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2015 NFL Draft: Ranking the Top 3 Quarterbacks

Whether the Rams will have a chance to draft Mariota or Winston is a question in itself, but, nonetheless, here's a look at who the top 3 QB prospects are headed to the draft.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The time has come to put the 2014 season behind and look forward into the future of 2015. And, I'm sure all Rams fans agree when I say the first place we're looking to move on at is the QB position. Whether it was Shaun Hill or Austin Davis this last season, the quarterback play just wasn't where anyone wanted. For the Rams to have success in the future, an upgrade at quarterback or a healthy Sam Bradford is a must.

Likely, the Rams' prayers won't be answered in the draft; they're slotted at ten with overwhelming chances one quarterback goes in the top two and the other is swiped by the Jets at six. Barring a trade up, Winston and  Mariota will likely be off the board and Hundley will be a reach. However, if the Rams do make a move, here's who that move should be made for:

#1 QB: Jameis Winston

Yes, the guy responsible for this play is my number one target for the Rams.


#1: Pro Ready

Winston is by far the most pro-ready prospect in the draft. He can make all the throws. He has the arm and the accuracy. How common is that? Jameis Winston makes all the reads and progressions expected to be made by an NFL quarterback. He was a bit more prone to interceptions this year than last, possibly a result of losing  Kelvin Benjamin, but he is still one of the better decision-making quarterbacks in the class. He's a mobile, pocket presence and hard to tackle which is exactly what the Rams need when their offensive line breaks down.

#2: The Physicals

He's simply ideal. No one else compares. He has the big, durable, athletic body that scouts drool over. He'll withstand hits and keep coming back for more because at 6'3, 230 he's able to. Winston has the ability to shed a tackle and then fire a rocket down the field.

#3: Proven Winner

Is the ultimate goal not to win? Winston brings that to the table. Between his clutch heroics and his ability to audible at the line of scrimmage, there's a reason Jameis Winston has only lost one game in college. Against Auburn for the National Championship, Winston struggled early. Then, when it mattered most, Jameis Winston carried his team 80 yards for the W. Too many times this season Winston did similar as he led Florida State to victory from deficits even if they were often self-created.

Why not take Winston?

The biggest issue surfacing on Winston is his perceived immaturity. However, many forget, he was only 20 when the season ended. He's hardly an adult. Cam Newton also fielded a plethora of questions regarding his maturity, but he ultimately turned out fine as he aged. Winston will likely be similar. Character issues shouldn't scare away too many teams because Winston's work ethic has never been questioned. If anything, it's been praised. Jameis Winston hates losing with a passion and once he weens out his immaturity we'll know him more for that fiery passion in the NFL than his antics in college.


For St. Louis, it's unlikely there's a chance to draft him. Otherwise, I'd be all in to take him. He has everything you could want in a quarterback prospect and, if a coach can't groom him into at least a pretty good starting QB, then the coach would likely struggle with most any rookie quarterback. To me, Winston is a guy that, given the right group around him (as the Rams would have), can possibly elevate a team to a winning record year one. Though, the team he ends up with likely won't be talented enough to achieve such a record. Liken very similarly to Ben Roethlisberger.

#2 QB: Marcus Mariota

Yeah, he's second. Mariota may have shined at Oregon, but the pro's aren't your average Pac-12. Throwing windows will tighten, snap-to-pass times will cut, defenders will speed up, and Mariota's athleticism will be a bit more compromised than it is now.

Not that it's incredibly relevant, but here are some other Oregon QBs to start in the  NFL: Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kellen Clemens and A.J. Feeley. Mariota will likely do better than any of those listed, but it's not an illustrious group to be part of.

So, without further ado, here are the reasons why Mariota may or may not succeed at the next level.

#1: Physically Gifted

As is the case with Winston, Mariota is a physical specimen. He's quick, fast and has an arm. He's 6'4 and, though not as bulky as Winston, isn't a toothpick. Marcus Mariota, if he develops a pocket presence, could become amazingly agile within the pocket at the next level.

#2: Tremendous Character

Mariota leads on and off the field. Some Oregon football players even believed Mariota was the one responsible for keeping the team to the same standards before and after Chip Kelly left. With Mariota, a team knows it has a player dedicated to winning, a player that is humble in his accomplishments and a player who is a phenomenal leader. Though some knock him for not being a great vocal leader, he certainly lets his actions speak louder than his words.

#3: Resume

105 touchdowns and 14 interceptions? Heisman trophy? Leading Oregon to the National Championship? Marcus Mariota has gotten the job done throughout his career even if he did come up slightly short this season. He's succeeded under different head coaches and succeeded with a variety of different receivers.

But there are some notable reasons to detract from Mariota.

#1: System QB

Of course, this label has been slabbed on some of history's greatest quarterbacks, most notably Tom Brady who will be attending his record 6th  Super Bowl, but the label has significant meaning to Mariota. At the NFL level, reads and progression is a needed tool to have. Coverage is too tight. However, Mariota has yet to demonstrate he can thrive in such an environment at a consistent level because he's never had to. His passing lanes have been wide and his scheme has been QB-friendly.

