FINAL MAJOR COLLEGE PLAYERS TO TRACK
Brett Hundley, JR.: UCLA Bruins, 6:02.4-227
With Hundley's combination of size and strength as a runner, he's tough to knock off of his feet or to wrap up as he pulls through tacklers. He is still trying to eliminate a bit of a wind-up in his release, but that seems to disappear when he throws on the run. He has very good arm strength and shows great touch on deep passes to compliment the good touch he puts on the ball while on a bootleg.
Hundley is a well-built athlete with excellent height and muscle tone for his position. He shows good strength and balance as a runner, doing a nice job of breaking arm tackles. He has good quarterback skills but needs to quicken his release. He displays one of the strongest passing arms in this draft and shows good change-of-direction agility running with the ball or when escaping pressure, but his ball-security skills are sorely lacking (18 fumbles in 27 games).
Hundley is a good rhythm passer, but does not do a great job of anticipating his receivers breaks on deep routes and must be more consistent reading coverages and making checks, as he is prone to throwing balls into tight areas that should never be attempted. He has no problems learning and retaining plays, but perhaps due to poor protection up front and a desire to create something out of nothing (rather than take what a defense gives), he did show a bit of "happy feet" by bolting out of the pocket at the first sign of pressure (see 2008 Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska games). There could be those that will question his ability to make proper reads or act instinctively on the field.
Sean Mannion: Oregon State University Beavers, 6:04.2-221
Scouts liken Mannion's tall frame and build to that of Baltimore's Joe Flacco, but also recognize that he does not possess the rifle-arm that the Ravens' star displays. He is the type of player better in a ball controlled offense where he can move the chains, rather than rely on the big play to ignite the offense. He compensates for a lack of NFL-caliber arm strength with very good accuracy, touch and anticipation.
Mannion has just marginal quickness moving back from center, but he comes to balance with his stance to stand tall in the pocket. He needs to do a better job of protecting the ball, having recorded 20 fumbles in 31 starting assignments, but most were the result from poor pocket protection, as he's been sacked a total of 63 times for losses of 507 yards since suiting up for the Beavers.
Mannion recognizes that he lacks the zip needed to consistently fire the ball down the field, but his pass completion percentage of .6534 proves that he has the functional strength needed to consistently make the short and medium throws, as he has the excellent touch to stick the ball in tight areas.
Even with a nation-high 46 interceptions thrown, he has improved his awareness skills and settled down as a junior. He now seems to understand that it is better to throw the ball away when his targets are covered, but he still will go through stretches where he will check down too early, resulting in costly turnovers. He also must show a better feel for pocket pressure and try to do a better job stepping up or rolling out.
Connor Cook: Michigan State University Spartans, 6:03.1-218
Even though his rushing numbers do not give you this indication, Cook does have nimble feet, showing functional speed to set up and retreat from the line of scrimmage and get to his throwing point. He has the body control to slide in the pocket and when he keeps his feet under him, he has the ability to throw on the move (will get flat-footed at times and this affects his velocity and accuracy).
Cook gets good depth in his pass drop (3-5 step) and shows good upper- and lower-body mechanics. He is well-versed in a pro-style attack and equally efficient working under center or taking snaps from the shotgun. He carries the ball well and has worked on developing a more compact motion, as he did wind up quite a bit during the 2013 season, resulting in a high amount of his passes being deflected, as defenders had good success setting up when he double-clutched.
Kevin Hogan: Stanford University Cardinal, 6:03.6-228
"You see the mobility," Stanford coach David Shaw said of Hogan. "It's not just his scrambling ability for a couple of yards. He's fast. He's athletic. He can throw on the move to the left or right." The quarterback is the kind of big, strong, aggressive presence who fits the physical identity Stanford wants to display. He also offers the team a lot more variety than their previous QB recruits, for much like Andrew Luck, he can effectively run the option.
Hogan can roll out to either side and throw effectively or he can pass from the pocket. He can run on planned runs or a scramble. He can toss touch passes or he can fire lasers. He proved to be much more decisive than previous starter, Josh Nunes, as he is perfectly capable of making his reads quickly and getting rid of the ball quickly, which not only increases productivity but creates a better offensive rhythm.
Professional scouts recognize that Hogan provides more creativity. He can make something happen when nothing seems to exist. More often than not, you can see on game film that the Cardinal will complete passes despite being wrapped up by defenders.
Braxton Miller: Ohio State University Buckeyes, 6:01.2-215
While Miller's passing numbers improved in 2013 from the previous season, his mechanics are still viewed as a "work in progress." There is no questioning his overall arm strength, but he did struggle with ball placement and touch, as his receivers were often seen having to adjust on their routes. Twelve of his pass attempts were batted down at the line of scrimmage, a product of poor/low trajectory.
Miller seems to lack patience standing tall in the pocket, perhaps due to him being sacked 88 times for losses of 513 yards through 36 games as a Buckeye. Rather than improve upon ball security, he regressed as a junior, posting a career-worst 10 fumbles. He has fumbled the ball 27 times during his career and the opposition secured 13 of those fumbles, leading to 10 scoring drives.
Miller needs to stop rushing through the process and needs work on scanning the field, showing patience allowing his targets to get open, and must show a better concept for route progression. Even with his success as a ball carrier, he seemed to shy away from contact often as a junior, possibly due to the beating he incurred while being sacked 21 times in 2013. Early in the season, his inconsistencies were such a concern for the coaches that the staff was considering replacing Miller with Kenny Guiton, if his struggles had continued.
Taylor Kelly: Arizona State University Sun Devils, 6:01.2-211
Kelly's ability to extend plays has been exceptional ever since he took over quarterback duties. He is the type who can scramble and throw on the run with accuracy. He knows how to adjust his delivery, as needed, and shows a keen knowledge of the offense, scanning the field to locate a secondary target rather than eyeball his primary receiver for too long. He also has the body control and movement skills to avoid pressure.
Kelly has the footwork and drive-back speed to reach his throwing point and he has a compact delivery motion, consistently keeping the ball up. He throws the deep ball and is very good at putting velocity behind select tosses. He shows touch, accuracy and timing from the pocket, but he can also hit receivers in stride when he is on the move.
Kelly plays with good awareness and always seems to know where all his targets are, as he reminds the NFL Draft Report staff of former Sun Devils QB Jake Plummer. He generates nice trajectory, and while he puts a lot of effort behind his long throws, he has the arm strength to deliver when the team needs that "home run" ball to ignite the offense.
Dave-Te' Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.