After all the Twitter hype around quarterback hand sizes, the real business of evaluating the college quarterbacks has started at the NFL combine. This position dominates draft discussions, as the concept of “best player available” really doesn’t apply to the quarterbacks versus other positions. Teams that need a quarterback have a much different approach in the first round versus teams already set at the position.
This year there are three guys everyone sees at the top of the QB class, but further scrutiny is starting to affect how each of them are perceived. Here’s Pat Kirwin, one of the best commentators in the business, on what he is seeing so far.
We all arrived in Indianapolis believing there were three quarterbacks set for the top five picks. However, one GM said, “I’m glad I don’t need a franchise QB this year. … too many questions [are] starting to surface on this group.”
An example: Teddy Bridgewater told me Saturday he was going to run but never did. The same GM said of Bridgewater: “He beefed up to 214 to appear bigger, but he better not think he can drop the weight to run at his pro day. We don’t fall for that one.”
Johnny Manziel is 5-foot-11 3/4, not 6-foot as he had been listed. One coach told me “[Manziel] keeps trying to portray the image of the next Russell Wilson and I’m not buying it.”
I liked Bortles the best of the three, but time will tell if the teams at the top of the draft think so. I left Indianapolis with the impression that the real QB work was about which guy to take in the second or third round.
He makes the point that many teams are taking a hard look at the offensive tackles and that these players are moving up draft boards. That position seems to offer much less risk at the top of the draft, and guys like Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan and Zach Martin have been impressive at the combine. Robinson in particular stunned with his 40 time.
It’s still early, but this year predicting the order of the top ten seems particularly difficult, and so it will be hard to predict the QB decisions that will affect teams for next year. So if you like betting NFL futures when you use your Bet365 offer code, keep in mind that the odds can change dramatically once these QB decisions play out.
Houston in particular is a tough one to predict. A pro-ready quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater could make them a playoff team again overnight. Opinions on Johnny Manziel vary dramatically, but if he thrives in the NFL he could turn around a team like Houston very quickly. Meanwhile, Bortles might be the best pick in terms of long-term potential, but he’s a real project. Unless Houston gets a good veteran to play in front of him, they would likely struggle with Bortles starting right away as he has so much to learn.
On the other hand, they could draft Jadeveon Clowney as a bookend to JJ WAtt on that defense, and all of a sudden they could be dominant on that side of the ball again. Give them a veteran QB and you suddenly have a real team again.
So good luck making picks at this stage of the game.
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