With the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine just days away, people have been anticipating their respective teams to watch for positions of need, and albeit this isn’t a very strong class, there will be plenty of teams watching the QBs work out at Lucas Oil Stadium. Now, within that sentence is the fact that this QB draft class is not a very deep one, easily the weakest in recent years. That doesn’t mean there won’t be top 5 talent in this position, but as you’re about to see, it’s virtually one player, than everybody else. So, to kick off our countdown, the 1st QB to watch for, is:
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia – He’s been a force in the collegiate ranks these past 2 seasons, earning himself a few mentions of Heisman Trophy candidate from time to time. What we have in this player, is a larger, more accurate version of Michael Vick, who once upon a time was the top overall draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons. Smith has a fairly strong arm that can squeeze the ball into tight spaces, which is key in the NFL. What he also has, is speed, a lot of speed and mobility. The NFL is experiencing an evolution at the QB position, where teams are coveting athletic QBs that can turn a busted play into a highlight play, with recent as well as somewhat comparable examples being Cam Newton (Panthers) and RG3 (Redskins). What I do find concerning, though, is when he played the tougher teams on his rather easy schedule, such as Texas Tech and Kansas State, he simply wasn’t as special as he normally would be against other teams. But, he certainly played like a legend at other times, most notably his historic performance against Baylor, where he went 45-of-51 for 656 yards and 8 TDs, with 0 ints. Overall, he’s perhaps the most gifted QB in this draft class, and he’s receiving very high grades from around the league. This, is your top overall pick candidate from the QB class of 2013.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC – Prior to this season, this Trojan alumni was widely considered to be the best QB in this year’s draft class. After this season, he’s second if not third best depending on who you ask or believe. He simply did not have a good season, and is a classic example of what could happen to your draft stock if you receive a top overall grade during your junior year, and decide to stay for your senior season (which I respect). He was under consistent pressure as the OL was resemblant to a car wreck. They really missed their former LT Matt Kahlil, who’s now developing quite nicely with the Minnesota Vikings. Now, with all the negatives brought first, comes the positives. First off, he’s not a QB who’s exceptionally gifted with athleticism unlike a lot of his counterparts, instead, he knows how to play the position from the pocket in an NFL style of offense, which is huge for an inbound rookie. He’s also shown good throwing mechanics, and has shown patience as well as good timing in his throws. His greatest strength, is his overall decision making. Yes, he did again have a very rough senior season, where one will be quick to point out his decision making as a flaw, but I instead look at his overall body of work, where he simply played like a QB who’s ready for the NFL. He may not be top 5 or even top 10 this year, yet make no mistake, he’s got the potential.
Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State – His stock is on the rise, as he comes in with a reportedly big size (6’6″ 220 lbs) and has an absolute rocket for an arm. His pocket presence is also one that’s admirable, where he is able to move the pocket and avoid potential sacks, which was demonstrated before a large audience in his upset win over the FSU Seminoles. Of course, with the positives, comes the negatives, and his footwork will be heavily critiqued and criticized by a ton of draftniks everywhere. His inconsistency is a serious red flag, as when he would play like a top 5 overall pick at times, he would play like a scrub at others. He can not afford to rely on the large windows in college to pick defenses apart. When you have bad footwork, topped with inconsistency, then you have accuracy problems. It’s not like he’s never been on the money, he just needs to get more consistent with his decisions as well as throws. He’s a work in progress, but in the right environment, he could shine.
Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse – This player has already received some pretty high marks by a few NFL teams needing QBs, most notably this nugget I found while researching into QB prospects. He played with poise, intelligence, and accuracy while playing for the Orange. He also did most of this on his own, where he did not have a really dependable supporting cast to aid him during key moments of the game. What I like best about him, is that he’s the least rattled QB under pressure in this group of QBs. He’ll take a nasty shot, only to get up, and play as cool as a cucumber the very next series of plays. If there could be anything that has managed to lower his draft grade, it’s supposedly his throwing motion. Something I discovered while looking around, was there is a perception of him having a strange “hitch” in his overall motion. I hardly noticed it when I watched a few of his games, but then again I’m not an NFL scout. Also, he didn’t have a particularly strong performance during the Senior Bowl, which always hurts a player’s stock prior to the draft. He of course could skyrocket up the boards if he has an incredibly strong combine, but as of right now, he’s my 4th player on this list. But, he’s definitely earned the right to be considered a sleeper as well.
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas – Good Lord, the past season for the Razorbacks could not have gone any worse in 2012, where everything seemed to go so wrong after such a promising performance the season prior to this disappointing year. To top it off, Tyler Wilson was playing injured this past season, where he missed the game against the eventual champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Yet, there was some light this past season, and most of it shined when Tyler Wilson stepped onto the field. He turned in a few good games after his injury, and before last season, he showed an enormous amount of potential as a QB destined for the NFL. I’m not ready to compare him to Ryan Mallett, but he’s definitely someone I’d expect a QB needy team to eyeball after the 1st round, if they haven’t already chosen a QB prior to the second or third round. His arm strength is not something to brag about, though, although that’s expected to be a result of a collarbone injury. Speaking of which, that is a significant reason why he may not see himself chosen in the 1st round, as collarbone injuries are not easy to come back from while playing as a QB. His smallish hands were brought up from time to time, which is supposedly a reason why Sam Bradford fumbles the ball a lot, but I’m not really convinced that “small hands” warrants a real hit on his resume. What does warrant a hit, though, is he was a real brash risk taker, that would make poor choices at the absolute worst time. Again, considering the circumstances he was playing under, it’s not a real surprise as to why he took so many risks, he simply went out and played ball. If you want to see a first round calibre player picked up in the mid rounds of the draft, and see him able to compete from day one, then here he is.
I am certain there will be other players that fans wanted to see included in this top 5, including but not limited to E.J. Manuel, Tyler Bray, Landry Jones, and even Collin Klein among others, and as always, feel free to comment on who you think deserves to be in this list. Bottom line, in this weak draft class, I believe these are the best 5 players available in the most important position to play in the NFL.