- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Quarterbacks are the lifeblood of any NFL organization. With a franchise quarterback, a team can consistently contend. Without a quality quarterback, it's difficult to even make the playoffs.
Therefore, it’s never too early to take a look at 2014 quarterback rankings from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. Here is an early projection of the top signal-callers in next year’s draft.
The 2014 quarterback class is stronger than this year’s -- assuming Bridgewater and Manziel indeed decide to leave school early. The top three are Heisman Trophy candidates with a lot of hype. If this trio stays healthy and productive, teams will be looking at each prospect as a future first-round pick.
The AFC East saw two teams draft top-rated quarterbacks this year. The Buffalo Bills selected EJ Manuel No. 16 overall in the first round, and the New York Jets took Geno Smith No. 39, near the top of the second round. If both players show promise this season, the entire division could be out of the quarterback market.
The New England Patriots are set at quarterback with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and young backup Ryan Mallett. The Miami Dolphins also believe they have a franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. The 2012 first-round pick showed flashes as a rookie and is set to enter a crucial second season.