We are just a few days away from training camp and I can't wait to get back to some Jets football. So before we have camp battle news coming out of our ears, I thought I would pop up another quick article regarding who to watch out for in college football this year.
I do like Geno Smith, and I think we'll have a better year than most expect, so I really don't expect us to be selecting a Quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. Well I don't envision us selecting one early, but with Sanchez likely in his last year with us, Gregg not really looking like an NFL QB, and the age old philosophy in the NFL that you should take a QB each year, we may well look at one down the board.
If you follow college football, you will all know the main players. However as with any other position, a lot can happen in the space of a year. Barkley was considered the consensus #1 overall selection and #1 Quarterback going into the 2012 college football season and he ended up being a 4th round selection. So take it all with a pinch of salt, watch these guys for yourself through the season and see what you think.
A lot of people may consider Heisman winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M to be the front runner here, after all he has just won college footballs most prestigious award and carries the nickname "Johnny Football", but for an NFL style offence, lets be completely honest, Teddy Bridgewater is the man to beat.
There are countless Miami fans kicking themselves that they were unable to land Teddy in the recruiting process, he had every intention of playing his football at Miami until they fired their coach Randy Shannon. Charlie Strong at Louisville went on the charm offensive and the rest as they say is history. Bridgewater completed 69% of his passes last year for 3,718 yards, 27 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. He has a very well rounded game. He has a big, accurate arm with a good spiral on the football. He is an excellent reader of the game, has good pocket awareness and shows a very high football IQ level. In the 2013 Sugar Bowl against a rampant Florida defense he led his team to victory with a controlled mature performance. If he replicates his 2012-13 season in 2013-14, he will have teams falling over themselves to draft him.
Now onto Johnny Football, who was absolutely phenomenal last season. If you want his season in a nut shell, watch his game against the NFL ready Alabama defense. He completed 68% of his passes for 3706 yards, 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions while also adding 1571 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. Now that is impressive stuff. However he was a redshirt freshman, so he'll need to prove he can do it again. He's also just 6'1 and 200lb. Now players like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have turned the height requirement theory on its head to an extent, but Manziel is very light. Could he hold up through an NFL season? I think he'll be a good QB and he has time to add a little weight. It'll be interesting to see if he elects to be in the draft in 2014 if he has another great season, I would imagine so.
Tajh Boyd is also considered to be a first round prospect. In 2012 he impressed with a 67% completion, with 3896 yards and 36 touchdowns to 13 interceptions as well as adding 769 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Like Manziel he is also listed at 6'1, but he carries a bit more weight at 220lb. He made some big strides in 2012 in his pocket awareness and his mental timer, getting the ball out at the right moment - which improved his accuracy. I thought he would elect for the 2013 NFL draft but he decided to stay in school for another year. Boyd does a good job of spreading the ball around, which isn't surprising as Clemson always seem to have multiple play-makers at any one point. Will he end up in the first round? more than likely.
A.J McCarron at Alabama is another really interesting prospect. Look at his numbers from 2012, 67% completion, 2,933 yards, 30 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, and he threw 16 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions the year before. So looking at it, it all looks very good. However he doesn't get half the publicity that the rest do. Mainly because of the team he plays for. Alabama had numerous first round draft picks on that offensive line last year and one of the most dynamic running attacks in the nation. So a lot of teams sold out to stop the run, and when he did have to throw the ball, he had a lifetime to do it. I don't want to completely disregard his skill-set though, regardless of the team who play for, you don't complete 67% of your passes and connect on 30 touchdowns to 3 interceptions without talent. The funny thing is, the best thing for A.J is if Alabama are not that great this year, meaning he'll have to throw under pressure and into tighter lanes, showing NFL teams his arm talent.
Some other QB's to look out for, David Fales completed 72.5% of his passes last year at San Jose State and tossed 33 touchdowns, they play a lot of screens, bubble screens and slants, and he wasn't playing the best competition. Aaron Murray from Georgia is one of my favorite QB's in college, statistically he had a great year last year, but will need to show he can compete against the better competition. David Ash in Texas made a good jump in 2012 raising his completion percentage to 67.3%, I'm going to be interested to see how he does this year. Marcus Mariota is also one to watch over in Oregon, his first year starting was spectacular.