Speaking at the NFL combine Friday, Jameis Winston said he plans on winning the Super Bowl next year. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Today we look at the most important position. The 2015 quarterback class is not a great one by any means, but there is some talent worth rostering, both in NFL terms and in fantasy football terms. As always, my rankings emphasize future fantasy value. Of course, there’s a strong correlation between success in fantasy and success on the field. Rarely do we see a great fantasy quarterback who is not helping his real life team.
I’ve broken my top ten down into tiers as I did with the other skill positions. If you want to check those rankings out, you can access them via the links below. There is good game film on most of these players available at Draft Breakdown, so dig in.
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Is it choose your weapon or pick your poison? There are widely varying opinions on these two quarterbacks and while I’d love to offer you some clarity, I’m still wresting with it myself. The thing about Winston is that he’s playing NFL football already when you watch his game tape. He makes tons of NFL throws. He’s got all the physical tools that you want your quarterback to have. All he needs to do is gain a measure of consistency and reduce the mistakes. If he works hard and stays on the good books, the improvements should come with experience and time. If that happens, he’ll pay off for the team that drafts him.
Mariota is a different player altogether. He’s got all the intangibles you could ask for and he’s going to test extremely well in Saturday’s drills. The questions with him are the kind you can’t answer without a crystal ball. He almost never plays from under center, so it’s hard to evaluate that aspect of his game. More importantly, he is not accustomed to making the number of reads a typical NFL quarterback makes on a typical play. Of course, there’s no strong evidence to indicate he can’t do this. It’s an incomplete grade. Teams will have to project what he would be in their system. Obviously this would not be the case for Chip Kelly, the granddaddy of the Oregon offense, should he decide to make a draft day move or should Mariota somehow fall into his lap. The Jets are another team that may see Mariota as being desirable as currently constructed. Chan Gailey, the team’s new offensive coordinator, likes to use a lot of spread formations. A team like the Jets may be in a better position to play Mariota right away compared to a team like the Titans, who project to run a more traditional offense.
Bryce Petty, Baylor
Of the remaining quarterbacks, Petty is the only one with prototypical size and the game to match. While not being NFL-ready, Petty is at least close, and you can see a lot of NFL throws on his game film. If the team that drafts him likes to spread things out, he could play some time in his first season. Having said that, a year with a clipboard in his hand is the best case scenario.
Brett Hundley, UCLA
Blake Sims, Alabama
Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
Hundley is a big name and I’ve spent a lot of time breaking down his film. The UCLA star has a lot going for him physically, and he’s long on game experience, too. I also like his leadership traits. The problem, in my view, is with his eyes. He’s too indecisive and holds the ball too long too often. He’s also a little mechanical or stiff at times. If he finds the right situation and the right coach, he has a high ceiling, but I think his weaknesses are being undersold. As with Petty, not being forced to play right away would be the ideal scenario for him.
The inclusion of Sims will raise a few eyebrows I’m sure, but he’s a player that did a lot of good things in his one season as Alabama’s starter. I expect Sims to post impressive speed and agility numbers today, but he has a few things working against him as well. First of all, he’s only 5’10’ ‘ even smaller than Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel. Of course, Sims weighs in at 218 pounds, so he is not a small man, but the lack of height works against you when you need to make throws from the pocket. The second issue, as I alluded to, is lack of experience.
Mannion is a project to be sure, but he has the size and arm strength that NFL teams look for. He has a chance to start in the league at some point down the line. Grayson will sit out this week due to a sore hamstring. He’s included in tier three because he throws a great ball and he does it with good anticipation. Grayson definitely has a chance to play in the league if he cleans up his mechanics just a bit. I’d like to see him coming over the top a little more than he does to avoid batted balls at the line of scrimmage.
Brandon Bridge, South Alabama
Shane Carden, East Carolina (throwing QB)
Jerry Lovelocke, Prairie View A&M (throwing QB)
I took some liberties with tier four. First of all, two of these guys are ‘throwing quarterbacks.’ These players are brought in to help with the drills for the backs, tight ends and receivers. They get invited late in many cases, but we’ve seen a few of these guys make significant NFL impacts, like T.J. Yates in Houston and Austin Davis in St. Louis. The bottom line is that, after watching all the film, I am more impressed with these two quarterbacks than some of those invited ahead of them.
Bridge is a project at the next level, but he has good size and plus mobility to go with a very live arm. He’d look good on a lot of team’s practice squads. Carden is a guy who makes too many good throws to ignore. It will interesting to see how he tests athletically, but on film, he’s pretty impressive. He’s also got solid footwork and makes good reads. Lovelocke is a very interesting prospect, and I wish I had more good film on him. From what I have seen so far, he’s got more than enough talent to get himself into a NFL camp. He’s a huge man at 248 pounds and he has significant arm talent to go with that size. If his shows plus agility today, he will create some buzz.