Here’s the next installment of Jake’s player interest list, with details of players the Jets have shown interest in, together with analysis. Next up: Quarterbacks.
Jake Steinberg, TheJetsBlog.comQB Blake Bortles, (Central Florida) 6-5, 232, 4.88 40yd dash
Projection: 1 Description: The Jets met with Bortles at the Combine. Here is Dane Brugler’s scouting report. “Good height and a NFL-build. Very athletic mover and picks up chunks of yards with his legs. Anticipates pressure and uses his mobility to move the pocket. Quick feet with very good pocket footwork and maneuverability. Climbs well and keeps his eyes downfield. Good set up and delivery with a balanced base and quick eyes to survey his reads and take what is there. Terrific peripheral vision and feel to see the entire field. Above average poise and accuracy under pressure. Efficient decisions and always under control of the situation. Smooth release with good zip and the arm strength to get away with off-balance throws. Very good rhythm and timing from snap to delivery and won’t shy from tight windows with his confident arm. Tough, hard-nosed ballcarrier and delivers well on the run. Strong competitor and exudes toughness, leadership and confidence. Coachable with a high football IQ – game comes natural to him. Hard worker on and off the field and already prepares like a pro. Very alert and observant. Recorded 71 career touchdowns (56 passing, 15 rushing) and a .815 winning percentage as a starter (22-5 career record). Bortles set Seminole County records with 5,576 career passing yards and 53 touchdowns at Oviedo high school in Oviedo, Fla. The MVP of the Central Florida All-Star Game, he chose to stay close to home and play for the Knights with some programs considering him a potential tight end recruit. He quickly proved to be a standout quarterback prospect. After redshirting his first year on campus, Bortles earned Conference USA All-Freshman Team quarterback honors while posting a passer rating of 153.9 while appearing in 10 games in 2011. As a sophomore, Bortles was a second-team All-C-USA pick, starting all 14 games and finishing with 3,059 yards, 25 touchdowns, just seven interceptions, a 62.9 completion percentage and a 144.48 rating. He also rushed for 285 yards and eight touchdowns. Bortles popped up on many peoples’ radars with an outstanding effort in an upset bid against South Carolina at the end of September that fell short. He later led a major upset of BCS contender Louisville, which proved to be the Cardinals’ lone loss of the 2013 season. Ultimately, the South Carolina loss was the only one suffered by Bortles in 2013, as UCF finished 15th in the BCS standings and earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, where it upset heavily-favored Baylor on New Year’s Day, 52-42. Bortles was named a first-team All-American Conference selection and named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. With his strapping frame and success in a pro-style offense, no quarterback captured the attention of the scouting community over the final month of the college football season like Bortles. What scouts saw in UCF’s marathon victory over Baylor was a young quarterback with intriguing traits but whose technique may require a bit more polish before heading to the NFL. He was given a second-round grade for the 2014 NFL Draft by the NFL Advisory Committee, according to Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage.”
