|Associated Press and USA TODAY photos|
|Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Alabama's AJ McCarron are part of a strong QB contingent in college football.|
In a year where at least nine NFL teams could be in the market for a franchise quarterback, at least one NFL scout believes there are an equal amount of college signal-callers who could potentially receive first-round grades in the 2014 draft.
"It would not surprise me when we make our board if we have nine quarterbacks with first-round grades," the scout told NFL writer Peter King of TheMMQB.com. "Not at all. Obviously, that depends on which underclassmen declare, and you hear things out there. But I could see it."
NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who has studied many of the top quarterbacks in college football this season, thinks that number is high. "I'd say 5-6 first-round grades and another five as second-round types," said Jeremiah, a former scout with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles.
The most quarterbacks ever taken in the first round is six in the 1983 draft that produced three Hall of Famers -- John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Only one quarterback, E.J. Manuel, went in the first round in 2013, considered one of the poorest QB drafts in many years.
Regardless of how many could eventually receive first- or second-round grades in 2014, the sheer number of quarterbacks in college football this season who are considered franchise types might be unprecedented.
Arizona, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay would seem to be the teams most interested in getting a new quarterback in the 2014 draft, if they don't address the position in free agency or trade. Houston, Oakland and Tennessee would seem to be possibilities as well. The jury is still out on Sam Bradford in St. Louis, and at some point Denver and New England will have to find successors to their aging stars, so the number of teams could grow.
The top senior quarterbacks in college football are Clemson's Tajh Boyd, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Alabama's AJ McCarron, Fresno State's Derek Carr, Miami's Stephen Morris and Georgia's Aaron Murray. There are also several high-profile junior and third-year sophomore quarterbacks that could opt for early entry into the draft.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.