The advent of social media has made life tougher on scouts since top prospects are touted as sure bets based on a flash on a highlight reel. However, there are rare instances where a prospect lives up to billing, which is why NFL evaluators are smitten with the talents of Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.
Here are my rankings of the top 16 quarterbacks in college football heading into the second week of the season:
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
(Last week's rank: 1)
The junior standout has every tool evaluators look for in franchise quarterbacks, with a combination of arm talent, athleticism and leadership skills that perfectly fits into any offensive system. Bridgewater displayed those traits during a spectacular sophomore campaign that resulted in a 3,700-yard season with an impressive 27:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Additionally, he put on a sensational showing against Florida in the Sugar Bowl that showcased his potential as a franchise quarterback at the next level.
With the football world buzzing about his upside throughout the offseason, I tuned in closely to watch Bridgewater perform in the season opener to see if his game continued to match the hype. After watching Bridgewater put up a 300-yard game with five touchdowns and a pick, I'm convinced the Cardinals' star has the tools to get it done in a major way. From his flawless execution in the pocket to his laser-like throws to all areas of the field, Bridgewater put on a passing clinic against Ohio. Although the competition certainly didn't fully test his skills as a playmaker, it definitely provided scouts with a glimpse of the talent that made him the focal point of a quarterback class that could rival the 1983 draft class in terms of depth and talent.
2. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
(Last week's rank: 5)
I'm unabashedly a Boyd fan based on his A-plus arm talent and underrated athleticism, but my affinity for his game has grown after watching him put on a sensational performance against Georgia in Death Valley. Boyd connected on 18-of-30 passes for 270 yards with three touchdowns, while adding another 42 rushing yards and a pair of touchdown runs. Most impressively, he displayed a big-game swagger, which could help the Tigers avoid the annual mishaps that keep them from seriously contending for a national title.
3. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
(Last week's rank: 4)
It's hard to give Mariota big props for leading the Ducks to an easy win over a FCS opponent, but the redshirt sophomore's buttery smooth game is certainly praiseworthy. While traditionalists will focus on Mariota's solid passing performance (12 of 21 for 234 yards with a touchdown), proponents of the spread-option offense and dual-threat quarterbacks will love the fact that he posted a 100-yard rushing game on only five carries. Throw in the fact that the Ducks totaled 60-plus points in less than 20 minutes of possession, and there is a lot to like about Mariota's efficiency directing one of college football's top offenses.
4. Brett Hundley, UCLA
(Last week's rank: 7)
Hundley has flown under the national radar despite playing a major role in the Bruins' turnaround under Jim Mora. However, he will soon become a household name as one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2014 or 2015 draft class with more spectacular performances like his season debut against Nevada. Hundley amassed 337 yards of total offense with four combined scores (two rushing, two passing) on the way to guiding the Bruins to 58-point showing against the Wolfpack.
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5. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
(Last week's rank: 2)
It's unfortunate that we spend the majority of our time picking apart Manziel's off-field behavior and on-field antics because the reigning Heisman Trophy winner's game is as spectacular as they come. In less than a half of work, Manziel tossed three touchdowns and showed growth as a pocket passer while remaining a deadly threat on the perimeter as a dynamic improvisational playmaker. Although he slides down a few spots on this list based on his limited playing time against Rice, Manziel remains one of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football.
6. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
(Last week's rank: 6)
Urban Meyer promised a new and improved Miller in the offseason; the junior standout didn't disappoint in the Buckeyes' season debut against Buffalo. Miller completed 15-of-22 passes for 174 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while also adding 77 rushing yards on 17 attempts. While most evaluators still consider Miller a "run-first" playmaker, the fact that he is an explosive athlete with above-average arm talent makes him an intriguing prospect to follow.
7. Stephen Morris, Miami (Fla.)
(Last week's rank: 8)
After seeing Morris toss the ball around at the Manning Passing Academy this summer, I touted him as arguably the most talented passer in college football. Although he didn't fully showcase his immense talents in the Hurricanes' 34-6 win over Florida Atlantic, he provided observers with a glimpse on a few pinpoint touch passes, including a 16-yard dart to Clive Warford for his only touchdown. With a huge challenge this weekend against Florida, we will soon see if Morris is worthy of consideration as a franchise quarterback.
8. Jameis Winston, Florida State
(Last week's rank: NR)
It typically takes a few games to recognize a young player's potential, but some guys display talents that are undeniable. Winston certainly falls into that category after shredding Pittsburgh in his collegiate debut. The redshirt freshman connected on 25-of-27 passes for 356 yards with four touchdowns against the Panthers, while displaying a refined game that is advanced beyond his years. He courageously stood tall in the face of the blitz to routinely deliver dimes to receivers breaking open between the hashes. Most impressively, Winston played with a calm demeanor that suggests the game certainly isn't too big for him when playing on the biggest and brightest stage.
