2014 NFL Combine Recap: Quarterbacks

Story posted February 25, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio, NFL Draft by Ariel Epstein

After this weekend’s NFL Combine, the quarterback race is still anyone’s game.

Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Blake Bortles of the University of Central Florida remain as the top-three prospective quarterbacks.

Bridgewater and Manziel elected not to throw in the Combine; however, Bortles decided to show off his throwing arm. He ended up being the most impressive quarterback to throw on the field Sunday.  

The 6-5, 232-pound Bortles wore the number one on the field showing his determination and competitive nature. He made an impressive final 45-yard deep post corner route pass to Pittsburg State receiver John Brown. Opting to throw at the combine as a top quarterback prospect could set him apart from his competitors.

Bortles ranked fourth in the vertical jump (32.5 inches) and third best in the broad jump (115 inches).

The UCF player has enough arm talent, skills and size to become a franchise quarterback. He lacks in footwork and ball security and would need to improve on that in order to reach his fullest potential.

It was not a surprise that Bridgewater and Manziel opted not to throw this past weekend to save and perfect their arms for Pro Days. It is normal for the top prospective quarterbacks to not throw at the Combine.

However, Bridgewater decided to not run or throw Combine weekend. The 6-2, 214-pound Louisville quarterback tied for fourth in the broad jump (113 inches) and tied for third in the 20-yard shuffle (4.20 seconds).

Bridgewater is a smart player and an inspiring leader. He is a student of the game and has very good footwork. However, his accuracy with the long ball and in harsh weather conditions needs improvement.

Manziel did everything but throw this past weekend. He outperformed many other prospects by ranking top five in all of the Combine workouts he participated in.

The small but extremely talented and physical 5-11 ¾, 207-pound Heisman winner, ranked first among quarterbacks in the 20-yard shuttle (4.03 seconds). Manziel clocked in with the second best 3-cone drill (6.75 seconds), ranked fourth in the broad jump (113 inches) and the 40-yard dash (4.68 seconds) and ranked fifth in the vertical jump (31.5 inches).

Manziel needs a team that can incorporate his running game into the offense. The Aggie tends to not follow the script of the schemes and plays out of the pocket. He is a winner and it has shown in his short college football career. The key to the success for Manziel is his maturity. He needs to be able to inspire his team and not just himself to be a high-reward quarterback.

Along with Bridgewater and Manziel, another quarterback who opted not to throw was the Fresno State quarterback, Derek Carr. Carr decided to only participate in the workouts he would do well in and is waiting until Pro Days to display everything else.  

The 6-2, 214-pound quarterback excelled in the long jump ranking second (34.5 inches). He also showed his athleticism by scoring an impressive unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.65 seconds. The quarterback is good in the pocket and it shows from the speed he displayed at the Combine.

His decision to not throw is still uncertain whether it was a good or bad decision since he is not as locked in for a starting job as the others; however, he has gotten more eyes to look at him for Pro Days. 

A player that stood out in the physical Combine workouts was the 6-6, 248-pound quarterback from Virginia Tech, Logan Thomas. Like Manziel, Thomas ranked top five in all workouts. He ranked first in the 40-yard dash (4.61 seconds) and the vertical jump (35.5 inches) and broad jump (118 inches). He came in second for the 20-yard shuffle (4.18 seconds) and fourth in the 3-cone drill (7.05 seconds).

This raises the question of how much the NFL Combine really means for certain players. After the stellar performance Thomas put on at the Combine, the question becomes if his physical abilities will get him into the NFL.

The quarterback did not make much throwing improvements in his seasons with Virginia Tech. He would benefit from a great quarterback coach who can refine his skills. Thomas has a strong arm and is good in the pocket.

Tajh Boyd, the 6-1, 222-pound quarterback from Clemson, posted good numbers at the Combine, but nothing to really help or hurt his draft pick. He displays comfort in the pocket, good arm strength and his smaller stature allows him to escape tackles. The future of Boyd’s spot in the draft will be determined on how scouts project he will develop.

A college football quarterback with one of the most impressive and winning careers is Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. McCarron led the Crimson Tide to two BCS National Championships and had only four losses in his college career.

The 6-3, 220-pound quarterback’s physical skills at the Combine were not all that great, coming in last in the broad jump (99 inches) and tenth out of 16 in the 40-yard run (4.94 seconds).  

However, his throwing session was very impressive. McCarron is an accurate ball-thrower who wins games. He needs a strong offensive line to give him time to analyze the field. With the right team McCarron can be a sleeper in the NFL.

The 6-2, 226-pound quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois, shined in the 3-cone drill (7.04 seconds).  He is a little undersized and does not always feel the pressure in the pocket. The Eastern Illinois quarterback has potential in the league with his quick passes and good work habits. He has the physical tools needed to be in the NFL, but needs to adapt to the professional league before becoming a starter.

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray was not able to participate in the physical workouts of the NFL Combine, but did speak with a lot of media. His spot in the NFL draft will be impacted by his torn ACL.

The 2014 NFL draft is quarterback dominated and needed. Many teams are on the hunt for their next franchise quarterback. With the skills displayed this past weekend at the Combine, these players are suited to fit multiple types of offensive schemes.  Teams have a lot of options for who and what they need in a starting quarterback.

Pro Days are coming up next month and that is where players will solidify what type of quarterback they are.

Ariel Epstein is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email ase5096@psu.edu.