MOBILE, Ala. -- College all-star games are a very valuable evaluation tool. The scouting process is all about comparing players: Who's a better prospect, player A or player B? Who has more play speed? Who has the stronger arm? That's why it's helpful to see several of the top players practice side by side for an entire week.
After having an opportunity to study the quarterbacks during the last six days at the Reese's Senior Bowl, here's how I would rank them as we head toward the 2014 NFL Draft:
1. Derek Carr, Fresno State
Carr was clearly the top signal-caller during the week of practices and he played at a high level during the game on Saturday afternoon. He had plenty of arm strength to cut through a heavy wind early in the week and he threw the ball accurately both from the pocket and on the move. I talked to a few teams that interviewed him and they came away very impressed with his maturity and football intelligence.
2. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
Garoppolo made the most of his late invite to the Senior Bowl by producing a solid week of practice. He doesn't have a huge arm but he has the best footwork among this group of quarterbacks. He is very quick moving away from center and does a nice job of driving off his back foot on every throw. He had a quiet game (6 of 11 for 32 yards), choosing to check the ball down instead of attacking vertically. Most teams I've spoken with have him slotted in or around the third round.
3. David Fales, San Jose State
Fales struggled early in the week to drive the ball through the windy conditions, but he improved every day. He relies on timing and touch as a passer and once he became more comfortable with his new receivers, his accuracy and efficiency improved. He had the best game performance of the group, completing 6 of 7 passes for 104 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He helped himself more than any other quarterback in Mobile.
4. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Boyd was clearly the top quarterback on the North squad, but his inconsistent ball placement was an issue in the game. He completed just 7 of 16 passes for 31 yards and he was intercepted early in the first quarter. He never looked fully comfortable taking snaps from center during the week, but he did flash the ability to drive the ball into very tight windows at the second and third level of the defense. The team that drafts him will need to be patient and let him develop his footwork and accuracy.
5. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Thomas won the weigh-ins. He checked in at 6-5 3/4 and weighed 250 pounds. Unfortunately, the rest of his week wasn't nearly as impressive. He was erratic throughout the week and looked lost in the game. He was under a heavy pass rush and he struggled to slide/avoid the pressure. He couldn't locate his check downs. He was sacked five times despite sharing time with two other quarterbacks. He is a very raw, developmental project and I would be very surprised if he were picked before the fourth round.
6. Stephen Morris, Miami (Fla.)
Morris has a strong arm but he never really found a rhythm during the week of practice. He was late on throws and his accuracy was poor. He made a couple quick, accurate throws in the game, but he was also intercepted twice. His decision-making was questionable when I studied his fall tape and the same issue arose during the Senior Bowl. He's a late-round project.