O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: Rating the quarterbacks

Posted May 5, 2014

In the sixth installment of his draft preview series, Detroitlions.com columnist Mike O'Hara rates the top quarterbacks available

There is everything in this year’s draft that a team could want for the prototype of the 21st Century NFL quarterback.

Size, athleticism, production, leadership, charisma – it’s all there.

But there’s one thing lacking. None of this year’s prospects has it all. In fact, a lot of analysts think there is too much lacking for any of this year’s prospects to qualify as a true franchise quarterback.

For size, there is Blake Bortles of Central Florida – 6-foot-5, 232 pounds, but he's not equipped with the strongest arm.

Johnny Manziel has an abundance of leadership, production and charisma. But lack of size for Johnny Football, who won the 2012 Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M, puts him at risk of injury with his scrambling, play-ground style.

Teddy Bridgewater came out of Louisville looking groomed for the pro game, with a smooth, fluid release and an ability to read defenses and deliver the ball quickly.

And on it goes, bits and pieces --- some bigger than the others  -- of a franchise quarterback. But no one has it in one package to compare with what Andrew Luck brought to the NFL when the Colts drafted him first overall in 2012.

That won’t keep teams from drafting quarterbacks in the first round. It’s a needy position, and teams often are willing to stretch their prospect ratings to fill their need.

The Houston Texans earned the No. 1 pick by going 2-14 last year. Their fans have made it known that they want them to draft Manziel. That could make it tough on any other player the Texans draft first, especially if it’s a quarterback. And Manziel has said the Texans would be making a mistake if they don’t draft him.

The Texans haven’t indicated which way their leaning, but most mock drafts have them taking defensive end Jadeveon Clowney – assuming they don’t trade the pick.

Manziel obviously would prefer that the Texans keep the pick and draft him.

“I think it would be extremely cool,” he told reporters at the Combine earlier this year. “I’m a Texas guy, born and raised in Texas. I’ve never really left the state. For them to have the first pick means a lot to me.”

Don’t sell him short because of size, either.

“I feel like I play like I’m 10 feet tall,” Manziel said. “A measurement to me is just a number.”

O'Hara's Top 10 quarterback prospects
1 Blake Bortles Central Florida 6'5 232 4.88
2 Johnny Manziel Texas A&M 6'0 207 4.63
3 Teddy Bridgewater Louisville 6'2 214 4.67
4 Derek Carr Fresno State 6'2 217 4.67
5 Jimmy Garoppolo Eastern Illinois 6'2 224 4.94
6 A.J. McCarron Alabama 6'3 220 4.90
7 Zach Mettenberger LSU 6'5 224 5.18
8 Tom Savage Pittsburgh 6'4 228 4.97
9 Logan Thomas Virginia Tech 6'6 248 4.54
10 Aaron Murray Georgia 6'1 207 4.84


The best:

Black Bortles, Central Florida: He has the classic physical dimensions NFL teams are looking for, but not elite arm strength. As a full-time starter his last two seasons he threw 50 TD passes against 16 interceptions. His completion rate was well over 60 percent both years. He led Central Florida to records of 11-3 in 2012 and 12-1 in 2013 with wins that season over Penn State, Louisville and Baylor. The only loss was by three points to South Carolina.

The rest

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M:  He is one of the most debated and analyzed quarterback prospects. His size, playing style and behavior off the field raise questions. What is not in dispute is his play-making ability and the excitement he brings to the game. His stats are incredible: 26 TD passes and 21 rushing TDs as a red-shirt freshman in 2012, 37 TD passes and 13 rushing TDs in 2013. If he were two inches taller, he’d be the first player drafted.

Teddy BridgewaterQB Teddy Bridgewater (Photo: AP Images)

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: His stock has declined, largely because of a lackluster performance at his Pro Day. He finished off his career as a three-year starter with 31 TD passes, 4 completions, and a 71-percent completion rate in 2013. He earned his degree in sports administration in only three years. He could stand to add bulk to his slender frame, but Tom Brady isn’t exactly a muscle man, either.

Derek Carr, Fresno State: He’s a popular choice as “the other quarterback” for people injecting a quarterback into the upper ranks. His brother, David, was drafted first overall by Houston in 2002. Derek had a 113-24 ratio of TD passes to picks in his last three seasons, with a 50-8 split in 2013. As a five-year student who is married, he’s more mature than most prospects.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: Comparisons to Eastern Ill. alum Tony Romo are obvious and valid. However, Garoppolo will get drafted. Romo entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. Jimmy G won the Walter Payton Award in 2013 as the best FCS division player after throwing for 5,050 yards, 53 TDs and 9 picks. His career won-lost record is 23-22. That’s a lot like Romo, too.

A.J. McCarron, Alabama: There is no question about his ability to manage the offense and win games on the collegiate level. National Championships in 2011-12 validate that. He had 74 TD passes and 15 picks in his last three seasons as the full-time starter for the Crimson Tide and a 36-4 career record as a starter. He’s a good leader, but there are doubts about his upside.

Zach Mettenberger, LSU: He had severe character issues early. He was a red shirt at Georgia in 2009 but was dismissed from the team in 2010 after pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. After a JC season, he enrolled at LSU and became a starter in 2012. His stats aren’t eye-popping – 34 TDs, 15 interceptions the last two years – and he’s coming off a knee injury that delayed his offseason conditioning. He’s a drop-back, stand-in-the-pocket prospect with a strong arm.

Tom Savage, Pittsburgh: He should have majored in travel. He started out at Rutgers in 2009, transferred to Arizona in 2011, then to Pitt – after first trying to return to Rutgers -- after Arizona hired Rich Rodriguez and Savage figured he did not fit the offense. The 2013 season was his first as a full-time starter since ’09. He had 21 TD passes and 9 picks in ’13. His arm strength and fluid delivery have his stock rising.

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech: A team thinking about phasing out a veteran could take Thomas as a development project. He was an outstanding high school tight end who converted to quarterback. He has size, athleticism and arm strength, but his game needs to be tuned. The stats his last three years weren’t great – 53 TDs, 33 picks – with a 26-14 won-lost record. He set the school record for rushing TDs by a QB in 2011 with 11. That’s surprising, considering Michael Vick also played at Virginia Tech.

Aaron Murray, Georgia: He succeeded Matthew Stafford at Georgia and put up 121 TD passes and 13,166 yards, both career-records in the SEC. He’s not as big as Stafford, and has short arms and smallish hands. Murray won’t take over anyone’s offense but could be a backup.

Lions depth chart: Matthew Stafford is the starter. Dan Orlovsky was signed as the backup, replacing Shaun Hill, who signed with the Rams after four seasons in Detroit. Kellen Moore has been No. 3 the last two years.

Lions’ draft probability: Taking a quarterback with a late-round pick is a strong possibility, especially if an athletic prospect is on the board.