Jan 23, 2014 05:06 PM EST
Much has been said about the 2014 NFL Draft's underclassmen quarterback class, but the group of seniors on their way to the pros is where many teams in need of passer may turn.
Only three teams can land Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, and will most likely do so early in the first round. Some teams may also be willing to wait on Brett Hundley, Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, but other teams are going to be looking closely at the Senior Bowl, individual workouts and team pro days.
Of all the senior QBs entering the draft, here are the top five passers, based on ESPN's expert analysis and Scout Inc.'s grading.
5. Zach Mettenberger*
Scout Inc. grade: 82
His size and arm strength are the main draws because coaches in the NFL simply cannot teach a passer to be big and able to throw downfield. What he lacks is accuracy and decision making under pressure, both of which can be taught at the pro level. He is currently rehabbing an ACL injury, which could hamper his draft stock if he has to miss team and individual workouts.
4. Logan Thomas
School: Virginia Tech
Scout Inc. grade: 74
He is intriguing physically because he is tall and strong, but has exceptional speed for someone that big. His arm strength is also a plus, but accuracy and decision making both need work. Scouts also like his work ethic and leadership qualities, but, like Mettenberger, he needs time to develop in the NFL.
3. Jimmy Garrapolo
School: Eastern Illinois
Scout Inc. grade: 72
His height and athletic ability are average, but what scouts like about Garrapolo are his intangible qualities, durability and sound passing mechanics. He may not have the strongest or most accurate arms, but his skill set, as well as decision making is well rounded.
2. Derek Carr
School: Fresno State
Scout Inc. grade: 84
Scouts say he needs to add body mass to last in the NFL because he is believed to be too slim for having an average height. His arm strength and accuracy may not be elite, but it is good. The main draw for Carr is his intangibles. Experts say he has absolutely no character concerns, works as hard as any of his peers and also comes from a football family.
1. AJ McCarron*
Scout Inc. grade: 85
Maybe it was the benefit of playing for Nick Saban for four years, but McCarron experienced immense success in a pro-style offense for one of college football's greatest teams. He also played some tough SEC defenses and managed to improve every year. While scouts say he needs to add muscle mass and improve his arm accuracy, they love his pocket presence, decision-making ability and "surprising" athleticism. One major draw to McCarron is decisive and smart passers at a young age are a lot harder to come by than the big, tall, fast and strong ones are.
Other senior QBs like Aaron Murray*, Connor Shaw*, Tajh Boyd and Jordan Lynch* had vastly underwhelming Scout Inc. grades and many questions surrounding their ability to make the NFL jump.
*Will not be playing in Senior Bowl, but plan to enter NFL Draft.
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