Unlike a season ago, this draft has serious depth at the most important position in football – quarterback. Still, that doesn’t mean there are any homeruns sitting among the pile of prospects like there was two years ago when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were both considered sure-fire future Hall of Famers likely to deliver ten or fifteen Super Bowl championships apiece (note the sarcasm). With that in mind, which quarterback coming out of the 2014 draft has the best chance to become an established franchise quarterback?
When quarterback prospects are discussed, former Texas A&M signal caller Johnny Manziel is almost always front and center, and with good reason. He brings with him an overt confidence that can breed success at football’s top level. Even so, he’s not without his problems. Manziel can be drastically inconsistent, and there’s concern that he lacks the scholarly ability to properly operate an NFL offense.
Teddy Bridgewater is another top candidate at the position. He brings athleticism to the position, but unlike other athletic quarterbacks currently in the NFL, Bridgewater is a throw-first player, meaning his eyes stay downfield before he decides to take off down the field. That should allow him to stay healthy compared to some of his counterparts on other teams around the league.
Blake Bortles is the other top-tier quarterback prospect in the draft. Like Bridgewater, he brings a big arm to the pocket. He’s less athletic than both Manziel and Bridgewater, but that’s not without its upside. Because he can’t rely on his own scrambling ability to bail himself out of a collapsing pocket, meaning he’s more likely to rely on and develop his own passing skills. That’s not to say that Bortles is a statue in the backfield, but don’t expect him to be escaping too often against NFL speed rushers.
There are, of course, other quarterbacks in the draft worth taking a long look at. Derek Carr and A.J. McCarron will likely be hot names in the second round of the draft, and as Russell Wilson has shown us since entering the league, franchise quarterbacks don’t have to come from the first round of the draft by any means.
Still, of the top quarterbacks, it appears that Teddy Bridgewater is best equipped to immediately lead his future team to success. His talent is more refined than Bortles and Manziel, and he has enough athleticism to allow him to be effective on the ground and through the air.
That doesn’t mean Bortles and Manziel are dead in the water. For them, success may take a big longer, but if they’re drafted by a team that can allow them to sit while they adjust to the NFL, they have the potential to be blockbuster players as well.
Looking at quarterbacks in the draft is always a crapshoot. As important as natural talent is, a player’s work ethic is equally as important, especially at this position. Quarterbacks have to be able to devote more time to study than other players on their teams, and that’s why they’re paid the big money. If we’re betting on which prospect will become a top quarterback in the league, Bridgewater’s where the money will be, but there’s no reason someone else can’t rise to an elite level in the NFL.