2012 NFL Draft: Ranking Top QBs by Projected Career Success

Tyler Horner@BR_TylerHornerCorrespondent IIJanuary 10, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Ranking Top QBs by Projected Career Success

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    Projecting a quarterback's potential success at the professional level is often one of the more challenging duties to fulfill, but also one of the most enjoyable. 

    We all have our own determinations of the draft's top quarterbacks; whether they're made unconsciously or through deep thoughts and evaluations. One might argue vehemently that a prospect will be a bust while another may believe he'll be the next Joe Montana. 

    At the end of every players' career, they're judged on how successful they were at living up to expectations and bringing their teams' to the promised land.

    Which quarterbacks in this rookie class will be most successful in terms of that criteria? Read on and find out. 

5. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

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    Ryan Tannehill has many of the tools that make for a great quarterback prospect, but he has not developed the instincts and pocket presence required to be immediately successful in the NFL

    He has a solid arm and throws well on the run, but needs to perform better from the pocket. His footwork is inconsistent when under pressure and his accuracy suffers as a result. Poor sense of where the pressure is coming from will lead to sacks in the NFL. 

    Tannehill projects as a first or second round pick, but I would shy away from drafting him until early in the third round. It's hard to imagine a player as raw as he is starting for an NFL team within the next two to three seasons, so any team considering him should have the idea of developing him in mind. 

    In my estimation, Tannehill will be a backup for the majority of his career, but with his upside, he can develop into a serviceable starter if he continues to progress. 

4. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

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    With a good offensive line at the NFL level, Cousins can be a top-notch quarterback. Occasionally, he will throw off his back foot and drop his eyes in the face of pressure. There's no question that he's a tough player, but he often seems to be afraid to take a sack; even when it's the smartest option. 

    Cousins doesn't have a great arm, but when setting his feet, he can make any NFL throw. He ran a pro style offense at Michigan State, which will lessen the learning curve. 

    Ultimately, Cousins is a low-risk third to possibly fourth round pick who has adequate accuracy and mental makeup to become an NFL starter. His positive moments are very encouraging, but it's his cold streaks that will make NFL teams nervous. 

    Cousins doesn't have the upside to become an elite player, but he does have the skills to get on the field earlier in his career than Texas A&M's Tannehill. 

3. Nick Foles, Arizona

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    Many believe that there is a big leap from Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III to the remaining quarterbacks, but I include Foles in the top tier of this draft's prospects. 

    Foles leaves no arm strength to be desired and throws the deep ball very naturally; something I covet in young quarterbacks. He dealt with a very poor supporting cast at Arizona, something that cannot be overlooked. 

    Foles has ideal size and strength as well as prototypical awareness and poise. He is a respected leader on the field and in the locker room. He's also a committed student of the game and his work ethic should attract second round consideration from any team looking for a quarterback; whether they need a capable backup or eventual starter. 

    Foles may very well be deserving of an late first round pick, but he will almost surely go lower than that. He can be a Tier 2 NFL quarterback—meaning just off of elite—in the prime of his career. 

2. Andrew Luck, Stanford

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    Placing Luck at the second spot on this list is no slight to his accomplishments at Stanford, but more of a compliment to the development of this year's Heisman winner. 

    Luck has been the definite first overall pick since his sophomore season and I'm not suggesting that he is not worthy of the first overall pick, because he is one of the best quarterback prospects we have seen in the past two decades. 

    Luck has above average arm strength, but that's the only time you'll here the word average and Andrew Luck in the same sentence. He is something special and will be an elite quarterback in the NFL in the right situation. 

    Luck contains Peyton Manning-esque ability to read defenses early in his career and should become one of the most heady players in the league, once he gains enough experience. 

    His dependability warrants top pick consideration, and the team that ends up drafting Luck knows that they will get a low risk, extremely high reward player. 

1. Robert Griffin III, Baylor

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    Robert Griffin III is my pick for the most successful quarterback of the 2012 draft class; a class that will undoubtedly be one of the most prolific of this era. 

    Griffin has elite arm strength and his ability to throw the deep ball draws a comparison to Cam Newton. Much like Newton, Griffin has become one the most explosive players in football right now and is capable of turning around a franchise that may not necessarily have the best weapons surrounding their quarterback at the moment. 

    Griffin has great mechanics and steady accuracy. He's continuously improved throughout his collegiate career, despite losses on the offensive line and in his receiving corps. 

    In his junior season, he amassed almost 4,300 yards on only 402 passes; good for 10.7 yards per attempt, an astonishingly high number. Griffin also protected the football extremely well, throwing only six interceptions compared to 37 touchdowns. 

    Griffin's composure, intelligence and toughness are underrated qualities and he has the athleticism that makes him the most complete prospect of this year's draft. 

    Griffin can become an immediate game changer wherever he is drafted, and quickly rise into the elite class of NFL quarterbacks.