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Old 04-17-2014   #1
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Default 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

One veteran scout's view on...

2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10
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Six weeks ago, the general consensus among draft analysts was that three or four quarterbacks could be drafted within the top 10 picks of the 2014 NFL draft. While many still adhere to that theory, I am not one and never have been.

NFL clubs have over-drafted at the quarterback position for years. The thinking has been that it's almost impossible to sign a quality quarterback in free agency. If you want one, you have to draft one. The only way you can be sure of getting a quarterback is to draft one in the first round.

The problem with that thought process is that when you force the issue and over-draft at that position, it generally comes back to haunt you. A good percentage of first-round quarterbacks drafted in the last nine years have failed, and an even higher percentage of top-10 quarterbacks have failed to live up to expectations.

Recent history of first-round quarterbacks

When you look at the success rate of quarterbacks taken in the top 10 of the first round the last nine years, the results...
Greg Gabriel is a 30+ year NFL veteran scout with the Bills, National Scouting, Giants, and Director of College Scouting for the Bears for 9 years. Retired, he still consults for NFL teams and writes for NFP and BR.
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Old 04-17-2014   #2
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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2008 saw two quarterbacks drafted in the first round, with one going third overall. Matt Ryan was selected by the Atlanta Falcons. He has had a very good career but still hasn't met overall expectations.


Matthew Stafford from Georgia was the first overall selection in the 2009 draft. While Stafford has played well, he has led the Lions to the playoffs only one time (2011).

While in some cases the jury is still out, in my opinion, less than a third of the top-10 quarterbacks have lived up to expectations.
His bar is pretty high if Ryan and Stafford haven't met expectations. And is the problem that teams have taken QBs in the top 10? Or just have drafted the wrong QB? If the Niners had drafted Rodgers, if the Titans had draft Cutler, if Kaepernick & Wilson been drafted rather than Locker and Gabbert, would this argument ever be made?

What the author should be saying is that NFL teams have not been very good at evaluating QB prospects. I would agree. Teams have been more concerned with metrics and level of competition, rather than production. Then you have a couple of QBs like Manziel and Bridgewater come along, and they are knocked for their size. And you have a Bortles who is knocked for his level of competition. Seems like the same problem regarding the evaluation process. Except this time, the guys who have produced were the highest rated from the outset. Sorry, I'm not buying the argument. There will be QBs taken from this draft that will be successful. The question is and always will be, can the NFL rate them correctly.
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Old 04-18-2014   #3
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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What the author should be saying is that NFL teams have not been very good at evaluating QB prospects. I would agree. Teams have been more concerned with metrics and level of competition, rather than production. Then you have a couple of QBs like Manziel and Bridgewater come along, and they are knocked for their size. And you have a Bortles who is knocked for his level of competition. Seems like the same problem regarding the evaluation process. Except this time, the guys who have produced were the highest rated from the outset. Sorry, I'm not buying the argument. There will be QBs taken from this draft that will be successful. The question is and always will be, can the NFL rate them correctly.
I think the author should be saying teams haven't done a very good job developing their QBs. Especially a guy like Gabbert. Like all other prospects, he had his strengths & weaknesses. I think his failure (much like Carr's) had more to do with the Jags not properly identifying his strengths & weaknesses thereby not preparing him very well to start in the NFL.

If I remember right, they were losing & figured they might as well start Gabbert.

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What the author should be saying is that NFL teams have not been very good at evaluating QB prospects. I would agree. Teams have been more concerned with metrics and level of competition, rather than production.
Then where do you grade Keenum?

I don't understand how we can be concerned with production & not factor in metrics & level of competition. Manziel, by the way, produced very well against good competition.

