They've been dubbed the Big Three for some time now. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater are considered the top quarterback prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft, all expected to land somewhere in the first round. But which one will eventually have the best NFL career? We put that question to our experts, and here's what they had to say:
There's no easy answer to this question. All three of these quarterbacks have elements of their game that translate well to the next level. However, I believe Bridgewater is the most "pro ready" of the bunch and that's why he'll be the most successful. It's rare in today's game for teams to sit young signal-callers and allow them to develop. They are rushed into action, and there is very little patience when they struggle. Bridgewater's experience under center (making full-field reads, etc.) gives him a decided advantage among these top quarterbacks.
Bortles has the classic NFL quarterback build at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. Bridgewater oozes knowledge and leadership. Manziel is your ultimate wild card -- can you handle the ride he could take your team on? My prediction for best NFL career: Bridgewater. His frame might give you pause, but his production, both in and out of the pocket, is well documented. His toughness is without question, and his mind is adroit enough to have already handled a pro system, complete with making all the line calls and adjustments. He's also now on a mission. His middling pro day put his talents in doubt in the eyes of many. He will use that fuel throughout the rest of the pre-draft process and into his career.
Bridgewater will have the best career of the three quarterbacks because he is the most pro-ready of all the QBs in the draft. He also exhibits all of the qualities elite players at the position display at the next level. A disappointing pro day, at a workout designed for success, has thrown some shade on his potential, but Bridgewater remains the quarterback that I would hang my hat on in this class.
The guy who has the chance to play successfully first is Manziel, who has a solid background on the fine points of quarterback play. His quarterbacks coaches at Texas A&M, Kliff Klingsbury and Jake Spavital, have taught him the necessary footwork and and how to read defenses. The second guy to play with success is going to be Bridgewater. Bortles is the furthest away because he has started the fewest number of games, but he's the guy who will play the longest because of his body build, ability and upside. Bottom line for me: All three will be successful in the NFL because they all have the traits needed to be a playoff quarterback.
- Mike Huguenin College Football 24/7
Bortles best long-term bet among QBs in draft
Obviously, a lot depends on where each ends up. I think Bridgewater is the best right now, but I think Bortles -- when all is said and done -- will have the best pro career. He has prototypical size, and I like his athleticism, his football IQ, his moxie and his arm. I think he has the least bust potential, too. I worry some about Manziel. He was an electrifying college player and can be fine in the NFL with the right fit. But I'm not sure he will get that fit. I don't think Bridgewater's ceiling is as high as Bortles', but if there is any player with better intangibles in the entire draft, I'd like to meet him.
- Chase Goodbread College Football 24/7
Bridgewater most polished, most likely to succeed
Bridgewater, pro day debacle aside, has the best chance among the NFL draft's top three quarterback prospects to have a strong pro career. It comes down to him and Bortles, because while Manziel has the highest ceiling of the three if his athleticism translates well to the pro game, the question isn't about ceilings -- it's about likelihood. And Bridgewater remains the most polished and pro-ready quarterback in the draft, more so than Bortles, who has more to learn than Bridgewater in the area of reading defenses. That makes Bridgewater not only the best bet for a strong career but the best bet to start as a rookie, as well.
- Bryan Fischer College Football 24/7
Bridgewater comes with lowest risk
Predicting the NFL futures of quarterbacks is a risky business, especially not knowing the team or system they'll be in. In Manziel's case in particular, having a head coach that builds around his strengths instead of stubbornly sticking to his offensive system is key. Each guy has the tools to be a successful signal-caller and make the Pro Bowl a few times, but I think I'd go with Bridgewater as the one to have the best overall career. He's the most developed passer of the group and, if nothing else, can be productive as a backup for several years. I see high upside in Bortles and Manziel and think both can be really good at the next level, but Bridgewater is the safest bet.