Jameis Winston**, QB, Florida State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 230. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2015): Top-10 Pick. 2/14/15: Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Winston is the favorite to be the first selection by Tampa Bay in the 2015 NFL Draft. Winston is a better quarterback prospect than Cam Newton, Sam Bradford or Matthew Stafford, and the Buccaneers have graded Winston higher than those signal-callers. Unless Winston screws up the team interview and pre-draft visit, or gets in some off-the-field trouble, he should be the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
If it weren't for all the off-the-field concerns, Winston would be the hands-down first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He is a better pocket passer and is more accurate than Marcus Mariota. However, the possibility of Winston sabotaging his NFL career with off-the-field run-ins is a concern.
Winson completed 65 percent of his passes in 2014 for 3,907 yards with 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He significantly exceeded last year's interception total. Still, Winston went a sparkling 26-1 as a starting quarterback.
Winston is extraordinary in the pocket. He is a phenomenal pocket passer who can carve up a defense. Winston has very good field vision and does a superb job of scanning the field and working through his progressions. It is an innate ability that he displayed from the very beginning of his tenure as a starter. Winston hangs tough in the face of the pass rush, steps into throws when he's going to get hit and moves well in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Sources say that Winston has a good football I.Q. and will impress teams in pre-draft meetings.
Winston also has great anticipation and timing. For example, with pressure in his face, he would throw passes before receivers made their breaks, yet the ball hitsthem between the numbers as soon as they turned around. Those were phenomenal throws for any level of football. Winston also can throw some brilliant passes into tight windows to beat good coverage. When plays break down, Winston can make plays with his feet, and if defenses leave him uncovered, he will hurt them on the on the ground.
8/27/14: Winston took college football by storm in 2013 as the Heisman Trophy winner while leading Florida State to a National Championship. The redshirt freshman demonstrated a quality arm with well-developed passing ability. Winston completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,057 yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. On the ground, he ran for 219 yards with four touchdowns.
Winston is a rare athlete who is a natural passer. His field vision and decision-making were phenomenal in 2013. It was extremely impressive for a first-year starter and is scary to think how good his field vision could be in the future as he gains more experience. He also showed incredible poise for a young player. Winston is a rare talent.
Personal: Winston has had some off-the-field problems, including an investigation into a sexual assault and a theft at a Publix grocery store. He also has pitched for Florida State's baseball team. His focus and maturity will be questioned by NFL teams.
Marcus Mariota*, QB, Oregon
Height: 6-4. Weight: 219. Projected 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2015): Top-10 Pick. 2/14/15: Mariota completed 68 percent of his passes in 2014 for 4,454 yards with 42 touchdowns and four interceptions. On the ground, he totaled 770 yards (5.7 average) with 15 touchdowns. Sources say they don't see Mariota falling in the 2015 NFL Draft as he has graded out far ahead of Blake Bortles, who was last year's No. 3 pick.
There is no doubt that Mariota has great physical tools. He has a strong arm, size and excellent mobility. Mariota can make big plays with his feet in terms of taking off and running, or just avoiding sacks to by time. He also throws well on the run. Mariota will have to learn how to work under center for the NFL.
Therein is the concern with Mariota as a system quarterback. He has good height and a strong arm to be a pocket passer, but he isn't consistent yet. Mariota doesn't always scan through the field, and there were times where he looked to run when his first read was covered. Mariota can miss some throws with placement that is off and never consistently fired the ball into tight windows as Oregon's offensive scheme led to a lot of wide-open receivers. That will have to change in the NFL as he will have to get better at pulling the trigger with accurate passes into a small opening. There were plays where Mariota showrf nice pocket-passing potential with reading the defense, scanning his options and delivering a good pass. He just needs work and enters the NFL at a similar level to Cam Newton. Mariota was very good at avoiding interceptions in collebe, but showed a tendency to fumble the ball.
Off the field, Mariota is a stud. Everyone in the NFL raves about his character, work ethic, locker-room presence and ability to be the face of a franchise. While Mariota needs to develop into a pocket passer, his work ethic and intelligence have many believing that he has what it takes to get that done.
8/27/14: There is no denying that Mariota has a great physical skill set and is a tremendous athlete with rare mobility. He is a dangerous running threat. Mariota needs work to develop as a pocket passer for the NFL, but he has the arm, size and height to live in the pocket. Mariota needs to continue to refine his footwork, throwing mechanics, ball placement and field vision. However, the redshirt junior is a natural at throwing on the run and has big-play ability.
In 2013, Mariota completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,665 yards with 31 touchdowns and four interceptions. On the ground, the redshirt sophomore ran for 715 yards with nine touchdowns. While Mariota did a great job of avoiding throwing picks, he had some issues with fumbles.
Mariota did a good job of running Oregon's high-scoring attack in 2012. The redshirt freshman completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,677 yards with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 898 yards (752 net) with five touchdowns.
Mariota needs to use 2014 to show the NFL that he has the skills to thrive as a pocket passer.
Personal: From Hawaii. Majoring in human physiology. Son of Toa Mariota and Alana Deppe-Mariota.
Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State
Height: 6-2. Weight: 215. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2015): 2-4. 2/14/15: In speaking with NFL sources, they identified Grayson as a sleeper prospect who has really impressed them. Grayson has a strong arm that can make all the throws. He displays some good accuracy at times, but needs to get more consistent, especially on the deep ball. Grayson has some mobility to make throws on the run. His character receives good marks as he is viewed as a good teammate with leadership skills. Grayson had a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl and was the best quarterback in Mobile.
Grayson completed 65 percent of his passes on the season for 4,006 yards with 32 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He threw for over 400 yards in back-to-back games against Boise State and UC Davis. Grayson helped lead a comeback win over Boston College on the road. He had the most efficient passing game of any quarterback in the nation as he completed 18-of-21 passes for 390 yards with five touchdowns against Wyoming. Mariota was the only college quarterback with a higher efficiency rating in 2014.
Personal: Son of Brad and Jody Grayson. Majoring in communications. Uncle Danny Grayson was an All-American linebacker at Washington State and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft.
Brett Hundley*, QB, UCLA
Height: 6-3. Weight: 227. Projected 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2015): 2-4. 2/14/15: Hundley completed 69 percent of his passes in 2014 for 3,155 yards with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. He had nine rushing touchdowns as well. Hundley declared for the 2015 NFL Draft. He is a developmental project who needs a lot of work as a pocket passer for the NFL. Hundley passed on playing at the Senior Bowl, which made a bad impression on a lot of scouts.
Entering the 2014 season, scouting sources across a number of NFL teams agreed that UCLA junior quarterback Brett Hundley was physically talented with upside, but they felt that he was inconsistent and overrated. Hundley did nothing to dispel that in the season opener against Virginia. He completed 20-of-33 passes for 242 yards and ran for 39 yards on 15 carries with a score. Hundley was then knocked out of the game against Texas with an injury to his non-throwing elbow (left).
When Hundley came back to the field, he picked a great time to have the best performance of his collegiate career and maybe start the process of changing minds in the scouting community. Hundley showed huge improvements with his pocket passing, field vision, decision-making and working through his progressions in a massive game against Arizona State. He was 18-of-23 for 355 yards with four touchdowns while running for 72 yards on eight carries.
Hundley took a step backward versus Utah and was a big part of the Bruins taking 10 sacks against the Utes. He also was underwhelming against Oregon. Taking sacks is an issue for Hundley as he took more than 100 across the past three years. To end his collegiate career, Hundley helped lead the Bruins to beat Kansas State in bowl season, but mainly used his legs rather than impress as a laser.
8/27/14: As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Hundley led the Bruins' revival and helped get his team to the Pac-12 Championship Game. He completed 66 percent of his passes in 2012 for 3,740 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, plus ran for 702 yards (355 net) with nine touchdowns. Hundley scored on a 72-yard touchdown run against Rice on his first play that year. He threw for 372 yards against a good Oregon State team and finished the year with 329 yards and three touchdowns versus Baylor.
Hundley completed 67 percent of his passes in 2013 for 3,071 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. On the ground, he ran for 970 yards (748 net) and 11 scores. Hundley led a furious comeback for a huge road win at Nebraska. In a win over Utah, he showed off his athletic ability when he caught a touchdown, ran for a touchdown and threw for a touchdown. Hundley struggled versus Stanford, but he played better against Oregon than his numbers indicated.
The UCLA coaching staff has a lot of NFL experience and is grooming Hundley well for the next level. He fits in the mold of athletic quarterbacks with good arms. Hundley has room for improvement, but he has the potential to rise high.
Personal: Undeclared major. Son of Brett, Sr. and April Hundley.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Height: 6-2. Weight: 230. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 2/14/15: WalterFootball.com knows that multiple NFL teams view Petty as a third-day prospect despite the hype from some draft pundits.
The view of league contacts was justified by Petty's performance in 2014. His accuracy was inconsistent, and he missed a lot of wide-open receivers who any NFL quarterback has to connect with. To help himself, Petty finished the year well against Michigan State, including a number of accurate deep balls. Petty needed a strong week at the Senior Bowl, but that didn't happen. He was average and looks like a backup for the NFL rather than a developmental starter.
Petty completed 63 percent of his passes in 2014 for 3,855 yards with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He had six rushing touchdowns. Petty needs to improve in his pocket passing and accuracy.
8/27/14: 2013 was an impressive debut season for Petty as Baylor's starting quarterback. The dual-threat quarterback could definitely improve as a pocket passer now that he has gained a year of experience. Petty completed 62 percent of his passes last year for 4,200 yards with 32 touchdowns and three interceptions. He ran for 339 yards and 14 touchdowns as well. Petty backed up Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence for three seasons.
Personal: Son of Todd and Dena Petty. Graduated in May of 2013 with a degree in health science studies.
Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 229. Projected 40 Time: 4.76. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 2/14/15: At the Senior Bowl, Mannion made some beautiful throws and missed on a number of others. That's become the norm for this signal-caller. He has a big arm and pocket presence, but isn't consistent or accurate enough.
