Seahawks Insider

A curious quarterback class in the 2014 draft

Post by Todd Dybas / The News Tribune on May 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm with 16 Comments »
May 6, 2014 12:03 pm

Head down, Johnny Manziel walked toward the podium in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine.

He was assisted by a trio of NFL officials who brought him from the back door past empty work stations, where media sat before Manziel’s arrival was announced.

It was a brief moment of low profile for the Texas A&M star.

He looked small. Though Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson doesn’t measure as the biggest man by NFL standards, he stands with a sturdiness that didn’t appear to rest on Manziel’s 5-foot-11, 207-pound, sweatshirt-covered frame. Yet, the two share almost identical height and weight measurements.

A gambling innovator who gives tradition the heebie-jeebies, Manziel is the biggest wild card in the NFL draft, which begins Thursday. He could be the next Fran Tarkenton or the next I-told-you-so.

Manziel is not the only curiosity among the quarterbacks. There’s a 6-foot-5 quarterback from Central Florida, a former top-pick possibility slipping down draft boards, and a handful of others who could be first-round picks or left double-checking the ringer on their cell phones to be sure it’s on.

Quarterbacks have always been the face of NFL teams. In this pass-happy version of the NFL, they have never been more important.

That’s when the conversation shifts to measurables. Despite Wilson’s success, quarterbacks are still expected to be a gleaming 6-5, 230 pounds and rocket-armed. But, football isn’t a drill. And, assessing Manziel in particular, isn’t just about measurements.

“I play with a lot of heart, play with a lot of passion,” Manziel said at the combine. “I feel like I play like I’m 10-feet tall. A measurement to me is just a number.”

Wilson is the modern blueprint for the elusive, mid-sized quarterback. Not 6-feet tall, Wilson has turned to creation when necessary, not as a matter of preferred practice. Each time he’s asked, Wilson will explain he never wants to run.

Yet, his mobility often rescued the Seahawks.

After each game when another defense could not seal in Wilson, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and the opposing coach would explain in unison: quarterbacks on the move are the hardest thing to defend.

Which brings Manziel to the fore.

His creativity is his greatest benefit – and detriment. As Wilson has, Manziel will need to learn to listen when self-preservation kicks in. Gain and get down. That can be counter to extreme self-determination.

“I’m probably one of the most competitive people on the face of this earth,” Manziel said. “Whether it’s sitting here playing tic-tac-toe or rock, paper, scissors or whatever it may be, I want to win. It’s something that really dates back all the way to being a kid. I don’t like the taste of losing, leaves a really sour taste in my mouth. I’m an extremely competitive person, at the same time I want to be a great leader as well.”

His top competition, Blake Bortles, had four scholarship offers out of Oviedo (Fla.) High School. Two were to play tight end. He leaves Central Florida with a chance to be the first quarterback selected this year.

He possesses the beauty marks Manziel does not. At 6-5, 232 pounds, Bortles fits that natural quarterback description.

However, he’s not sedentary. Bortles can move efficiently enough that he’s been compared to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Because of Bortles coming into college with questions whether he could even be a quarterback, he has plenty to polish. Which could mean he lands with a team that already has a veteran starter and will make Bortles the backup for a season. That’s the situation for the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants with Carson Palmer and Eli Manning, respectively.

“I have no problem with that,” Bortles said. “There’s no doubt I need coaching, I need help. I think everybody in the game does.”

Taking a different tact is Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.

“I feel that I’m the best quarterback in this draft,” Bridgewater said at the NFL combine. “I’m not just going to sit up here and say it. There’s obviously actions that have to back up these words, and I’m just confident in myself and my capability to be able to play this position. I’m just going to go out there and prove that I’m the best guy.”

Bridgewater, 6-2 and 214 pounds, is between Bortles and Manziel in size.

At the start and end of last season, Bridgewater was considered a top candidate to be the top pick. Now, he’s unlikely to be the first quarterback drafted despite throwing 31 touchdowns and four interceptions his junior season.

