A Sneak Peak into the Quarterback Class of 2014 – Part III
We now take a third (and final) look at a few more potential quarterbacks that the Browns can choose from in the upcoming draft. Three different styles of quarterbacks are in this group; hopefully the Browns determine which they can win with going forward. Continuing in chronological order – based on the team’s bowl game – the final three quarterbacks are Blake Bortles, A.J. McCarron, and Tahj Boyd
Blake Bortles (Fiesta Bowl): 20/31 passes (64.5% completion rate), 301 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interception, 93 rushing yards, and 1 rushing touchdown.
Analysis: The signal caller did a lot of things well in Glendale, Arizona. Despite not rushing for a great deal of yardage in the regular season, Bortles carried out several nice read-option plays while moving the chains (and even found the end zone once). Passing-wise, he was also able to put up over 300 yards and three touchdowns, en route to his team scoring 52 points. Granted, the Baylor defense isn’t dominant but that was still an excellent outing. The downside of Bortles’s performance was his turnovers – I have no doubt he can clean these up, but bad passes are not easily forgotten. All that said, the quarterback can go anywhere in the draft (including #4 overall) and the next few opportunities to impress scouts are vital.
(2013 Season): 239/351 passes (68.1% completion rate), 3,280 yards, 22 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 179 rushing yards, and 5 rushing touchdowns.
Analysis: Winning the American Conference, beating Teddy Bridgwater, and winning a BCS Bowl are three major accomplishments that garnered attention for Blake Bortles. However, accuracy, yardage, and a solid touchdown-to-interception ratio did not hurt either. Being six-feet four inches are roughly 230 pounds makes him a coveted prospect – considering a couple of his counterparts are deemed as “small” or “frail”. What’s between his ears and how he interviews with definitely help or hurt his case, and I highly doubt that the UCF athlete will say anything to tarnish his image. One thing that could be concerning is the perceived lesser level of talent that Bortles has faced this season (compared to Manziel’s and McCarron’s). However, Bridgewater was a member of the same conference and it doesn’t appear to be a factor for him.
A.J. McCarron (Sugar Bowl): 19/30 passes (63.3% completion rate), 387 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble lost.
Analysis: Just looking at the statistics, and one could assume that the Alabama quarterback did an adequate job of getting the ball downfield and to his receivers. However, football is all about turnovers and three of them are not going to get it done at the NFL level. The interceptions were poorly thrown and the Oklahoma defense gave their offense opportunities to score. McCarron’s fumble was scooped up and returned for a touchdown – sealing the contest. The quarterback’s outing was definitely an aberration, as he had not succumbed to three turnovers all season long. Hopefully the signal caller can use this as motivation as he heads into the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine. I believe his last performance will not affect his draft stock too dramatically, and some franchise will select him in the earlier rounds of the draft.
(2013 Season): 207/306 passes (67.6% completion rate), 2,676 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions.
Analysis: The perceived “game manager” had another stellar season with minimized mistakes. McCarron had a yards-per-attempt of 8.75, not exceptional but better than some of his highly touted counterparts. What hurts the athlete’s stock is the lack of production by Alabama quarterbacks over the past few years, whether it’s unfair or not. Transitioning to the NFL will put McCarron in situations where his offense will not be “head and shoulders” above his competitors, in terms of talent. That’s not to say he still cannot make plays and be the leader of the offense. I anticipate longer, complex plays (especially during Senior Bowl week) will be put upon him to see how he reacts to the challenge.
Tahj Boyd (Orange Bowl): 31/40 passes (77.5% completion rate), 378 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 127 rushing yards, and 1 touchdown.
Analysis: Facing one of the poorest defenses in the nation, the quarterback had an exceptional game. Granted, most of his big plays went to one player (top-draft option Sammy Watkins), but utilizing the offense’s strength is the name of the game. With the great rate he completed passes and doing so forty times, his interceptions can be somewhat minimized. However, Boyd cannot toss it directly to defenders at the next level – or his career will not be a long one. I feel this performance can help move the quarterback up draft boards; provided he continues this trend over the next few months.
(2013 Season): 252/373 completions (67.6% completion rate), 3,473 yards, 29 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 273 rushing yards, and 9 rushing touchdowns.
Analysis: Glaring at the quarterback’s statistics, and one would deduce that he has had a remarkable season. While this is true, many feel that Boyd could not get it done when it mattered most. In Clemson’s two biggest games (FSU and South Carolina), the signal caller struggled mightily and the team faltered as a result. Despite this, the guy still possesses great speed and adequate size. There will no doubt be NFL executives who will wonder “what went wrong” and Boyd will have to face the tough questions. Despite the drop of the athlete’s stock since September, the quarterback can still prove himself and have a productive professional career.