By College Football Analyst Josh Buchanan for TonySoftli.com

2014 NFL DRAFT SMALL SCHOOL POSITION BY POSITION PREVIEW: QUARTERBACKS

 

Leading up to the draft and the release of my final big board and draft guide I will preview each position.  Below is a look at each of the projected top five quarterbacks and below that is a look at the top 25 small school signal callers for the 2014 NFL Draft.

 

1.      Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

Garoppolo really created buzz during the fall when he threw for 5,050 yards and completed 66% of his passes.  He has a quick release and is very good in the short game.  Some scouts believe he is a late first round caliber player while some have him as a 5th-6throunder.  He won’t get out of the top 50 overall picks and is viewed as a potential #1 by some.  At 6’2 ¼, 226 pounds with 4.9 speed he is a west coast quick strike passer with mobility but won’t kill you with his ground game.  The footwork, quick release and short game accuracy are why I believe he is a solid mid round value and good #2 passer in the NFL.  I would take him in the 4th or 5thround so I do see top 50 as a reach.  Don’t mistake this because I like him but I just think you can get better value waiting until the 4thor 5th round to take Tom Savage who I believe will ultimately be about the same or better than Garoppolo and won’t be taken nearly as high.  If you watched the Shrine Game he did very well against mid-late round types but struggled in the Senior Bowl against the top 100 caliber prospects.  His all-star game performance confirmed that he is more of a 4th-5th round talent and is where he belongs.

 

2.      Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M

A lot of scouts are torn on the #2 slot here because many believe it should be Jeff Mathews and the media certainly does.  Vaughan is bigger (6’5, 230) and is more mobile.  He also showed more improvement as a senior than Mathews.  He has good arm strength and did very well in a system similar to Garoppolo’s with 5,401 yards and completed 66.2% of his passes . He likely will be a late round pick or priority free agent but should make a 53 man roster as a #2 or #3 developmental prospect.

 

3.      Jeff Mathews, Cornell

At 6’4, 223 pounds it was disappointing when he ran a 5.2 40 at the combine but he did very well at his pro day workout and showed a stronger arm from what he had early in the fall.  I really like his ability to make most any throw you ask but needs to work on improved accuracy and decision making skills.  He threw for 2,953 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2013 (63.3%) improving from a 18-11 ratio and 62% as a junior.  He is considered a 7th round or priority free agent option by most but I put a late 7th round value grade on him.

 

4.      Brock Jensen, North Dakota State

Jensen doesn’t wow people with anything individually but he is the ultimate team leader, winner, and has off the charts intangibles.  He’s a great kid who doesn’t make mistakes and has enough tools that if he were to play a couple years in a developmental league I believe he would develop into a solid #2 or #3 quarterback in the NFL.  He’s 6’3, 223 pounds and ran in the 4.7 range at his pro day.  If he had the size and arm strength of my #5 passer on this list he would be a 6th-7th round projection, or maybe higher.  Right now he is viewed as a priority free agent who should be very good competition in camp and could stick around a few years in the NFL.

 

5.      Seth Lobato, Northern Colorado

When you see Lobato physically you want to draft him.  He has a big arm, he’s 6’5 3/8, 229 pounds, and is your prototype pocket passer.  The big issues for the Colorado transfer show why he left the program to begin with.  He’s got tools, which is why Colorado offered him out of high school, but he is erratic and likely why he had to transfer.  Coming to UNC helped him because he did improved some over his career but he needs time in a secondary league to clean up his accuracy and decision making skills.  When you have his physical tools you can’t be honorable mention All-Big Sky and complete just 56.8% of his passes.  By all accounts his postseason workouts have gone well and he should definitely get a contract after the draft.

 

OVERRATED: Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

He should be a mid round pick but is going in the top 50 selections.

 

UNDERRATED: Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M

He should be a solid 6th-7th round value but the media has him as a free agent.

 

SLEEPER: D.J. Mendenhall, Urbana (OH)

Keep an eye Mendenhall as he could be a great secondary league player if he doesn’t make a NFL roster.  He is 6’4, 225 pounds and very athletic.  He was the MEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2013 and finished his career as a four-time All-Conference selection.

 

RISER: Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

Based on junior film was a late round or priority free agent projection who has risen to a possible top 50 pick.

 

FALLER: Jamal Londry-Jackson, Appalachian State

JLJ is one of the nicest kids you will meet and he is smart as well.  He’s been working with Jeff Blake in his predraft training and at one time was considered a potential priority free agent but injury and other things he could not control caused him to have a bad season and put his stock in limbo.  He ran a 5.0 40 at 6’2 3/8, 206 pounds at his pro day and may have to carve out a career in the CFL or AFL.  He was once in my top 10 here but has fallen to #18.

 

INTRIGUING: Jonathon Jennings, Saginaw Valley State

If he were 6’3 220 pounds instead of 6’0 ½ 198 pounds, he would be much higher due to good mechanics, solid arm strength, and very good senior tape. If he could bulk up to 210-215 pounds so he could take  the punishment at the next level he could last a long time in a developmental league.

 

SMALL SCHOOL QB RANKINGS

 

Rank

First

Last

School

Round

1

Jimmy

Garoppolo

Eastern Illinois

2nd

2

Dustin

Vaughan

West Texas A&M

7th

3

Jeff

Mathews

Cornell

7th-PFA

4

Brock

Jensen

North Dakota State

PFA/FA

5

Seth

Lobato

Northern Colorado

PFA/FA

6

Danny

O’Brien

Catawba

PFA/FA

7

D.J.

Mendenhall

Urbana (OH)

FA

8

Tyler

Sykora

Southern Arkansas

FA

9

Andy

Summerlin

Samford

FA

10

Jonathon

Jennings

Saginaw Valley State

FA

11

Travis

Partridge

Missouri Western State

Tryout

12

Kurt

Hess

Youngstown State

Tryout

13

Joe

Clancy

Merrimack

Tryout

14

Dray

Joseph

Southern A&M

Tryout

15

Zach

Zulli

Shippensburg

Tryout

16

Chris

Mills

Indianapolis

Tryout

17

Robbie

Nallenweg

Wingate

Tryout

18

Jamal

Londry-Jackson

Appalachian State

Tryout

19

Kory

Faulkner

Southern Illinois

Tryout

20

Cory

Murphy

Delaware State

Tryout

21

Gavin

McCarney

Colgate

Tryout

22

Emmanuel

Lewis

New Mexico Highlands

Tryout

23

Phillip

Klaphake

St. Cloud State

Tryout

24

Matt

Grimard

Bethany (WV)

Tryout

25

Eric

Kordenbrock

VMI

Tryout