DynastyFootballRankings

2014 Composite Rookie QB Rankings

Image via KYLures/Flickr

Image via KYLures/Flickr

RotoViz has something of a reputation for contrarianism, but the contrarianism remains strongly based in logic and evidence. If you belong to the cult of the repeated meme, there are no elite quarterbacks in this draft class. Here at RV, we do not adhere. This class sports two such elite prospects, and, as a result, it should come as no surprise to you that all nine rankers had those two quarterbacks ranked first or second in some order.

The quarterback position tends to resist stats-based projections much more than the other skill positions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take an evidence-based approach. I examined the class on a variety of screens and came to the conclusion that Johnny Manziel is one of the best quarterback prospects ever. For this post, I’ve tried to provide you information that can be used to help round out your evaluations or perhaps to encourage you down new avenues of investigation.

For a note on methodology, please see the TE ranks, which will explain the Composite Score and Composite Rank.

The adjusted net yards per attempt numbers (F ANYA) come from Chase Stuart’s work. The Total QBR numbers come from ESPN. Ball velocity is reported by Ourlads.

And the winner is . . .

qb_tier_final

Feel free to jump to the bottom if you want to use scroll through the table to see the individual ranks.

1. Teddy Bridgewater

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Teddy Bridgewater 22.1 NA 6022 214 9 1/4 9.3 80.9

Even a quick perusal of the numbers leads you right into Jon Moore’s pro-Bridgewater sentiment. “For such a young prospect, he has accomplished so much. Almost every conceivable metric has improved across each of his three seasons.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot echoes those remarks. “I have no idea where the Teddy hate comes from but I do not agree with it at all. His draft stock has fluctuated wildly since the last time we saw him play a game, which seems asinine. I don’t think he falls out of the top 20.”

Well, the cheap shots and misevaluations come from people like Mark Dominik who’ve already proven themselves woefully overmatched when it comes to putting together even a marginally competent organization.

“There were things you saw on tape when you watched him,” said Dominik. “Something that scouts internally, we talked about it in Tampa with Teddy Bridgewater last year. Is he really the premiere quarterback? I like the young man, I think he’s a quality individual, he’s got character and leadership and those things. But this is a quarterback, and you’re judged by what quarterback you draft, and I think Teddy Bridgewater might not have all the pieces you’re looking for.”

It’s really pretty gutsy for the man who hired Greg Schiano, drafted Josh Freeman, and compiled a 28-52 overall record as GM of the Bucs to comment on the quality of prospects. After all, Dominik has been judged on the quarterbacks he drafted and received a hard F.

Justin Winn recently penned an excellent piece looking at quarterbacks using blind resumes. He came to the conclusion that Bridgewater is every bit as good as his advocates suggest.

2. Johnny Manziel

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Johnny Manziel 22.1 NA 5116 207 9 7/8 9.3 86.3

Manziel’s passing numbers are on par with Bridgewater’s, and he brings electric rushing ability to the table. I believe he’ll immediately be a low end QB1 as a rookie in 2014. We’re hearing that teams want to make the “safe” picks near the top of this draft and wait on a quarterback, an idea that seems to square with the concerns about the projectability of the quarterback position, and, to a certain extent, the general strategy of avoiding hubris and delaying gratification.

We hear a lot about waiting on a quarterback in the context of finding the next Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, but I think that fails to understand the situation. If you’re one of the QB-needy teams in the Top 10, you have to ask yourself three questions. 1) Could you have foreseen the successes of Kaepernick and Wilson based upon specific characteristics? 2) Is there a quarterback like them (or like RG3, for example) available in this draft? 3) Will he be available to us in Round 2 or 3?

I think the obvious answers are yes, yes, and no. I covered the first question at length last year. The second answer is Manziel. The third answer is, “only if everybody else is crazy.”

Are there concerns? Jon Moore suggests “his FF ceiling is higher than Bridgewater’s but I’m concerned that his INT% spiked last year while running dramatically less. If NFL defenses contain him, can he be a success from the pocket?” WTF says, “JFF’s success is going to be situation-based. If he gets a coach + coordinator that use him appropriately, he has the highest ceiling in this class. If they try to put him in a box (like coach after coach after coach did with Michael Vick) then he has a longer road to success in the NFL.”

I’m really only worried about injury. Manziel is going to light it up when he’s on the field.

3. Blake Bortles

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Blake Bortles 23 56 6050 232 9 3/8 8.8 78.9

Bortles has a lot of “just good enough” about his production profile. He’s not outstanding in terms of age, production, accuracy, or rushing ability, but he’s solid. Pair that with a prototypical NFL build and you’ve got a player who seems unlikely to slip out of the Top 10.

