NFL Combine Edition: Top 10 Quarterback Prospects in 2013 NFL Draft
Geno Smith, Matt Barkley Top Lackluster QB Class
The last two quarterback draft classes have seen instant impact and future stars, but this year will not bring that type of star power.
West Virginia’s Geno Smith and USC’s Matt Barkley headline a weak draft class that could see only one or two selected in the first round. Last year’s NFL draft saw the first two selections and three of the first eight come at the quarterback position with four being taken in the first round for the second straight year.
The best rookie quarterback taken in the 2012 draft may be Russell Wilson who was taken with the 75th pick in the third round by the Seattle Seahawks, and two of the best quarterbacks taken in the 2011 draft were Colin Kaepernick taken by the San Francisco 49ers and Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Kansas City Chiefs are in dire need of a franchise quarterback and hold the first pick, but my thinking is they won’t see Smith or Barkley as being worthy of that high of a pick and the contract that would follow. Rather I think they take the highest rated defensive or offensive lineman on their board and with their first pick in the second round take Barkley--like the Cleveland Browns did last year when they traded up to get Brandon Weeden--or trade back into the bottom of the first round to take a quarterback.
There are no stars in this draft class it would appear, but there could be some hidden talent that emerges as Wilson and Kaepernick have shown you don’t need to be a first round pick to have success in this league.
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10. Zac Dysert-Miami (OH)
Dysert is a bit of a sleeper prospect and one that could open eyes at the combine and all-star games. His team's didn't win much at Miami, only going 11-20 as a starter, but was a highly productive passer despite his team's woes. He doesn't have a howitzer for an arm, but he can make all the throws and puts a good touch on the ball displaying above-average accuracy. He won't confuse people for Cam Newton, but he is deceptively agile and can elude the pressure when the pocket collapses, just don't expect him to rip off long runs. Will not be a starter initially, but playing with superior talent for the first time in his career can bring out the potential that lies within and in two or three years could turn out to be a steal.
9. EJ Manuel-Florida State
Manuel finally started to realize the potential he has tantalized Seminoles fans with for the previous three years when he came to Tallahassee as a top prep recruit in his final year. His injury history will scare off some scouts, but he has elite athleticism, great character and is an excellent leader. However, his accuracy and mental acumen leave doubts as to whether he can be a long-term fix at quarterback or if his future will be as a backup. But he has good arm strength and is extremely mobile in the pocket.
8. Ryan Nassib-Syracuse
At 6-2 and 228-pounds Nassib has the frame to be a solid quarterback in the NFL. He had a highly productive senior season at Syracuse when he compiled a 143.3 quarterback rating with 3749 yards and 26 touchdowns and led the Orange to a bowl game. Nassib projects as a back-up, but could excel in spot-duty if the starter were to suffer an injury and miss a couple games. He reminds me a little me of Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills. Nassib will likely hear his name called around the fifth round.
7. Logan Thomas-Virginia Tech
Thomas entered his redshirt junior season with comparisons to Cam Newton and some had him as the top quarterback prospect in the nation, but has failed to live up to the hype. He has been prone to bad mental mistakes and interceptions in his teams stunning losses this season to inferior teams. He has all the necessary tools to be a No. 1 pick, but needs more time to harness it all, so another year in college would have been the best route for him. Nevertheless, a team will fall in love with his measurables and draft him much higher than his production dictates.
6. Tyler Wilson-Arkansas
Wilson returned for his senior season at Arkansas, but lost Bobby Petrino his offensive-minded coach in the offseason and his team has lost some brutal games despite Wilson playing well for the most part. Has had monster games against inferior opponents but struggled against elite teams like Alabama. Had a concussion this season but came back and has continued to put up solid if not spectacular numbers.
5. Landry Jones-Oklahoma
Jones has really regressed since his first two years as a starting quarterback, but has a rocket for an arm and can make all the throws necessary to have success in the NFL. However, his inability to make a big play and propensity to turn the ball over at the worst time leaves me questioning his mental toughness. He has all the physical tools, but his mental makeup is the difference between him being a top-1o pick and being a bottom of the 2nd or top of the 3rd round pick. The best scenario for Jones would be to sit for a year or two behind a veteran before being thrust into a starting job to avoid crushing his psyche as a rookie.
4. Tyler Bray-Tennessee
Bray has prototypical size at 6’5’’ and 225 pounds and has been a very productive player at Tennessee. He really blossomed this season and has had some monster games throwing the ball, but would like to see more wins and a reduction in interceptions. A strong offseason and combine could push Bray high up draft boards as teams are desperate for quarterbacks and with his size and arm talent could be pushed up the draft out of necessity.
3. Mike Glennon-North Carolina State
Glennon has very rare height for a quarterback prospect at 6-7 and is reminiscent of Brock Osweiler who was a 2nd round pick a year ago in that both have excellent arm strength and a high release that limits the propensity for balls being tipped at the line of scrimmage. Glennon though is much more of a statue in the pocket and lacks elusiveness in the pocket to step up and deliver the ball when faced with a collapsing pocket. The 5th year senior does have experience in a pro-style offense with a high level of production on his resume, but can be wildly inconsistent.
2. Matt Barkley-USC
The presumptive #1 pick after returning to school for his senior season, Barkley has all the intangibles you look for in a quarterback and has been a leader since his freshman year at USC. Highly productive during his time under Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin and possesses above average accuracy and mobility and is capable of making all the NFL throws. The only knock on him is his height, which is just below 6’2” and the out-of-this-world expectations placed on him before his senior season--despite his team’s lack of success this season he has still put up gaudy numbers.
1. Geno Smith-West Virginia
The runaway favorite to capture the Heisman trophy through the first half of the season has opened the eyes of scouts in every NFL city with his eye-popping stat lines. Smith Is not the refined passer as Barkley, and does not possess all the intangibles that Barkley does, but makes up for that with more velocity on his throws. Will be criticized for playing in a shotgun offense, throwing with a low ¾ release and the significant drop-off in production he experienced in the second half of this season. Could go as high as No. 1 to Kansas City if he has a stellar workout at the combine and Andy Reid thinks he can develop him in the same way he did after taking Donovan McNabb second overall in 1998. If he doesn’t go first overall, then he may experience an Aaron Rodgers-like drop in the draft.