Some draft experts even have him being selected after the first round.

Bridgewater made steady progress throughout his three seasons at Louisville. He interceptions dipped from 12 to eight to four. His touchdowns went from 14 to 27 to 31. He completed 71 percent of his passes last season.

Those three, along with Fresno State’s Derek Carr, are expected to make an appearance in the first round.

None could go in the top 10.

All three could go in the top 15.

Just like Manziel’s play, their landing spots are unpredictable.

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. pabuwal says:

    I’m thinking Manziel goes number 1 overall probably to a team that trades up.

    Manziel and Bridgewater will be studs when it’s all said and done. Bortles is a project and Carr just won’t make it as a starter.

  2. banosser says:

    Manziel is gonna be responsible for a lot of victories… and he’s gonna be responsible for a lot of loses too..

    RW puts the time in.. has a long history of walking the walk…

    What is JM’s history??

  3. KBrooks says:

    I’m not sure that I agree with Derek Carr not being able to make it as a starter. I’m from Fresno and a Fresno State alumni and have had the opportunity to see him play and meet him personally. He’s a phenomenal kid and I really don’t want to see him end up as a tackling dummy like his brother did.

  4. HawkfaninMT says:

    I would rather see Carr with Arizona than Bortles or Shazier… Pass em up Cards!

  5. SaigonSun says:

    Bortles reminds me of Gabbert. The ESPN idiots talked and talked about him almost to the point of him being God’s gift to football. Jags took him and the rest is history.
    I expect even worse from Bortles. He never played against any defense of any value (and won the game). I wouldn’t touch him. I think someone is giving Kiper a lifetime supply of hair spray to bash Bridgewater so he can free fall to later picks.

  6. HawkfaninMT says:

    Bortles reminds me more of Roethlesberger than Gabbert… To each his own I suppose

  7. pabuwal says:

    And I think Bortles could end up going either way – Roethlisberger or Gabbert.

  8. Dukeshire says:

    pabuwal – What are your thoughts about Aaron Murray?

  9. montanamike2 says:

    I think that we have a better chance of trading down and adding picks with the QB position at #32.

  10. pabuwal says:

    I’ve never watched Aaron Murray play so I don’t have an opinion on him.

  11. freedom_X says:

    I would liken Carr to Gabbert. The knock on Carr is that he’s jittery in the pocket and doesn’t have the compsure a quality starter should have. It’s something that someone is going to have to project they can fix. This is similar to Gabbert.

    If Carr gets a chance to sit for a year or two, and/or is placed at the controls of a strong, balanced team (like Wilson had with Seattle or Kaepernick had with SF) I think his prospects are pretty good. (of course any QB would benefit from being at the controls of a strong team.)

  12. SaigonSun says:

    Duke, sorry to jump in since your question was to Pabs.
    I watched the game when Aaron Murray tore up his knee. He played and finished the game on one leg. That man – kid has a heart and no fear. All he wanted was to win at any and all costs. Something like our T-Jack used to be , plus a ton of extra brains.
    I can only respect that! Yes, I’d love to have him as a Seahawk, but I know it won’t happen.

  13. blocis says:

    Just my opinion, but I believe Manziel will be a bust in the NFL.

  14. EzraMelech says:

    @blocis I’m with you on this one. I honestly believe that Manziel has potential and could be good. I just don’t believe “from what I have seen/read/heard” that he has the character or work ethic to be good/great.

    I could be wrong, but something tells me he’s going to go the way of Ryan Leaf. Entitlement attitude, thinks he’s G*d’s gift to football, but won’t put in the work required to be truly good.

    My opinion based on little i’ve seen and heard


  15. AZBubba71 says:

    I wouldn’t even think about taking a QB in this draft before the third round. Team need will convince some organization that one of these guys is worth taking a shot on early, though. They all look like busts to me.

  16. Jusjamn says:

    Manziel is Tebow with a better arm. Somehow they get the W. It just happens. He’ll get plenty of wins if he lands with the right team/system, but that’s true of several QB’s every draft.

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