by Jason Cole
January 21, 02014
The 2014 draft may not be as heavy on quarterbacks at the top of the draft as many people have been projecting. According to three general managers who have a serious interest in what happens with the quarterbacks, passers such as Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel may not end up going as quickly as many draftniks have suggested.
And the most damning analysis came Tuesday morning when one of them said: “This group is reminding me a lot of the first round in 2011, except there’s no Cam Newton.”
The 2011 NFL draft featured four quarterbacks being selected in the first round. Newton went No. 1 overall before Jake Locker went No. 8, Blaine Gabbert at 10 and Christian Ponder at 12. All three of those players have flopped after only three years in the league. Their teams (Minnesota, Tennessee and Jacksonville) are all looking to draft quarterbacks again this year.
In hindsight, all of the general managers questioned about this draft say that the group in 2011 is proof of the pratfalls of reaching for a player.
“A couple of things happened with that class that I think will make some teams hesitant this year,” one of them said. “First, the desperation to get somebody forced those guys up the board a lot higher. Second, the desperation also forced those team to play those guys before they were ready and before they had talent around them to make it easier.
“You look back at it and say, ‘Be more patient.’”
Will that happen in a league where finding a quarterback is paramount to success? The an-swer is probably not. Starting with Houston at No. 1 overall, Jacksonville at No. 3 and Cleveland at No. 5, there are plenty of teams in need.
Yet, there is some belief that the difference between the quarterbacks perceived to go at the top of the first round and the ones who are likely to be in the second or third round is so small that waiting is wise. Players such as A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, David Fales and James Garoppolo are expected to be in that group later in the draft.
“The difference between all those guys is about this much,” one of the GMs said, holding his forefinger and thumb about a half-inch apart. “If that’s how you see it, why not wait?”
Furthermore, Bortles, Bridgewater, Carr and Manziel each have their issues. There are con-cerns about Bortles’ accuracy, Bridgewater’s lack of size and quiet personality, Carr’s pocket pres-ence and Manziel’s personality.
Or as one GM put it: “I’m telling you right now, don’t be surprised if those guys start to fall. It’s just like last year at this time when we all thought Geno Smith was going No. 1 overall and then he dropped. I think there’s a real chance to see that.”
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