Bridgewater's 171 rating is impressive. But so is Manziel's 172.... & Manziel faced tougher competition. So did Mettenberger 171, McCarron 167, & Murray 158.
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Old 04-18-2014   #4
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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I think the author should be saying teams haven't done a very good job developing their QBs.
You could also make the case that losing teams are drafting at the top 10. Often, these organizations are not as good as teams drafting below the top 10. It stands to reason that these teams aren't as good at scouting or developing QBs. Are there good QBs coming into the league just about every year? Then what does it matter if they are drafted in the top 10? If you think there's a good QB out there and you need one, then you better draft him before someone else does.
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Old 04-18-2014   #5
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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Old 04-18-2014   #6
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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I don't understand how we can be concerned with production & not factor in metrics & level of competition. Manziel, by the way, produced very well against good competition.

Bridgewater's 171 rating is impressive. But so is Manziel's 172.... & Manziel faced tougher competition. So did Mettenberger 171, McCarron 167, & Murray 158.
Look at some the top guys in the NFL today (in no particular order) and where they came from:

1. Peyton Manning -- SEC
2. Tom Brady -- Big Ten
3. Matt Ryan -- ACC
4. Drew Brees -- Big Ten
5. Matthew Stafford -- SEC
6. Aaron Rodgers -- PAC 12
7. Andrew Luck -- PAC 12
8. Ben Roethlisberger -- MAC
9. Andy Dalton -- Mountain West
10. Joe Flacco -- CAA
11. Phillip Rivers -- ACC

And then look at some random guys who've bombed out:

1. Matt Leinart -- PAC 12
2. Jamarcus Russell -- SEC
3. Brodie Croyle -- SEC
4. Brady Quinn -- IND
5. Vince Young -- SEC
6. Blaine Gabbert -- SEC
7. Christian Ponder -- ACC
8. Jake Locker -- PAC 12
9. Ryan Leaf -- PAC 12

Level of competition doesn't seem to indicate whether a QB is going to be any good or not. And historically, I don't think it's been applied as much to QBs.

The problem with level of competition is that it works both ways. QBs on bad teams who don't have good wrs have to work harder to get the ball into tighter windows. That's more like the NFL. When Cutler was coming into the NFL from Vanderbilt, he had already been having to throw into tight windows because he was on a crappy SEC team playing against good SEC defenses.

But when you're talking about guys playing on GOOD SEC teams, they're surrounded by more talent and that makes them look better.
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Old 04-18-2014   #7
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

Ponder,locker,nor gabbert were good at college. They were avg if that in college. That's why I dunno why anyone is surprised they're bad. If you can't even perform at a high level playing qb in college,I dunno why I would think you could on the next level.
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Old 04-18-2014   #8
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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Originally Posted by thunderkyss View Post
I think the author should be saying teams haven't done a very good job developing their QBs. Especially a guy like Gabbert. Like all other prospects, he had his strengths & weaknesses. I think his failure (much like Carr's) had more to do with the Jags not properly identifying his strengths & weaknesses thereby not preparing him very well to start in the NFL.

If I remember right, they were losing & figured they might as well start Gabbert.
Exactly. Putting all the blame for a QB not living up to team expectations on the QB implies that all teams and coaching staffs are equal and capable of coaching up a player. IMO, many times it's the teams fault that a QB prospect didn't live up to expectations. Some teams (Owners, GM's, and Coaches) just suck, they have low budget owners who are cheap on scouting and coaching and are more interested in the money aspect of the NFL than on hiring quality coaches and staff that would be capable of coaching up a QB prospect. Just like with Doctors or Lawyers or any other profession, just because your an NFL coach or scout doesn't mean your a good one.
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Old 04-18-2014   #9
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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Originally Posted by The Pencil Neck View Post
Look at some the top guys in the NFL today (in no particular order) and where they came from:

1. Peyton Manning -- SEC
2. Tom Brady -- Big Ten
3. Matt Ryan -- ACC
4. Drew Brees -- Big Ten
5. Matthew Stafford -- SEC
6. Aaron Rodgers -- PAC 12
7. Andrew Luck -- PAC 12
8. Ben Roethlisberger -- MAC
9. Andy Dalton -- Mountain West
10. Joe Flacco -- CAA
11. Phillip Rivers -- ACC

And then look at some random guys who've bombed out:

