Tuesday Question: The New Star QB Is ...?

Posted Nov 13, 2012

Tuesday Question: If you could pick one great young QB, which one would you take?

Tuesday Question: If you could pick one great young QB, which one would you take?

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By Richard Cirminiello  

A: 5. Brett Hundley, UCLA – His development is second only to the hiring of Jim Mora as to why the Bruins are ranked and 8-2. He has ideal size, a great head and the athleticism to make things happen outside the pocket. The best is yet to come for the redshirt freshman.

4. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M – Manziel is not only one of the game's emerging improvisational playmakers, but he operates with uncommon poise for such a young athlete. Watching him, you just get the sense that he won't be denied, a contagious characteristic in a huddle. He's also a media magnet, a plus for any coach when it comes to recruiting. Manziel's size and penchant for taking hits concern me for the long-term.

3. Braxton Miller, Ohio State – Miller is a tremendous runner, and has basically hoisted 10-0 Ohio State on his shoulders in just his second year out of high school. He's a winner, which is the most important quality at the position. The sophomore is behind Bridgewater and Miller because he remains raw as a passer, but that'll improve in the second-half of his career.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville – Vastly underrated since he plays in the Big East, and isn't surrounded by as much talent as his peers. However, Bridgewater is an ideal person and player with which to build a program. He has all of the requisite physical attributes needed to succeed, including razor-sharp accuracy, but elevates even higher with his leadership and passion for excellence.

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon – Mariota is so good and has so much physical ability that it'd be fun to be his coach for the next three seasons. He's blazing fast, ridiculously unfazed by his surroundings and turning heads every week with his improving arm. Once he puts it all together and irons out some of the wrinkles, you've basically got the second-coming of RG3.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

5) Everett Golson – Learning about the nuances of the sport will make Golson a far more polished performer in 2013. The skill set is there; the instincts should improve a great deal in the future.

4) Teddy Bridgewater – Poise. Consistency. Third-down accuracy. A smooth, easy delivery. A very high football IQ. What's not to like?

3) Braxton Miller – He'll get better in first quarters, and the significance of the 2013 season will help focus the energies of Ohio State's signal caller. Plays are sometimes too much of an adventure with him… in the Woody Hayes sense of that expression. The top two quarterbacks on this list inspire more confidence and less worry.

2) Marcus Mariota – He's taken something great and managed to make it better. He's superior to Jeremiah Masoli and an improvement upon Darron Thomas as well. Enough said.

1) Johnny Manziel – He's done something that few men will ever get the chance to do. Moreover, he beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa by dint of his own excellence… unlike the Jarrett Lee-Jordan Jefferson combination. This young man is special… and for reasons entirely connected to merit, not hype.

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

5. Braxton Miller, Jr, OSU. With another year to acclimate to Urban Meyer's offense, a paper-thin out-of-conference schedule (Buffalo, Florida A&M, Cal & SDSU), and no real competition in the B1G, Braxton Miller should only improve on his stellar 2012 performance. He's currently 41 in the nation in passing efficiency rating, but that's good enough for second in the conference (I know). But in total offense he ranks 22 in the country, which is best in the B1G. Again, he'll continue to improve, and if it's about winning, then given the above we'll take him with our fifth pick.

4. AJ McCarron, RsSr, Alabama. McCarron will likely be back for his senior campaign in Capstone. He'll once again have a bevy of talent around him, including a very deep receiving corps and perhaps the second deepest running back squad in the nation behind LSU's. He's also statistically still one of the nation's best, certainly in terms of ball security. However, McCarron looked vulnerable against the only two legitimate teams he's faced in 2012, under-throwing receivers, failing to convert on third downs, and making costly interceptions. However, with extra time to prepare or against average to slightly above-average competition, McCarron is lethal.