9. Derek Carr, Fresno State
(Last week's rank: 14)
Quarterbacks dream of the opportunity to toss the ball around the yard without restriction. Carr certainly ventured into Fantasyland against Rutgers when he put the ball up 73 times in a thrilling 52-51 overtime win. The senior gunslinger completed 52-of-73 attempts for 456 yards with five touchdowns and an interception. He distributed the rock to eight different receivers, including three pass catchers that finished with at least 13 receptions. From an evaluation standpoint, Carr answered several pertinent questions about his game by showing the confidence, poise and leadership skills to deliver accurate strikes to his receivers with the game hanging in the balance. With most NFL games decided in the game's waning moments, the fact that Carr played his best in a desperate situation bodes well for his future.
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10. Keith Price, Washington
(Last week's rank: 16)
Price has been left out in the discussions of great collegiate quarterbacks after a dismal junior campaign, but he might work his way back into the conversation after blitzing Boise State last weekend. Price connected on 23-of-31 passes for 324 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Those numbers are certainly solid, but it was his efficiency as a passer and playmaker that stood out most to me. Price worked the ball to all areas of the field, but avoided forcing throws into tight windows. Additionally, he displayed the trademark athleticism that put him on the radar as a spectacular sophomore. If Price can continue to build upon the momentum created by his impressive debut, he could become a relevant player in the 2014 quarterback class discussion.
11. Devin Gardner, Michigan
(Last week's rank: 12)
Gardner didn't have his 'A' game in the Wolverines' 59-6 win over Central Michigan, but he continues to impress as a dynamic dual-threat quarterback. Gardner finished with 214 total yards and three touchdowns, but turned the ball over twice on a pair of interceptions. While those miscues put a damper on his overall performance, scouts will come away intrigued with his strong pocket presence and explosive athleticism. Gardner connected on a few deep balls following strong play-action fakes, and dazzled as a nifty scrambler on the perimeter. With a huge test this weekend against Notre Dame in the Big House, Gardner could shoot up the charts next week.
12. Aaron Murray, Georgia
(Last week's rank: 9)
It's uncommon for a quarterback to post a 300-yard game and face harsh criticism, but that is the case for Murray after losing another big game on a national stage. The senior standout continues to come up short in big moments for the Bulldogs, which is why he bears the brunt of the criticism for his 3-12 record against ranked opponents during his tenure. Against the Tigers, Murray tossed a costly interception when he didn't spot the middle dropper against a zone blitz and coughed up the ball on a strip-sack fumble that exposed his questionable pocket awareness. While he bounced back to make a number of big plays for his team, Murray's overall performance wasn't enough to help his Bulldogs earn a tough win on the road.
13. AJ McCarron, Alabama
(Last week's rank: 3)
After being cast as a game manager despite a gaudy stat sheet as a junior, McCarron was determined to prove to the naysayers that he could function as a playmaker in a pro-style offense. He failed miserably in that regard during a disappointing debut performance that saw him complete only 10-of-23 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown and one interception against Virginia Tech. Of course, some of McCarron's issues could be placed on the leaky offensive line and receivers unable to get off the physical jams from the Hokies' tenacious cornerbacks. However, a franchise quarterback should be able to put the offense on his back when things aren't going well. While the lackluster performance certainly won't help McCarron shed the unwanted "manager" label, he will get plenty of chances to alter that perception against a tough slate of opponents in the SEC.
14. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
(Last week's rank: NR)
It appears the arrival of Cam Cameron has certainly helped Mettenberger discover his game based on his strong showing against TCU in the opener. Although the senior only completed 50 percent of his throws (16 of 32 for 251 yards), he made the kind of high-risk throws that are required in most pro offenses. Whether it was completing deep comebacks from the opposite hash or making teardrop tosses on go-routes, Mettenberger showed the full repertoire of throws in the Tigers' 37-27 win over the Horned Frogs. Most importantly, Mettenberger showed observers that he is a perfect fit in a pro-style offense that places an emphasis on the vertical passing game.
15. Kevin Hogan, Stanford
(Last week's rank: NR)
The Cardinal didn't play in Week 1, but I think it is important to include Hogan on the list based on his strong performance at the end of 2012. The redshirt sophomore displayed a polished game from the pocket, while also showing the speed and athleticism to be an effective scrambler on the perimeter. With David Shaw willing to mix in some read-option concepts to complement the Cardinal's heavy run package out of multiple sets, Hogan will get an opportunity to show the college-football world his full array of skills this fall.
16. Vernon Adams, Eastern Washington
(Last week's rank: NR)
It's too soon to proclaim Adams a pro prospect based on his resume against small-school competition, but a big win over Oregon State will certainly help his chances. Adams totaled more than 500 yards of offense and accounted for six touchdowns while leading the dramatic upset. Most importantly, he displayed the combination of playmaking and leadership skills that coaches covet at every level. While Adams will need to string together a number of notable performances to remain a legitimate prospect, the fact that he was so spectacular in engineering one of the biggest upsets in school history earns him a spot in this week's rankings.
Out of the list: Bryn Renner, North Carolina; Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech; David Fales, San Jose State; Taylor Kelly, Arizona State.