NFL Combine Quarterbacks of Note
by Trevor Whenham - 2/24/2014
The quarterback class in the NFL Draft this year is very interesting. There are three guys all fighting to be the top pick in the draft — if the Texans do choose to take a quarterback. The two who aren’t picked first are likely to go very early in the draft. Outside of that, though, there is a whole lot of quarterback need but even more uncertainty about what order the quarterbacks available will be chosen. There are no standouts from the group, but there are a large pack of guys who could have what it takes. Because there is so much uncertainty in the top and second tiers of this QB draft, the Combine is more important for that position than it often is.
Here are five guys who had a lot on the line in Indianapolis and are worth talking about:
Blake Bortles, UCF: Bortles is one of three guys, along with Bridgewater and Manziel, thought to be in play for the top overall pick. He’s big and prototypical, and he’s perhaps a compromise pick for teams that are touchy about the other two. At the Combine his 40 time of 4.93 was slower than would have been hoped for because he has decent pocket mobility that he relies upon, but it’s not completely disastrous. He’s the only one of the top three who threw at the Combine, so he had a chance to shine. Depending upon who you ask, he did more or less fine. He showed off good arm strength, though he wasn’t dominant. His mechanics were mostly good, though they were a bit inconsistent at times. He reportedly interviewed very well when meeting with teams, though, and that helped his case more than anything. He didn’t lock up his draft position in Indianapolis, but he kept himself in play.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: “Johnny Football” tested but didn’t throw at the Combine. His 40 time of 4.68 was solid but a little bit disappointing given his reputation for speed. He did show off a lot of quickness by posting the top short shuttle time. Not throwing wasn’t a big deal as long as he performs well at his pro day. What stood out for him, though, was how well he did in the interviews. Teams are understandably a bit concerned about his cocky, hard-partying reputation. He tempered some of those concerns, though, by showing real maturity and showing that he is working hard to leave that in the past and act like a pro. There will be all sorts of debate about Manziel between now and draft day, but nothing he did at the Combine added any fuel to his critics.
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: Bridgewater only participated in the jumping portion of the tests, so we really didn’t see much from him. That’s not a big factor, though. The biggest knock against Bridgewater is his lack of bulk. He has been adding weight effectively so far since the season ended, and he will keep doing so aggressively. It makes sense for him to wait until his pro day to show off the impact of that gain to give himself as much time as he can. There is pressure on his pro day now, but Bridgewater is by far the most polished and game-ready of the top three, so he had the least to prove at the Combine. The downside risk was much more than the potential for gain, so he wisely stayed on the sidelines.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: This obscure performer has been gaining a lot of buzz, and he really ratcheted that up with his performance at the Combine. Beyond the top three, the pecking order for quarterbacks is wide open, and there are a lot of QB-hungry teams, so there is a lot of opportunity for a QB to move up and land in a good position. Garoppolo certainly helped his case here. He was the best passer at the Combine, and that was important because his game tape is against weaker opponents. The biggest knock is that he threw out of the shotgun in college, so if a team wants him under center he is going to require a lot of work, and there is a lot of risk. His throwing performance at the Combine did nothing to ease those concerns.
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech: Another guy who really helped himself at the Combine was Thomas. He was beyond impressive in the physical testing. His 4.61 in the 40 was tops among quarterbacks, and he was also best in both vertical and broad jumps, and second in short shuttle. For a guy who is 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, that is impressive and will have scouts drooling. He needs to really work on his mechanics and accuracy, so he is going to be more of a project than a lot of quarterbacks. Given the physical tools he displayed, though, he made it more likely that teams will be willing to invest the time in him.
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