Features ideal height, standing at 6’3″, and ‘plus’ mobility in and out of the pocket. Last season’s Big East OPOY is accurate (64.5% in ’11, 68.5% in ’12) and became far more efficient in his second season as a starter. Numbers have improved, as expected, due in large to a weak 2013 schedule. So far, Bridgewater has improved to a 71.0% completion, while upping his 2012 yards per attempt (8.9) to a staggering 10.6. Throwing 18 touchdowns on a mere two interceptions only highlights his ability to make good decisions, albeit against competition that won’t punish him for occasional lapses in judgement. The Miami, FL native has continued to exhibit good pocket presence and avoids pressure without taking off running on instinct. Somewhat troubling is his lack of bulk, as he weighs in at sub-200 lbs., but the soon-to-be 21-year-old Jr. has enough time to fill out his frame.
2. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
A little on the short end, as he is 6’1” at most, but a strong armed passer, featuring a quick release, with all of the necessary physical skills needed to compensate. Drastically improved his completion percentage from 59.7 in ’11 to 67.2 in ’12, while chucking 36 touchdowns on 13 interceptions last season. I would not question his work ethic after notable year-to-year improvement, as this scrappy pivot has a propensity to turn his game up in crunch time. Like Bridgewater, Boyd’s statistic accumulation to this point has been head-turning, and he’s managed to protect the football, drastically reducing turnovers. Thus far, he appears to have solidified himself as a mid-60% completion passer. Despite mediocre height, Boyd’s a mobile pocket passer who creates throwing lanes well to counter. The 2012 ACC POY is notably tough and likes to initiate contact when he runs. He’s managed to successfully recover from a torn ACL suffered in high school without setbacks.
3. A.J. McCarron, Alabama
Lacks ideal athleticism or ‘escapability’ in the pocket and doesn’t possess the big arm you’d prefer. However, he’s veteran passer with consistently good accuracy. McCarron was statistically the most efficient quarterback in college football last season (with a rating of 175.3), contributing significantly to a very talented Alabama offense. In his second year as a starter in 2012, he improved in completion percentage (66.8 in ’11 to 67.2), passing yards yards (2,634 to 2,933), yards per attempt (8.0 to 9.3), touchdowns (16 to 30) and interceptions (5 to 3). Plays in an NFL transferable offense and utilizes the talent around him well. He’s a good quarterback and will get opportunities at the next level – but how good can he be? There has been limited statistical improvement in 2013, as McCarron’s already matched his 2012 interception total in only six games. With that said, he’s completing slightly more passes and staying efficient despite a less potent rushing attack supporting him.
4. Aaron Murray, Georgia
Another signal caller on the short end, as he — like Boyd — is 6’1” at most, but possesses the traits to utilize the height deficiency to his benefit. He’s agile behind the line of scrimmage and can create throwing lanes for himself. Played behind a generally NFL-sized offensive line throughout his UGA tenure, and his size has not proven to be a hindrance. He’s now a four-year starter who’s generally improved with each year leading the Bulldog offense. In 2012, Murray passed for career highs in completion percentage (64.5), yards (3,893), yards per attempt (10.1), touchdowns (36) and rating (174.8). So far in 2013 he’s remained efficient, but his completion percentage has taken a small hit (62.8% through six games). If he’s been unable to surpass 65% in four full years of starting at Georgia, odds are he’s hit his plateau from that standpoint.
5. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Must improve on the subtleties of the position, I.E. ‘feeling’ back-side pressure, protecting the football when running, fluidity and rhythm in drops, but the 6’6” 250 lbs. signal caller is a specimen. Elite arm strength, gifted athlete, makes bucket throws, and improvises well when under fire. Athletic enough to maintain accuracy when throwing on the run and sets his feet properly before releasing. A more primary issue I find when evaluating Thomas is that he appears to have peaked early from an accuracy perspective. The fifth-year Sr. is highly likely to remain a sub 60.0% passer heading to the pro level at year’s end, a poor distinction. With that said, his accuracy numbers would benefit greatly from opting for higher percentage passes, as his decision making is suspect at times and trusts his arm a little too much. He’s falling off the radar, but NFL coaching and patience are key to potentially tapping the obvious potential that the Lynchburg, VA native possesses.
6. Bryn Renner, North Carolina
Regarded as a promising high school recruit, Renner has NFL size (6’3” 225 lbs.) and the arm to match. Capable of making great throws that only starters at the pro level can make; however, consistency has proven to be an issue, as he’s equally capable of making curious decisions with the ball in his possession. On-field maturity will be monitored closely this year, as his decision making and game management skills have been questionable. With an eye on the NFL, Renner could most help himself if he’s able to display more on-field reliability at North Carolina. Mistakes will happen, but they need to be minimized. Unfortunately, in four games, prior to a minor foot injury that kept him out against Virginia Tech, Renner’s shown little improvement in his areas of issue. Style is a little reminiscent of Jay Cutler’s, as he’s a physically well-put-together passer, who wins and loses taking risks, with a completion percentage that will waiver around a 60% at most.