Find out which signal callers will make waves in this NFL Draft Review.
The 2014 NFL Draft is now in the books, and that means no more mocks and guess work as it relates to where players will end up. Fantasy gamers, the insatiable group we are, are ready for some analysis of the three day event’s happenings. I chose very specific language in the last sentence because there was more to this NFL draft review than players simply being selected from a wide variety of colleges (that did not include the University of Texas, sorry Longhorns fans). There were also a few trades that will have their own fantasy ramifications. I’m not going to break down it down pick by pick or trade by trade in this NFL draft review, but instead I’ll be highlighting some of the most intriguing players by position. This week I’m going to open my NFL draft review with the most important one-quarterback
It didn’t take long for jaws to hit the floor. The Jaguars provided the first shocker when they nabbed Blake Bortles at pick three. Calling it a shocker probably isn’t totally truthful, since he’s been in the mix to be the top quarterback selected since Teddy Bridgewater underwhelmed at his pro day. While Bortles is the top pick, and the Jaguars added some playmakers in the draft to help him out, it’s unlikely he’s going to be a helpful fantasy signal caller this year. The likelihood that Justin Blackmon will suit up with him this season resides somewhere between slim and none, slanting heavily in the direction of the latter. Not good. The backfield features free agent addition Toby Gerhart as its lead horse with the departure of Maurice Jones-Drew, and there isn’t enough proven talent on the Jaguars roster to make me feel comfortable painting a rosy picture of Bortles’ rookie season. Also, Jaguars G.M. David Caldwell stated that the club’s preference is for Chad Henne to start this year, and for Bortles to challenge him in 2015. Bortles is a guy who’s unlikely to be used much, if at all, in daily games this year. That said, his big arm, big build, and the youthful core in Jacksonville make him a nice grab in keeper and dynasty leagues.
Getting back to Bridgewater, he’s the rookie quarterback I believe will have the greatest fantasy impact in year one. He was selected with the last pick in the first round when the Vikings traded back up to leapfrog the Texans at pick one in the second round. He joins “Purple Jesus” Adrian Peterson in a Norv Turner coached offense where he won’t be leaned on too heavily. Turner has a reputation for developing quarterbacks, and with defenses stacking the box to stop Peterson, Bridgewater should have some fun airing it out to speedster Cordarrelle Patterson and savvy veteran Greg Jennings. It also doesn’t hurt that his division foes were terrible against the pass last season. Football Outsiders ranked all three pass defenses in the bottom half of the league, with the Bears at 17th, the Lions 20th, and the Packers 28th. One or two of those defenses will surely improve against the pass, but we’re not talking about world beaters that gave quarterbacks fits last year.
The quarterback I would have ranked atop my rookie leader board after day one of the draft would have been Johnny Manziel. Talk of Josh Gordon facing a year long suspension for yet another failed drug test is no bueno for “Johnny Football’s” 2014 outlook though. His ability to improvise and pick up points with his legs is still appealing, but losing the NFL’s leading receiver from last year is a huge blow that the club did little to soften through the draft. And by did little, I mean they drafted zero receivers. That’s a little baffling considering the depth of this year’s receiving class. To his credit, Manziel said all the right things when he had the microphone put in front of his face after being selected. Even though professional athletes shouldn’t need much extra motivation outside of working towards a big second contract, Manziel probably has a bit of a chip on his shoulder after sliding all the way to pick 22. He’s a better long-term option, but dual threat quarterbacks with favorable matchups make for nice daily game options. He’s a high end QB2 in yearly leagues.
The two quarterbacks selected after day one that stand out as the most likely to have value this year are Derek Carr and Tom Savage, selected by the Raiders and Texans respectively. Both quarterbacks will compete for a starting gig. Carr is the better prospect of the two, and Mike Mayock of NFL Network has gushed about his arm. The biggest problem for Carr is that the Raiders are thin on talent at wide receiver, and the presence of both Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden means the club figures to feature a running heavy attack. Carr is also tasked with beating out veteran Matt Schaub, and that’s not a given. Savage has less competition to win the starting job, and more talented pass catchers to work with. His list of weapons include Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, as well as running back Arian Foster. The Pittsburgh product by way of Rutgers and Arizona doesn’t have a ton of playing experience due to multiple transfers though. As NFL.com notes in his player profile, last season was his first full year of football since 2009. The sporadic playing time leaves me feeling like the learning curve for him will be steeper than some of his rookie peers, but if that proves to not be the case, he could be a daily game option by the middle of the season.