1. Matt Leinart -- PAC 12
2. Jamarcus Russell -- SEC
3. Brodie Croyle -- SEC
4. Brady Quinn -- IND
5. Vince Young -- SEC
6. Blaine Gabbert -- SEC
7. Christian Ponder -- ACC
8. Jake Locker -- PAC 12
9. Ryan Leaf -- PAC 12

Level of competition doesn't seem to indicate whether a QB is going to be any good or not. And historically, I don't think it's been applied as much to QBs.
I'm not reading that list the same way you are. I'm not & never said the SEC is the only conference with good competition. NFL players come from the PAC12, the Big10, the SEC, & ACC. The Outliers on that list are Big Ben... but he's got elite size, with an elite arm. Had he gone to a major conference he most likely would have been a top 5 pick.

Joe Flacco also has size & a big arm. He also could have been a top 5 pick if he went to a major conference.

Andy Dalton.... well, he's from Texas. He's 6'2" 220 lbs, most likely had a mid 1st, early 2nd round grade. Came from a small school in a major conference. I'm giving Bridgewater that same grade even though he's from a small school in a small conference.


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The problem with level of competition is that it works both ways. QBs on bad teams who don't have good wrs have to work harder to get the ball into tighter windows. That's more like the NFL. When Cutler was coming into the NFL from Vanderbilt, he had already been having to throw into tight windows because he was on a crappy SEC team playing against good SEC defenses.

But when you're talking about guys playing on GOOD SEC teams, they're surrounded by more talent and that makes them look better.
Wide open. When you're playing against less athletic players, scheme will get players wide open, even if your WRs aren't Big12 worthy. Curls, hooks, slants, & quick outs. Those routes, in the NFL, in better conferences even against better talent, make up speed & explosiveness means the ball has to get there quicker, with pop.

Besides, I'm not saying Bridgewater won't be successful. I like him. He's on my list of six (it's back to six). I'm saying I don't think he's a sure thing. I'm saying he shouldn't be drafted in lieu of an elite prospect. I'm saying he's no more likely to succeed in the NFL as 5 other QBs in this draft, even though some of those guys are your prototypical sized, played for a major program in a major conference, were productive, ran a pro-style offense, were accurate, were consistent, & won.

If I thought I was good at developing offensive systems & developing QBs in that system, I think I could be successful with any one of:
  1. Aj McCarron
  2. Aaron Murray
  3. Ryan Mallet
  4. Johnny Manziel
  5. Teddy Bridgewater
  6. Zack Mettenberger
  7. Tom Savage

I would think I can make any one of them a starter in the NFL. I'd also think I could likely (but not as sure) work with
  1. David Fales
  2. Jimmy Garoppolo
  3. Connor Shaw
  4. Blake Bortles
  5. Stephen Morris
  6. Tj Yates
  7. Case Keenum

& I would love to see what I could do with Logan Thomas or Josh Freeman.

But that's just me.
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Old 04-18-2014   #10
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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I'm not reading that list the same way you are. I'm not & never said the SEC is the only conference with good competition. NFL players come from the PAC12, the Big10, the SEC, & ACC.
Well... if you're going to talk "level of competition" and "defense", most people become extremely SEC-centric. The PAC12 and Big10 aren't really known for the defenses that the SEC is so the "level of competition" for the QB isn't the same as what I thought you were talking about.

But let me come at this another way... Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, etc. are not known as a Quarterback schools. When you look at QBs and where they come from, there's no place that's really cranking out top pro after top pro. One comes from this school and then another comes from that school and then the next one comes from another school entirely. And those schools frequently come from wide ranging and different conferences and the QBs themselves may have been successful or UNsuccessful in college.

So, for me, level of competition is a total non-indicator. Sure, bigger name schools are going to go after and get bigger name prospects but by-and-large most of those guys don't turn into great pros.

Like you, I think that it's about the right guy finding the right spot and landing in it. OB has to find a guy (or guys) he can work with and teach and he's got to develop them. If that's McCarron, great. If it's Logan Thomas or Murray or Bridgewater or Manziel, great.