QB Tajh Boyd (Clemson) 6-1, 222, 4.84 40yd dash
Projection: 4-6 Description: Rex Ryan, general manager John Idzik and senior director of college scouting Terry Bradway attended Boyd’s Pro Day. Furthermore, I’m told Jets scout Jay Mandolesi and QB Coach David Lee flew to Clemson on April 24th to put Boyd through drills. Rex Ryan loves Boyd. He met with him at his Pro Day, Senior Bowl, and according to reports told him he would do whatever it took to draft him. This is what Rob Rang had to say. “Possesses a compact build that makes him potentially better suited to handling big hits than taller, lankier passers. Efficient set-up and despite a slight wind-up the ball jumps out of his hand. Very good velocity overall, especially on in-breaking routes at the intermediate and deep level. Shows good touch to loft passes over the heads of linebackers and under safeties over the middle. Good ball placement. Generally hits his receivers in stride or leads them away from the defender. Quick feet, showing good footwork to step into his throws and escape pressure when needed. Good poise in and outside of the pocket. Is willing to step up in the pocket to avoid outside pressure and generally keeps his eyes downfield. Creative passer, who can flick the ball (Brett Favre-style) to get rid of it as he’s being pressured. Talented runner. More elusive than his frame would indicate, showing lateral agility and surprising burst. Powerful runner who isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder for needed yardage. Keeps his legs driving through contact. Very tough. Reportedly lost 20 pounds in preparation for the 2012 season. Had been characterized as a team leader in the past but improved in this regard in 2012, demonstrating a more even-keel demeanor throughout games. A top 10 quarterback recruit coming out of Hampton, Va., Boyd chose Clemson over Ohio State and Oregon In what would be a precursor to the toughness Boyd has displayed at Clemson, he played his senior year of high school with a torn ACL that required surgery after he led Phoebus High to the second of two state titles.Boyd redshirted and saw limited time as a freshman in 2010. He became the starter in 2011 and turned heads as Clemson won the ACC and earned a spot in the Orange Bowl. If the Heisman Trophy was awarded after eight games, Boyd would have been the frontrunner in ’11 as he led Clemson to an 8-0 start with a 24-3 TD-INT ratio over that stretch. However, just like Clemson, he struggled down the stretch. Boyd struggled through some more inconsistency in 2012, but continued to put up staggering numbers en route to being named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year. He led the Tigers to an 11-2 record while setting regular-season ACC records for touchdowns responsible for in a single game (eight) and season (41). He saved his best for last, engineering a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback victory over LSU in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. The final drive included an excellent completion in a tight window on a fourth-down situation that kept Clemson’s hopes alive.It’s the impressive skills and toughness Boyd displayed against LSU that will make scouts review his tape extremely closely. However, his inconsistency could well divide the scouting community as to Boyd’s value on draft day. As many times as Boyd bailed Clemson out of a jam, he had almost as many puzzling mistakes and poor decisions.”
QB Jimmy Garappolo (Eastern Illinois) 6-2, 226, 4.94 40yd dash
Projection: 2 Description: The Jets met with Garappolo at the Combine and Senior Bowl while also bringing him in for a visit. Here’s NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Dane Brugler again. “Good, not great, height, body type and hand size…better than adequate arm strength with a snap release that produces some juice – live arm with his experience coming from a pass-happy offense…excellent passing vision with quick eyes to scan and a quick, natural delivery – gets the ball out quick…smart and executes the offense well – quick intellectual process on the football field…above average timing with little unnecessary movements…quick feet to evade pressure with the pocket mobility to move his lower body with his eyes focused downfield…gets “happy feet” at times, but shows the ability to reset…very good touch and overall placement with improved accuracy to all levels of the field throughout his career…level-headed and always under control with a strong leadership presence…confident thrower and short memory…elite career production as a four-year starter at the FCS level, including a record-breaking senior season (won the 2013 Walter Payton Award) – broke almost all of Tony Romo’s school records and leaves the college ranks with 13,156 passing yards and 118 passing touchdowns in his career. A late bloomer, Garoppolo didn’t receive much attention as a high school recruit, but he became the starter at Eastern Illinois midway through his freshman season and steadily improved his play and production ever since. He culminated his career with a record-breaking senior season, operating from a mostly shotgun, spread attack with a lot of quick-strike throws (screens, slants, etc.). Garoppolo is a very efficient and smart passer with lightning quickness between the time he takes the snap, makes a decision and gets the ball out of his hand. He lacks elite arm strength, but is more than adequate in this area and isn’t afraid to test small windows. Garoppolo is appealing as a next level quarterback because of his eye use, timing and overall intellectual process as a passer – will benefit from NFL coaching and should continue to get better, projecting as a future NFL starter within 2-3 years. “His delivery is the best I’ve seen in the last five years. He sees the field, makes the read and gets the ball out fast. Everything is a tick faster in the league so that efficient delivery is a big coup for his NFL future.” – NFC North Scout”
