*Before the 2014 NFL season began, Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks reviewed nine rookie quarterbacks. As we begin the final month of the year, we asked them to check in on the five rookie quarterbacks who have seen legit game action. Who's stood out among this class? Who projects as a steady starter for years to come? Check out the progress reports below, arranged according to draft order. *
Daniel Jeremiah: Bortles has shown flashes of impressive play. He can drive the ball and is very effective running the zone read. However, he's forced too many balls and has to cut down on his turnovers. Season grade: B-
Bucky Brooks: Despite his lofty draft slot, Bortles was viewed by most NFL evaluators as a developmental prospect, and he's played like one so far. The 6-foot-5, 232-pound rookie is completing 62.4 percent of his passes, but he has a disappointing touchdown-to-interception ratio (9:15) that highlights his judgment and ball-security woes from the pocket. To his credit, Bortles has remained confident and composed, displaying outstanding athleticism (44 rushes for 296 yards) and intriguing arm talent while directing a young offensive unit that's beginning to jell in all aspects. Season grade: C+
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
DJ: His accuracy outside of the hashes needs improvement, and he needs to avoid locking onto targets and forcing balls into coverage. He takes a ton of sacks, but that's mostly on his offensive line.
BB: The best NFL quarterbacks are outstanding decision-makers who take care of the football. Bortles has been a bit of a turnover machine, posting 16 giveaways in 10 games. It's common for first-year starters to commit a high number of turnovers, but Bortles needs to learn the importance of taking the checkdown when the primary option is covered. Additionally, he must avoid trying to make the "hero" throw over the middle of the field that is routinely picked off. When Bortles shows an understanding of and respect for the importance of winning the turnover battle, he'll make better decisions from the pocket and keep his team in manageable situations.
DJ: If the Jaguars can upgrade their offensive line, Bortles has a chance to be a productive and solid starter. But his lack of pure accuracy will always keep him from being an elite player.
BB: There is no question Bortles has the talent and temperament to be a starter in the NFL. He reportedly loves the "grind" of the position, putting in the work in the film room and on the practice field. As he continues to develop chemistry and continuity with his youthful and talented supporting cast, he should begin to thrive.
DJ: He's played less than a quarter of regular-season football, but he's already generated plenty of excitement. Manziel can accurately throw while rolling to both sides, and he is a threat as a runner when the play breaks down. His field vision and ball placement are inconsistent. Season grade: Incomplete
BB: Manziel hadn't seen much time on the field -- outside of an occasional gadget play -- before the Browns turned to him in the fourth quarter of Sunday's matchup with the Buffalo Bills. The diminutive playmaker immediately sparked the offense with his energy, athleticism and improvisational skills, calmly connecting on a handful of play-action and movement-based passes before scoring on a sensational 10-yard run that showcased his speed and burst on the perimeter. Although he benefitted from a questionable call that overturned what would have been a strip-sack fumble, Manziel's poise and confidence stood out. Season grade: Incomplete
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
DJ: He needs to be more patient in the pocket and improve his vision down the field.
BB: Manziel's NFL résumé is too short to provide much specificity here, but it goes without saying that he must learn to operate from the pocket and rely more on his arm than his legs to make plays on the perimeter. While his athleticism and improvisational skills will make him a nightmare to defend, it is hard to build a successful game plan solely around an off-the-cuff playground-style approach. If Manziel can keep his wild forays in check, he could take the Browns' offense to the next level.
DJ: Manziel is the ultimate wild card. With the young talent around him at the offensive skill positions in Cleveland, I think he can be successful as the Browns' starter, provided he protects himself better when he runs the ball.
BB: The NFL hasn't been kind to small, run-around quarterbacks, and it's hard to endorse Manziel as a long-term solution until he puts enough plays on tape. It'll be easy to get caught up in the spectacular moments he'll inevitably provide, but he must prove he can move the team from the pocket. If Browns coach Mike Pettine makes Manziel the starter for the rest of the season, we should find out if his sandlot playing style can lead to success at this level.
DJ: Bridgewater has been the most consistent rookie signal-caller. He has excellent poise and does a nice job managing the game. He lacks ideal size and arm strength, but he makes good decisions, navigates naturally inside the pocket and is accurate on the move. Season grade: B+
BB: Bridgewater has made good on the perception that he was the most "pro-ready" of the quarterbacks in the draft, connecting on 61.1 percent of his throws and posting a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 8:7 in nine games. He's shown impressive poise, composure and leadership skills directing Norv Turner's offense, which has allowed him to throw the ball all over the yard. After tossing five picks and taking 13 sacks over the course of consecutive losses to Detroitand Buffalo, Bridgewater calmed down, proceeding to lead the Vikings to three wins in their next five games. Most impressively, he compiled a 7:2 TD-to-INT ratio during that span, displaying solid management skills at the line. Season grade: B
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
DJ: Deep-ball accuracy is his weak spot right now. He also needs to continue to get stronger and add more weight.
