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REDZONE:: Where are they now? [2014 Draft QB's]
By Anthony Fernandez
Special to rzl-football.com

Where are they now?
The 2014 Draft QB Edition
Saturday, January 12th, 2021
AF, Yahoo Sports!


With Hanson and Hester squaring off in Super Bowl XVI, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the 2014 Draft. I zeroed in on QBs, but if you get bored and backtrack, it's interesting to see some of the picks - primarily things like the kickers that got drafted before Hanson. Anyways, was a fun piece, hope you enjoy.

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[1.2] QB Major Hester, Oregon (Redskins > Texans > Bears > Titans)
Hester has had a wild ride in his RZL career. Drafted #2 overall by the Redskins, the team thought they would solidify a position that saw QBs Colt McCoy and Bobby Reid flame out before winning Super Bowls elsewhere. Unfortunately, the Redskins could not keep Hester’s jersey clean, and his plummeting INJ rating led to the Redskins parting company before eventually settling on QB Will Wright (who may be the next Redskins castoff to leave for success elsewhere). Hester would have a nice run in Houston for GM Ricky Lung, but ultimately he suffered from some of the same issues he had in Washington. The Texans would decide to go another direction at the QB position and sent Hester to Chicago, where I think many felt GM Neal Wintermute would salvage the talented journeyman. Hester would last longer in Chicago than GM Wintermute would, as he would depart for his hometown Eagles, but Hester showed signs of life in Chi-town, and at least one GM was paying attention.

That was Titans GM Nic St. Marie, who has had great success with fragile QBs before (Brohm, McNabb, Boltus, Croyle). In his 1st season in Tennessee, Hester would toss 23 TDs and 16 INTs en route to winning the AFC South, the AFC Championship, and nearly Super Bowl XVI. At just 28 years old, the Titans have committed to Hester long-term with a very cap friendly 5-year contract, and it appears he’s going nowhere anytime soon. With just a 43 INJ rating, you have to wonder if Hester may have just missed his best chance to win a Super Bowl, but looking a little deeper should dispel those concerns. QB Colt McCoy was considered somewhat fragile, and he won two in Tampa. QB Joe Flacco is most definitely fragile, and he’s got two rings in St. Louis. The fragile tandem of Byron Leftwich and Brian Brohm won a Super Bowl with the Raiders. Hell, Brian Brohm had perhaps his best year with Nic and the Titans when they won the AFC Championship together in 2017. Hester’s situation likely means the Titans will always need to carry a serviceable #2 QB – but what Franchise worth their salt doesn’t do that nowadays anyway?

OUTLOOK:: I think Hester wins a Super Bowl in RZL, and I feel quite confident it will be in Tennessee. There is no doubt this may have been his best chance to win multiple Super Bowls and set himself on a Hall of Fame track – but he’s still got plenty of time to win at least one.

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[2.11] QB Lou Bishop, Michigan (Colts > Bengals > Jaguars > Raiders)
Lou was drafted by a bad Colts team with little talent around him, but somehow he managed to throw for nearly 4000 yards his rookie year. His next two seasons would be an absolute mystery, as the Colts would do all kinds of weird things like bench him, draft another Franchise QB, and ultimately trade him to the Bengals. In Cincy, he established himself as a Franchise QB and made a bad Bengals team competitive. This would be when crafty GM Matt Davis would swoop in, talk him up, and ultimately spin him for the even more talented QB Adrian McPherson. The Raiders benefited from the move, as Bishop played very well in his first season. He played so well that he netted himself a $57M ($15M guaranteed) contract from the Raiders. Bishop would have a dismal season in 2021 plagued by spotty play and injuries.

OUTLOOK:: With 6 years left on the contract he signed, he’s not going anywhere. Oakland really doesn’t have an option but to hope he turns it around, and I personally think he will. Will he ever be a Super Bowl winning QB? If that AWR ever comes around, I don’t see why not.

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[3.5] QB Dudley Hanson, Miami (Buccaneers)
Dudley has been a very polarizing figure in Tampa since they drafted him to hopefully takeover for Tampa hero Colt McCoy. Hanson would prove promising in his rookie season, playing in just one game that McCoy was injured, but winning a tough road game in Pittsburgh against the RZL’s only HOF GM Brian Brown. Hanson would hold the clipboard as the Bucs surprisingly won SBIX, but when called on for a larger role in 2015, he struggled. His QB rating was nearly cut in half (103 > 55), but he’d get to watch the Bucs win SBX from the bench regardless. Under intense pressure to threepeat, the Bucs would leave Hanson on the bench all of the 2016 season. Ironically, it would not be until QB Colt McCoy AND QB Brodie Croyle would be injured before halftime of SBXI in New Orleans that the Bucs would need Hanson to play. With the weight of a 3rd Super Bowl ring on his back, Hanson would finish SBXI with a 39.2 QB rating and he had to watch the confetti fall on the Cleveland Browns in the Superdome.

The Bucs would then have to make a choice, and ultimately they decided to ship off Colt McCoy and turn the reigns over to Dudley Hanson. In his first full season as a starter, Hanson would throw for 4095 yards, 30 TDs, 17 INTs, and an 85.5 QB Rating. Unfortunately, the Bucs would go (7-9) for a stain that remains the only losing season in the AF-era. Fernandez, always a man of conviction (lol), would turn back to Colt McCoy in 2018, and despite a solid season the team would get bounced early in the playoffs. Hanson looked great in spot duty, however, winning back some of the confidence from coaches and fans. In 2019, they turned the reigns back over to Hanson and he tossed for 3800 yards and won his 1st NFC South Championship – but it would be somewhat tarnished by the Saints coming to Tampa in the playoffs to eliminate Dudley. In 2020, the Bucs had the option to extend Hanson, who was entering the final year of his rookie contract, but ultimately made him play it out. He would again toss 3800+ yards (3rd time in his career), but the team would struggle to an (8-8 ) record and missed the playoffs for just the 2nd time in AF’s tenure.

The Bucs would face a tough decision in 2021, as it appeared to clearly be the end of Hanson’s run in Tampa. How does the team always blessed with clutch performances from overachieving QBs invest in a underachiever with more talent than anyone the Bucs have ever had under center? With caution, that’s how. The Bucs would lock Hanson up with a 7-year, $67M contract ($18M guaranteed), but would also protect themselves by trading for veteran QB Erik Ainge. The Bucs further protected themselves by modifying their approach schematically. The team once feared for the vertical passing game was officially a defensive minded, run-first team. Hanson would flourish in the role, tossing 3000 yards, 20 TDs, 11 INTs, and an 84 QB rating – despite missing some time due to injury. The biggest injury, however, would come to HB Trent Richardson. With the Buccaneers workhorse out, could they become a passing team in the tournament and rely on Dudley Hanson? Despite constant rumors they would turn to Erik Ainge, Hanson would arrive finally, going (4-0) while throwing for 1000+ yards, 6 TDs, 6 INTs, and a 77.5 QB rating. It was far from perfect, but it was enough to oust [1.2] from the same year, QB Major Hester in the Super Bowl (not to mention [1.4] from the following year, QB Jimmy Clausen in the NFC Championship). And he won it in New Orleans, the site of his super flop in SBXI. Talk about exercising demons!

OUTLOOK:: Hanson has won a Super Bowl in the 1st year of his 7 year contract, and while winning Super Bowls is a tough task, it at least appears favorable he could win one more before he retires. In the QB Encyclopedia I published in 2018, I said the 5 year outlook for Hanson was 1 Super Bowl win. I’d hold firm to that, but that was a few years ago, and I think before the 7 year contract is up, he’ll win another.

