2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Quarterbacks
Here we have my rankings for the quarterbacks who are eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft. I can't say I love any of these guys on tape, but each of them do have certain impressive qualities that could get NFL scouts excited.
1. Geno Smith (West Virginia): Smith is topping most analysts' quarterback rankings these days, so this should come as no surprise. He has a strong, accurate arm and can extend the play with good pocket presence and mobility. He is able to effectively throw on the run. His draft stock dropped due to a 2012 midseason slump - I think he sometimes tries to do too much when his team is losing, trying to cut the deficit on one single play. There's not much to dislike about Smith, but I have to say that he didn't truly blow me away like some of the other top quarterback prospects of the past few years.
2. Matt Barkley (USC): There is a lot of concern over Barkley's arm strength, but I still think he could be a great fit in the right system. Barkley is exceptionally accurate and makes quick, smart decisions with the football. He can make up for his weak arm by looking off coverage and throwing his receivers open. I think his 15 interceptions in 2012 were in large part due to a poor offensive line. Barkley could excel in the NFL as a game manager who is not asked to lead his team to victory by himself. Think of Alex Smith and his 104.1 quarterback rating with the 49ers in 2012 - I'm not saying Barkley will definitely put up numbers like that, but that is the type of quarterback he could be.
3. EJ Manuel (Florida State): When I started watching tape of this kid, I couldn't believe that I hadn't been hearing more about him. He's got Cam Newton type size at 6'5'' 237 (Newton is 6'5'' 248, and you can expect Manuel to get bigger as a pro), and great athleticism (ran a 4.65 forty-yard dash at the combine). He displayed great accuracy in 2012 with a clean, quick throwing motion. He can put delicate touch on his passes or zip the ball into a tight window. He can extend the play by eluding defenders or bouncing off tackles. Ten years from now, I think there's a chance that we're saying Manuel was the best quarterback in this draft.
4. Tyler Wilson (Arkansas): Ranking Wilson was tough, because terrible offensive line play kept him from showcasing his elite arm. He also didn't have much in the way of receiving weapons outside of Cobi Hamilton. Even so, Wilson managed to put up solid numbers, and displayed impressive poise when defenders got in his grill immediately after taking the snap. He has proven that he is not afraid to step into his throws, even if that means taking a big hit. He has also developed some solid escape skills thanks to the constant pressure he faced. And once again, he has an elite arm.
5. Ryan Nassib (Syracuse): Here we've got another gunslinger type in Nassib. He's the type that can make any throw, but leave you scratching your head as to why he just sailed an easy one. Part of that may be due to his insistence on always rocketing his passes - he'll need to learn when to use some touch as a pro. He's composed in the pocket and has deceptive athleticism. He also has more experience taking snaps from under center than most of the other quarterback prospects.