As I've mentioned many times during the past few months, there isn't a ton of separation among the top three quarterback prospects in the 2014 draft. I have UCF's Blake Bortles ranked No. 9 overall on my board with a grade of 93, with Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater at No. 15 (91 grade) and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel at No. 16 (91 grade). But there isn't a consensus regarding these quarterbacks among teams, and evaluators could place varying levels of importance on different deciding factors.
With that in mind, we are taking a look at how the three QBs fared in key categories with the help of ESPN Stats & Information's Sharon Katz, explaining the cases in which the stats do or don't back up what I've seen on tape from these three passers.
Katz: Bortles had the shortest average pass distance (7.8 yards past the line) of these three last season. However, when he attempted a pass downfield, Bortles was extremely accurate. Among automatic qualifier conference quarterbacks, only Tajh Boyd (54.7 percent) had a higher completion percentage than Bortles on passes thrown 20 yards or longer downfield (minimum 30 attempts). It is important to note that even though he ranks third of three in this category, Bridgewater was among the nation's top quarterbacks on intermediate passes. On passes between 6 and 14 yards downfield, Bridgewater had the highest completion percentage of any AQ quarterback (75.5 percent) and did not throw an interception in 151 attempts. About half of his passes of this distance were to the left or right sidelines (often regarded as more difficult intermediate passes), and he completed an AQ-high 74.3 percent of those sideline passes.
McShay: These results are dead-on compared to what I see on tape from all three of these guys.