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.
6. Landry Jones (Oklahoma): The best traits for Jones are his size and his arm. At 6'4'' with a high release point, Jones can see down the field and get his throws over the hands of defensive linemen. He can make impressive throws into tight windows, but sometimes tries to get throws into too tight of windows. His decision making is the biggest area of concern, as he'll give you a "what were you thinking?" moment every now and then. His mobility is also a concern. He is no threat to take off and run (slowest forty time of all quarterbacks at the combine), but can sometimes make subtle moves in the pocket to buy time. As far as how "NFL-ready" these quarterbacks are, there's a big drop off between Nassib and Jones.
7. Zac Dysert (Miami (Ohio)): I know a lot of us are sick of the word "potential," but that's exactly why I ranked Dysert here. I've seen him make some incredible throws - perfectly accurate passes with high velocity thrown off-balance while being hit. I've also seen him throw some easy short yardage passes completely off target. What Dysert obviously needs to do is get more consistent, but if he can do that, he'll have a great shot at being a very effective pro. My favorite trait of Dysert is his ability to extend the play by scrambling and shaking defenders, then slinging the ball while on the run.
8. Mike Glennon (NC State): Glennon is very high on some people's lists because of his strong arm that is capable of making all sorts of throws. I agree that Glennon's arm is impressive on tape, but his arm has nothing to do with why I have him ranked this low. Glennon displays some of the qualities that have caused Blaine Gabbert to struggle as a pro. He's not willing to step up into the pocket to make throws, and he often throws off his back foot to avoid a hit, which then leads to an inaccurate pass. He has slow feet and struggles to extend the play. When the pass rush comes consistently, he gets flustered and makes bad decisions. At the next level, NFL defenses will send heavy pressure at Glennon and force him to step up and make throws, but I'm not so sure he can do that. Combine that with the fact that his arm didn't stand out at the combine, and I say he's overrated.
9. Matt Scott (Arizona): Sorry, folks, but this is another player whose ranking is based on potential. Scott only had one full season as the starter for Arizona, and he put up some pretty solid numbers. He can really "wow" you with some of the throws that he makes, displaying a lot of velocity and accuracy. He is also a fantastic athlete who can buy himself time to throw and gash a defense on the ground. He finished top five among quarterbacks in every drill at the combine. While he's shown plenty of talent, he's also been very inconsistent with his accuracy and decision making. He's clearly a developmental prospect who is currently far below his very high ceiling. Comparisons to Colin Kaepernick are likely to get a team to reach for him.
10. Tyler Bray (Tennessee): Bray has a strong arm that can be quite accurate at times, but that's just about all there is to like about him. He has an elongated, Byron Leftwich type throwing motion. He frequently fades away from his throws to avoid a hit, and even does it sometimes when there is no pressure. He also gets very flustered when facing pressure, which forces him to make bad decisions. He certainly has an NFL-caliber arm, so he should get drafted in hopes that he can improve his footwork and decision making.