Mannion completed 62 percent of his passes in 2014 for 3,164 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In a microcosm for his season, he had an ugly game against USC where he demonstrated significant ineffectiveness when forced to move off of his spot in the pocket.
Mannion was unable to get into rhythm in 2014 because his offensive line was awful. His receivers didn't step up to replace Brandin Cooks either. Even when his teammates executed well, Mannion missed some throws. Oregon State's offense was out of sync all year.
8/27/14: Over three seasons as a starter, Mannion has improved his passing skills. He lit up Pac-12 defenses in 2013 as he completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,662 yards with 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Mannion needs to improve his anticipation. He started the season strong before having some ugly games in November against USC, Arizona State and Washington. He is prone to hold on to the ball too long as he took 25 sacks as a junior and 24 sacks as a freshman (12 as a sophomore).
In 2012, Mannion completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,446 yards with 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He became the Beavers' starting quarterback in 2011. The redshirt freshman completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,328 yards with 16 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
There are three things that Mannion must improve in order to have a shot at being a first-round pick. They are: accuracy, anticipation and footwork. Mannion's rough stretch last November can be attributed to those weaknesses. His interceptions came on inaccurate passes, and his feet weren't always in rhythm. He also needs to play better against his elite opponents and not just rack up numbers against weak teams.
Personal: Son of John and Inga. Sean is a coach's kid as his father is a high school football coach.
Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina
Height: 6-1. Weight: 218. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2015): 5-7. 2/14/15: Carden had the opportunity to rise up draft boards with a big Senior Bowl, but that was not to be. He didn't impress in Mobile.
Carden was a good college quarterback who put up some huge numbers. The senior completed 64 percent of his passes in 2014 for 4,736 yards with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Carden led the Pirates to a road win at Virginia Tech and led them to putting up 70 points on North Carolina a week later. He had a mixed outing against Florida.
Carden completed 71 percent of his passes in 2013 for 4,129 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He completed 66 percent of his passes for 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Personal: Son of Jay and Scoti Carden. He is pursuing a master's degree in instructional technology.
Cody Fajardo, QB, Nevada
Height: 6-2. Weight: 215. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2015): 5-7. 2/14/15: Fajardo completed 60 percent of his passes in 2014 for 2,498 yards with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He was decent, but didn't impress, at the East-West Shrine.
8/27/14: Fajardo has been solid for Nevada the past three seasons. In 2013, the junior completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,668 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. As a sophomore, he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
Height: 6-2. Weight: 203. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2015): 6-FA. 2/14/15: Kelly completed 58 percent of his passes in 2014 for 1,874 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also did damage with his legs as he notched three touchdowns. Kelly missed three games with an injured foot. He didn't impress at the East-West Shrine.
8/27/14: Kelly took over as the starting quarterback in 2012 to replace Brock Osweiler and has played well for the Sun Devils across the past two seasons. In 2013, Kelly threw for 3,635 yards with 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 62 percent of his passes. He also hurt defenses on the ground with 852 yards and nine touchdowns.
The previous season, Kelly completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,039 yards with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has to improve his pocket passing and field vision. Kelly also has been sacked 70 times the past two years and needs to improve on avoiding negative yardage plays.
Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss
Height: 6-4. Weight: 217. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2015): 7-FA. 2/14/15: Wallace completed 60 percent of his passes in 2014 for 3,194 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He lit up weak opponents, but sometimes broke down when playing a good team. Wallace was prone to interceptions during his career, often at bad times. Sources say that they view Wallace as a late-rounder or undrafted free agent. They say he lacks arm strength and struggles with decision-making. Wallace also has a lot of off-the-field concerns.
In 2013, Wallace completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,346 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He completed 64 percent for 2,994 yards with 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2012.
Personal: Son of Bill and Trina Wallace.
Devin Gardner, QB/WR, Michigan
Height: 6-4. Weight: 210. Projected 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2015): 7-FA. 2/14/15: Gardner's accuracy, decision-making and ball placement are his fatal flaws. He completed 62 percent of his passes in 2014 for 1,896 yards with 10 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Gardner was benched against Minnesota, but returned to the starting lineup against Rutgers. He should play wide receiver in the NFL.
8/27/14: Gardner completed 60 percent of his passes in 2013 for 2,960 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. After playing well against Notre Dame, he struggled against Toledo, Connecticut and Michigan State. Gardner threw for 503 yards against Indiana. He also totaled 483 net yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground across the season.
Gardner began 2012 as a wide receiver before starting four games at quarterback to end the year. The junior completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,219 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also ran for 101 yards and seven touchdowns. As a receiver, Gardner caught 16 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns.
Gardner is a good athlete who could be subject to a lot of debate about his future position in the NFL. He needs a strong fifth year in 2014 and needs to show the ability to be an effective pocket passer if he wants to remain a quarterback. Michigan has new offense that is supposed to fit Gardner better and produce a more consistent passing attack.
I'll admit I was as shocked as everyone on draft night. It took me a dew days to regain my senses and delve into what Pace actually did this off-season. This rant basically mirrors my sentiments exactly. Time will tell if this was a genius move by Pace or not, but you have to give him credit for being ballsy and aggressive.