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[3.10] QB Anderson Mendoza, Ole Miss (Falcons > 49ers)
I felt Mendoza was an amazing pick by the Falcons when they turned in the card, and he was almost the guy at [3.5]. He entered the league pretty polished, and he was able to swindle some productive snaps in Atlanta his first 3 seasons. Falcons management did a great job showing just enough of him in this span, and had it not been for the drafting of Jimmy Clausen, it’s very likely Mendoza would still be the starter in Atlanta. Mendoza has found a home in San Fran, where he’s consistently put up great numbers when healthy, and even won OPOTY in 2020 when he tossed for 5083 yards and 38 TDs.

OUTLOOK:: Mendoza is an elite QB in this league with 98 AWR, 90 THP, 92 THA, and a 6’6” frame. He’s just what I look for, and I’ve tried to make him a Buccaneer on multiple occasions. He’s just 28, so I have no doubt he’ll challenge for Super Bowls in this league, I am just not sure it will be in San Fran. He’s locked up there for 3 more seasons, but perhaps they’d listen to trade offers from a team close to super status.

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[3.20] QB Kyle Middleton, Notre Dame (Patriots > Cardinals > Dolphins > Buccaneers > Cardinals > Broncos)
Middleton looked great on paper, and that’s surely why the Patriots and Cardinals each appeared to flirt with making him their QB of the future at one point or another. What ultimately railroaded Middleton’s career was the fact he decided to change his tendency to scrambling, despite how much coaches tried to urge him towards a balanced attack. After stints in numerous cities he’s now found himself in Denver, but he’s been unable to crack the lineup.

OUTLOOK:: An expiring contract and lackluster game tape means he’ll likely be searching for a backup gig elsewhere in 2022. He’s certainly worth a roster spot in this league, although he’s probably a little closer to the #3 spot than he should be the #2 spot on a contender. His best hope might be hooking up with Texans GM Ricky Lung as QB Gustavo Bates backup, dependant on QB Andre Woodson hanging it up.

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[3.29] QB Neville Mcmahon, USC (Panthers > Bears > Seahawks > Raiders)
Mcmahon was drafted with high hopes for the Panthers, and I remember on draft day many GMs noting they liked him more than QB Dudley Hanson, who I drafted 24 picks sooner. It was a curious pick at the time, for me, as I played the Panthers twice annually and did not see KVW giving up on Drew Stanton anytime soon in our ultra-competitive division. After spending 3 seasons in Carolina he’d move on to Seattle, where his first real crack at a starting job seemingly blew up in his face. After that, he was never again looked at as a starter, but he is entering his 5th season as a backup in Oakland.

OUTLOOK:: Neville appears to be entrenched as a backup in this league. His baseline attributes are not bad, and he is only 27, but it would almost surely take an injury for him to wrangle a starting spot.

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[7.24] QB Vincent Jimenez, Virginia (49ers > Redskins > Seahawks > Chargers)
Jimenez, unlike anyone else that got drafted past the 5th round, has managed to carve himself out a little career in RZL as a backup. His stays in San Fran, Washington, and Seattle were all quite short, but for whatever reason he kept progressing. Though undersized, he has excellent AWR, THP, and THA for a backup QB, and he would even make a serviceable stop-gap QB for a team in a pinch. He has signed an agreeable 3-year pact in San Diego, and I don’t see any reason why he would be cut loose from that agreement. That will run him until he’s 34, but he’s done quite well already to be collecting a paycheck this long.

OUTLOOK:: At this point, it seems unlikely he’ll get to QB his own team, but I could see him contribute to a winning team as a rock solid #2, and great value in the 7th round.

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Not Collecting a Paycheck:
[5.7] QB Ricky Simon, Tulsa (Eagles > Bengals > FA > Retired)
[5.12] QB Horace Moon, Washington St. (Bengals > Colts > FA > Retired)
[6.5] QB Luther Ashley, LSU (Redskins > FA > Retired)
[7.22] QB Willis Maddox, UCLA (Steelers > Bengals > Giants > FA)
[7.27] QB Wayne Velasquez, Cincinnati (Bears > FA > Retired)




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