Bessire: QB Ranks and Projections
Again this year, we have included an impact score (0 - 10 scale) for each player. This score is a relative value based on the projections that can put players in context across positions and draft classes. A score of seven or above can generally outperform a replacement player in the NFL at his position as a rookie; an eight or above can be expected to start adequately and a player with a rating over nine is a unique, standout player who could star.
As a matter of context, at this time last year, using the same process, the top five quarterbacks had scores of: Geno Smith (8.2), Landry Jones (7.5), Matt Barkley (7.3), EJ Manuel (7.2) and Tyler Bray (7.0).
In 2012, as one would expect, given what we seen in the last two seasons, the rankings looked very different. At that time, the top five quarterbacks had scores of: Robert Griffin III (9.5), Andrew Luck (9.1), Russell Wilson (8.5), Brandon Weeden (8.0) and Nick Foles (8.0).
In other words, seven quarterbacks in this year's class rank as good as or better than the second best QB from last year, but none of this year's quarterback prospects is anywhere near the level of quarterback we saw at the top of the 2012 draft. Geno Smith, 2013's outlier in our projections, technically would rank third in the 2014 class (when rounded to the hundredth of a point), with essentially the same grade as Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel.
The best quarterback in this year's draft class would have ranked as the 12th best among the top 250 in 2013's non-offensive lineman rankings. Given that the 2014 NFL Draft is deeper in impact talent than 2013 and that there are many talented offensive linemen (which we will include in the top 250 this year) this season, we are not expecting any quarterback to rank in the draft's top 25 overall prospects (though two QBs should still rank within the top 32 or so).
For the most part, the 2014 quarterback rankings follow the consensus QB rankings discussed within the mainstream media at this moment. Bridgewater, Manziel and Blake Bortles, commonly referred to as the "big three" among prospects, are all within our top four overall. The consensus top six quarterbacks in media rankings also includes AJ McCarron, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. McCarron and Carr both fit into our top six overall (more on Garoppolo below).
The lone exception among our highly ranked quarterbacks not getting much draft buzz is Tahj Boyd. Boyd is an experienced (40 starts) player who consistently improved throughout his career in a unique offense while put up prolific numbers in a conference that also improved while he was there (as did the non-conference schedule). There is not one number from Boyd's career or measureables that stands out as indicative of a future star, but there is nothing (aside from a bit of a "gimmicky" offensive scheme, which we account for in the numbers) that warns of likely demise in the NFL either. The NFL does not like to put much early draft stock into players that are safe bets to contribute as spot starters/valuable career back-ups, but Boyd is about as safe of a bet to qualify as that as there is in this year's draft.
Aaron Murray, one of Matt Richner's favorites in this class, would rank fourth on this list if fully healthy. Early-career reliability is big in this analysis and Murray's knee injury places a massive hit on that – more so than Zach Mettenberger because of Murray's small size/stature.
Some players with lower scorers, yet higher variance (potential "boom or bust" players) include: Connor Shaw, Stephen Morris, James Franklin, Casey Pachall and Logan Thomas. By 2017, most of these players will be out of the league, however, whether it be due to scheme fit, coaching, luck and/or motivation, one or two of the players in this group could also be a quality starter in 2017.
Jimmy Garoppolo is simultaneously the most touted quarterback that we do not project to succeed and the toughest to project given the level of competition at Eastern Illinois. One would expect a player of his alleged capabilities to dominate at the FCS level and that simply did not happen, which typically leads to a bust. For what it's worth though, from strictly a scoring perspective, Garoppolo (6.7) is a tenth of a point ahead of Mike Glennon of 2013 and Ryan Tannehill from 2012 and is almost a full point ahead of our 2011 projection for Blaine Gabbert.
QB 2014 Projected NFL Rookie Pass Data
QB 2014 Projected Rush Data