The Observer’s top 10 quarterbacks available in the 2014 NFL draft
|1. Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M||6-0||207||1||It might not always be textbook, but Johnny Football makes plays.|
|2. Blake Bortles||Central Florida||6-5||232||1||Prototypical pro-style QB made his name with a big 2013.|
|3. Derek Carr||Fresno State||6-2||214||2||Good bloodlines; might be better than brother David.|
|4. Zach Mettenberger||LSU||6-5||224||2||Big, strong-armed Georgia transfer has NFL size.|
|5. Teddy Bridgewater||Louisville||6-2||214||2-3||Slight frame and some question whether he can make all the throws.|
|6. Jimmy Garoppolo||Eastern Illinois||6-2||226||3||Broke all of Tony Romo’s school passing records.|
|7. A.J. McCarron||Alabama||6-3||220||4||Lacks elite arm strength, but Heisman runner-up is proven winner.|
|8. Aaron Murray||Georgia||6-1||207||4-5||Threw well at his pro day on a surgically repaired knee.|
|9. Tom Savage||Pittsburgh||6-4||228||5-6||Played at three schools, struggles with accuracy issues.|
|10. David Fales||San Jose State||6-2||212||6-7||Had a pedestrian Senior Bowl after a 33-TD season.|
PANTHERS’ PERSPECTIVE: Any chance the Panthers might take a quarterback in a later round probably was dashed when they signed former Vikings quarterback Joe Webb as Cam Newton’s spring stand-in while Newton recovers from ankle surgery. Carolina’s coaches and front office have been open in the past to bringing in a QB with similar traits as Newton (see Russell Wilson in 2012). So there’s a chance Webb could stick around if he outplays Derek Anderson or if Newton suffers an setback.
LOCAL CONNECTIONS: Clemson’s Tajh Boyd thought about turning pro after his All-American season as a junior. But he returned to Death Valley and had another solid year, though he didn’t play well in big games. South Carolina’s Connor Shaw went 27-5 as a starter to become the winningest quarterback in Gamecocks’ history. Shaw is a tough player with good running ability, but doesn’t have superior arm strength. Boyd and Shaw will be drafted late, if at all. North Carolina’s Bryn Renner is a pro-style QB forced to play in a spread offense after Larry Fedora took over. Renner could sign as an undrafted free agent or get a tryout somewhere.
SLEEPER: Savage is a big, strong-armed quarterback who has the ability to make every throw. The knocks on Savage are his lack of athleticism and slow feet. Teams also will be cautious with a quarterback who transferred twice, leaving Rutgers after losing his starting job. But some GM will take a flier on a player who certainly looks the part of an NFL quarterback.
WORTH NOTING: Manziel, who measures 5 feet, 113/4 inches, will become the eighth quarterback shorter than 6-feet to be drafted in the past 28 years, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The last sub-6-footer was Wilson, the former N.C. State quarterback who won a Super Bowl in his second season in the league. ... The only quarterback in this draft with more stopovers than Savage is Fales, who started out at Nevada, spent two years at a junior college and had a short stint at Wyoming before landing at San Jose State. Fales posted two consecutive 4,000-yard seasons at San Jose, and his 72.5 completion percentage in 2012 led the nation.