Dan’s 2014 Top 5 Draft Eligible Quarterbacks-Preseason Edition

5.    Rakeem Cato, Marshall


Rakeem Cato comes from a very fast paced Marshall offense where he posted a 69.5% completion percentage on 584 attempts racking up 4,201 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Even at only 6’0’’ 182 pounds, Cato is a pure pocket passer, but is not shy to tuck and run when the situation permits. I was mostly impressed with Cato’s arm talent and arm strength for a prospect of his size. Additionally, Cato is great at making quick reads and throwing into tight windows. Coming into 2013, Cato will be without uber talented receiver Aaron Dobson, which alludes to a steep decline in production. However, Gator Hoskins, a huge sleeper at Tight end, speedy receiver Tommy Shuler, and a stable of young running backs remain as his supporting cast, so there is hope his production can sustain itself. On tape, Cato maintains great pocket poise, and throwing ability on the run, but I to draw some concerns with his hunched stance in the pocket, which unnecessarily shrinks his height, leading some tipped throws. Playing on a 5-7, Conference USA team does not exactly help Cato’s cause to becoming high round pick, but we have seen the likes of Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington go in the first round and as of right now, Cato looks better than the both of them (for whatever that is worth). Finally, Cato still has 2 more years of eligibility to prove to America why he is the best quarterback in Marshall History, and possibly, the country. As for now, Cato grabs a late 4th, early 5th round consideration in the 2014 draft.

4.    Tajh Boyd, Clemson


Tajh Boyd is the anthropomorphic form of an M1A2 Abrams tank: Tough, durable, huge cannon, limited accuracy. Boyd drew his claim to fame with his powerful arm and propensity to force the ball into tight windows. His biggest asset is his ability to throw the deep ball; however, this is only one of many skills it takes to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. Although Boyd posts a 67.2% completion percentage in 2012, I attribute much of it to Deandre Hopkins’s receiving skills. Upon examination of game tape, it can clearly be seen that the Clemson receiving corps were consistently leaving their feet to make catches. There were many instances where I cringed for the safety of Hopkins when he had to jump to make a catch, in traffic, over the middle. The combination of high throws and arm strength is the lethal combination to make a turnover prone quarterback in the NFL. Additionally, I do not see his running ability as a huge asset in the NFL. Boyd was used as the primary short yardage back, with very limited success (29 attempts for 22 yards vs LSU). As for now, Boyd’s draft stock starts the year solidly at a mid-3rd round prospect in 2014.

3.    Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville


Bridgewater has been a hard sell for me so for in the evaluation process. It is one of those cases where the prospect does not so much anything majorly wrong, he just does not do enough to make say “wow” on a regular basis. Luckily for Teddy, he has two more years of eligibility left to add the “wow-factor” into his game. Against Florida, he made many gutsy throws in tight windows and played the back shoulder like a virtuoso, but very much struggled on end zone fades, which lacked ideal placement because of improper footwork (he did not step into the throws, which made the balls entirely arm powered). However, this problem is not of great concern to me. What concerns me most is his lackluster play while under pressure. Evidence of this can be seen against Florida, where he badly overthrows check downs and simply gives himself up on one occasion. An even better example of his struggles against pressure is Louisville’s overtime loss to Connecticut. Although some of his play later in the game can be attributed to a foot injury sustained in the second half, Teddy was frustrated all day by Connecticut’s menacing defense. Do not get me wrong, Teddy is still a fantastic prospect, and I fully anticipate him improving over the next two years. I do think, however, that the top 5 projection some mocks bestow him with is very generous for this prospect. As for now, Bridgewater earns a mid-second round draft stock on my board.

2.    Aaron Murray, Georgia


Murray is the most polished passer in this draft. Even though Murray had the help of a very formidable backfield of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, Murray took full advantage of defenses playing the run, throwing into tight windows and taking advantage of 1-on-1 matchups. Murray demonstrates fantastic arm strength with accuracy coming away with a 64.5% completion percentage on 386 attempts in 2012. It will be interesting to see how Murray performs with his favorite target, Tavarres King, off making a name for himself with the Denver Broncos. Even though Murray has the arm strength, arm talent, and arm strength you want in a franchise quarterback, his greatest asset is his Football intelligence. When I watch him play, I cannot help but see the second coming of Drew Brees, who was the first pick in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Right now, I see Murray as a solid first rounder, who could very well end up being the first quarterback taken in next year’s draft.

1.    Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech


Logan Thomas will be one of the most scrutinized quarterbacks throughout the 2013 season. He has all of the physical makeup of a franchise quarterback: Elite size, arm strength, arm talent, as well as above average mobility skills. However, Thomas has yet to put it together with consistent accuracy. On one throw, he will throw a perfect deep ball, hitting the receiver in full stride for the score, on another play, he will brutally over throw a check down on a 3rd and short. Now, I hear a lot of Cam Newton comparisons when it comes to Thomas, but truthfully, he is a carbon copy of current Buccaneers starter Josh Freeman. When Freeman was drafted 17th overall in 2009, there were major questions with his accuracy, but his elite size, arm strength, and athleticism gave him the first round nod. Thomas could go in the top 5 if he improves his play on a marginal level, but I do not see him falling outside the top 20. My ideal spot for Thomas would be with the Cleveland Browns, who, ironically, traded the 17th pick to the Bucs in 2009.


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