NFL general managers will tell you that almost every draft contains a cliff where a position group's talent drops off substantially. There can be a run on offensive or defensive linemen, like we've seen in the past two drafts, followed by a pronounced silence for an entire round at that position. Heading into the 2014 season, that could very well be the case for the 2015 class of quarterbacks.
As I see it, there are five proven difference-makers and then a cast of question marks with unknown (and perhaps, untapped) potential. In the three seasons I've been ranking QBs for Insider, my preseason list has never been so top-heavy with projected franchise passers. I've also never been so completely challenged to round out the bottom half of the top 10.
The losses at quarterback were immense across all conferences, but none more pronounced than in the SEC. Seven of the nation's 10 most efficient passers from a season ago have moved on, and four of those hailed from the conference of champions. In fact, the best conference in college football didn't even have a single signal-caller crack my preseason top 10. Auburn's Nick Marshall will have to prove he can throw much more consistently and accurately than he did a season ago if the Tigers have any shot to get back to Atlanta.
Remember, this list is not solely focused on past collegiate production or my projection for 2014, but instead blends those criteria with an eye toward each prospect's NFL future. Every one of these QBs aspires to not only win the first playoff, but also prove to 32 GMs that a franchise can be built around them.
In all, this class might very well feature four future first-round picks. All four are built just the way the NFL likes them: tough, talented, physical, big and productive. So let the debate begin: Which one will become No. 1 -- and which one of the "unprovens" will surprise?
College production: 10
NFL skills: 10
Final 2013 rank: 2
National Champion. Heisman Trophy winner. Record-setting redshirt freshman campaign. A repeat of all the above isn't asking for too much, is it?