2014 NFL Rookie Quarterback Rankings

I’ve watched all of the preseason games thus far and have written about them in my Preseason Recap page. In my write-ups, I’ve discussed fantasy implications and broken down how most of the rookies have looked. While doing so, it dawned on me that it might be interesting to rank the rookie quarterbacks and assign grades to how they’ve performed and handled themselves this offseason.

Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
Updated Aug. 31

  1. Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars. Grade: A+
    Blake Bortles was exceptional in his preseason debut. He entered the field to a standing ovation from a surprisingly loud crowd and did not disappoint his new fans. Bortles went 7-of-11 for 117 yards, but all but one of his passes should have been completed. Three were dropped, while two other completions were negated by infractions. He also drew a pass interference.

    Borles was also solid in his second game, going 11-of-17 for 160 yards. The yardage is a bit deceiving because he had a long gain versus a prevent defense, but he still performed very well. He also succeeded in his third contest. Bortles, battling Detroit’s No. 1 defensive unit on one possession, led his team into field goal range before running out of time. Putting three points on the board in this circumstance was very impressive, especially considering that he converted a second-and-25 with a 28-yard dart to Marcedes Lewis. Bortles finished 10-of-17 for 158 yards and a touchdown. He was also solid in the finale (4-of-6, 86 yards, TD), as he made just one mistake.

    The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has shown off impressive arm strength, all while delivering the ball wherever he has wanted to for the most part. There’s no doubt that he’s the best quarterback on the Jaguars. The coaching staff would be foolish to keep him on the bench any longer. They need to understand that Blaine Gabbert failed because he’s terrible; not because he was thrown into the fire. Furthermore, Gus Bradley would be ignoring how his former mentor, Pete Carroll, handled the Russell Wilson situation back in 2012. Wilson outplayed a veteran in the preseason, so Carroll gave Wilson the starting job. Why isn’t Bradley doing the same with Bortles?

  2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings. Grade: B+
    It’s amazing how much different Teddy Bridgewater looked from one week to the next. Bridgewater was dreadful in his debut, going 6-of-13 for 49 yards and a lost fumble. He improved his play dramatically in the following game, however, finishing 16-of-20 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and he was just as good as those numbers indicate. With the crowd chanting “Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!” Bridgewater threw two touchdowns to give his team the lead in the fourth quarter, one of which was a pretty fade pass to Rodney Smith.

    Bridgewater didn’t get to play much in his third game. He looked good though despite mishandling a shotgun snap right away. He went 4-of-7 for 40 yards and two short touchdowns that were set up by great field position. He had a mixed performance in the finale. He did a good job of breaking out of a sack to turn the play into a gain of five yards. He also tossed a nice fade touchdown to Adam Thielen on the opening drive. However, he missed a few of his passes. Only one of his incompletions was a drop.

    Prior to the draft, we spoke to several teams, all of whom told us that they didn’t view Bridgewater as a first-round prospect. One NFC team even said they had a fourth-round grade on him. It’s still way early to make any sort of determination, but Bridgewater did just take one step toward proving his detractors wrong.

  3. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Patriots. Grade: B+
    I wasn’t a fan of the Jimmy Garoppolo pick when it happened. I still question it because it went against everything New England had done the entire offseason. He just doesn’t help Tom Brady win now. I felt better about it after watching Garoppolo play in three preseason games, but the Eastern Illinois product took a step backward.

    Garoppolo had been fantastic. It was a bit surprising, even to the Patriots’ announcers, because he had been inconsistent in practice. The light just seemed to turn on for Garoppolo, who hurled many beautiful downfield throws that were right on the money. He went 9-of-13 for 157 yards and a touchdown in his debut, but he could have easily registered two more scores had his receivers not committed drops.

    Garoppolo took a tiny step backward in the following game. He looked a bit jittery early on, as he nearly tossed a pick on a screen pass. Some of his other attempts were off as well, but he did make a nice sideline throw to Brandon LaFell for a 25-yard gain. He finished 6-of-12 for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

    He went 9-of-12 for 105 yards and a touchdown in his third game. He only made one poor decision, as he nearly threw a pick while a defender grabbed hold of his leg. He made a nice, 30-yard pass on a rope down the sideline as well.

    As mentioned though, Garoppolo struggled in the preseason finale. went 22-of-42 for 284 yards, one touchdown and an interception. The pick wasn’t his fault, as there was a miscommunication with Josh Boyce. However, Garoppolo was nearly picked on several other occasions. He held on to the ball too long. Doing so resulted in multiple sacks, and as the game went on, it appeared as though he was scared to get hit. His footwork got pretty screwed up, resulting in errant throws.

  4. Zach Mettenberger, QB, Titans. Grade: B
    The 2014 campaign is being viewed as a redshirt year for Zach Mettenberger, but he flashed some future starting potential. Mettenberger went 4-of-7 for 87 yards and an interception that wasn’t his fault in the opener.

    Mettenberger saw much more playing time in the following contest, going 20-of-25 for 269 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He began with an awesome back-shoulder throw to Justin Hunter and later went back to Hunter for a 64-yard touchdown strike. As his completion percentage indicates, Mettenberger was accurate, for the most part. However, Mettenberger’s interception was telegraphed, and he also lost a fumble and nearly tossed another pick. He threw behind his intended targets on a couple of occasions as well.

