2014 NFL Draft: Ranking the Best QBs by Attributes


Besides winning the “Most Immature” category does Manziel have another top notch skill? (US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

Too much blame in losses, too much credit in wins is a hackneyed but accurate truism used to describe a few positions within the world of sports. The quarterback position is not just the most influential position likely in all of sports  as far as affecting wins and losses. It’s also one of the toughest positions to evaluate, scout and project to the next level.

When so many factors are relevant it can be tough to gauge what matters and what is trivial. That discussion is more suited for a historical and in depth review so here are some of those attributes scouts look for and which draft eligible prospects (those who have not taken themselves out of consideration) rank among of the best in each.

Strongest Arm

Derek Carr, Fresno St.

While it can very easily be overrated, arm strength counts. To succeed in the NFL you need to be able to squeeze the ball into tight windows and push the ball to the opposite sideline. Carr has tremendous velocity on his throws and even though he could actually dial it down a bit on intermediate passes, he’ll have no issue getting the ball to his receivers quickly enough to avoid the bigger and faster corners being able to break on the ball.

Stephen Morris, Miami

The Hurricanes under Al Golden are becoming more and more relevant just as Morris is on the scouting scene. He needs some considerable refinement and is rough around the edges, but he can fire the ball down field with velocity. The kid has a cannon.

Best Athlete

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Johnny Football is known for his immature off the field antics and on field wizardry. Most of that mystifying skill set is predicated on his ability to improvise on the move showing off insane agility, change of direction and speed.

Braxton Miller, Ohio St.

The Buckeyes are coming off a heart breaking loss in the Big Ten championship game, but the main reason they were even in the game was Miller’s ability to make plays with his feet. On the move he is like an elite half back as he is patient to let blocks develop then eludes defenders with a devastating jump cut and breakaway speed.

Most Accurate

David Fales, San Jose St.

One thing jumps off the page when evaluating Fales, his unreal completion percentage. Last year he finished with a nation’s best 72.5% (unreal) and while he came back down to earth a bit this year with 64.1% he finished off his career out dueling Derek Carr on 37/45 (82.2%!) for 547 yards, 6 TD and 0 INT.

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Arguably the best quarterback prospect in a loaded class Bridgewater is the total package with arm strength, mobility and pinpoint accuracy. Here is the Cardinal’s completion percentage the last three years, remarkebly improving steadily each season: 64.5%, 68.5% and 70.2%. It’s one thing to post such gaudy numbers but when you do it in a pro style offense that challenges the defense down field its extraordinary.

Tightest Spiral

Derek Carr, Fresno St.

Carr rips the ball with a compact and lightning quick release and every ball is a perfect spiral. Tim DeRuyter’s offense features a lot of quick bubble screens that require both a quick release and enough velocity in order to get the ball in the receiver’s hands as soon as possible. Carr’s aforementioned attributes have been a perfect fit for such a scheme.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

The Clemson Tigers pulled a Clemson again this year and unfortunately it cost Boyd a first round grade. His solid frame, running prowess and strong arm gives him loads of pro potential. He’ll leave you with a few head strachers each game but with also throw in an astonishingly perfect deep ball too, and when he does its usually due in part to a flawless spiral.

Top Intangibles

AJ McCarron, Alabama

Winning is a word that Charlie Sheen has an affection for. He must be an AJ McCarron fan. A career record of 36-3 with two national championships is the stuff of legends. To be fair, his defense and coach deserve just as much of the credit but McCarron has been the leader of the offense and steered them to victory after victory while making big plays in the clutch and limiting turnovers all game.

Connor Shaw, South Carolina

Praised by Gamecock fans, teammates and coaches Shaw epitomizes the word tough. On the field he plays with more than just poise and good mobility. He also plays with, or more aptly through, injuries that would leave most other players sidelined or on the couch. A factured shoulder blade and stress fracture with damaged ligaments to his foot only kept him on the bench for one game all of last year. He may be shorter at 6-1 than scouts would prefer, but they can’t honestly ask anymore from him in terms of leadership and toughness.

Most Durable Frame

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

Thomas has a Roethlisberger like frame and a similar ability to avoid being tackled cleanly. At 250 pounds there are quite a few linebackers that are actually much smaller than the guy they are supposed to be bringing down on a blitz. His strength gives him the luxury of being able to hang onto the ball a little longer, but that isn’t going to make him actually durable not matter how big and strong he is.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

While some scouts might scoff at his height, Boyd is solidly built and a bull on the ground. When he gets going he is tough to stop and will take on tacklers without fear. Again, like Thomas his frame itself is capable of taking on more hits than other lighter QBs, but anyone can get hurt if they take enough shots.