As long as it works.
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Old 04-18-2014   #11
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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& I would love to see what I could do with Logan Thomas or Josh Freeman.

But that's just me.
Freeman's now a Giant.
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Old 04-18-2014   #12
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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So, for me, level of competition is a total non-indicator. Sure, bigger name schools are going to go after and get bigger name prospects but by-and-large most of those guys don't turn into great pros.
Interesting. I don't think anything can be discounted. Especially if you're (in the all inclusive sense) going to knock a guy for playing on a talented team.

Many factors, each weighing differently for each QB

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Freeman's now a Giant.
I know, just saying. I'd have loved the opportunity & he probably went cheap.
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Old 04-18-2014   #13
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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Interesting. I don't think anything can be discounted. Especially if you're (in the all inclusive sense) going to knock a guy for playing on a talented team.
It's not knocking a guy for playing on a talented team. It's knocking him for what he was asked to do/did do on a talented team. Not every QB on a talented team gets knocked for it. For example, there was nary a peep about it with VY...because it was clear he was critical to the success of the talented team.
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Old 04-19-2014   #14
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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Interesting. I don't think anything can be discounted. Especially if you're (in the all inclusive sense) going to knock a guy for playing on a talented team.

Many factors, each weighing differently for each QB
It's not that I'm knocking a guy for playing on a talented team or a talented conference per-se, it's that I'm not considering it a factor at all.

You're the one who's considering the conference as an indicator. In effect, you're knocking all the guys who don't play in the conferences or in the schools you like and you're inflating the value of guys who play in big-name conferences or at big-name schools.
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Old 04-19-2014   #15
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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It's not knocking a guy for playing on a talented team. It's knocking him for what he was asked to do/did do on a talented team. Not every QB on a talented team gets knocked for it. For example, there was nary a peep about it with VY...because it was clear he was critical to the success of the talented team.
It's still the same.

QB X didn't have to do a whole lot because he played with a lot of talent.

QB X looked really good because he played against lesser talent.

Regardless what team we're talking about, if we were to use an NFL team for example, if I were to tell you Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 500 yards against the Eagles & the worst passing defense in the league, you'd look at it differently than if I said he threw for 500 yards against the Cleveland Browns top 10 passing defense.

It's a factor & it should be accounted, that's all I'm saying.

Aaron Murray vs Teddy Bridgewater, how is it possible that Bridgewater is gets a first round grade, but Murray gets a 4th/5th? If he were a RB, a CB, or a LB I can understand it, but we're talking about a QB.

I don't have a problem with Murray getting knocked for the injury, but he performed on the field as well as Bridgewater, consistently for four years, against stronger competition. He shouldn't have a 2nd round grade.
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Old 04-19-2014   #16
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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You're the one who's considering the conference as an indicator. In effect, you're knocking all the guys who don't play in the conferences or in the schools you like and you're inflating the value of guys who play in big-name conferences or at big-name schools.
Yes.

Just like guys who don't have canon arms. They get knocked for that.

Guys who aren't accurate, get knocked for that. Guys who don't win get knocked for that. Guys who don't start for three years get knocked for that. Guys who aren't 6'5" 230 lbs get knocked for that. Guys who don't make good decisions get knocked for that.

"Everybody" agrees it would have been nice to see Garoppolo play against better competition.


How many QBs from the AAC, or the Big East have been taken with a top 5 pick? I can only think of McNabb & Bridgewater is no McNabb. If McNabb wasn't as athletically gifted as he was, with a strong NFL arm (I wouldn't say canon, but pretty strong), with good size (not great)... he wouldn't have been a top 10 pick (my opinion).

& I don't know if you caught it earlier, I still give Bridgewater a 1st round grade, just not a top 5 pick grade.
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Old 04-19-2014   #17
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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It's still the same.

QB X didn't have to do a whole lot because he played with a lot of talent.

QB X looked really good because he played against lesser talent.
It's not the same thing and you missed my point entirely. I was not addressing the opposition level point. I was addressing being on a good team. Being on a good team is not always a knock on a QB prospect. McCarron based on his role on a good team is viewed as having been replaceable fairly readily without the team being severely impacted which is short-handed as saying he was carried. VY based on his role on a good team was was viewed as a critical piece of the good team which was generally predicted to take a giant step backwards with his departure.

