Thursday, May 23, 2013

NUC/ NFL - 2014 QB Draft Class Report - SEC

NUC/ NFL - 2014 QB Draft Class Report - SEC
Photo by: National Underclassmen Football Combine

NUC/ NFL - 2014 QB Draft Class Report - SEC

Courtesy: Taber Small/ Schuman's National Underclassmen
          Release: May 20, 2013
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                                            2014 QB NFL Draft Class Report - SEC  

The SEC ranks as one of college football's top conferences at the quarterback position for 2013. Texas A&M Heisman trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel (NUC Alum) is the star of the conference, but Alabama's senior quarterback AJ McCarron as well as Georgia's Aaron Murray are going to challenge him for the top spot. LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Mississippi State's Tyler Russell are also in the mix, but both players have been hampered by inconsistent quarterback play.  Missouri's James Franklin is another intriguing SEC quarterback to watch, as he was a highly touted dual-threat prospect coming out of high school.

AJ McCarron, QB Alabama 6-3 220 lb.: 
Strength: McCarron is a two-year starter who effectively runs Alabama's pro-style offense and has consistently played well in games on college football's biggest stage.  He is a nice sized pocket passer with a thin athletic build and shows good awareness while quickly anticipates developing passing windows. Very efficient when reading coverages and doesn't get fooled by defenses too often. Goes through his progressions taking what the defense gives him. Possesses good arm strength and can make all the throws. McCarron is an accurate passer who puts a nice spin on his passes with great touch on the ball.  Show good awareness in the pocket and steps up to avoid oncoming rushers. Also shows adequate mobility and can throw on the move. He does a good job of selling his ball fakes and screen passes as well. Successfully leads the offense, always positioning them to execute the play. A smart player who can read and react what the offense is doing quickly.
Weakness: Scouts wonder how successful McCarron would be with less talent surrounding him. Manages the game well but scouts question how effective he can be as a passer at the next level since he plays in a run first offense. Have some flaws in his mechanics with a hitch in his throwing motion causing a longer delivery. Not always accurate on the deep ball. Loses zip on his passes when he doesn't step into his throws. Scouts would like to see him throw down the field more often to stretch defenses. Not very mobile and isn't a threat with his legs. McCarron will sometimes put too much air under his medium to long throws resulting in incomplete passes.  
Final Analysis: Possess all the traits to the face of a NFL franchise with the experience he's received from leading the Crimson Tide to two straight national championships. He's a proven winner with a 25-2 record over the last two seasons. McCarron makes smart decisions with the football and rarely turns it over with only 8 interceptions in the last two years.  He also threw for almost 3,000 yards and tossed 30 touchdowns with 3 interceptions (all in the Texas A&M game) in 2012. Lead the nation last season in pass efficiency and contemplated coming out for this year's draft. With another strong season, McCarron could land in the first round for 2014 NFL draft.
Aaron Murray*, QB Georgia 6-1 212 lb.: 
Strength:  An athletic and efficient gunslinger that put up big numbers for Georgia's offense last year with almost 3,900 yards and 36 touchdowns. He's very accurate and steps into his throws getting the ball out to the receiver before he makes his breaks. Has a rocket arm and can throw every route such as fades, outs and corners while standing strong in the backfield. Moves well in the pocket and uses good footwork to buy time. He goes through his progressions looking off the safety and will pass to receivers coming out of the backfield if no one is open down field. Makes good pre-snap reads and will audible out of a bad play. Effectively throws the deep ball and gets the ball down field with great touch and velocity.  
Weakness:  Considered very short for the quarterback position.  Scouts question if he would be able to see passing lanes at the next level. Must improve his decision-making and become more efficient in pressured situations. He has also struggled in some of Georgia's biggest games against Alabama and LSU. He sometimes holds on to the ball too long, which leads to sacks. He will also force some passes instead of throwing the ball away resulting in interceptions. Murray tends to rely on his arm strength too much at times losing accuracy.
Final Analysis: Even though NFL teams are concerned with Murray's short stature, they are very impressed with his overall skill set for the next level. He reminds many experts of Drew Brees because of their similar stature in height and rocket arm. He's been the starter at Georgia since his red-shirt freshman season greatly improving his play with added responsibility each year. Murray has all the intangibles to be a successful NFL quarterback, as he possesses the mental toughness, mobility and vision downfield that scouts look for.
Other SEC QBs to watch:

LSU QB Zach Mettenberger: A tall and strong-armed quarterback blessed with all the physical tools. Has the ideal height and size that scouts like standing at 6'5'' 230. He also has the big arm and can make all the throws when sitting back in the pocket. Had an off the field incident that led to his transfer to LSU from Georgia. From what I have seen on film, he's not a NFL ready quarterback as of yet. He must improve his decision-making, accuracy and footwork. Some reports from the spring are pointing towards him possibly making leaps in his game. NFL teams believe he has all the intangibles to be a NFL quarterback. He played well down the stretch last season and with a more consistent senior year could see himself rise up draft boards.

Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell:  Tall, physically gifted passer who must improve his decision-making. Russell started off last season very hot with 15 touchdowns and just one interception. He then faltered down the stretch with in his last 7 games with 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He stands tall in the pocket at 6'4'' and has a good feel for the rush. Shows good timing on outs, drives the ball downfield, and display the ability to throw beautiful passes. Has the arm strength to make all the throws and spreads the ball around to all his targets. Need to work on keeping his eyes downfield and becoming more accurate. Russell shows some indecisiveness in the pocket misreading the defense resulting to over throws on his target receivers. Scouts think he has a lot of upside but recognize he needs more time to grow. Russell needs to regain the form and consistency he showed in early 2012 to help his status for next years draft.
Missouri QB James Franklin: An athletic quarterback who is a dual threat as a passer and runner. Franklin had an sensational sophomore season with throwing for over 2,800 yards, rushing for 981 while accounting for 36 total touchdowns but didn't live up to high expectations from last year with Missouri's first season in the SEC. Possesses an NFL arm, quickly releases the ball and displays terrific speed on all throws. Gets passes through the tight windows, drives the ball downfield, and loses nothing throwing on the run. He's very mobile, can escape the pressure and picks up yardage with his legs. He must improve reading defense and also locating the safety or cornerback. Not always on the same page with his receivers leading to some erratic throws. His accuracy and decision-making is a concern for scouts. Franklin is a deadly weapon when he is on his game. He offers the athleticism to play in multiple offensive schemes at the next level but he needs a lot of work on his game to be considered a legitimate NFL quarterback.
Other QBs considered:
South Carolina QB Connor Shaw       
Vanderbilt QB Austyn Carta-Samuels*
*NUC Alum
NUC/NFL scouting reports include senior eligible players only. 

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