When the quarterbacks hit the field Sunday in Indianapolis, not all will be throwing at the Combine. Johnny Manziel, Derek Carr and my No. 1 ranked quarterback Teddy Bridgewater have opted to wait until their pro days to throw.
There will be a number of mid-round prospects that will be throwing at the combine, and the 49ers could have their eyes on some of them. I expect the 49ers to consider drafting a quarterback in the third round at the earliest.
Potential 49ers targets throwing
A.J. McCarron, Alabama
While McCarron sat out the Senior Bowl due to some health issues, he'll be throwing at the combine. McCarron announced he's ready to go and show scouts he's healthy. McCarron may not have the strongest arm or put up the biggest stats at Alabama, but he showed he was highly efficient. McCarron should flash good footwork and mechanics at the combine. Scouts will be looking to see if he can deliver the ball accurately on deeper balls, as he should have no problem with short and intermediate passes. McCarron was already in a run-first pro style offense at Alabama, so the learning curve for a new NFL playbook may be less strenuous for him than some other prospects.
David Fales, San Jose State
This is a good idea for Fales, as there are serious questions about his arm strength. Fales is an athletic quarterback who has above average speed, but the same cannot be said for his arm. He throws a lot of passes that hang in the air far too long, and I'm not sure if he has the accuracy needed to play in the pros with insufficient arm strength and accuracy. Fales will be best suited for a west-coast style offense in which he can get rid of the ball quickly on shorter throws. Only then will he find success in the NFL.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
Garoppolo has seen his draft stock soar the past month and has a chance to boost it even more. I believe he's out of the 49ers range, as he could be drafted in round two. The scheme at Eastern Illinois didn't allow Garoppolo to fully show off his skill set, so the combine is more important for him than some other quarterbacks. I'll be interested to see how Garoppolo does on back shoulder throws tomorrow, I'm skeptical he can deliver them consistently.
Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Boyd comes into the combine with accuracy concerns. While Boyd made a lot of big plays this season (thank Sammy Watkins for a lot of them), he also made many plays that make you question his football smarts and his skills. Boyd's footwork needs improving as well as his ability to read defenses. While Boyd is mobile, other parts of his game leave much to be desired. If the 49ers were to take him, he would be a project and wouldn't be an option as the 49ers backup next season.
Connor Shaw, South Carolina
I'm really interested to see how Shaw performs, as he is my sleeper at the position. Shaw has a better arm than some scouts have given him credit for, avoiding interceptions has become an art form of Shaw's. In 2013, Shaw threw 24 touchdowns and only 1 interception. It helps when Steve Spurrier gives you a ringing endorsement, comparing Shaw to Russell Wilson. The sad fact of the matter is Shaw hasn't received a lot of love because he is only 6'0". However, if you watch some tape of him there are similarities between he and Wilson.
Others worth noting:
Miami (FL) quarterback Stephen Morris and Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch will be participating. Morris played in the ACC and appeared to be outmatched on numerous occassions, throwing too many interceptions that were his fauly. Lynch was a Heisman finalist this season after facing bad team after bad team in the MAC conference. I don't expect Lynch to fair very well at the combine and he may be facing a position switch.