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Quarterback Tracker: Johnny Manziel leaps Teddy Bridgewater


The NFL draft is similar to the stock market, with the value of prospects fluctuating because of workouts, film evaluation and market analysis. General managers, coaches and scouts are closely monitoring the quarterbacks in the 2014 class, in particular, because of the impact of the position in the pro game.

Thus, the results from pro days and private workouts can lead to a reshuffling of the rankings on draft boards across the league. Although scheme-fit will play a major role in when these players come off the board, I believe it's a perfect time to take a look at the landscape of the 2014 class with more information available to evaluators. Here's how I would rank the top quarterbacks in the draft:

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
The most electrifying player at the position is creating quite a buzz in the scouting community following his spectacular pro day performance. Manziel silenced doubts about his arm strength, mechanics and footwork. While his workout should be kept in perspective, the fact that he has continued to make improvements to his game after showing tremendous growth in the fall will help scouts envision his skills as a franchise player at the next level. Of course, Manziel must address concerns about his character, work ethic and focus in private workouts to solidify his status as a top pick, but I believe he could be a legitimate consideration as a top-five pick.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
The buzz is rapidly cooling on Bridgewater's prospects as a top pick because of a lackluster workout that led to questions about his arm strength and accuracy. Bridgewater was horrible in his showcase workout, looking nothing like the quarterback most observers have touted as the frontrunner for most of the pre-draft process. Now, a workout in a t-shirt and shorts won't accurately depict a prospect's playing potential, but a dismal performance in a scripted session leads to red flags about a player's readiness at the next level. Thus, Bridgewater must dazzle in private workouts to salvage his chances of being the first quarterback drafted.

3. Blake Bortles, Central Florida
There is no doubt that Bortles is the prototypical franchise quarterback candidate based on his exceptional physical dimensions, athleticism and arm talent. He has steadily climbed on boards around the league since the end of the season by displaying outstanding intangibles and football intelligence in meetings, while continuing to refine his mechanics on the field. Bortles is still not as polished as Bridgewater and Manziel, but he offers tremendous upside as a developmental prospect and could be in play as the top quarterback in the 2014 draft.

4. AJ McCarron, Alabama
Quarterbacks are judged by their hardware, yet few observers give McCarron credit for his role in guiding the Crimson Tide to multiple national titles. Instead of praising McCarron for distributing the ball efficiently like an effective point guard, observers have routinely questioned his ability to lead a team to big wins on the strength of his right arm. Sure, arm talent is part of the quarterback evaluation, but most offensive coordinators value judgment, leadership skills and football IQ over arm strength. Factor in his understanding of situational football and game management, and McCarron's value will continue to rise as draft day approaches.

5. Derek Carr, Fresno State
Carr has been soaring up the charts with a bullet following an exceptional senior campaign that saw him put up ridiculous numbers guiding the Bulldogs' offense. Carr exhibited the kind of arm talent, anticipation and touch that scouts covet in a passer and also displayed the athleticism and movement skills to make pinpoint throws on the run. Although his pocket poise can be skittish at times, Carr has made dramatic strides in this area over the past year, suggesting his best football lies ahead of him. With teams desperate for quarterbacks with franchise potential, it's quite possible that Carr hears his name called early on draft day.

6. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Classic drop-back passer with exceptional physical tools and talent. Mettenberger (6-5, 235 pounds) blossomed in a pro-style offense directed by former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. The dramatic improvement over the course of the season will not only encourage NFL coaches to take a harder look at Mettenberger, but also could prompt a wily evaluator to use an early pick on him despite his ACL injury. If Mettenberger shows adequate progress at his pro day workout, he could be a coveted prospect on Day 2 of the draft.

7. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
The small-school standout has vaulted up draft boards after shining at the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game. Garoppolo continued to build momentum in meeting rooms by putting on a solid workout at the NFL combine. With questions surrounding some of the top quarterback prospects on the board, the opportunity to work with a young, athletic quarterback with tremendous potential makes Garoppolo an appealing prospect in this year's draft.

8. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
A boom-or-bust prospect with exceptional physical dimensions and athleticism. Thomas has all of the tools that scouts look for in developmental players at the position. Although he has been maddeningly inconsistent throughout his time at Virginia Tech, his special athleticism will entice several teams to consider him as a mid- to late-round possibility.

9. Aaron Murray, Georgia
Murray lacks ideal size and arm talent, but scouts are smitten with his leadership skills and intangibles. He single-handedly carried the Bulldogs' short-handed offense, displaying terrific anticipation, awareness and poise. Murray's athleticism and movement skills were better than expected, and he routinely made pinpoint throws on the run. Although a lengthy recovery from a torn ACL could limit his availability in the offseason, Murray's overall game could make him an ideal backup as a pro.

10. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Boyd's stock has seemingly cooled following the season, but some scouts still view him as an intriguing developmental prospect. He put up remarkable numbers as the director of a high-powered spread offense, displaying above-average arm talent and athleticism. Additionally, he is a natural leader with intriguing intangibles, which will prompt an offensive coordinator to spend some time working with him as a developmental player.

11. David Fales, San Jose State
There's always a place in the NFL for smart quarterbacks with superb management skills. Fales falls into that category with an efficient game that is ideally suited for a West Coast system. While Fales lacks the arm talent to fully stretch the field, he is a terrific quick-rhythm passer who excels at getting ball into the hands of his playmakers on "catch and run" passes. If a team is searching for a young, developmental passer with intriguing potential, Fales could be one to target in later rounds.

12. Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
Savage has crept into conversations within the NFL scouting community as an under-the-radar prospect with developmental potential. On tape, he displays intriguing arm talent and physical tools as a traditional pocket passer. Although his penchant for staring down receivers will lead to some turnovers at the next level, Savage flashes enough arm strength to squeeze the ball into tight windows under duress.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.



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