NEPD Editor: James Christensen
It was a tall of two redshirt sophomores. Both started slowly, but eventually wowed their fans and NFL scouts alike.
Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA) and Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon) could be top five picks this coming spring. Read on to see how they fared this weekend.
Marcus Mariota (Oregon) vs Tennessee
The first thing I noticed when watching Mariota against the Volunteers was his eye discipline. You can excuse a redshirt-sophomore for staring down a receiver every once in a while, but Mariota was able to manipulate defenders with his gaze.
After starting off a bit high on wide on many of his throws, Mariota stepped it up and started making NFL throws left and right. Pinpoint swing passes. A back-shoulder throw in between a quartet of Volunteers. Leading receivers perfectly to maximize yardage after the catch. It really was pretty to watch.
And that speed… he isn’t the “Wild Ostritch” type of runner that Colin Kaepernick is, he is much smoother and looks to have better lateral agility.
With the Cleveland Browns recent acquisition of a second first round draft pick – traded to the Colts for Trent Richardson – I wouldn’t be shocked to see Mariota be the pick in Cleveland.
Brett Hundley (UCLA) vs Nebraska
Hundley, in the wake of the death of one his teammates, started off sluggishly against the Cornhuskers. His ball-handling wasn’t clean and made a poor throw and read on an early interception. He soon settled down and started to lead the Bruins out of a 21-3 hole.
One of the more impressive throws that I saw Hundley make was a deep 17-yard out that got there just as the window was closing. The read was quick and the ball had NFL velocity.
Another play that stood out featured Hundley reading both sides of the field – something that not all sophomores are capable of doing – going through two progressions, not seeing what he likes and finally hitting his check-down to move the chains. That play showed maturity beyond one season of experience. Part of being an NFL quarterback is knowing when to take the four yard gain.
Hundley isn’t as fast as Mariota – few are – but he has enough speed and power to make first downs and chew up a lot of yardage if given the room. He has the Big Ben-esque size and power combination to shrug off would-be tacklers and the agility to reset and either pass or run.
If Hundley declares – far from a sure thing – he could be a top five selection.
Current Top Ten Quarterbacks
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville*
2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon**
3. Brett Hundley, UCLA**
4. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
5. David Fales, San Jose State
6. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M**
7. Derek Carr, Fresno State
8. Stephen Morris, Miami
9. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
10t. Brett Smith, Wyoming*
10t. Blake Bortles, Central Florida*
10t. AJ McCarron, Alabama
10t. Aaron Murray, Georgia