Compared to last year’s rookie quarterback class with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and even Ryan Tannehill, any crop of quarterbacks would look weak. That isn’t even considering players such as Brandon Weeden, Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles who also showed flashes. Even without that considered, this group of signal callers looks very underwhelming. At this point, there are a lot of players with some ability to build on but nobody is close to being a “sure thing”.
- Geno Smith, West Virginia: There are a lot of positives that Smith brings to the table. He has a quick delivery and has shown the work ethic a team would want to see in its franchise quarterback. While this was a topic that was questioned lately, his hard work was shown in the fact his accuracy showed great improvement throughout his college career. Smith also keeps his eyes down field and is able to find his second or third reads if his first option is covered.
There will be questions considering he ran the spread offense at West Virginia and that he regressed after a ridiculous start to the 2012 season. Smith has the tools you look for but being in this draft class could have a negative effect on his career. In most drafts, Smith is a top 15 or 20 pick but due to so quarterback needy teams, he will be picked in the top 10 which pretty much guarantees he’ll play immediately. Like many young quarterbacks, he would benefit from sitting for a year or two before taking the reins.
2. EJ Manuel, Florida State: At 6’5 235, Manuel is a physically imposing quarterback to say the least. One reason why he has moved up draft boards is many feel he is the best quarterback in this class in terms of having the ability to run the read option. While Manuel has the athleticism, his skills as a traditional passer are going to be questioned. He has the arm strength and the touch to make all the throws and also has a quick release.
On the downside, Manuel has a tendency to force throws into coverage giving opponents chances for turnovers while his pocket presence is also an area of concern. Manuel could sneak into the first round but like many quarterbacks in this class would be best to transition to the NFL as a backup for a few years.
3. Matt Barkley, USC: Due to the acclaim he had coming in to USC and the fact he played all four years, Barkley is probably the most scrutinized quarterback in this class. He has experience playing in a pro style offense, showed the ability to throw on the run and has all the intangibles teams look for in a quarterback. However, Barkley may fall as he lacks ideal height and arm strength teams prefer. It could hurt Barkley that if he’s starting right away his supporting cast will most likely be a downgrade from throwing to Robert Woods (a likely second or third round pick this year) and Marquise Lee (a possible top ten selection if he comes out next year).
The recent track record of USC quarterbacks won’t help his cause either. It’s very likely that Barkley will never live up to the ridiculous hype he received as a high schooler. If he happens to land in a West Coast offense that focuses on the short to intermediate passing game, he could be a very effective quarterback
4. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse: Nassib has been on the rise leading up to the draft and it’s easy to see why. He has a big arm, can be very accurate when his footwork is set and will step up in the pocket to avoid sacks. Nassib can be hurt by his gunslinger mentality as his trust in his arm which can result in turnovers. His footwork is also very inconsistent and there are times when he gets skittish in the pocket when trying to find a target. In a draft that doesn’t have much depth at quarterback, Nassib could get picked in the late first or early second round but it would be best if he is able to learn the NFL game from the sidelines for a year or two.
5. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: Wilson has a lot of positive qualities in his game. He has very impressive accuracy in the intermediate passing game and the ability to hit receivers in stride. He’s also proven over the years to be very tough and is willing to stand tall and deliver under pressure. Some negatives are that he holds the ball low in the pocket (which could result in strip sacks) and at times has too much trust in his arm. The skills are in place for Wilson to be a starting quarterback at the next level and he could end up being one of the better quarterbacks of this class
6. Mike Glennon, North Carolina State: At 6’7 with a big arm, Glennon has received plenty of Joe Flacco comparisons up to this point. He really showed flashes of what he’s capable of towards the end of the year despite not having much of a supporting cast around him. Glennon at times doesn’t step up to make the throw and will instead continue backpedaling despite not having the foot speed to do so. He also had some problems with his accuracy although the supporting cast could have played a role in this. Like many others in his class, it would be better if Glennon wasn’t thrown to the fire right away. That could be the difference between him becoming a Flacco type player or one like Derek Anderson.
7. Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio): Being a big quarterback from Miami (Ohio) that has good improvisation skills and decent athleticism for their size would lead to Ben Roethlisberger comparisons. Dysert not only has arm strength but also the touch needed for fades or sideline routes. He needs to improve his poise in the pocket and has a tendency to stare down his first option. If he is able to improve on his flaws, Dysert could end up becoming one of the steals of this draft.
8. Tyler Bray, Tennessee: It seems like every draft class has that quarterback with great size, a bazooka for an arm and questions about their maturity. This year, Bray is the guy. On arm strength alone he would be a first round pick as he can also make throws from various arm angles. Along with the maturity questions, Bray can also be very inconsistent as his accuracy and footwork just disappear at random points. It would be best if a team with an established quarterback drafted Bray in the fourth or fifth round to clean up his mechanics and let him sit for a few years.
9. Matt Scott, Arizona: Scott has decent size, good arm strength and stands tall in the pocket. What attracts most teams however his running ability as he could be picked early by a team wanting to incorporate the read option. Scott’s passing ability still could use some work but if he’s available in the fourth or fifth round is worth selecting as a project.
10. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones played at Oklahoma for what felt like six years and leaves the program as one of the most prolific players in school history. He has prototypical size with a quick release and has the ability to stretch the field with his arm. Pocket presence is a big issue here as Jones struggles under duress and at times feels pressure when it isn’t there. Downfield accuracy and touch on throws over defenders/fades are also areas that could be worked on.
2013 class grade: C