3. Johnny Manziel, RsSo, TAMU. Good 'ol Johnny Football (I think I owe his parents money now that they've filed to trademark that). What's not to love? He's leading the SEC in just about every offensive category right now…including nicknames. He's second in the nation in total offense (first in the SEC). He's first in the conference in rushing, fourth in passing efficiency and seventh in all-purpose rushing (and that last category factors in return yards). The concern with Manziel is what he'll lose next season. Surprise, certainly, although at this point in the season he's not sneaking up on anyone. More importantly will be his supporting cast; gone are the following starters: three wide receivers, a tight end, the best tackle in the conference, his center and a very important backup tailback. Moreover, both backup tackles and the backup center are freshman. That and the SEC will be one year more equipped to handle Kevin Sumlin's offense, which surprised a number of coaches this year (not to mention analysts).

2. Zach Mettenberger, RsSr, LSU. So it boils down to this: do you think Mettenberger's play the second half of the season means he's turned a corner, and THIS is the quarterback we'll get in 2013? If so, remember there's a good chance LSU loses only three kids from its entire offense next season: its starting center P.J. Lonergan, a second string wide receiver in Russell Shepard and what was basically a reserve offensive lineman in Josh Dworaczyk. Mettenberger likely gets all six running backs (plus whomever else they sign this year), nearly every wide receiver, and most of the offensive line. Plus what should once again be a very stout defense to bail him out. Remember, the Tigers have been forced to play more freshmen this season than just about any other team in America, which bodes well for wins in 2013... Which is even more support for Mettenberger.
1. Marcus Mariota, RsSo, Oregon. What "next year"? We'll take him right now. Mariota already leads the nation in passing efficiency rating with 177...as a freshman. Oh yeah, and it's not even close; there are only three other QBs in the 170s, and there's a big gap (Tajh Boyd 172, Aaron Murray 171, and David Fales 171). Moreover, Mariota has three OL returning, plus several backup lineman who have seen material playing time in 2012. Tailback Kenjon Barner will be gone for the NFL, but De'Anthony Thomas will be a junior taking over the role - might even be a trade up as scary as that thought is. Plus all three starting wide receivers AND the starting tight end return. Wow. And the BCS title game is in…Pasadena.

By Bart Doan
Follow me @Bart_cfn

So I can have one of Braxton Miller, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bell, or a wild card that I'll reveal? Next year? I like my program's odds either way. This is like saying I get Friday night plans with, of my choice, Keeley Hazell, Cheryl Cole, Minka Kelly, or I can just toss someone in there, and we'll just say Kaley Cuoco. Lot of winning I'm doing, no matter what.

But to pick one between the lot cast here must understand a lot more about the game than raw statistics (Bill Belichick told us they're for losers) or flavors of the moment. So that's where my mind eventually wandered: Talent, to upside, to smallest learning curve next year and proven ability to handle it. I ended up, well, you'll see.

5. Blake Bell: If it's possible to have an INC grade on this paper, it goes here. Bell has thrown under 20 college passes, and while there's something toddler-fantastically simple about creation and over-use of the term Belldozer, the jury is in the back room in discussions and we might have a balanced budget before they get out. Bell is an exciting prospect, a change of pace in the Tim Tebow-Chris Leak mold, and we'll find out next year if he can carry the freight.

4. Brett Hundley: The last time UCLA truly had a game changer at quarterback, he was a little dicey at his parking spot choices. Yes, it's been that long. But Hundley is quietly putting together one heck of a season as a redshirt freshman and the Bruins...not the Southern Cal Trojans...are the team to beat in the Los Angeles area. Hundley has shouldered the load as well. Of the top 20 pass efficiency quarterbacks in the country, he's thrown the most passes for what would still be considered a little more "traditional" of an offense.

3. Marcus Mariota: It's hard to deny how efficient everything about Oregon is, hard to deny that Mariota might be the most capable of running a sophisticated offense at blur level tempo. Mariota, in part, has been college football's 2012 great revelation. Not bad. Nor is leading the nation in passing efficiency, showing how truly versatile the Oregon offense can be. The reason I put him here slightly behind the other two is because, while he's been a portrait of toughness and balance (he's thrown more passes than both AJ McCarron and Collin Klein), I've yet to see him do it against an elite defense this season. Doesn't make what he's doing not impressive, but go ahead and check back with me and see him rise if he cuts down the Tree in five days.