Pro Style Experience

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

As mentioned earlier Bridgewater’s accuracy and completion percentage are not just statistical accomplishments, they are legitimate signs of success at the next level. The Cardinals incorporate plenty of NFL caliber reads and throws so his numbers are not simply a product of a gimmicky scheme.

Aaron Murray, Georgia

Aaron Murray is one of the most experienced players in the country. The fifth year senior has been at the helm for the Bulldogs since his freshman season and excelled. 13,166 yards and 121 TD is impressive. Scouts will poke holes in his inability to win the big game and lack of athletic potential but they can’t question his wealth of knowledge and experience in a pro style scheme under Mark Ritch.

AJ McCarron, Alabama

With so many college teams running some form of the spread offense its tough to find a quarterback with experience in a pro style system. McCarron hasn’t been tasked with throwing the ball nearly as much as most quarterbacks but that’s more due to the dominance of Saban’s run heavy attack than an indictment on AJ’s ability. Nevertheless, Alabama is about as traditional as it gets on offense and McCarron has had lots of success.

Highest  Floor

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Bridgewater’s complete skill set makes him a top prospect and likely to have a limited bust factor. Besides his accuracy, arguably the most important attribute of a successful quarterback, there is no one part of his game that is truly elite or special like RGIII’s speed, Russell Wilson’s arm and leadership or Andrew Luck’s everything. But when every conceivable aspect is far above average, pretty good actually equates to a collective great.

AJ McCarron, Alabama

No matter how his pro career turns out it would be tough to call McCarron a failure. A two time champion who dates a stunning model (and interestingly an Auburn grad) there isn’t much to complain about. His winning attitude, composure under pressure and adequete skill set also means he is not a guy you’ll see out of the league before he’s ready either as a solid starter or a quality backup.

Highest Ceiling

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

We all expected Thomas to take the next step, and have been left waiting, and waiting and waiting. Going into the 2012 season, many draftniks, me included, ranked Thomas as high as #1 overall. It’s easy to see why. A former tight end with a well built 6’6 250 pound frame makes him impossible to tackle and his arm is among the best in the class too. If he ever figures it out the sky is the limit.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

The Clemson Tiger passing attack is unbelievably loaded with talent. On the outside you have 6’5 Martavis Bryant who has been clocked at a sub 4.4, and likely top ten pick Sammy Watkins. Throwing them the ball is the all time ACC leader in TD passes. Boyd will intruige teams with a unique brew of strength, mobility, and arm strength. He’s 6’1 or so but also displays fluid mechanics and the ability to change his arm angles to counteract the lack of height.


Top Seniors

Derek Carr, Fresno St.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Zach Mettenberger, LSU

Top Juniors*

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Blake Bortles, UCF

Top RS Sophomores*

Brett Hundley, UCLA

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

*Players who have not announced they will be returning to school

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28 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft: Ranking the Best QBs by Attributes”

  1. gatorade says:

    Earle every time you open your mouth ,which is frequently, you display your stupidity. You are a born hater of decency I only hate the evil nfl. I don’t know why I waste even a few seconds with a moron like you. Get a life, learn how to spell poison, and follow college football more. And Ido wish you a Happy New Year.

  2. gatorade says:

    very little comment on terrible play of lions stafford. he’s in his 4th year and stinks in most categories. oh but he has a great arm and is a pure pocket passer so he is an nfl qb. who sez so? what crap, what stupid logic- winning is the thing, i.e. v. lombardi. same with this idiot geno smith of jets. some qbs are drummed out of nfl because they “can’t” pass but they win. what nonsense. if a qb has a good win percentage and a good td to int ratio he should be an nfl qb. but a pocket passer pussy who looks good in practice IS an nfl qb huh. and of course geno and stafford ARE nfl types. this nonsense has evolved thru coaches who only know how to coach the pocket passers. they don’t want anything else because they are insecure and may lose their jobs. also they are afraid their qb may be injured out of the pocket- but he probably has a better chance for injury when being sacked in the pocket. the media has bought into this despite the success of newton and others. the dumb fans take the words of nfl coaches as golden gospel when the background of alot of nfl coaches like ryan sucks. fans arise and demand that the players who are tough, winning qbs play and get rid of the coaches little darlings like staffor, geno, ponder, weeden, schaub, palmer, romo, henne, gabbert, cutler, flynn etc etc ect etc etc etc. screw the criminal nfl, i’m going to make a new year resolution to boycott the nfl next year and only follow college ball which is a better game with real football players at qb and less criminals.

