2015 NFL Draft Report: Quarterbacks

Possibly the most polarizing position in all of sports, the starting quarterback of any given franchise is expected to deliver the goods, or be run out of town. As the years pass, young quarterbacks are given shorter leashes as new talent is always freshly available.

This year promises a variety of suspect at best quarterbacks throughout. Mariota, Winston, Huntley, Petty, and Halliday are all prospects that could make an impact on a team, if not right away, then a while down the road. I will cover some of the strengths and weaknesses of these QB’s while also giving their best fit in my opinion.

Jameis Winston is the favorite to be the first overall pick by the Tampa Bay Bucs. After completing his second year at Florida State, the troubled young QB decided it was time to move on from the college scene and take his shot at the NFL. He boasts an impressive array of collegiate accomplishments including as many losses as he has Heisman Trophies.

His ability to make plays from outside the pocket and extend plays inside of the pocket is unparalleled in this class. Arm strength will not be a worry for Winston as he can make all the NFL throws with a fairly smooth motion. Most of his red marks come from off the field issues, but his ball security on the field is more of a worry for NFL scouts. Even with his checkered past I would be surprised if the Bucs didn’t take him first overall. This would make sense for him as he can stay close to home, and in a small market where there are less distractions to derail his progress.

Another option for the Bucs at first overall is the current Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Mariota’s stats last year were incredible, posting a near perfect QBR for the season. His in pocket awareness and ability to move a fast paced up tempo system make him an interesting prospect. His arm strength is a minor concern if he is to be drafted in a bad weather spot, and his smaller hands make it easy to pop the ball out for savvy veteran pass rushers.

Recent draft boards by ESPN’s Todd McShay have him going as early as No. 2 to Tennessee, but a better fit for him may be further down in the first round such as a San Diego where he could be weaned into the system while Rivers gracefully bows out in his last year or two with the Chargers.

UCLA’s Brett Hundley might be the single most interesting prospect in this draft from a developmental standpoint. His numbers and college record weren’t particularly impressive, but his dual threat ability may have teams trading up to snatch him late in the first round.

He brings a flare from the rushing standpoint that rival’s former pro-bowl QB Michael Vick. The thing he has that Vick didn’t is decent size and a thicker frame. Some questions of his decision making and ball handling will come up in any draft room in which his name is mentioned, but for a team not looking to start a rookie right away there is great value in him as a pick. Don’t be shocked if a team like Denver, New Orleans, or New England make a move on Hundley, but he’s more likely to fall to Tennessee in the second if Mariota is not selected second overall.

Bryce Petty has a cannon for an arm and ran a run and gun system at Baylor that was piling up numbers that are absurd. His cannon arm can’t cover up his limited mobility, shaky decision making, what appears to be a lack of a clutch gene, and an overall spotty accuracy. A good place for him in the third or fourth would be a place with a developed QB that isn’t sold on them as the long term answer. A team like Atlanta, Chicago, or Cincinnati would make a lot of sense for this young man.

Finally a QB who isn’t getting much if any draft coverage is Connor Halliday, a QB with numbers that are head spinning. Washington State has been a barren wasteland for college football over the past decade, but in recent years Halliday made this team fun to watch over the past few. He is a raw prospect coming off a serious season ending injury and is likely to be a late round draft pick if he is drafted at all. His measurable match up to anyone in the class and his mobility is deceivingly impressive. His arm strength is suspect at best, but his accuracy and decision making has always been fairly on point. I’d like to see him get an opportunity on a roster that is unsure about their QB situation in general. St. Louis, Tennessee, and Cleveland could all be possible landing spots for this low risk high reward prospect.

This class of quarterbacks has been dissected and beaten down by much of the media who consider them a less than average crop of players, but I think there are several gems to be discovered here. The draft will begin on April 30.