2013 Quarterback Rankings

Published on Sunday, 6/30/13, at 5:25 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

1-Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) – He scrambles like Michael Vick and Doug Flutie, but he throws like Danny Wuerffel and Drew Brees. He plays with the leadership and emotion of Tim Tebow. His lack of height is the only blemish on his profile. Manziel rushed for 1,410 yards and 21 TDs as a redshirt freshman, leading his team to 11 wins while also bagging a Heisman Trophy. He completed 68.0 percent of his passes for 3,706 yards with a 26/9 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

2-A.J. McCarron (Alabama) – In 27 career starts, McCarron has led Alabama to a 25-2 record and a pair of national titles. He is 9-0 in true road games with victories at The Swamp, Happy Valley, Jordan-Hare, Death Valley and Neyland. He has won neutral-site games at Cowboys Stadium, the Ga. Dome and the Superdome. McCarron’s two best performances came on the grandest stages in a 21-0 win over LSU and a 32-28 win over Georgia. His direction of the clutch, game-winning drive at LSU last year will be remembered in Tuscaloosa until the end of time. If he leads the Crimson Tide to another national title this year, he’ll go down as the school’s greatest signal caller ahead of Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler.

3-Marcus Mariota (Oregon) – As a freshman, Mariota led Oregon to a 12-1 record with the team’s only loss coming against Stanford in overtime. He connected on 68.5 percent of his throws for 32 touchdowns compared to six interceptions. Mariota also ran for 752 yards and five TDs, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. He has his top three receiving targets back, so his numbers might get even better.

4-Tajh Boyd (Clemson) – Boyd might be a better pro prospect than the three guys listed above him, but these ratings are about what has and will take place on a college field. Boyd has thrown for 8,053 yards and 73 career touchdowns over three seasons (he only played sparingly as a freshman, though) and 27 starts. He has been blessed with great wide receivers and still has Sammy Watkins to throw to this year. Boyd led Clemson to an ACC title in 2011 and a bowl win over LSU in 2012. Now the question is if he can elevate the Tigers to a win over South Carolina and perhaps a spot in the BCS Championship Game?

5-Aaron Murray (Georgia) – I’ve been extremely consistent with Murray during his collegiate career. There are positives galore to attribute his way — toughness, accuracy and a lot of victories. Murray is already the school’s third all-time leading passer and will most likely break David Greene’s record this season. But there’s also the unavoidable fact that he has played poorly in a lot of big games. The turnovers in multiple losses to South Carolina were costly. He was stymied by Boise State’s game plan in the 2011 season opener. The Dawgs scored only 10 points in the SEC Championship loss to LSU two seasons ago. They let a 16-0 lead get away at the 2011 Outback Bowl in part due to a pair of game-turning third-quarter interceptions by Murray. Even in wins over Florida the last two years, Murray threw four interceptions and passed for just 150 and 169 yards. Only an SEC title will erase those scars on Murray’s resume, but (once again) that opportunity is there for Murray and UGA in 2013.

6-Brett Hundley (UCLA) – UCLA’s 27-24 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 title game certainly wasn’t the fault of its true freshman quarterback Brett Hundley, who had four perfect passes dropped on the potentially game-tying or game-winning drive. He never looked like a freshman at any point in 2012. Hundley ran for nine TDs and posted a 29/11 TD-INT ratio. He completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,740 yards. The Bruins have a bright future with Hundley under center.

7-Derek Carr (Fresno St.) – After throwing for 4,104 yards and 37 TDs last season, Carr’s return has expectations through the roof for the Bulldogs in 2013. He won’t have RB Robbie Rouse to lean on anymore, but his top two targets are back. Most important, he still has WR Davante Adams, who had 102 receptions for 1,312 yards and 14 TDs last season.

8-Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) – I’m obviously not as high on Bridgewater as most, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like his skill set. Really, I like everything about him, but I just feel like the guys listed above him have certain edges when compared to the rising junior. Manziel and McCarron have better numbers and have done it against better competition. Hundley and Mariota are more mobile, while Boyd and Murray have been more consistent. With the Cardinals’ weak schedule, Bridgewater has a legit shot at the Heisman if his team can stay unbeaten while he produces monster numbers.

9-David Fales (San Jose State) – After warming the bench at Nevada behind Colin Kaepernick, Fales exploded at San Jose St. in his first season as a starter after sitting out a year per transfer rules. He led the Spartans to an 11-2 record both straight up and against the spread just two years after they finished 1-12. Fales completed 72.5% of his passes for 4,193 yards with a 33/9 TD-INT ratio.

10-Chuckie Keeton (Utah St.) – Before Keeton arrived in Logan, the Aggies hadn’t been to a bowl game since 1997 and had gone 4-8 in each of Gary Andersen’s first two seasons at the helm. Now Utah St. has been bowling in back-to-back seasons, prompting Andersen to get the Wisconsin job. The Aggies went 11-2 both SU and ATS last year thanks to the play of Keeton, who ran for eight TDs and threw for 27. Keeton has a 38/11 career TD-INT ratio.

Overrated: Braxton Miller (Ohio St.) and Logan Thomas (Va. Tech) – Both have great size and athleticism, but I don’t want my money on the line with the ball in their hands when trailing in a two-minute situation.

Wild Cards:

1-Casey Pachall (TCU) – If all is right between the ears and off the field, Pachall probably belongs in the top 10. After all, he has a 35/8 TD-INT ratio and is a legit scrambling threat.

2-Christian Hackenberg (Penn St.) – From all I’ve seen (very little, actually) on film and everything I’ve read, this kid looks real legit and ready to excel from his first snap against the ‘Cuse at Giants Stadium. Look at what Bill O’Brien did with Matt McGloin, who was (at best) an average Big Ten QB before the head coach’s arrival. O’Brien turned McGloin into an elite college QB who posted a 24/5 TD-INT ratio last year.

3-Jeff Driskel (Florida) – We know he limits turnovers and can make big plays with his legs. We also know his throws are often inaccurate. In fairness, Driskel hasn’t had much help from his wide receivers. If Driskel can be more accurate and develop better chemistry with his wideouts, the sky is the limit for UF this year because the defense will be nasty.

4-Jameis Winston (FSU) – Will the talent match the hype? Can a freshman win at Clemson and at Florida? Winston will have his chance now that Clint Trickett has transferred. For better or worse, he’s the man in Tallahassee in 2013.

Better than what we saw in 2012:

James Franklin (Missouri) – He was coming off shoulder surgery that caused him to miss spring practice and some of August as Missouri was set to enter the SEC. Then three starting offensive linemen went down to season-ending injuries before the season even started. The o-line injuries continued, Franklin was never 100 percent and then he sprained his ankle. He returned too soon and then overcompensated and lost all confidence in his throwing. And his ankle prevented him from being the scrambling threat he was in the Big 12. In other words, every possible negative scenario emerged for Franklin and the Tigers in 2012. I smell a bounce-back campaign.

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