Quarterback jumps out as a need for the Browns, and they chose a good year to be in the market for one. I don't think any group will ever match the talent of the 1983 quarterback class, but this year the sheer quantity of talented quarterbacks in college football is higher than any year I can remember. In my mind, there are 17 quarterbacks that have a chance to play in the NFL. Right now, I don't see any of them being comparable to Andrew Luck or Ryan Tannehill, but they have the skills that a lot of NFL teams are looking for.
Remember, too, that quarterback is a developmental position. This year's group is filled with guys that currently are just good prospects. But history tells us that one or two will emerge to the top level. At this time two years ago, Robert Griffin III was just another name at Baylor, certainly not the player who would be taken with the No. 2 overall draft pick. Similarly, at the beginning of Tannehill's final season at Texas A&M, I don't think anybody thought he was as good an NFL prospect as he turned out to be. The opposite effect can happen, too. Last year, Geno Smith got hot in his first few games at West Virginia and was highly touted as a draft prospect, but by the end of the year he wasn't talked about as a marquee quarterback.
Right now, Louisville junior Teddy Bridgewater is the best of this year's group, provided he enters the draft after the season ends. I was impressed by his first game this season against Ohio University, when he showed he could make a play rolling left, tossing a 34-yard touchdown pass, and rolling right, making a great throw for a touchdown on a back-shoulder fade.
The Richardson trade showed again that running back is a descending position and quarterback is an ascending position in today's game. In Year 3 of the NFL Draft, back in 1938, there were 10 teams, and nine of them took a running back. In 2013, one year after Richardson was taken with the No. 3 overall pick, a running back wasn't selected until the second round. The priority today has changed, from the importance of running backs to the importance of pass rushers, left tackles, and quarterbacks.
Players that have impressed me
QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU: Mettenberger may be the most improved QB that I've seen this year, thanks in no small part to LSU's new offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, who is very good at developing quarterbacks. Mettenberger is a big guy (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) but he has better feet and moves around a lot better than I expected. With Cameron coaching him, and with his arm strength and surprising athletic ability, he has made big strides after three weeks.
TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have a new pass-first, run-second offense under coach Kliff Kingsbury, and Amaro has thrived, with 20 catches and a touchdown in three games. At 6-5, 260 pounds, he is a nightmare matchup because of his size and athleticism and looks to have a big year in this new system.
Three Week 4 games I'm interested in
1. Utah State at USC: This will be the fifth all-time meeting between these teams. Utah State is 0-4 and has never lost by less than 28 points, but it has a first-year head coach, Matt Wells, who I believe will be mentioned for head-coaching jobs in the future at schools looking for an up-and-coming star. In Chuckie Keeton, a junior who started 21 games in his first two years, the Aggies have a very athletic quarterback who has a good chance to play on Sundays.
2. Kansas State at Texas: Coming off their first home-opening loss in 23 years, the Wildcats visit a Longhorns team it has beaten five straight times. Kansas State doesn't have the same team speed as the Ole Miss squad that rushed for 272 yards in a win over Texas last week, but the Wildcats like to run and have two quarterbacks that are good on the run. The Longhorns should be helped by the return of QB David Ash, who missed last week's game with a concussion. I like Texas, 31-28, with Ash back in the lineup.
3. Tennessee at Florida: Six or seven years ago this was a marquee game, but Tennessee has fallen off the board in recent years. The Vols were beaten badly last week at Oregon, and Florida has beaten Tennessee five consecutive times by a total of 75 points. Florida has a very good defense, allowing just 27 points this season for head coach Will Muschamp. Tennessee has a new coach (Butch Jones) and opened the starting quarterback job to competition this week, but it has a very good offensive line, led by Antonio Richardson, one of the top offensive tackles in college football. The Vols' starters boast the second-most starts of any offensive line in the FBS, but I like Florida to win, 30-17.
Duke over Pittsburgh: Duke has shown steady improvement under coach David Cutcliffe and has played well at home. Pitt lacks speed and offensive firepower.
Florida Atlantic over Middle Tennessee State: Florida Atlantic has lost five consecutive times to Middle Tennessee State, but, with sophomore QB Jaquez Johnson leading the team, it has a good chance to end that streak after a big win last week over South Florida. This is the first home game of the season for Florida Atlantic.
This and that ...
Twelve colleges have 26 or more players on NFL rosters: USC (40), LSU (39), Miami (38), Georgia (36), Florida State (31), Texas (31), Alabama (30), California (30), Tennessee (30), Ohio State (27), Oregon (27), Florida (26).