Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Fan-Addict's Power Rankings: NCAAF QBs

1. Jameis Winston: The Heisman Trophy winner rightfully took home the hardware this past season after an outstanding freshman campaign. Even though he has been spoiled by outstanding talent all around, you could sense something was special about this kid ever since his 25/27, 356 yard and 4 touchdown performance against the Pitt Panthers in Florida State's first game of the season. Putting all of the negative attention Winston has garnered aside, he has performed effectively in all of his games, blocking all of the negative attention. Given Florida State's offense, Winston figures to make a smooth transition into most pro schemes. I expect him to declare for the draft at the end of next season and I think he will be drafted early in the 1st round.

2. Teddy Bridgewater: I've been high on this kid ever since his freshman season because I think he has all the tools to succeed as a quarterback. He is deadly accurate and athletic; however, he also demonstrates a drive and will to win. Just look at last year's Sugar Bowl. Louisville has not faced many challenges this season and the team could not execute late in their lone loss to an upstart UCF team. However, Bridgewater has consistently demonstrated his knack for football and his smart decision making. I personally think that he was too highly touted at the beginning of the season because the media covered him as if he was the lone bright spot for a very solid Louisville team. Give him credit for maintaining a workmanlike approach to football and not making a stint on the social scene. Teddy is a smart, humble quarterback who showed tremendous upside this season, especially in his last two games against Cincinnati and Miami (FL). He refused to be tackled before converting a key 3rd-and-long late against the Bearcats and he was superb against Miami, leaving the Hurricanes scratching their heads and wondering what could have been if Bridgewater had been their signal caller instead of Stephen Morris. I expect him to be drafted early in the 1st round.

3. Johnny Manziel: Manziel has always attracted attention, both positive and negative. After winning
the Heisman Trophy last year, everyone wanted to see how he would develop. Sophomore slump? Nope. Maturation as a passer? You betcha. Manziel and Texas A&M have not enjoyed the success they experienced last season, but Manziel has become a much better passer. We all knew he could scramble, improvise and throw on the run, but this season, he has been able to sit in the pocket and make all sorts of throws. College football's public enemy #1 can come off as arrogant, but he is a competitor nonetheless. Just look at his last game of the season, a comeback 52-48 win over Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. He has benefited by throwing to Mike Evans, a quality NFL prospect, so given the team Manziel is drafted by, he could enjoy similar success with a good receiving corp. My bet is that he will land on a team that has talent, but just missed out on the playoffs since I think he will go in the middle of the 1st round. Any NFL team that picks him up will be sure to straighten out his behavior off the field.

4. Marcus Mariota: Even though Oregon did not win the PAC 12 in a year that may be considered disappointing by some in Eugene, Mariota has demonstrated that he has the natural tools to succeed in college football as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks we have seen in a while. He has a good pocket presence and makes good reads and throws. He is also deadly fast. His decision to stay at Oregon for another year is a good one because I think that he needs time to develop more facets to his game, or else he won't be able to adjust to the NFL with just speed and a knowledge of the zone read offense. I think he draws comparisons to Colin Kaepernick due to similar build and a similar style of play. However, when Kaepernick came out of Nevada running the pistol offense, he wasn't ready for the NFL. His throwing motion was raw, and it still is to an extent, and he managed an college-style offense. I expect a team to take Mariota very early in the 1st round in next year's draft, but that team would be wise to develop his football IQ for professional offenses and defenses by sitting him for a years.

5. Derek Carr: Everyone was thinking, "Not another overrated Carr" when Fresno State and its signal caller gained national recognition. The thing is, the younger Carr is better than his brother and has proved it over his senior season. It's been a long time coming for Carr to prove his mettle as he is one of the few highly touted senior quarterbacks in college football; however, he has grown with Fresno State. His teammates have gotten better and he returned the favor this past season by slinging the ball for 5082 yards and 50 TDs with 8 INTs. He has the physical tools to perform; however, my concern is how he will manage NFL defenses since they are much, much better than anything he has seen in the Mountain West. His performance is the Las Vegas Bowl was not a red flag, per se, but it did show that he needs developing. That is why I think he will be drafted late in the 1st round by a team that has a solution at quarterback, but would like to develop Carr for seasons to come.

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