounding Manziel; however, if you were to follow the advice of most major NFL scouts and analysts, you would know that the Jacksonville Jaguars made the best decision.
According to most scouts, Bortles was the most polished passer available in the draft. He wasn’t loud, he wasn’t flashy, but he was safe. That’s exactly what the Jacksonville offense needs. Out of all the passers available in this draft, Bortles was the best pocket passer available. Granted, his arm strength isn’t the best, but he plays the traditional style of football that the Jags are going to be moving towards. They need a pocket passer to solidify their team for the next 5+ seasons, and they believe that Bortles is their man. Next season, you can expect Bortles to start right away. The only real benefit of sitting a rookie quarterback is the fact that they can learn from the great quarterback that they are starting behind. Bortles will not have that luxury. He will be starting behind mediocre quarterbacks in training camp, and it is very likely that he will come out as the starter. Career wise, Bortles is looking as though he will be in the league for a while as a safe and consistent passer. Consider him to be a new version of Alex Smith.
- Johnny Manziel
Those moments between the third pick and the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft were just plain awkward. Many people expected Johnny Manziel to go first overall, or at least be the first quarterback to be taken overall; however, this did not happen. To everyone’s surprise, Manziel was taken 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns, creating one of the biggest draft drops in history. There are several viewpoints to consider. Johnny Football was hyped for over a year as being the next great NFL quarterback. Reporters followed him to bars, clubs, strip joints, and pretty much anywhere else that he went. He was being hailed as the next Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but does he really deserve this praise? No.
If you have watched any Johnny Manziel college tape, you would know what all the scouts know. He is unbelievably overrated. Manziel is the opposite of a pocket passer. He has become known for keeping plays alive, but his out of pocket resilience will not work in the NFL. In college, Manziel was consistency able to run out of the pocket for well over 15 seconds, look for his open receivers, who were often open to due to the lower skill level in college, and make a throw to the sidelines. This is consistent with many college players, but it is foolish to this that this will work in the NFL. Manziel is essentially the new Robert Griffin III. RGIII started off his career as a very hyped and big name player out of college; however, he soon became a cautionary tale. In his first season with the Washington Redskins, RGIII tried to play the same style of football that he did in college. He ran out of the pocket, went head first into slides, and made few attempts to play in the pocket. This resulted in two concussions and a torn ACL. NFL QBs need to have some amount of pocket presence, and similarly to RGIII, Johnny Manziel does not have it. If he tries to leave the pocket, players like the first overall pick in this year’s draft, Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt will put an end to that thought, and potentially end his career. Next season; expect Manziel to start on the bench. QB Brian Hoyer is a much better overall player and his pocket presence is outstanding. If Manziel does get some starts, do not be optimistic unless he changes his entire style of play.
Similar to Johnny Football, Teddy Bridgewater was expected to be drafted much higher. At one point, he was projected to go first overall; however, his draft stock went down due to the great pro day by Blake Bortles, and the fact that Bridgewater discovered that he had a minor heart condition at the combine. Not to worry, though. His heart condition is not expected to affect his play overall and he should still be a great quarterback.
Going into next season, the Vikings knew they needed a starting quarterback right away, which is why they decided on Bridgewater. Other than his hand size, he has the perfect build for a QB, and he plays very well in the pocket. Going forward, he is expected to be a player that is similar to Andrew Luck. He will be the guy to throw the deep ball when needed, but when he is not taking risks, he will be able to pick apart defences with ease. Aside from this, Bridgewater knows how to use his legs, but he won’t rely on them all of them time. Expect him to have a very solid year.