QB Jeff Mathews (Cornell) 6-4, 223, 5.20, 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: The Jets met with Matthews at the East-West Shrine Game. Brugler once more: “Good height, big hands and a well-built frame to shake off defenders. Very good arm strength and velocity and can make deep throws with ease. Knows how to change arm angles and still deliver lasers. Improved ball placement and overall accuracy despite shaky mechanics. Not much of a rush threat, but a better athlete than expected with mobility to pick up tough yards and throw on the run. Smart and processes information quickly. Confident and won’t play hesitant. Obvious by his play that he puts in the time during the week. Hard worker with strong preparation skills and a team-first attitude. Improved pocked mobility to step up with his eyes downfield. Four-year starter with top production and holds 45 school and 17 Ivy League passing records. With former Delaware Blue Hen Joe Flacco guiding the Ravens to Super Bowl glory, the timing may never be better for an FCS quarterback to establish himself as one of the top passers of his respective class. The likeliest candidate to accomplish this is Mathews, whose strong, accurate arm pops off tape. He was named the Ivy League’s Offensive MVP in 2011 and finished second in 2012 despite battling nagging injuries. Mathews finished his career as the Ivy League’s all-time leading passer with 11,284 yards while throwing 72 touchdowns, earning invitations to the East-West Shrine Game and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Mathews has the size and arm strength that will give him a fighting chance in the NFL, but his inconsistent footwork, which greatly affects his ball placement, continues to be a problem.Mathews takes most of his snaps out of shotgun and his development under center is one of the biggest obstacles he’ll face on his way to the NFL. He possesses just average athleticism for the position and, of course, has never seen the likes of an SEC pass rush.”
QB Zach Mettenberger (LSU) 6-5, 224, 5.18 40yd dash
Projection: 4 Description: Rex Ryan and John Idzik attended his pro day. They also met with him at the Combine. Brugler: “Tall, strong frame and looks the part. Good downfield vision with his stature. Strong arm to plant and fire, possessing rocket arm strength and plus velocity to deliver frozen ropes. Makes throws to the opposite hash look easy and trusts his arm. Balanced with good weight distribution in his release. Stands tall in the pocket and stares down the gun barrel. Keeps his eyes elevated and downfield to deliver in the face of pressure. Quicker eyes and timing to work through his progressions and make the best read. Improved patience to check down instead of forcing it. Very good anticipation and chemistry with his targets. Not afraid to throw it away if necessary. Boosted confidence in 2013 and came through in pressure situations where he faltered in 2012. Good placement to give his targets a chance and can take some off his fastball when needed. Not the most mobile, but not a statue. Not afraid to tuck and pick up chunks of yards with his legs. Gutsy competitor and coachable. Works hard to hone his craft. Improved production as a senior and showed better command of the position. A top high school recruit, Mettenberger decided to stay in-state at Georgia (also where his mother works), but his stay in Athens was short lived after his March 2010 arrest. He was dismissed from the program in April after lying about the incident to Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt and given every chance to reconcile. After spending the 2011 season at Butler (Kan.) Community College, he enrolled at LSU in 2011 and became the starter the past two seasons, showing steady improvements in the Tigers’ pro-style offense with each game. Mettenberger is a traditional drop-back passer with a lot of under center snaps and impressive NFL throws – elite arm strength to drive it with ease. He isn’t a bad athlete, but his naturally slow feet are a concern, appearing clunky when trying to escape pressure and struggling to reset and deliver. Mettenberger has steadily shown an improved feel for the position with more reps and his confidence was boosted by success, but it also plummeted with mistakes. He has the NFL size and arm strength and has flashed the improved decision-making and anticipation to be a potential starter in the NFL. He is still developing and has the psyche that needs to be massaged some. The ACL injury and maturity concerns are red flags and potentially damaging to his draft stock, but his natural traits grade him as a solid day two draft pick.”
QB Tom Savage (Pittsburgh) 6-4, 228, 5.24 40yd dash
Projection: 2-3 Description: The Jets brought Savage in for a visit. NFL.com continues: “His brother, Bryan, was a quarterback for Wisconsin (2004-05) and Hofstra (2007-08). The Pennsylvania prep was a three-year starter at QB and a U.S. Army All-America selection. Had a foot injury as a junior that ended his season. Began his college career at Rutgers in 2009, when he earned Freshman All-America honors as a true freshman by completing 149 of 285 passes for 2,211 yards (52 percent) with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 12 games (11 starts). Went 43-of-83 (51.8) for 521 yards with two touchdowns and three INTs in six games in 2010; started the first four games before injuring his right hand and losing his starting job. Transferred to Arizona to play for head coach Mike Stoops but had to sit out the 2011 season because of NCAA transfer rules. After Stoops was fired and Rich Rodriguez was hired, he decided to transfer again to an offense that suited him better. Tried to go back to Rutgers, but hardship waiver was denied by the NCAA, so he enrolled at Pittsburgh. Had to sit out the 2012 season as a transfer. Finally returned to the field in 2013 and started all 13 games for Pitt, going 238-of-389 (61.2) for 2,958 yards with 21 TDs and nine INTs. Suffered a concussion against Virginia and bruised ribs in the Little Caesars Bowl vs. Bowling Green. Had a 17-11 record in 28 career starts. Team captain. Terrific size. Sets with balance. Easy, compact, high three-quarters release. Spins a catchable ball. Excellent arm strength to complete NFL throws — capable of sticking outs from the deep hash or launching balls 60 yards on the money. Experience in pro-style offense. Smart and hardworking. Solid personal and football character. Has tools to work with. Team captain. Big, inconsistent pocket passer who took a circuitous route to Pittsburgh, where he played a full season for the first time since 2009. Is inconsistent and in need of more reps, but has ample arm talent to warrant developmental consideration if teams deem his intangibles worthy of an investment.”
QB Kory Faulkner (Southern Illinois) 6-4, 252, 4.82 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: The Jets attended his Pro Day. NFL Draft Diamonds had some praise for him: “Faulkner is the NFL Draft’s super-sleeper at the QB position. Faulkner’s tape is fantastic, and he has already captured the attention of scouts in attendance. Faulkner is a big, strong-armed passer with surprising athleticism.”
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) 6-2, 214, 4.79 40yd dash
Projection: 1-2 Description: John Idzik attended Louisville’s Pro Day. Brugler and Rob Rang break him down. “Comes from a pro-style offense at Louisville, and was among the nation’s leaders in all passing categories when facing blitzes. Naturally steps through his progressions, and keeps his eyes focused downfield with defenders closing in on him. Can manipulate the defense with his eyes. Shows very good weight distribution and passing mechanics. Steps into the face of pressure and delivers, showing admirable toughness on each snap to bounce back after big hits. Smooth mobility to extend and move the pocket with the quickness to pick up yards with his legs if needed. Impressive accuracy and touch on throws to all levels of the field, and displays good accuracy while on the move. Quick and efficient movements in his technique and does an excellent job with fakes, selling and focusing on the details. He is poised and with very good footwork in the pocket. Can keep defenses guessing with a sprinkling of read-option looks. Mature and grounded individual who obviously loves football. Sharp-witted and retains information extremely well. Makes it look easy on the field and appears to “get it,” elevating the play of those around him. Bridgewater arrived at Louisville as the No. 2-rated quarterback prospect in the nation by Rivals.com after an accomplished high school career in Miami that included setting the Dade County record with seven touchdown passes in a single game. He was second team All-State 6-A and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Bridgewater, who succeeded former Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris at Northwestern High School, also originally committed to Miami before ultimately landed at Louisville. Bridgewater wasted no time in making a major impact at Louisville. He was the first true freshman to play quarterback for the Cardinals since Brian Brohm in 2004, and the first true freshman quarterback to start since Stu Stram in 1976. He set the school freshman passing record with 2,129 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns in being named the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2011. Bridgewater completed 64.5 percent of his passes, although he did throw 12 interceptions. Bridgewater continued his ascent as a sophomore, being named Big East Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns. He had six 300-yard passing games and two of 400-plus. Bridgewater was named the MVP of the Sugar Bowl after passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns in a win over third-ranked Florida. With Louisville suffering its only loss of the 2012 season to Central Florida, Bridgewater was relegated to second-team all-conference honors. He finished the regular season with 2,309 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, and then tacked on another 447 yards and three touchdowns in Louisville’s 36-9 romp over Miami in the Citrus Bowl. While Bridgewater’s arm is impressive, the poise, vision and touch he demonstrates could serve as a “how-to” video on effective quarterback play. Critics will continue to point out Bridgewater’s flaws. He is not as big or strong as Andrew Luck nor as nimble as a healthy Robert Griffin III. Among the quarterbacks potentially available in the 2014 draft, he’s the most polished and accurate.”
