I like Josh Norris’ scouting reports at Rotoworld and enjoyed his early 2014 mock draft published earlier today.
(Well, I didn’t like Seattle passing on Brandon Coleman for a linebacker. Didn’t really get that one. But I digress.)
I think he’s representing an increasing trend among draft pundits to go big on prospective read-option quarterbacks.
Johnny Manziel was the poster boy for this hype previously, although it was semi-justified given his performance last season. I still have big reservations about how he’ll fare in the NFL (ignoring all the off-field stuff) but the negative press has seen him sink like a stone among mock drafters.
Instead he’s been replaced with guys like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Miami’s Stephen Morris — all represented by Norris in the top-15 in his 2014 mock.
I’ve spent a bit of time looking at all three and they’re all fairly different but with an ability to fit into the latest trend of the read option quarterback. All are athletic enough to work it. I’d argue they all lack the kind of polish and pocket presence that traditionally would secure a place at the top of the draft. They have striking positives, but also a lot of negatives. That could be mostly down to a lack of experience for all three.
Perhaps the NFL is changing and these guys get serious early consideration next April? After all, who expected E.J. Manuel to go 15th overall this year? The read option has its place as a wrinkle in most playbooks and it has a greater shelf life than the last fashionable trend (the wildcat).
Chip Kelly’s introduction to the NFL will be interesting. If a fast paced, read option-heavy system can work in Philadelphia alongside continued success for RGIII and Russell Wilson, then who knows what teams will be searching for in a few months time.
I still believe most teams will view the Mariota’s and Hundley’s with some scepticism, especially when players like Teddy Bridgewater are still being churned out by the college ranks. As much as the league is adapting, there’s still a lot of traditional minds in there too.
It’s something I’ll go into more detail in during our coverage this year. Right now I see one sure fire first round QB in Bridgewater. I still believe there’s the possibility of a bounce-back year from Logan Thomas (who people seem to have written off). If Manuel can go top-15, then a rejuvenated Thomas can get his career back on track.
And if the read option becomes such a staple that teams do covet a quarterback that can run it — despite all of his issues — I think Manziel has a better chance of going early than some of the other names suggested.
Even though the Seahawks don’t need a signal caller, this promises to be one of the most talked about topics this year.