#2: Pocket, Pocket,  Pocket

It's yet to have been proven possible to sustain success outside the pocket. Michael Vick did well, but he only ever got to the Conference Championship and was plagued with injuries. RGIII appeared to be on track to do well, but he also has suffered injuries. It's just not realistic to expect running quarterbacks to last and thrive. Mariota will need to live in the pocket to succeed which is, again, something he's yet to do. His footwork and his penchant to run when all else fails both need to be changed. Marcus Mariota is going to have to give his game a bit of an overhaul to translate the pros which is going to result in more of a learning curve than other talents such as Winston.


Mariota is a great talent at the college level, but his transition to the NFL will be difficult. Expect him to require a season to sit and learn and also expect him to struggle if he isn't given that season. As is the case with Winston, he has the ability to one day headline the league, but he's farther from that reality than Winston is at the moment. He plays extremely well within Oregon as far as decision making, running, etc go, but the NFL is a new game to conquer. Marcus Mariota will likely become a hybrid between Alex Smith and Colin Kaeperknick; though, with much more upside than either of the two.

#3: Brett Hundley

Finally, the third man rounding out the QB top three is Brett Hundley. Unlike Mariota and  Winston, Hundley is almost guaranteed to be available when the draft ticker strikes ten. However, he'll be a bit of a reach that early. Disregarding reaches, expect Hundley to go in the late first or early second round.

Brett Hundley is an intriguing prospect. He has the same physical capabilities as the top two prospects,  but he's much, much less refined as a passer. Hundley's upside could one day land him as a pro bowler, but he has a much more significant downside than the previous two. If St. Louis nabbed him in the second round, he'd be a great work in progress for the QB position, but a first round pick is likely too high of an investment.

Here are some key things to consider on Hundley.

#1: Solid Mechanics

Unlike many raw prospects, Hundley's issue isn't with the way he's throwing. He has a quick release, solid throwing mechanics and quality footwork. When he's on, he looks the part. Watching Brett Hundley at his best looks just like watching most top prospects at their best because he has it in him to be great. Mechanics standing alone, Brett Hundley is where he needs to be as a passing prospect.

#2: Physicals

A common theme this season is quarterbacks who just look like, well, quarterbacks. Hundley epitomizes the term, "Dual-Threat" as he is able to run well and pass well with a strong arm. He's 6'3 and not thin. He'll be durable at the next level. Again, Brett Hundley under center just looks right. His height and speed are ideally coveted by NFL offenses which is another reason Hundley likely falls no later than 2nd round despite obvious flaws.

As a quarterback not in discussion for one of the top picks, it's obvious Brett Hundley has some glaring flaws.

#1: Lacks Intangibles

Hundley simply lacks some of the intangibles and football IQ expected for a starting NFL QB. Often times Brett Hundley will forego a check down in order to scramble in an attempt to gain yardage which results in a 3 yard sack instead of a 3 yard gain. Other times, Hundley's scrambling will force him to miss an open receiver 20 yards down the field and instead only gain ten yards running. Of course, sometimes his explosive play-making does lead to an 80 yard touchdown run, but the cons often outweigh the pros. At UCLA, he played behind a lackluster offensive line -- similar to what he'd likely have in St. Louis -- and often held onto the ball too long which resulted in high sack numbers which were highlighted by 10 sacks in one game. In the NFL, constant hits will take a toll and injuries may become a concern. The Rams should want no part of that potential situation. Furthermore, UCLA ran most of their sets from the shotgun -- not the case in the  NFL. Hundley will also need to adjust to play under center which is significant because the defense is more difficult to read under center. Hundley could already improve at reading defenses as it is.

#2: Lacks Touch on Deep Ball

This issue is even more significant than it originally seems. Hundley had a very low completion percent on the long ball because he wasn't able to successfully lead and drop the ball in to tight windows. Overthrowing, underthrowing, just missing in general. NFL teams are advanced. The second he steps foot onto an NFL field, they'll know that's his weakness -- defenders are going to crowd the line of scrimmage and dear him to beat them over the top. If he can't spread them out, they'll keep doing it. When all the defenders crowd the line, it'll force him to put the ball in tighter windows -- which he also struggles with. Hundley is going to need to hone in on his deep ball accuracy to succeed in the NFL.


Brett Hundley is awfully hard to draw a conclusion on. He could become great and he could become a bust. The likelihood is skewed towards his becoming a bust, but he could become anything. He's the great unknown. Hundley has the same abilities as any quarterback in this draft, but he's going to need to be coached up quite a bit before he can be relied upon. For reference, Brett Hundley essentially is Colin Kaeperknick when Kaep was a prospect. Kaeperknick's progression seems to have halted, but if St. Louis could take Hundley and correct the flaws while accenting the positives, then the Rams could have the QB of their future on their hands.

So, what should the Rams do?

The final verdict is that, if Mariota or Winston fall, then they should be selected. Though, in my opinion, Winston has the slight edge over Mariota, each is a dynamic and skilled enough prospect to warrant selection at the tenth spot. However, as far as  Hundley goes, the farthest I'm willing to go for him is moving up ahead of the Jets in the second round if it comes to that. Otherwise, Hundley doesn't strike me as worth the investment.

What would you do?

Are Mariota and Winston worth the haul to trade up for? Should the Rams reach and grab Hundley at ten or trade down in the first to ensure they get him? Do you think  Winston or Mariota will fall to ten? Or... maybe they don't need a QB in the draft. Sam Bradford still your guy? Another idea? Head to the comments box and voice your opinion! Also, stay tuned as more top 3 positional analysis pieces are featured in the stream by other TST contributors.