There’s usually a lot of pre-draft debate when it comes to the quarterback position, and that’s certainly the case this year. There has been a lot of conversation about who the top prospect at the position is, and also about just how early the top quarterbacks should be drafted.
Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Miami native Teddy Bridgewater have been recognized as the top three quarterbacks in this year’s draft, but none of them is being viewed as the same kind of can’t-miss prospect as Andrew Luck a couple of years ago. Because of that, speculation has ranged from the three quarterbacks being top 10 picks to none of them getting selected that early. What does seem obvious is that this year’s class is much better than the 2013 group, which had E.J. Manuel as the only first-round pick and only three taken in the first three rounds.
The Dolphins have drafted 28 quarterbacks through the years, including four in the first round — Ryan Tannehill
in 2012, Dan Marino in 1984, Bob Griese in 1967 and Rick Norton in the AFL draft in 1966. Interestingly, while the Dolphins have taken four quarterbacks in the second round and three in the fourth, they have never selected one in the third round. BREAKING DOWN THE TOP QUARTERBACK PROSPECTS (In Alphabetical Order)
A two-year starter at Central Florida, where he joined former Dolphins starter Daunte Culpepper as the only quarterbacks to throw for 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons, Blake Bortles isn’t a finished product but has great upside. Given his physical dimensions, Bortles brings to mind Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, except that Bortles has more foot speed than Big Ben while not being as good a passer. Even though he had a productive 2012 season, Bortles really emerged as a big-time NFL prospect last fall when he helped UCF win seven games by seven points or less, including a three-point victory against Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals.
After a stellar career at Northwestern High School, Teddy Bridgewater was set to attend the University of Miami before a coaching change prompted him to reverse course and head to Louisville. The move certainly worked out for Bridgewater and the school after he put together a remarkable three-year career, which began in 2011 when he was a true freshman. Bridgewater earned first-team All-Big East honors in 2012 before settling for second-team accolades in the new American Athletic Conference last year. Bridgewater completed 68.4 percent of his passes during his time at Louisville, ending his collegiate career with a masterful performance (35-for-45, 445 yards, three TDs, no INTs) against Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl last December. Bridgewater is an accurate passer with great intangibles, but there are concerns about his slight build and his arm strength.
The younger brother of 2002 first overall pick David Carr, Derek Carr rewrote the Fresno State record books when he became the first quarterback in school history with three consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons. Carr set a Mountain West Conference record with 4,104 passing yards in 2012 and easily beat it last fall with 5,083 yards. Carr is a strong-armed passer who can make all the throws, but he operated out of the shotgun throughout his college career and he also benefited from playing in a wide-open offense and against mediocre defenses. In his last collegiate game, Carr struggled against USC in the Las Vegas Bowl as he completed a season-low 55.6 percent of his passes and passed for 217 yards, 174 below his season average.
After succeeding Ryan Tannehill as the quarterback at Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel became the most dissected player in college football over the past two years. After becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in 2012, Manziel followed up with another brilliant season highlighted by his slicing up of the vaunted Alabama defense in mid-September. While there is no denying Manziel’s productivity, he has come under scrutiny for his off-the-field choices and for his style. Manziel is a dynamic athlete, as evidenced by his 11 300-yard passing games and nine 100-yard rushing games in his two years at Texas A&M. But Manziel did his best work off broken plays, whether it be scrambling for big yardage or finding open receivers while on the move. There’s a question as to whether Manziel’s style will work in the NFL, particularly given the fact he’s not big and could find himself taking a lot of big shots.
Zach Mettenberger began his collegiate career at the University of Georgia before he was kicked off the team after an off-the-field incident and ended up at LSU after leading Butler (Kan.) Community College to the JUCO national championship game in 2010. Mettenberger is the prototypical pocket passer with great size and great arm strength, and he benefited from playing in a pro-style offense run by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the former Dolphins head coach. Mettenberger didn’t put up huge numbers in his two seasons as a starter at LSU, but part of that was the result of the Tigers’ balance on offense. Because of his size and strong arm, Mettenberger has great potential as an NFL quarterback, but he’s also been criticized for not making quick decisions and for being rattled easily by a pass rush. Mettenberger also is coming off a torn ACL, which kept him out of LSU’s bowl game last season.THE BEST OF THE REST (In Alphabetical Order)David Fales
San Jose StateJimmy Garoppolo
Eastern IllinoisA.J. McCarron
Virginia TechBREAKING DOWN THE QUARTERBACK CLASSOther small-school prospects to watch:
Jeff Mathews, Cornell; Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M NFL bloodlines:
SMU’s Garrett Gilbert is the son of former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert, who played for the Seahawks, Bills and Chargers … North Carolina’s Bryn Renner is the son of Bill Renner, a punter who appeared in six games with the Green Bay Packers in 1986-87. Long shot to watch:
Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has been one of college football’s best quarterbacks the last couple of years, but the combination of less-than-ideal size (6-1, 220), a poor performance in a nationally televised game against Florida State last fall, and a bad week at the Senior Bowl left most analysts pegging him as a late-round pick at best. But let’s not forget that Russell Wilson also doesn’t have great size and let’s not forget that Boyd was tremendous in bowl games the last two years (72 percent, 346 yards, two touchdowns against LSU; 77.5 percent, 378 yards, five TDs against Ohio State).