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QBs highlight 1st round

The first round of the 2014 draft was highlighted by the three quarterbacks selected Thursday night: Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.

The teams that made those selections – the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings – had all drafted a quarterback in the first round in one of the three previous drafts. Only three teams had ever drafted two quarterbacks in the first round in a four-year span in the common draft era previously.

But how will those quarterbacks fit into their new landscapes?

Jaguars – Blake Bortles

Bortles is the third quarterback taken in the first round in Jaguars history (Blaine Gabbert and Byron Leftwich). Since drafting Gabbert in 2011, the Jaguars have posted the lowest Total QBR in the NFL (24.7).

Lowest Total QBR Since 2011

One of Bortles’ strengths in college was his deep ball. Bortles completed 52.9 percent of his passes thrown at least 25 yards downfield last season. That’s the highest of any first-round pick from the past three seasons.

The Jaguars lacked a downfield element last season. As a team, the Jags attempted a league-low 26 passes at least 25 yards downfield and completed five (19.2 percent). Only the Panthers had a worse completion percentage on those throws last season (17.9 percent).

Browns – Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel was drafted 22nd overall after the Browns traded into the spot. In 2012, the Browns drafted Brandon Weeden 22nd overall after a trade, and in 2007 the Browns drafted Brady Quinn 22nd overall following a trade.

Since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, the team has used a league-high 20 starting quarterbacks. Manziel will likely be the 21st.

Manziel will bring a different element to the Browns’ quarterback position. In two years in college, Manziel rushed for 2,169 yards (1,400 via scrambles). Browns quarterbacks have combined to rush for 1,796 yards since 2001.

Although Manziel’s legs helped make the highlight reels in his two seasons at Texas A&M, his ability to throw from the pocket should not be overlooked.

Manziel completed 73.5 percent of his passes from inside of the pocket last season, highest among any AQ quarterback. Browns quarterbacks completed an NFL-worst 56.9 percent of their passes from the pocket last season.

Manziel will also be paired with a top receiver in Josh Gordon, something he benefited from last season with Mike Evans. Evans led AQ-receivers with 13.4 yards per target last season. Gordon was second in the NFL with 10.7 yards per target last season.

Teddy Bridgewater – Vikings

With Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel already on the roster, the Vikings were probably the least in need of a quarterback of the three teams. However, since 2009 Ponder ranks 25th in Total QBR (45.3) and Cassel ranks 30th (40.3).

Bridgewater was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in college football last season. His 71.0 completion percentage was best of any of the BCS-AQ quarterbacks despite the highest average distance of passes.

Highest Completion Percentage
BCS-AQ QBs Last Season

How Bridgewater might fare in the elements is a point to consider, however. The Vikings play their home games outdoors the next two seasons at the University of Minnesota. Bridgewater has never started a game in freezing temperatures.

Whether he wears a glove may not matter either. Bridgewater’s hands measured 9.25 inches. There have been 39 quarterbacks since 2008 who have had a hand size of 9.25 inches or smaller at the NFL combine. Of those players, only 18 percent have started half of an NFL season (eight games) and none has made the Pro Bowl.