Moore agrees. “After the 2011 college season some unknown QB from CUSA had one of my highest graded seasons. That guy was Blake Bortles. Although America only caught on this year, he is a bonafied top-tier prospect.”

4. Derek Carr

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Derek Carr 23.8 NA 6020 214 9 1/2 8.4 76.3

One of the things we’re doing with these rankings is to project fantasy value, so a guy who’s going to get a lot of opportunity has more value even if he’s less talented. I assume that explains why the rest of the rankers had Carr at either No. 4 or No. 5. I had Carr at No. 11 because his profile is decidedly late round or UDFA, and when you combine opportunity with the strong likelihood of failure, you end up with a roster spot that holds negative value.

Just to quickly summarize the concerns: Carr is old and lacks prototypical size. His production numbers trail most of the other legitimate prospects, including guys like Murray, McCarron, and Boyd. Moreover, Davante Adams represented more of the receiving value in their offense than Evans or Watkins did for Manziel and Boyd. Carr’s adjusted TQBR ranks ninth, which gives you a sense of how schedule strength impacted his numbers, and when he wasn’t throwing to Adams he simply wasn’t good at all.

Anyway, this will probably be one of those things I’m wrong about and a couple of years from now folks will be able to write the same thing about me that I just wrote about Mark Dominik.

5. Zach Mettenberger

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Zach Mettenberger 23.5 NA 6050 224 9 3/4 9.5 85.1

Jon Moore: “I want to like Mett, but he is really unathletic (zero career rush TD is a huge anomaly/red flag for QB) and his knee injury won’t help his cause.”

Mettenberger had great 2013 efficiency numbers and sports prototypical size. Red flags could include posting only one season of strong performance, the possession of an elite receiving corps, and a run-heavy game plan that set him up with favorable deep throws.

Arizona could surprise by selecting him in the first round. A pretty clear target for Minnesota if they pass on a quarterback early.

6. A.J. McCarron

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
AJ McCarron 24.3 53 6032 220 10 9 82.7

Jon Moore: “He had a ridiculous surrounding cast, but AJ held up his end of the deal with ridiculous metrics to match. If he came out last year he would have gone RD1, I think. 2013 didn’t disappoint, so what gives?”

McCarron has the physical stature and the suddenly voguish hand size covered, but age and arm strength are the big concerns. He’s also a “winner” in that he didn’t sabotage the Crimson Tide while his teammates were mauling everybody around them. On the other hand, the charting numbers suggest he did struggle on the few occasions when he was asked to return the favor and carry them. McCarron seems to fit the “system” label, a guy you might avoid despite his gaudy results.

7. Jimmy Garoppolo

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size
Jimmy Garoppolo 23.2 56 6020 226 9 1/4

I’m a Tony Romo apologist and huge fan of small school players, so selecting Garoppolo seems like a no-brainer.

8. Aaron Murray

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Aaron Murray 24.1 NA 6000 207 9 1/8 8.6 86.1

Moore: “He is just SUCH a small human being that I can’t see him lasting very long. Propensity for interceptions also is a red flag.”

I definitely understand where Jon’s coming from, but Murray is the one prospect who takes a massive leap when you consider circumstance and strength of schedule. Murray blew away the field in this year’s LCF and finished behind only Johnny Manziel in adjusted TQBR among 2014 prospects. In 2012 he led everyone in adjusted net yards per attempt. He’s clearly the guy who deserves the yearly comparisons to weak-armed field generals of yore who nonetheless became stars. Of course, it’s unlikely that any specific physically-limited player will emerge as a Tom Brady or Kurt Warner, but you at least improve your odds if you’re a really good football player.

9. David Fales

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
David Fales 24.2 53 6020 212 9 1/4 8.1 71.3

10. Brett Smith

Player Age Adj TQBR
Brett Smith 22.6 59.8

Moore: “If Johnny Manziel transfered to a Mountain West program and didn’t hang out with Drake, he’d be, more or less, Brett Smith.”

11. Tajh Boyd

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Tajh Boyd 24.3 54 6010 222 9 5/8 8.7 79.5

Moore: “I don’t want to like Boyd, but his metrics were surpisingly good. I’m 90% sure I’d rather have him than Garoppolo.”

I love Boyd. If not for his age, he’d be a tremendous sleeper prospect. Game charting suggests he occasionally struggles with his short accuracy and his decision-making under pressure, but so do a lot of the trendy players with far inferior results. I actually think Boyd’s a guy who would paradoxically be generating more hype if he’d been a worse college player – think Logan Thomas or Tom Savage. In that case, he’d be a “project.” The Fantasy Douche thinks a team could game the system by drafting both Boyd and Thomas.

