Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Village Elliot's QB Rankings for the 2015 NFL Draft

    Last year, the Village Elliot suggested that Derek Carr and Joey Garoppolo were the best qbs in the draft, and that Johnny Manziel was the fifth best qb in the draft, with Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater in between.

     This year, the Village Elliot again says that there is no superstar Andrew Luck prospect in the draft, but there are some guys who are good enough to start in the NFL.  This year I think there are six guys that will get a decent shot at a starting job eventually.  I predict Winston and Mariota will go 1-2 this year, but I believe both are overrated, and not really "franchise quarterbacks."   I rate Mariota as a mid-first round pick, and Winston somewhat behind Mariota.

    But even if the Browns trade up for either quarterback, I would not expect for him to be very good in 2015, and Josh McCown is a better option to start the season with.   I predict that no rookie qb will break into the top 25 of NFL quarterbacks this year.    

Without further ado, my predictions and analysis follow:

1. Marcus Mariota*, QB, Oregon, Height: 6-4. Weight: 219. 40 Time:  4.52 sec.

     I have Mariota as the best quarterback in a weak qb draft, mainly based on his reputation as a workaholic student of the game, plus his demonstrated ability to avoid interceptions. Arm strength is not as good as Famous Jameis Winston, but the accuracy is there. I think the business about not being under center in college is overrated.  Historically, first round quarterbacks have always been hard to predict. It's just a big adjustment from college to the NFL regardless of whether the kid has run a pro style offense or not.   If the kid is really a top athlete, he will eventually figure out the footwork associated with a pro style offense.  

     On the other hand,  it is particularly rare for a quarterback to perform well as a rookie, so in general I'm against taking quarterbacks too high. Nevertheless, fans and even pro teams consistently pin their hopes on a rookie quarterback to lead a quick turnaround, but it hardly ever happens.  Even if you look at the 2012 draft in which Luck, RG3 and Russell Wilson all excelled as rookies, they actually did not rank exceptionally high in their first year.  So if I were a GM I would probably consider Mariota as about the tenth best player in the draft, and I don't think he will be a great pro until 2016 or 2017.  But I think he will go number two overall.  

Marcus Mariota got beat up by OSU last year, but he might be the best guy out there.  Not sure that I agree with those who want to trade away three or four first rounders for him. 

2.  Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State, Height 6-6 Weight: 229 40 time:  5.14.

   There are glaciers that move faster than Sean Mannion, which is why many observers rank him as sixth or seventh round pick. In the NFL draft, evaluators hate slow quarterbacks.  However, in his junior year he threw for 4600 yards at Oregon State.   The career passing leader in the Pac-12 is not Marcus Mariota, but Sean Mannion.   Plus he has the reputation of being a very good student of the game, very diligent in his preparation.  I think he is the third or even second best quarterback in the draft, slightly ahead of Brett Hundley and Bryce Petty. I might be crazy, but Joel Klatt of Foxsports is saying the same thing.  I think he could possibly start in his rookie year, but would not be very good.  He might rank 30th in the league, say.  I would take him in the second  round, but I think he will go much later than that because of his lack of speed and scrambling ability.  I could also see drafting him ahead of Winston, based on lower risk.  

The Village Elliot will draft the 6 foot 6 kid to play qb if we need someone in the second round.  

3.   Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State, Height: 6-4. Weight: 231.  40 Time: 4.97. 

     Winston is the best passer in the draft, no question.  I don't mind him being slow, but I'm worried about his habit of finding trouble off the field.  It's not that he's a bad guy.  But to me the best quarterbacks are the guys that are totally immersed in football, fanatics about preparation in all phases of their lives, and never make missteps.  You can cite counterexamples, like Favre and Roethlisberger who were able to be great players, but I prefer the guy who lives and breathes football like Brady, Manning or Brees.   So I would want to learn more about his personality and work habits before falling in love with his arm.  Personally, I would send him all the way to the second round because of his off the field adventures,  but I believe he will go first overall because of his upside.  He is the best passer but has the most risk.   If I had to go with a sure thing, I would much rather have Mariota or even Sean Mannion. He will have a terrible first year quarterbacking Tampa Bay, much like Blake Bortles up the road in Jacksonsville.  

Browns fans, we are not trading half the team to get a quarterback who shoplifts crab legs.   We've had enough eccentric behavior from Johnny Football, thank you.   

4.  Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA, Height: 6-3. Weight: 227. 40 Time: 4.63. 

I have Hundley very close to Mannion, though most observers think that he is way better, ranking Hundley in the first round, with Mannion way back in the pack.  Hundley throws well, runs well and basically does everything well but does not have the gawdy stats in college that you would expect from a star performer.  Part of that was due to playing with a weak team with poor blocking from his offensive line. He did better in the combine than on the field, but I'm one that tends to judge the quarterback by his on-field performance more so than combine stats.  If you look at his results, he was definitely not as good as Mannion in college. So, I rank him as a second round pick, but he could go even in round 1, especially because of his excellent speed, which NFL scouts love.  

5.  Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor,  Height: 6-2. Weight: 230. 40 Time: 4.87. 

Bryce Petty is another guy who has been dinged for being a "system quarterback" (i.e., plays most of the time in a spread formation rather than under center), but this is not an overwhelming objection, in my opinion.  Petty can throw the ball, but his best year was actually his junior year when he threw for 32 TDs and only 3 INTs versus a 29/7 ratio this year.   Still, the Big 12 absolutely does not play pass defense and so take it for what it is worth.   Petty is a few ticks slower than  Hundley, and an inch shorter but probably very close in ability.   I think he may be drafted in the late second round, although some observers project him in the fourth round.  

6.  Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State, Height: 6-2. Weight: 215.  40 Time: 4.63. 

NFL scouts say Grayson is a decent prospect  with a strong arm that can make all the throws.  He has good speed and size and threw for 4000 yards with 32 TDs and only 7 INTs.  I would rather not start him in Year 1, but perhaps he could be developed into a good quarterback if there is a team willing to be patient with him (not the Browns!!).  

There are a number of other quarterbacks available in the draft, but in my view at least they are longshots.   These six are the ones that have the best chance of helping their teams as rookies, though it might be better to wait a year or two to let them develop.  

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