2015 QB Class leaves much to be desired after Mariota, Winston

Story posted March 2, 2015 in CommRadio, Sports, NFL Draft by Kristopher Rogers

Once Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston come off the 2015 NFL Draft board, their remain question marks abound amongst the other options at the quarterback position.

UCLA’s Brett Hundley is an interesting prospect. At 6’3”, 226 lbs, he has the frame to handle the punishment an NFL quarterback takes, but his game has a few holes in it. The former 5-star recruit out of Texas only had to make simple pre-snap decisions in Jim Mora Jr.’s read-option offense, but his passes have excellent touch.

Hundley improved his draft stock at the NFL draft by showing off his arm strength and putting up big numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.63 seconds), a 120-inch broad jump, and a 36-inch vertical leap.

Hundley has the athletic ability, but needs to show a little bit more poise in the pocket. Too often would Hundley scramble to avoid pressure and reset instead of standing tough in the pocket. He also only took a total of seven snaps under center all of 2014.

Hundley finished 2014 completing 271 passes for 3,155 yards (69.1 comp%) 22 TDs, and 5 INTs. He also ran for 644 yards on 159 carries and 10 TDs.

Former Baylor Bear Bryce Petty shares issues with Hundley’s style of play; spread offense quarterback with quick, one-read decisions that are made pre-snap. He also struggles with deep ball accuracy and throws off of his back foot at times.

Petty played hurt through most of 2014 after fracturing two transverse processes in his back in the Bears’ opening week win over SMU, and missed the next week’s game vs. Northwestern State.

Petty threw for 3,855 yards on 270 completions (63.1 comp%), 29 TDs and only 7 INTs.

Garrett Grayson out of Colorado State is a smaller school prospect that turned heads with a strong senior season in the Mountain West Conference.

Where the 6’2”, 213-pound quarterback excels most is the accuracy and touch he puts on his passes, dropping dimes deep down the field to his receivers in tight coverage. He also shows poise in the pocket and hangs in there for as long as he can before making a throw.

However, he only possesses average arm strength, and has a hitch in his delivery that limits how fast he can get the ball out of his hands. Grayson also missed the 2015 NFL Combine due to a hamstring injury suffered in training on Feb 10.

In his senior season, Grayson threw for 4,006 yards on 270 completions (64.3 comp%), 32 TDs and 7 INTs.

Free agency doesn’t have much to offer either. Of the 26 unrestricted free agent quarterbacks currently available, only two were starters in week 17 (Mark Sanchez, and Shaun Hill).

The infamous butt-fumbler bounced his way out of New York after missing all of 2013 with a partially torn labrum. Mark Sanchez signed a 1-year, $2.25 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles to back up Nick Foles. When Foles fractured his collarbone, Sanchez stepped in and was the starter for the rest of the season.

In nine games (eight starts), the former USC quarterback completed 198 passes for 2,176 yards (56.3 comp%) and 14 TDs. Unfortunately for Sanchez, his career-long struggle with turnovers continued in the City of Brotherly Love, throwing 11 picks and losing three fumbles.

Despite being the only quarterback to lead the Cleveland Browns to a winning record since 1999, Brian Hoyer has left to test free agency. At one point in 2014, the Browns were sitting at 6-3 and the top of the AFC North, but Hoyer’s arm went cold, throwing nine interceptions and only two touchdowns, and eventually lost the starting job to rookie Johnny Manziel for two games. Both Manziel and Hoyer were injured in the team’s week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

In 2014, Hoyer threw for 3,326 yards on 242 passes (55.3 comp%), 19 TDs, and 19 INTs.

Former Titans quarterback Jake Locker could be an interesting option for teams looking to improve their offense. The University of Washington prospect was drafted eighth overall in the 2011 draft, but struggled with injuries throughout his entire professional career, never playing in more than seven games in a season.

So, maybe the solution for a team is to target a player still under contract? While trades are less common in the NFL than in other sports leagues, they might be the best option in a weak draft/free agency class.

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was the first overall pick in 2010, signing a six-year, $78 million dollar contract, the largest ever for a rookie (the last year before the NFL’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement put a cap on rookie deals).

However, his career so far in the NFL has been marred by injuries. Dating back to his senior season at Oklahoma, Bradford has suffered four season-ending injuries, including a throwing shoulder sprain, high ankle sprain, and two torn ACL’s.

Bradford missed all of 2014 with a torn ACL, and 25 of his last 32 games. Owed $12.9 million in the final year of his contract, the Rams are looking to restructure his deal. If that can’t be done, Bradford may be traded or released.

Trading for Bradford would certainly be a risky move. However, while healthy, Bradford performed adequately at the professional level.

Speaking of the Rams, there are rumors they may be looking to pull off a trade of their own. NJ.com reported that several teams, including the Rams are interested in trading for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

The trade talks stem from the rumor that Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is interested in trading up in the draft to Mariota, his former quarterback at Oregon.

After a breakout sophomore season, during which he threw 27 touchdowns to two interceptions, Foles regressed towards the mean in 2014. In eight games, Foles threw for 2,163 yards on 186 completions (59.8 comp%), 13 touchdowns and 10 INTs before ending his season on the IR with a separated shoulder injury.

Previously considered as a possible trade candidate was Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Mike Glennon, but with the team’s release of Josh McCown and his subsequent signing with the Browns, Glennon is the only one on the roster with starting experience.

Then again, it may be best for teams to wait until next year to find a quarterback if they aren’t in love with any of the prospects for 2015. It’s still a ways away, but 2016 could have the next “Suck for Luck,” or “Below the Quota for Mariota” tanking campaign. “Fail for Cardale (Jones)”, maybe?

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Kristopher Rogers is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email klr5374@psu.edu.