BB: Bridgewater is more advanced than most of his rookie peers, but he must continue working on his pre-snap management and sack avoidance. He's taken 25 sacks (tied for 12th in the NFL), and the negative plays have prevented the offense from consistently staying on schedule. If Bridgewater can master the art of deciphering coverage at the line, he can punish opponents for blitzing by hitting "hot" reads or sight adjustments in the voided areas -- and become a more efficient and effective playmaker from the pocket.
BB: The Vikings have played in several competitive contests since the middle of the season, and team officials should be encouraged by Bridgewater's performance, as he appears to be the answer to their quarterback woes. Not only does he display the physical tools to play the position, but he is a mature player with the intangibles needed to lead a team. If he continues to absorb the intricacies of Turner's system, Bridgewater could make a quantum leap in his development as a returning starter next season.
DJ: Carr has an extremely quick release and generates plenty of velocity. He's shown the ability to make all of the throws, but he's too conservative with his decision-making. He has the courage to hang in the pocket under duress, but there are still times when he falls off his throws unnecessarily. Season grade: B-
BB: Carr has been the surprise of this class, producing and performing at a solid level despite playing with an inferior supporting cast. He's shown impressive poise, composure and grit behind a shaky offensive line. Considering his collegiate reputation as an unsettled pocket passer under duress, his improvement in the pocket is a positive sign of growth. He's also displayed the athleticism and mobility necessary to execute movement-based passes on perimeter. His yards-per-attempt mark (5.4) is well below the industry standard, but his 14:11 TD-to-INT ratio is noteworthy, based on the talent around him (or lack thereof). Season grade: B
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
DJ: He needs to take more chances and push the ball down the field. He also needs to slow down at the top of his drop and throw from a more stable platform when the pocket is clean.
BB: Carr's gunslinger mentality makes him a fearless competitor, but he needs to rein it in at times to avoid making the kinds of costly turnovers that frequently decide games. Granted, he is constantly forced to play from behind, due to the team's overall ineptitude, but Carr must find a way to remain disciplined with his reads and progressions.
DJ: Carr has all of the physical tools, but it's tough to project how good he'll be when you see what he's playing with right now. This offense needs help at basically every position.
BB: Carr's pedigree certainly places him ahead of others at the position, due to his innate understanding of the pressures associated with being a franchise quarterback. He's appeared poised and composed as the Raiders' young leader, playing well enough to win games in the NFL. If Oakland can hire the right coach to cultivate Carr's talent as a playmaker in the pocket, and if Carr can avoid trying to force balls into traffic, the team could finally have the building block it needs to end its decade of dysfunction in the AFC West.
DJ: Since taking over the starting gig in Week 8, Mettenberger has been very up and down. He's able to squeeze the ball into tight windows on intermediate throws, and he shows nice touch on the deep ball. However, he has very slow feet in the pocket, locks onto his first read and forces too many throws. Season grade: C+
BB: There was plenty of optimism surrounding this late-round pick based on his experience playing in a pro-style system at LSU, and he hasn't disappointed his supporters. The classic drop-back passer has compiled an 87.8 rating in six appearances (five starts), and his yards-per-attempt mark (8.3) leads all rookie starters. Those numbers speak to his understanding of a complex pro passing game as well as his grasp of coverages and defensive fronts. Mettenberger's superior arm strength allows the Titans to feature a vertical passing game on the outside. If he can learn when to be aggressive and when to be conservative from the pocket, he could be the right quarterback to run coach Ken Whisenhunt's system. Season grade: B-
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
DJ: He needs to quicken up his feet and his mind. He's slow to set up in the pocket and he's slow to work through his progressions.
BB: Mettenberger's six picks are a direct reflection of his tendency to force balls into tight windows. While Mettenberger has the physical ability to play at a high level, he must learn how to make better decisions. When he plays within the system and takes what the defense gives him, he works the ball down the field like a veteran and gives the Titans a chance to win.
DJ: Mettenberger has some similarities to Derek Anderson. If he's your starter, you're going to be disappointed, but he'll be an excellent backup.
BB: Mettenberger has a smaller sample size than most of his counterparts, but he's flashed big-time potential. He can push the ball downfield and he can use underneath routes to stretch the defense horizontally. If Whisenhunt can teach Mettenberger how to manage the game, the quarterback could be the rare late-round selection who grows into an NFL fixture.