    • steve earle says:

      That’s right Gatoraid, one trick QB’s don’t win in the NFL and only the best, whether pocket passers or pass/run QB’s do. Your bitter, angry, hate filled posts will not change that so why not go curl up again with your blow up dolly with the #12 jersey and sulk some place else?
      Your friend blabbermouth.

  3. gatorade says:

    Speaking of QBs, the NFL is not only criminal in nature but run by coaches who are insecure and fringe lunatics. They persist in sticking with their stereotype QB even if the guy can’t win games anywhere near a consistent basis. I know Rodgers, Manning, Brady are true exceptions, but a fop like Stafford of Detroit is a perfect example of an NFl QB who has all the tools yet he has a lousy recored (25-35 ?) and throws tons of interceptions. But NFL really thinks he is a fine QB. Nonsense. He is a coward and a loser. And the Nfl is peppered by these type clowns. Simply amazing. Winning is the ticket, not style points. In the upcoming draft I’d take Manziel and a little general from Geogia Aaron Murray in the second round and I think if given a fair chance they’d win alot more games than a loser like Stafford who incidently wasn’t much of a winner in college even.

  4. steve earle says:

    At the risk of again being blown out of the water by reality come May I’m putting out my revised mock reflecting the most recent events. Reading that as of Sunday night Jace Amaro has not decided if he will stay or come out there is still a chance BB will have a chance at one of the 3 big name TE’s which I believe he would grab at. I’m still betting on a trade down and expect a 2nd and a 3rd in “14” min. So here goes.

    2a) Travis Swanson OC Ark
    2b) C J Fiedorowicz TE Iowa
    3a) DaQuan Jones DT Penn St
    3b) Ahmad Dixson SS Baylor
    4) Deshazor Everett CB Tex A&M
    6a) Spencer Long OG Neb
    6b) Isiah Lewis S Mich
    6 comp) Mason Walters OG Tex
    7) bpa
    7 comp) bpa

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      Good Mock steve I like Swanson, maybe better then Stork, but Swanson will go early. I will have to think about a Mock with a trade ! I like CB kyle Fuller, and still like Arthur Lynch at TE.

      • steve earle says:

        I don’t think Swanson goes in the 1st given the number of OT & OG in this draft Russell. High or mid 2nd is my guess. Our own 2nd is to low but if Bill gets a 2nd in the upper level we have a shot at Swanson or Stork. I’d be happy with either. I like Fuller but not so much Lynch. Be interested to see your trade draft you always have good ideas.

  5. steve earle says:

    The thing about the draft is it only matters what GM’s think about prospects not us. Making predictions is fun but I have yet to see more then one or two of my mocked players in any year drafted by BB and QB’s are easily the hardest to evaluate imo. It’s really far to early to make sound predictions even if such was possible any time really. I do think I, and others, may have panicked just a little when Gronk went down again and assumed we must take a TE. Having rethought things out I now guess it’s 50/50 Bill trades out of the 1st. Either way I do not see Bill drafting half the guys being touted because these guys will be expected to start early on and that will be reflected in their draft positions and thus contracts. Brady has four years left so I see a developmental QB, if BB takes one this year at all, that can be fit into the current system ( can’t have a 2nd system for a backup ) so the prospect must be a mid round guy from a pro style offense. Without knowing which underclassmen come out and which stay in school only guess work can be applied. My guess is Blake Bortles comes out because of the huge year he is having, and he fits the profile I suggested so would be the most likely QB for Bill to draft. Not that any of it will happen but what fun!

    • steve earle says:

      Oop’s, should have said half the QB’s being touted, sorry guys.

    • J H TARBORO says:

      good point Steve E.

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      Jace Amaro is returning to school. An interesting TE is Evan Wilson 6’6″ 255 , also Ted Bolser 6’6″ 252. These guys could be 4th-6th round picks for the Patriots.
      If Bill trades out of the first look for pick’s in the 2015 draft, as the Patriots may get 2 Compensatory picks a 6th and a 7th.
      Patriots 1sr pick to the Rams for 2nd, 2014 and 3d, 6th in 2015 draft.
      Still working on my up-dated mock, soon.