2. Johnny Manziel: Manziel at this point has been well documented over the past few days, doing the impossible and wandering into Tuscaloosa and winning. Often, watching him is like an old And 1 mixed tape of a few B level high school kids being worked by a dude nicknamed Skip to my Lou. I do wonder, and it relates nothing to his talent level rather than more of a landscape question: suppose TAMU is still in the Big 12. Is the narrative that he's just "doing it against bad Big 12 defenses?" Manziel has been caged twice this year though, by Florida and LSU, where he threw zero touchdowns against either. Will there be a drop off for him after an offseason of immeasurable hype? What types of schemes might college football's elite coaches dream up to stop him? That's why he's slightly behind one fellow in this spot.

1. Braxton Miller: Why Miller? A lot of reasons, but the main one is how seamlessly he's picked up and excelled in a completely different offense. The chic pick will be Manziel after this week, but XBrax360 (see, they can do questionable nicknames too, and no, I didn't make that up) has spent an offseason with a host of other coaches scheming up ways to prepare for him...and it's gone spectacularly bad. Any coach will tell you, especially in football, the second year for a quarterback is really the make or break one, because coaches now have a blue print to obsess over for a few months. Miller has improved his downfield passing and his decision making. And wait until he has a second full offseason to perfect Urban Meyer's offense. So for this particular Genuine Draft, my choice is Miller.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

This is an excellent question.

Of the players listed above, Blake Bell is clearly at the bottom of the pack. Yes, he has plenty of talent, but he doesn't have as much experience as the other QBs. Stuck at second on the depth chart behind arguably the best signal caller in Sooners history, Bell's experience has been limited to running the "Belldozer" package rather than the entire OU playbook. Until he gets the opportunity to take over as the full-time starter, it's tough to know exactly how good he is.

Even though he's not a choice in the original question, I would select Brett Hundley as my fourth pick. Hundley has given the Bruins the type of consistency under center that they've lacked over the past few seasons, sparking the team to a surprising 8-2 start. He is currently second in Pac 12 in total offense (ahead of Mariota), and has thrown for 24 TDs against only 9 picks. While his rushing numbers aren't outstanding, Hundley does have excellent speed, and is a threat to take it to the house at any time. If he hadn't thrown 4 picks against California, he'd be higher on the list.

The next best player available is Braxton Miller. After a phenomenal season as a freshman, Miller has thrived under Urban Meyer's spread offense, ranking 15th nationally in rushing yards per game, which is the third highest total among QBs. Even though he's only a 56% passer, Miller is still second in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, and third in TD passes. More importantly, he has proven that he can get the job done at crunch time, leading the Buckeyes to a last-minute drive to defeat eventual conference champion Wisconsin last season. Since he's not accurate as Manziel and Mariota, he's just slightly behind them.

My second choice would be Oregon's Marcus Mariota. Let's be honest, even the most optimistic Ducks fan expected the offense to take a step back this season with Darron Thomas' surprise entry into the NFL draft. However, the Oregon offense is even more explosive this fall, averaging 54.8 points per game with Mariota calling the shots. He leads the nation in passing efficiency, and has an amazing 28 to 5 TD to INT ratio. While his rushing numbers (51.6 yards per game) might not seem that impressive, remember that Mariota hasn't played as much as some of the other QBs on this list because Chip Kelly always pulls his starters out once the outcome of the game is no longer in doubt. If he had taken every snap for the Ducks this season, Mariota's statistics would be heads and shoulders better than anyone else.

Despite Mariota's excellence, I would pick Johnny Manziel -- the most pleasant surprise in college football this season -- as my starting QB. While other players like Miller and Mariota might have more athleticism, Johnny Football just flat out makes plays. In fact, he leads the SEC in both rushing and total offense, and ranks second nationally in passing efficiency. More importantly, Manziel does things that don't necessarily show up in the stat sheets, such as eluding would be pass rushers to keep the play going.

So why would I choose Manziel over Mariotta, who has Oregon in position to play for the national championship?

Simple: Manziel has compiled his numbers against some of the best defenses in the country. If he can perform at a high level against the likes of Florida, LSU, and Alabama, there's no one else that I'd want leading my team.