12. Logan Thomas

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Logan Thomas 23.5 60 6060 248 10 7/8 5.6 52.5

From luminary NFL Films scouting guru Greg Cosell:

Any evaluation of college quarterbacks must begin with an understanding of why NFL quarterbacks are successful. Talk to any NFL coach and they will tell you it begins with how a QB throws the ball. In the NFL, you have to make difficult throws against tough defenses in critical situations. It might happen only three times a game, it might happen eight times, but it will happen. If you can’t do it, you will not be a high level quarterback.

I can always get behind a good appeal to authority argument, especially an appeal to a humorless and curmudgeony authority like NFL coaches. Start a sentence with, “Talk to any NFL coach” and you know you’re going to hear something pretty awesome. It was almost like Cosell was channeling his inner Richard Sherman and explaining why Peyton Manning was going to follow up his Super Bowl embarrassment by going 0-16 this year. After all, you’ve got to make difficult throws against tough defenses in critical situations.

Logan Thomas was one of the worst quarterbacks in college football last year, averaging 5.6 adjusted net yards per attempt. But he does have MVP caliber hand size and the ability to throw the ball really, really hard. He’s kind of what Josh Freeman would be if Freeman were less accurate but more Greek goddish.

Scott Smith1 and WTF2 agree with the Greek god part.

13. Keith Wenning

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Keith Wenning 23.9 56 6030 218 10 8.6 69.7

Moore: “I don’t think he’ll get a chance, but I really like Wenning’s resume.”

14. Tom Savage

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Tom Savage 24.7 57 6040 228 9 5/8 6.1 61.4

Moore: “He’s probably the oldest QB with the shortest resume to ever be considered a top 60 pick. Has some interesting data points, but I’d approach with caution.”

I think one of the things that bothers us at RotoViz is the unfairness inherent in the scouting model. It’s perfectly justifiable to ask the question, “Why does it bother you so much if scouts like Savage or if Mark Dominik invents stuff out of thin air about Bridgewater?” And the answer is not just that the scouting-based theses have no basis in what has historically made good football players but also that it’s essentially undemocratic. Savage can only get his opportunity at the expense of another player, and that player will almost certainly have done more to deserve the shot.

Savage is literally one of the all time worst quarterback prospects, and yet if the draft unfolds as we’ve been told it will, he’s going to get plenty of opportunities to prove himself, opportunities that players like Jeff Garcia and Doug Flutie had to scratch and claw for.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot facetiously ranked him 100, and my guess is there are at least that many people in the world who are better prospects than Savage. When Melvin Udall was asked to give a comp for Savage, he explained “I just think of Kyle Boller and then take away reason and accountability.”

15. Stephen Morris

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Stephen Morris 22.3 59 6020 213 10 1/4 7.7 73.7

Morris is kind of interesting in that he’s much more the type of guy you could apply the “developmental prospect” label to and actually have it seem like more than Orwellian doublespeak. Morris doesn’t light up the production columns, but he’s got two back-to-back seasons with an adjusted yards per attempt above 8.0. His numbers are just slightly worse than Derek Carr’s, and he’s approximately 18 months younger. Age is a huge bright spot, but physical ability is as well. He’s got decent size, big hands, wicked ball velocity, and ran a 4.63 forty.

If I don’t get one of the top four prospects, my goal would be to snag Morris late.

16. Connor Shaw

Player Age Ball Vel Height Weight Hand size F ANYA Adj TQBR
Connor Shaw 23.3 50 6000 206 9 1/4 9.1 80

17. Garrett Gilbert

WTF: “Garrett Gilbert is really mobile for his size, which adds an interesting dimension to his fantasy prospects. He has a longer road to a starting job, but if he gets there he will have value since he can run.”

The Rankings

Here’s how each individual ranker evaluated these prospects.

(Note: FD = Fantasy Douche, SS = Shawn Siegele, MF = Matthew Freedman, JM = Jon Moore, SS2 = Scott Smith, JT = James Todd, DM = Davis Mattek, ZD = Zach Dietz, WTF = Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, RE = Ross Eagles, COMP = Composite Rank; also, a 99 was used as a faux-last-place holder in order to make the table sortable)

PLAYERFDSSMFJMSS2DMZDWTFRECOMP
Teddy Bridgewater2211221111
Johnny Manziel1122112222
Blake Bortles3353433333
Derek Carr41145545444
Zach Mettenberger54763510575
A.J. McCarron7694666866
Jimmy Garoppolo910611784757
Aaron Murray6531289136108
David Fales1412151310771099
Brett Smith89128111312121210
Tajh Boyd138891414815811
Logan Thomas1214141412119141112
Keith Wenning1015117991214991313
Tom Savage11999910131011991414
Stephen Morris997991591515131515
Connor Shaw99131099999999119916
Garrett Gilbert1599139999999999917
Dustin Vaughan99999999159999999918

 

 

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