It isn't a good D of McCarron to resort to a generic complaint against holding it against QBs for having been on good teams.

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Aaron Murray vs Teddy Bridgewater, how is it possible that Bridgewater is gets a first round grade, but Murray gets a 4th/5th? If he were a RB, a CB, or a LB I can understand it, but we're talking about a QB.

I don't have a problem with Murray getting knocked for the injury, but he performed on the field as well as Bridgewater, consistently for four years, against stronger competition. He shouldn't have a 2nd round grade.
Why? He is injured. He is even smaller than TB whose size you had a problem with. And it is just wrong to say he performed as well as TB. And I like Murray a lot.
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Old 04-19-2014   #18
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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It's not the same thing and you missed my point entirely.
No, I didn't miss it. We're just talking two different languages I guess.

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I was not addressing the opposition level point. I was addressing being on a good team. Being on a good team is not always a knock on a QB prospect. McCarron based on his role on a good team is viewed as having been replaceable fairly readily without the team being severely impacted which is short-handed as saying he was carried. VY based on his role on a good team was was viewed as a critical piece of the good team which was generally predicted to take a giant step backwards with his departure.
If we're saying QB X didn't have to do a whole lot because he played on a talented team, we're not talking about Vince Young. We're talking about that guy who wasn't asked to do a whole lot because he was on a good team.

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It isn't a good D of McCarron to resort to a generic complaint against holding it against QBs for having been on good teams.
I'm not talking about McCarron specifically. Most here agree that the QB who was carried by his team (McElroy, JWP, Lienart) should be rated lower than guys who contributed to their talented teams success (Palmer, Stafford, etc...). I don't have a problem with that. I've never argued that.

What I'm arguing, is if we think that way, then it makes sense that level of competition has to be accounted for as well.

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Why? He is injured.
So is Mettenberger. I know he's going to take a hit for being injured. It's the size of the hit that I question. He should have the same grade as Mett IMO.

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He is even smaller than TB whose size you had a problem with. And it is just wrong to say he performed as well as TB. And I like Murray a lot.
& I've never said that size is the only thing I'm looking at. Murray played against better competition. Murray uses his athleticism more. He's got more "wow" than Bridgewater. Murray's a 4 year starter. Murray has more traits that compensate for his size. They both ran pro-style offenses. They have both shown to be accurate & make good decisions (Bridgewater's better, even when considering he played in the AAC).

I give Bridgewater a first round grade. I don't understand how Murray has a 3rd/4th round grade.
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Old 04-19-2014   #19
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

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How many QBs from the AAC, or the Big East have been taken with a top 5 pick? I can only think of McNabb & Bridgewater is no McNabb. If McNabb wasn't as athletically gifted as he was, with a strong NFL arm (I wouldn't say canon, but pretty strong), with good size (not great)... he wouldn't have been a top 10 pick (my opinion).
Since 1980:

ACC - 5 top 5 QB picks
Big 10 - 4 top 5 QB picks
Big 12 - 3 top 5 QB picks
Independent - 1 top 5 QB pick
Mountain West - 1 top 5 QB pick
PAC-12 -- 10 top 5 QB picks
SEC - 7 top 5 QB picks
SWAC - 1 top 5 QB pick
WAC - 1 top 5 QB pick

From that, the PAC-12 is obviously the top dog but it's not like they totally ran away and dominated it. SEC is pretty close and then the ACC, Big 10, and Big 12 aren't far behind. There were plenty of picks from "less powerful" conferences.

NOTE: I didn't make a HUGE effort to translate current colleges into whatever conference they were in at the time that the QB was selected.
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Old 04-19-2014   #20
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Default Re: 2014 Draft: Why No Quarterbacks Are Locks to Be Drafted in the Top 10

Wasn't Gabriel the head who said that Bortles was going to get a coach and GM fired? Ouch!
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