    The LSU product continued his fine play in Week 3 of the preseason. He went 11-of-19 for 148 yards, making only a few mistakes all evening. He missed his target on his first attempt, overthrew another and passed behind a third. However, all of this was accompanied by several impressive heaves.

    Mettenberger was 12-of-17 for 154 yards. His best throw was on a rope to Justin Hunter (2 catches, 53 yards) for a 34-yard gain. Mettenberger, who also endured one pass drop, was strip-sacked under heavy pressure. However, it was a positive performance for him overall. I’d like to see him push for a starting job in 2015 if Jake Locker doesn’t live up to expectations.

  5. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders. Grade: B-
    Derek Carr did not look like an NFL starting quarterback to me in his first two preseason games. All he did was throw short passes; anything downfield turned out to be inaccurate. However, he absolutely lit up the Seahawks in the preseason finale, leading a touchdown drive on the opening possession against Richard Sherman and the first unit. He went 11-of-13 for 143 yards and three touchdowns.

    Carr has to start. I don’t think there’s any question about it. What he did in this contest showed way more promise than anything the injured and decrepit Matt Schaub displayed this preseason. Carr will at least present the Raiders with some hope. All Schaub will do is heave pick-sixes.

  6. Tom Savage, QB, Texans. Grade: C+
    Tom Savage didn’t get to play much in his first two preseason games, but he got some action in the third. He went 5-of-6 for 68 yards and a touchdown, which was a nice throw down the seam for 31 yards. Savage showed off his superior arm strength on multiple occasions, including that play. He was 8-of-12, 43 yards, interception in the finale.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Savage supplanted Ryan Fitzpatrick as the team’s starter at some point this year, but I’d say he needs at least a year on the sideline.

  7. Logan Thomas, QB, Cardinals. Grade: C
    I can’t believe Logan Thomas was so accurate in his preseason debut. Thomas went 11-of-12 for 113 yards and a touchdown. It was so odd to see him be so precise with the football.

    Unfortunately, Thomas’ play regressed in each game afterward. He went 2-of-7 for 21 yards in the third game. He also had an interception, but that wasn’t his fault at all because a well-placed ball bounced off his receiver’s hands.

    Thomas was pretty mediocre in the finale. He was 9-of-21 for 73 yards and an interception. Those numbers look dreadful, but Thomas wasn’t as bad as they indicate. The pick wasn’t his fault, as the ball bounced off his receiver’s arms. And including that pass, I counted four drops that Thomas was victimized by, including one deep ball that should have been reeled in by Brittan Golden. Thomas did have some bad moments, however. He lost a fumble on a strip-sack (one of two) because he was too loose with the football. He was also way too high on many of his passes. He had open receivers, but launched at least four balls way over their heads.

  8. Johnny Manziel, QB, Browns. Grade: C-
    Johnny Manziel had everyone buzzing after his preseason debut, going 7-of-11 for 63 yards along with 27 rushing yards on six carries. He also wasn’t bad in the third preseason game, going 10-of-15 for 85 yards to go along with a 7-yard touchdown run. Manziel showed much more confidence and decisiveness in this contest. He threw some impressive darts, including one pass on the run in which he found speedy return specialist Taylor Gabriel along the sideline.

    Manziel regressed in the finale. He went 6-of-17 for 83 yards and a touchdown. He also ran four times for 55 rushing yards. The ground numbers looked nice, and Manziel made the most of his scrambles. However, Manziel made numerous poor throws and decisions. He passed late across his body on his first drive, and he would’ve been picked off by a starting defensive unit if he were matched up against one. Manziel also lost a fumble because he held on to the ball too long. He was then nearly picked on a couple of times. Inaccuracy plagued Manziel the rest of the night. There were so many underthrows and overthrows throughout the opening half. He was then nearly picked off again after intermission when he heaved the ball wide of his target. The Chicago defender simply dropped the ball.

    Manziel’s performance at Washington on a Monday night still sticks out the most. He struggled mightily, as his stat line of 7-of-16 for 65 yards and a touchdown indicates. Manziel was completely inaccurate, but his throws weren’t the worst part of his evening. Neither was this:

    That was another example of Manziel showing immaturity and not getting it. He has to understand that he’s not some ordinary 21-year-old, as he seems to believe. He’s the face of an NFL franchise, so he’s held to a higher standard than all other 21-year-olds. The finger itself wouldn’t be a huge deal if Manziel didn’t have any other off-the-field issues, but between showing up drunk to Peyton Manning’s camp, to rolling bills in bathrooms, to partying with losers in shady Vegas clubs, there are way too many concerns with Manziel.

    At any rate, the worst aspect of Manziel’s performance at Washington was the fact that he wasn’t prepared at all. He had absolutely no idea what was coming in terms of Jim Haslett’s blitz packages. With all of his off-the-field distractions, it’s fair to wonder if Manziel will be partying at clubs rather than spending time in the film room.

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 9

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12