Sunday, March 15, 2015

Top Quarterbacks for 2015 Draft

by Derek Rampulla

1) Jameis Winston, Florida State Seminoles
Height: 6'4          Weight: 231
Career Passing Stats: 7964 Yards, 66.1% Completion, 65 TDs, 28 INTs
Career Rushing Stats: 284 Yards, 1.8 Yards Per Carry, 7 TDs

Jameis Winston is far and above the best quarterback in the draft. He is a better prospect than Mariota, and many scouts believe that he is the second best quarterback prospect in the last fifteen years (the first being Andrew Luck). He has so many of the features that usually take years in the NFL to hone in on at such a young age. It is crazy to think how much better he could be if he didn't play baseball in the spring. I think that his most impressive trait is his ability to feel pressure and react to it in the pocket. He has a great feel for opposing defenses and knows how to move around to get the best platform to throw from. Unlike a lot of young quarterbacks, he doesn't feel the need to break the pocket and pick up yards with his feet. He is more than capable of doing so, but he is a passer first who always keeps his eyes down field and is looking to make a play with his arm. Winston is also used to running a pro style offense which will give him a leg up on the other quarterbacks, especially Mariota. A lot of quarterbacks who come from some type of spread offense often struggle with the transition to a pro offense. He already has the familiarity of the system, and his high football IQ should make his transition to the pros as painless as possible. His IQ will serve him well from the get go as he already has a great understanding of blitzing concepts and knows how to change his protection. Winston also has a great arm, possibly one of the best, and will be able to fit passes into tight windows. His only real knocks besides off the field issues are his lower body mechanics. I have rarely seen him step into his throw as the normal motion goes. He has such a powerful arm that he doesn't need to step into his throws to get velocity on the ball. Surprisingly, he maintains very good accuracy and ball placement, but he will have to work out that issue for the pros. Other than that, the only real negative to his game right now is his elongated throwing motion. From playing baseball, he has a slightly more dragged out motion that could cause passes to get tipped at the next level. He also won't have as much room in the pocket in the NFL, and when it takes longer to get your pass of it opens you up to fumbles. But aside from those two issues, I think that Winston is as ready as they come. There is little doubt he will be a starter for the first game regardless of who drafts him.

2) Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks
Height: 6'4          Weight: 222
Career Passing Stats: 10,796 Passing Yards, 66.8% Completion, 105 TDs, 14 INTs
Career Rushing Stats: 2237 Yards, 6.7 Yards Per Carry, 29 TDs

I see the debate between Winston and Mariota a lot like the debate between Andrew Luck and RG3. One is good athlete who has a great grasp on the pro game while the other is a superb athlete with high upside. Mariota definitely has all the athleticism in the world for a quarterback as he routinely picks up big yardage when plays begin to break down. On top of that, Mariota is a lot like Winston in the sense that he keeps his eyes down field as long as he can before he takes off. The problem with this is that Mariota tends to break the pocket a lot more frequently than Winston will, and that is something that he absolutely has to change to succeed. There has been a lot of debate regarding Mariota ever since the championship game, but it was clear to see even last year that there were going to be some issues in Mariota's transition to the NFL. He has a lot of the same problems that you get with a spread quarterback, or any quarterback who seems to find success in a high powered offense. He will have to adapt to the pro system which is not always easy for someone who comes from a system like Oregon's. The Ducks run an offense that simplifies the game greatly for the quarterback. Most of them have relied on their athleticism to make plays, but it has been proven that you have to win from the pocket to be successful in the NFL. The championship game against Ohio State showed that he really doesn't feel comfortable with down field throws when he doesn't have a clean pocket. Mariota is apparently a really smart guy, so if he is drafted into the right system he could easily become a very good player. He has a very good arm, so once he gets some reps under his belt he should not have a lot of problems making all the necessary throws. He also has a very compact release which will serve him well when things break down. He might not be as ready as Winston is, but he definitely has the potential to become a very good player.

3) Garrett Grayson, Colorado State Rams
Height: 6'2          Weight: 213
Career Passing Stats: 9190 Yards, 68.8% Completion, 64 TDs, 27 INTs
Career Rushing Stats: 283 Yards, 1.3 Yards Per Carry, 4 TDs

Grayson doesn't have the same publicity as either Winston or Mariota, but he is a solid quarterback who has a good chance of being the third quarterback taken. He really isn't worthy of a first round pick, but he could definitely be taken by a team that will be getting rid of a quarterback in the next few years. He already has a lot of tools in place, but just needs some refinement in his game. Grayson has a very strong arm that allows him to make more plays. He can get the ball outside of the numbers and get it down field. He doesn't have a cannon, but it should be sufficient at the next level. Despite his arm strength, he does tend to struggle a bit with his accuracy down field. Against some of the better teams he faced, he had some issues with connecting on passes over twenty yards. This kind of goes hand in hand with the other weakness in his game which is ball placement. He has good short to intermediate accuracy, but sometimes he doesn't always lead his receiver well and can miss some plays. He did not take a lot of snaps from directly under center, but he is a player who will stand tall in the pocket. He has lapses with feeling the pressure at times, but he is not the kind of player to try and run when he doesn't have his first read. Grayson goes through his progressions very well and does a good job of not locking onto a receiver. He is definitely a guy that is going to have to sit for a couple of years, but Grayson could be a steal in the second round if picked by the right team.

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