The Minnesota Vikings hope that they have their franchise quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater has shown glimpses of future stardom. Now in Year 3, the 2014 first round draft pick needs to prove he can win games now.
The best quarterbacks in the league can elevate their teammates and turn otherwise average teams into Super Bowl contenders. The Vikings have the pieces around Bridgewater to be an elite team. He may need to make his wide receivers better than they are.
Behind Bridgewater is the 36-year-old Shaun Hill. He serves as a fine backup, as long as he is not pressed into too much duty. Playing a game or a few plays throughout the the season is perfectly acceptable to the Vikings. But if something were to happen to Bridgewater for an extended period of time, the Vikings would be in big trouble. When ranking the backup quarterbacks, Hill would be in the 25 to 32 range.
Then there is Taylor Heinicke. He did not play a snap as an undrafted rookie in 2015. Yet, the Vikings were so worried that one of the other 31 teams would claim him off waivers, that they kept him on the 53-man roster all season. He had a good college career at Old Dominion and showed some promise to be a backup signal caller in the NFL.
Need level: Low
Here are the top five quarterbacks as well as an underrated, overrated and sleeper prospect.
No. 1 – Carson Wentz, North Dakota State (6-5, 237). He is big with a quick release as well as a strong and accurate arm. He has the tangible attributes and dominated the FCS level. He needs to improve his downfield accuracy and prove that he can handle NFL-caliber players on a weekly basis. He would benefit from sitting a year, but if there is a non-power 5 quarterback that could play right away in the NFL, it is him.
No. 2 – Jared Goff, California (6-4, 215). He is accurate on short and intermediate passes. He has escapability in the pocket and throws accurately on the run. He needs to improve his accuracy downfield as well as ball placement. He consistently did not put the throws where the receivers could make a play after the catch.
No. 3 – Paxton Lynch, Memphis (6-7, 244). He has a strong, accurate arm with a quick release. He can make accurate throws on the run when rolling out to either side. He puts passes where his receiver can make a play after the catch. He has surprising mobility for his size. From a tool standpoint, he may be the best quarterback in this draft. However, he was terribly inconsistent and didn’t always put those tools to best use.
No. 4 – Connor Cook, Michigan State. He is a winner. Not all of the his tools standout. He is an accurate thrower, but doesn’t always step into his throws and relies on his arm strength too much. He will go through periods within a game in which he make a throw. He is a rhythm passer that needs to be in a groove. He is inconsistent on deep throws and is not a great athlete. He is not going to avoid many rushers in the NFL.
No. 5 – Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State. He is another strong-armed, accurate quarterback with size. He has good mobility with a very quick first step. He has a tendency to take off too early and is inconsistent with his accuracy. There are times he is just an athlete playing quarterback.
Overrated – Cardale Jones, Ohio State. He is big with a cannon arm and surprising mobility. However, he has off-field questions that make you wonder if he cares or has the smarts to succeed at the NFL level. He also has limited collegiate experience with less than 300 pass attempts his four-years, including a redshirt season. Don’t buy the hype he generated as he led the Buckeyes to the national title in the 2014 season.
Underrated – Jake Coker, Alabama. There aren’t too many Crimson Tide players that will be underrated going into the draft. Coker has the size, arm and enough athleticism to be a good NFL signal caller. He makes strong and accurate throws all over the field and consistently makes the correct read. His overall play has been inconsistent and he may not have the arm strength to consistently threaten the safeties over the top.
Sleeper – Blake Frohnapfel, Massachusetts. He is a big, strong and gets the ball out quickly. He still needs to improve his downfield accuracy and consistency. He is not a very mobile quarterback, but can climb the pocket to make a throw. He does not have elite tools, but with proper development and teaching, could become a decent starter.