      • Alex says:

        Thanks Russell. I’ll check those guys out. I respect your opinion, but you to tend to overvalue a lot of guys in your mocks, and project terrible value in your trades. It is a nice change to the over enthusiastic mocks, which most (myself included tend to produce) where everyone falls a bit though.
        Last year, in a weak draft class, we swapped our first for a second, third and fourth. No way we get less than that, especially when they are future picks.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          Thanks Alex. I think I try to value draft picks, as I see them fitting in to the Patriots system. Also I tend to pick players in my mocks I feel will be on the board, and alot can happen on draft dayto change player availablity.
          Your right on my trades, I also tend to make deals I feel sure could happen, and there can always be more value added depending on how bad a team wants the pick. Last year Minn. wanted WR Patterson, so they gave 2nd,3d,4th,7th, which I feel was to much, but they wanted the guy. Projecting a trade before the draft, is not about any player, but more about position to hopefuly get someone. I think the Rams who have two 1st’s, may look to move up about 14-19 positions (from their 2nd)to get a 3d 1st pick, so there need is not as strong as knowing which player they will get, by waiting until the Patriots choice to trade for it.
          So for the Patriots 1st pick, the Rams get good value offering a 2nd, 2014 and 3d and 5th or 6th in 2015, and the Patriots get the mid draft 2nd they want, and future picks which do not involve players or salery cap this year. So I see the trade more about what the Patriots may want. Enjoy your thoughts thanks, I can tell your a football person!!

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          Alex also don’t forget, last year the Vikings draft trade included a 2nd pick (in the 50’s) where in my projection the Rams 2nd pick will be in the 40’s, which is added value. Next years Rams picks will be higher (less value) with their QB back they will be a better team. So it’s a fair deal for both teams; Patriots 1st for Rams 2nd (2014) and 3d, 6th (2015).

        • steve earle says:

          Really enjoy this exchange of ideas between you and Russell, Alex. I agree Russell tends to under value a bit and agree with you that if Bill trades down the !st he should be getting more then a 2nd in “14” and future picks particularly if the Rams want another 1st round pick. In any case We should expect, at min, a 2nd and 3rd in this draft. Anything else is optional this or next draft, but I’d still expect another pick this draft. Russell does make his mock trades and drafts based on a “more probable” chance of such happening. A good balance for those of us who sometimes stretch out crediblity.

          Russell you write that you expect Rams to be better next year but say there picks will be higher. Isn’t it just the other way around? Being a median level this year they pick in the middle of the rounds. If they improve, make the playoffs, then they will pick toward the bottom of each round. I can’t see much incentive for Bill to agree to picks in 2015 in such a case.

    • Alex says:

      Bortles will not make it to the mid rounds. He’s being touted as a top 10 guy. Unlikely he makes it out of the first, and will go high in the second at worst.

      • steve earle says:

        Really? I hadn’t seen that anywhere Alex. It sure isn’t reflected in this article but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t climb but a top 10? Wow!

      • steve earle says:

        Alex, I looked up Bortles on draft scout and your right he has moved up. They have him rated 1st/2nd round and second best QB by some scouts. Not surprised I liked what I saw from him early on. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      Mocks are fun and I enjoy projecting ever year. Last year I got Skunked on players I had chosen, but did get the positions right, LB 1st, WR, 2nd CB 3d.
      So here’s my up-dated mock, for now, ;0)
      1st CB Kyle Fuller
      2nd LB Shayne Skov
      3d OC Bryan Storks
      4th TE Evan Wilson
      6th TE Ted Bolser
      6th QB Jeff Mathews
      7th S Dazman Southward
      Compen. 6th OG mason Walters
      Compen. 7th RB Rajion Neal

  6. Alex says:

    Thanks Mark, interesting post.
    How about the best guys with respect to their ability to deal with pressure? Such an important skill for NFL QBs. Any thoughts?

    • MarcSluis says:

      Excellent point. I did really think about including things like throwing motion and release, ability to read coverage and definitely pocket presence but its a little tough to quantify. I honestly need to watch more tape to do that justice.

      • Alex says:


        I was thinking about those things too, and I asked because it is hard to judge, and I can’t do it.

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      I agree the pressure of playing in big games is important, and A.J. McCarron has played in alot of pressure games,.. and played well win or lose.

  7. J H TARBORO says:

    The 3 QBs that would possibly be a nice fit are AJ McCarron,Aaron Murray, and Blake Bortles based on the offense we have now, but we have to think much broader and down the road, we can’t imagine the Patriots without Brady and the next QB may never have same success as Brady. The 3 QBs above may be set up to fail in New England because of our expectations, and also we watching a change in college football with the dual threat QBs and how the pro game may change. My pick would be VT Logan Thomas.

  8. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I feel Manziel, Hundley, Thomas and Boyd are not going to be good NFL QB’s. Manziel, Hundley, and Bortles should stay in school, for next years draft.
    I think ; Bridgewater is 1st, Carr 2nd, McCarron 3d, Fales 4th, and Mettenberger is 5th in a drafting order.
    With the Partiots most likely trading out of the 1st round, they would be lucky to get A.J.McCarron with one of two 2nd round picks. I think it is MUCH more likely the Patriots look at a later pick for a QB Jeff Mathews, (6th) or Murray (because injured 5th-6th), or ????

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