Forty four quarterbacks are eligible to be selected in the 2015 NFL Draft; unfortunately, Mark Schofield did not have time for an in-depth film study for all of them, like he did for Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Chris Bonner, Brett Hundley, Bryce Petty, Garrett Grayson and Taylor Heinicke. Here are a few more thoughts on QB prospects on day two and three who may end up on your team’s roster after the weekend.
Sean Mannion – Oregon State
A four-year starter and holder of numerous OSU passing records, Mannion was tasked with running a pro-style offense under Mike Riley, who is now the head coach at Nebraska. Mannion operated extensively under center with vast experience in the three-, five- and seven-step drop game. He has slow, almost methodical footwork in his drop that sometimes leads to/creates pressure in the pocket. He possesses average to above average arm strength and much like Brett Hundley, he carries the football low on his body, which can lead to turnovers and mechanically slows his delivery. But, when in a rhythm, he can deliver plays like this:
That is a back-side dig route off of front-side play-action, a concept teams like New England implement in their offense. Mannion does a very good job of carrying out his fake, and then wheeling back to the other side of the field before throwing a great ball to his receiver on the dig route. Because of his experience in a pro-style system and working through progressions, Mannion is a likely late-round draft selection and clipboard holder for some team on Sunday.
Brandon Bridge – South Alabama
Bridge is a tall, lanky player with possibly the strongest arm in this draft class. He possesses a lightning-quick release and, once he makes a decision, the time to throw is nearly instantaneous. The QB operated exclusively from the shotgun at South Alabama, yet worked through progressions at times and can influence defenders with his eyes in the vertical passing game. Bridge also makes plays with his feet, recording two runs of more than 50 yards in 2014. This play from South Alabama’s game against Appalachian State is an example of his arm strength and release:
Bridge struggles at times with accuracy, and his mechanics are not consistent. Like Jameis Winston, his arm strength is a double-edged sword as he tries too often to make throws while falling away from his target. He is a raw talent that in the right environment could be molded into an NFL quarterback.
Connor Halliday – Washington State
Halliday is a tall, rail-thin quarterback from Washington State who attempted a whopping 714 passes for the Cougars in his junior season. He started four games as a freshman in 2011, and missed the final four games of his collegiate career with a broken tibia and fibula, an injury which prevented him from participating at the Scouting Combine. The QB shows average arm strength, but throws most routes with accuracy and enough zip to put his receivers in positions to succeed. As this video shows, Halliday throws a very catchable ball on deep routes:
Another quarterback who operated exclusively from the shotgun, he will need to gain familiarity with an NFL-style offense and working from under center. Additionally, he will also need to polish his footwork, which is raw as he tends to shuffle his feet in the pocket.
Cody Fajardo – Nevada
A dangerous dual-threat quarterback in Nevada’s pistol offense, Fajardo was a two-year captain for the Wolf Pack and the team’s leading rusher in 2014. He accounted for more than 69 percent of the team’s offense during the season, throwing for 2,498 yards and rushing for another 1,046. Very athletic, Fajardo posted impressive numbers at the Combine including a 4.63 40-yard dash, a 6.95 3-cone drill and a 4.10 2-yard shuttle.
While Nevada’s offense is based off of the pistol and read-option concepts, he can glide away from pressure and climb the pocket when necessary. Fajardo is accurate, and shows flashes of the ability to operate in a progression system. The QB flashes decent footwork for a quarterback who worked out of the pistol environment on virtually every snap. He is dangerous when on the move both throwing the football and making plays on the ground, and puts these tools to work here executing the sprint-right option:
He compensates for below-average arm strength with a long stride during his throwing motion. However, he needs to secure the football when his feet are moving, as he tends to hold the ball away from the body with one arm as he moves. Fajardo is a long-term developmental prospect.
Shane Carden – East Carolina
Carden was a three-year starter at East Carolina who attempted 617 passes in 2014, completing 63.5 percent of those throws for 4,736 yards and 30 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. Carden dazzled when he threw for three touchdowns in ECU’s 28-21 upset over Virginia Tech, following that performance with a four touchdown showing against North Carolina in ECU’s 70-41 romp over the Tar Heels. He is an accurate passer who puts the football where he needs to on nearly every throw, such as this red zone seam route against the Hokies:
Carden is undersized by NFL standards, standing only 6’1” and only has average arm strength. Showing a windup to his delivery, the QB will need to refine his mechanics as he transitions to the NFL. Another quarterback who worked exclusively from the shotgun, Carden will need to work on his footwork and gain experience from operating under center.
Hutson Mason – Georgia
Mason is a very accurate passer who finished with the highest single-season completion percentage in school history. Operating from both the shotgun and under center, he displays decent footwork on his dropbacks and is extremely accurate on his deep throws:
The QB is a very safe thrower of the football, opting for checkdowns and shorter routes when available over tougher and contested throws deep. Tagged with the “game manager” label by many scouts, Mason is also undersized by NFL standards and possesses an average arm. Mason was the lone quarterback to have success in the East-West Shrine Game, completing 7 of 8 passes for 71 yards.
Bryan Bennett – Southeastern Louisiana
Bennett is a tremendous athlete who began his career at Oregon behind Marcus Mariota before transferring. He posted a 37-inch vertical at the Scouting Combine, as well as a 10’5” broad jump. Bennett is a strong-armed quarterback with the ability to work from the pocket and handle pressure with his feet, and can also make plays running the football. He also served as the team’s punter at times, averaging 45.8 yards on 11 punts in 2014. Bennett is most comfortable running the football, but he can make quality throws too:
Bennett worked in an option, run-first offense and struggled at times when asked to sling the football around the field. His mechanics need refinement if he is to remain as a quarterback. Because of his athleticism, he is a sure bet to be in an NFL camp this summer and a team can decide how best to use him in their offense.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.
Mark Schofield knows play action, the free release, spectacular plays and how to throw on Cover 2, Cover 3 and Cover 6.
Raw Footage courtesy of @DraftBreakdown.