It has become so much more than just a football position this off-season. The word “Quarterback: has been filled with loads of buzz, and rumors, and packed with excitement. The position has tons of stories, from Andrew Luck going first, to Robert Griffin 3rd and his excellent combine performance having teams trying hard to work deals for the number 2 pick, to Peyton Manning’s free-agent courtship, and on and on. Quarterback is certainly the guys to be here in 2012 for sure!
So with that, I will bring you all the first of my NFL Draft analysis, where I will look at some of the top QBs coming out of college and what they have to offer. Come April 26th we will know most of the moves teams have made, and which QB will go where, and what teams will invest to get the leader of the future.
Here is the breakdown of some top QB prospects:
2. Robert Griffin the 3rd, Baylor, Junior: RG3 did what some athletes do well every year, and that is up his stock by having a great combine. RG3 showed blazing speed running a 4.41 40-yard dash, numbers reminding many of Michael Vick who may be the best rushing QB ever in the NFL. Griffin also brings a good delivery and skill to the table, completing 72% of his passes, while leading Baylor to a 10-3 record this past season. His buzz has been huge, and with the St Louis Rams owning pick number 2 and already having a QB, many teams have been working possible deals to get the pick and take Griffin.
At the combine, Griffin impressed NFL coaches and GMs with his poise and mature nature. There is no doubt he has the tools to be a special player, but as always he will need some schooling and will need to be patient to learn the NFL game. At 6-2 and 223 he should be strong enough to handle the punishment he will get being a running QB. No matter what his first few seasons may bring numbers-wise, Griffin will be a big draw for fans, and a merchandise boom for the team lucky enough to get him.
3. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A & M, Senior: Some experts will tell you that Tannehill will be the leader of the second-tier talents at QB, while some think he has what it takes to go in the first round. At 6-4 and 221 pounds he’s got the height, but may need to work more on his overall strength. He has plenty of arm strength to make the big throws in the NFL, and can handle himself when needing to avoid pass-rushers. His 29 TDs and 15 INTs this past season may make a few worry about his quick trigger, and his throwing of risky passes, but he also shows no fear in trying to move the football. The knock is that he faced very few big time games and only started 15 college games, with Texas A&M finishing just 7-6. In my eyes he will be a good choice, but to the team that takes him, they will need to be patient.
4. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, Senior: Huge knock on Weeden is that he is a 28 year old rookie, and not many teams are anxious to grab a guy who may be in his 30s by the time he is ready to contribute. On the good side, Weeden let OSU to a 12-1 season in 2011, and with his age will come in with great maturity. Weeden did play mostly in a shotgun formation in college, and the word is he struggles with his footwork, so playing in a pro-style offense and taking most snaps from center will be a concern. Weeden is smart and a good field-general, and playing in a big time conference helps him progress faster. The age is a factor for sure, but for a team to gamble on a late second or third round pick is not a crazy idea, and Weeden can pay off. A team like Kansas City or possibly Denver could benefit from his sit early but start quick possibility.
5. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State, Senior: Cousins has the look of a proto-type NFL good-guy QB. 6-3, 214 pounds, and the blonde hair, blue-eyed All American look that teams like from a marketing standpoint. He played for a good school at MSU, so he saw good competition, and did nice work completing almost 64% of his passes. His 64 TDs and 29 INTs during his 2 plus years of full playing time are good numbers as well. He has many upsides, good vision, a great release point and quality mechanics and a strong arm. The knock on Cousins may be his leadership, and some think he is not ready to grab an NFL huddle and take charge, but in a year or 2 that can easily change. He is a guy certainly worth a 3rd round pick, and a guy who could be really good if he watches behind a well groomed pro QB. Any team looking for a new go to QB in a few years will like Cousins.
6. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State, Junior: Raw talent is the word on Brock, but another one is size, and lots of it. He stands 6-8, and 242 pounds which give him plenty of field vision. He’s been said to have fair mobility for his size, however his mechanics need work, and his release point needs polishing. He has only 1 year of starting experience behind him, and played for an average team that finished just 6-7 last year. A foot injury before the combine has some skeptical too, but for a guy who may fall in the 4th round, he can be seen as a starter or a quality NFL back-up for years to come.
7. Nick Foles, Arizona, Senior: Foles had a poor combine, and with it his draft stock may have fallen hard. On the upside he has started for 3 full seasons at Arizona, but in finishing just 4-8 this past season, few were wild with his leadership. Yes he can spread it out, and threw for over 4300 yards, and managed to complete 69% of his passes, but he also throws lots of INTs and some say he crumbles under serious pressure. He is a bit of a gamble and will need lots of work when he arrives in the NFL. Is sure to be drafted, but his name may not be mentioned until late 4th or even 5th round. AT 6-5 and 243 pounds he does however have big time size and NFL strength.
8. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, Senior: A 6-4, 229 pound guy with a good feel for NFL type offense, Lindley would strike many as a savvy pick. His numbers have improved every season as he started all 4 years, and manages a game well. 90 TDs over the 4 seasons is a nice stat as well, but the problem seen is that he did not play against big time competition, and may have a hard time going against more advanced NFL defenses. He has limited arm strength as well, but in a system with good running, and more of a quick release, West Coast style he can be a nice asset. It is not a bad 4th or 5th round pick, but teams will need to see more of him, and he will have to work hard on the NFL level.
9. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin, Senior: Real hard call on this one. Lots and lots of upside here, such as an 11-3 record last season playing in a very tough conference, completing 73% of his passes. In his 3 years as the starter he put up a whopping 109 TDs while throwing just 30 INTs, but did take lots of sacks, a total of 116. He has pro skills, and lots of leadership, so what is the deal here? Well Wilson is listed at just 5-11 and 204 pounds, which is quite a challenge for a QB as far as seeing over the line and making big throws in the pocket. He does have good mobility, but will be tough on a week to week basis to keep him moving out of the pocket. His hope is that people compare him to Drew Brees, but many more are thinking Doug Flutie. Wilson can be used in certain roles like QBs before him, but as a full time passer, it’s a long shot.
So here are the top 10 QBs on the market for this year’s draft. I will break down Running Backs in my next installment. Until then we will see some pro days from our QBs, so things can change, but keep an eye on these guys.
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]