6. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Weight: 220 lbs
2011 stats: 277-of-438 (63.2 percent), 3,638 yards, 24 TDs, 6 INTs, 148.4 passer rating
2012 prediction: 261-of-406 (64.3 percent), 3,435 yards, 28 TDs, 6 INTs, 155.2 passer rating
Why: Everybody wondered what was going to become of Arkansas after Ryan Mallet's departure and the season-ending injury to All-SEC running back Knile Davis. Well, junior QB Tyler Wilson took over right where Mallet left off and led the Razorbacks to an 11-2 (6-2 SEC West) record and a Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State.
What really impressed me about Wilson is his decision-making—he only threw six interceptions all year in the toughest division in all of college football. And with Davis returning to the backfield, I'm sure all the stress won't lie on the passing game.
5. Casey Pachall, Texas Christian Horned Frogs
Weight: 216 lbs
2011 stats: 228-of-343 (66.5 percent), 2,921 yards, 25 TDs, 7 INTs, 158.0 passer rating
2012 prediction: 237-of-359 (66.0 percent), 3,038 yards, 28 TDs, 9 INTs, 157.8 passer rating
Why: How would TCU ever replace Andy Dalton under center? Easy. With Casey Pachall.
In Dalton's sophomore season, he completed 182-of-307 (59.3 percent) of his passes for 2,242 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Pachall one-upped Dalton by blowing him away in nearly every statistic.
Granted, the Horned Frogs will arguably be facing a stronger conference schedule, playing in their first season as a member of the Big 12. But accuracy is accuracy, and I think what we saw from Pachall in 2011 is what we'll see in the years to come.
4. Landry Jones, Oklahoma Sooners
Weight: 229 lbs
2011 stats: 355-of-562 (63.2 percent), 4,463 yards, 29 TDs, 15 INTs, 141.6 passer rating
2012 prediction: 414-of-588 (70.4 percent), 5,254 yards, 34 TDs, 12 INTs, 160.5 passer rating
Why: After falling far short of team expectations, Jones surprisingly announced that he'd forgo the upcoming draft—and likely a first-round selection—to return for his senior season.
He took a step back from his sophomore year, completing 60 less passes, throwing nine less touchdowns and three more interceptions.
However, from an NFL draft point of view, Jones can really benefit from taking this year to refine his skills and work on his accuracy. He's going to have to stay healthy, but if he plays his cards right he can make it into next year's draft with a significantly higher stock.
3. Tyler Bray, Tennessee Volunteers
Weight: 210 lbs
2011 stats: 147-of-247 (59.5 percent), 1,983 yards, 17 TDs, 6 INTs, 144.8 passer rating
2012 prediction: 292-of-438 (66.7 percent), 3,960 yards, 33 TDs, 9 INTs, 163.4 passer rating
Why: Tyler Bray is what most NFL scouts would call the "prototypical quarterback." He has a great frame, a fluent throwing motion and knows how to read a defense.
His stats last season don't reflect the kind of athlete Bray is (or can be), mostly due to an injury suffered to his throwing hand that prevented him from playing in five games and affecting his performance in a big way.
With his entire offensive line and receiving corps returning to the field in 2012, Bray could emerge as one of the best QBs in his class and watch his draft stock soar.
2. Geno Smith, West Virginia Mountaineers
Weight: 214 lbs
2011 stats: 346-of-526 (65.8 percent), 4,385 yards, 31 TDs, 7 INTs, 152.6 passer rating
2012 prediction: 373-of-540 (69.1 percent), 4,805 yards, 39 TDs, 10 INTs, 163.9 passer rating
Why: Smith flourished in Dana Holgorsen's offense last season, passing for 337.3 yards per game and remarkably threw just one interception per 75.1 attempts.
He returns all three starting receivers, including Stedman Bailey, who led the team with 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011.
Now a member of the Big 12 and in his second year with Holgorsen's pass-friendly offense, Smith has a great opportunity to make a run at the Heisman Trophy and to show the NFL scouts what he's made of.
1. Matt Barkley, Southern California Trojans
Weight: 220 lbs
2011 stats: 308-of-446 (69.1 percent), 3,528 yards, 39 TDs, 7 INTs, 161.2 passer rating
2012 prediction: 370-of-516 (71.7 percent), 4,277 yards, 46 TDs, 8 INTs, 167.6 passer rating
Why: Barkley is the unanimous selection among most college football analysts as the next-best college quarterback. He decided to take his chances and stay for his senior season at USC to "finish what he started."
If he can continue to tear up the Pac-12 and stay healthy, there's no reason he won't be in consideration for the Heisman and go on to be the No. 1 quarterback selected in the 2013 NFL draft.
He also gets to participate in the Trojans' first bowl appearance (assuming they qualify) since being placed on probation in 2010.
A Bold Prediction For College Football's Top Quarterbacks
6. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas