Comparing Colts to Combine: Top Quarterbacks
In the latest edition of our “Comparing Colts to Combine” series, we’ll take a look at the quarterback position, which worked out on Saturday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Previously, we analyzed the tight end and offensive tackle position, but now we’ll shift our focus to the position directly behind center.
Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (left) and Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota walk out together after finishing their workout during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The two clear-cut top quarterbacks of this NFL Draft class are Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Winston played in a pro-level offense and boasts a strong arm and a winning pedigree, but has some definite off-the-field concerns. While possessing excellent intangibles and athleticism, Mariota played in a college-friendly offense that didn’t feature a wide array of NFL reads while at Oregon.
They’ll both be compared to the Indianapolis Colts young superstar quarterback in Andrew Luck, who was once a blue-chip quarterback prospect himself coming out of Stanford in 2012. Of course, Luck went on to be the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Colts and is perhaps regarded as the surest quarterback prospect to come out of the college ranks since his Colts predecessor in Peyton Manning in 1998.
It’s worth noting that this comparison is clearly “just for fun”, but it shows how the measurables of this year’s draft prospects compare to some noteworthy Colts players in their past combine peformances:
Glancing over these measurables, Luck’s athleticism really “blows up” on paper. Despite weighing roughly 10 more pounds than Mariota, who is an excellent athlete himself, Luck boasts the same vertical jump (36.0 inches), and bests Mariota in the broad jump (124.0) and 3-cone drill (6.80). It’s easy to forget that Luck’s forty-time of 4.67 is actually incredibly quick for the broad-shouldered Colts quarterback. It’s only .08 hundredths slower than Cam Newton’s forty-time (4.59) at the 2011 Draft Combine after all.
Still, Mariota is an incredibly impressive athlete as well:
Compared to Winston, and he’s clearly the superior athlete. Winston’s vertical jump of 28.5 inches left a lot to be desired, and he had a fairly slow forty-time of 4.97:
However, there are always inherent limitations with measurables and “paper numbers”. For all of the athletic superiority that Mariota boasts over Winston, the latter is still the more polished passer at this point in their respective young careers:
Like we mentioned previously with the Colts Dwayne Allen at tight end, some prospects just know how to play the game at a high level despite so-so measurables. While physical tests at the combine are certainly a part of the evaluation, they should not be a team’s sole evaluation. Game film typically doesn’t lie more often than not, and in Winston’s case, if a guy can play, he can play.
Winston is largely considered the best quarterback prospect in this year’s draft class because while he doesn’t “run around in gym shorts” as well as some of his quarterback counterparts, he’s the most evolved passer in this year’s draft. The thing that actually matters the most when evaluating the quarterback position.
Nevertheless, both of these quarterback prospects in Mariota and Winston have a lot of talent at the quarterback position, and they should be taken really early in this year’s NFL Draft. While they’re not quite on the level of the Colts Andrew Luck as a prospect entering the draft, there’s still a lot to be excited about in regards to these two young quarterbacks.