QB Joe Clancy (Merrimack) 6-2, 244, 4.84 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: The Jets were all over Clancy at the Medal of Honor Bowl and sent a scout to see him at Harvard’s Pro Day. NFL Draft Diamonds rated him extremely highly: “Beyond mere statistics, I have been blown away by the actual player I see on the field in Clancy. Joe operates mostly out of the shotgun, but throws from within the pocket, and displays an uncanny ability to stand strong in the face of a direct pass-rush and deliver accurate, pin-point passes. Much like the elite passers at any level, Joe lulls you to sleep. Everything he throws hits the numbers, in stride. The great ones make it look too easy. They don’t flash, they just work. Clancy has a tremendous amount of potential as a smart, accurate pocket-passer coming out of college. I have been downright excited in tracking his progress this season, and look forward to seeing him in the postseason workouts and pre-draft.”
QB Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) 6-6, 238, 4.54 40yd dash
Projection: 5-6 Description: The Jets brought in Thomas for an official workout. Although he was a QB in college, there’s been speculation that Thomas could convert to tight end. His measurables compare extremely favorable with some top tight ends with MockDraftable.com listing Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham as his closest comparables.
QB A.J. McCarron (Alabama) 6-3, 220, 4.90, 40yd dash
Projection: 3-4 Description: The Jets attended Alabama’s Pro Day, and Jets scout Jay Mandolesi actually administered the vertical jump drills. Dane Brugler continues. “Good size and height. Balanced passer and gets into a rhythm quickly with proper mechanics. Sees the field well and makes smart, sharp decisions. Nice job stepping up and moves well within the pocket, showing good footwork to avoid the rush while keeping his eyes downfield. Average athlete with enough foot speed to buy time and make plays outside the pocket. Nice job recognizing pressure, adjusting and surveying, not afraid to throw the ball away. Good timing and accuracy and throws a very catchable ball with nice touch. High football IQ and operates the offensive gameplan very efficiently. Doesn’t miss throws he should make and takes what the defense gives him. Confident leader with professional intangibles. Shows good fight and resolve on the field. Strong collegiate resume as a three-year starter with a 36-4 career record as a starter (.900), including three National Championship. Holds school records for passing yards in a season (3,063) and career (10,019) and passing touchdowns in a career (77).McCarron was highly recruited out of high school, but stayed close to home and enrolled at Alabama where he redshirted in 2009 and served as the back-up in 2010 to Greg McElroy. He became the Tide’s starter in 2011 and led Alabama to back-to-back National Titles, leaving Alabama with a .900 winning percentage – won the Maxwell and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards and was the Heisman runner-up in 2013. McCarron plays like a seasoned veteran with good leadership traits and is always under control, flashing clutch ability and the moment never seems too big. His arm strength and ball placement are just good enough, but far from ideal for the next level. A proven winner, McCarron won’t make a lot of mistakes, but he can also be underwhelming as a passer and projects as a borderline NFL starter – too good to be a back-up, but not quite starting material either.”
Bent, TheJetsBlog.comAnalysis: There’s a good chance the Jets will pick up at least one quarterback by Saturday night, since Michael Vick is only under contract for one year. The Jets might be happy with Matt Simms as a backup going forward, but it would be uncharacteristic for them to enter training camp with fewer than four signal callers. If one of the top candidates were to fall to them in the first round, would they be tempted? Your guess is as good as mine.