2012 NFL 7-Round Mock Draft: Where Do All the Quarterbacks End Up?
Every week or two, I update my seven-round NFL mock draft -- lately, it had been trouble, as players announced that they were entering and some admitted that they were returning to school for their junior or senior seasons. But now, it should get easier as the Jan. 15 deadline has passed for players declaring for the NFL Draft.
In this slideshow, I will show where I think all the quarterbacks will land -- unfortunately, this year's draft should be much better than it actually is, as Southern California's Matt Barkley and Oklahoma's Landry Jones said they would be coming back to their respective schools. Both were projected to be first-round selections, so teams looking for a quarterback will have to wait for next year.
Over the last five years, there have been an average of 12.2 quarterbacks taken in a seven-round draft; however, I look for that number to increase this year, as there are a number of quality prospects that could be taken in the later rounds.
First Round, First Overall: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
Quite a surprise, huh? I bet you didn't expect to see Luck go first overall to the Colts.
Anyway, the Colts would be stupid to not take Luck with this pick. Luck is a can't miss prospect and has been considered to be the best collegiate player since Peyton Manning was taken first overall in the 1998 NFL Draft by, you guessed it... the Indianapolis Colts. There is no doubt that the Colts lucked into Luck, but they should still take him regardless.
Even though it is uncertain whether the Colts will retain Peyton Manning, the Colts need to take the former Stanford quarterback.
However, it is very likely that the Colts could do exactly what the Packers did almost seven years ago -- you may realize that in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Packers took California quarterback Aaron Rodgers with the 24th overall selection, even though they had Brett Favre on the roster. Favre would play a couple of more seasons with the Pack and Rodgers took over the starting reins. Now, look at him -- Rodgers is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, along with a record-breaking one, as well.
The Colts should hope for that very same scenario, as they take Luck with the No. 1 overall pick and keep Manning. The latter would be able to groom Luck, just like Favre did with Rodgers. And if it happens the way it is supposed to, Luck will be a pretty good NFL quarterback.
First Round, Sixth Overall: Robert Griffin III, Washington
Even though I totally believe that the Redskins will trade up to the No. 2 overall selection to select Griffin, I have the third-generation player being selected as the No. 6 overall player in my mock draft. I'm not sure how the Redskins would acquire the No. 2 selection, but I could imagine it looking something like this:
Washington trades No. 6 selection, No. 70 selection, No. 109 selection, wide receiver Anthony Armstrong and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo to St. Louis for the No. 2 selection.
It may take more to land the No. 2 selection, but we'll see what happens in April.
Back to the subject, the Redskins are one of the teams in dire need of a quarterback. As we saw throughout the season, the interception-prone Rex Grossman and John Beck were not the answers at quarterback. With that being said, the Redskins should be looking to add a quarterback in the draft, unless they are able to make a deal with current Packers quarterback and soon-to-be free agent Matt Flynn.
Griffin III is one of those rare athletes that can accurately throw the football, along with having an amazing set of legs that could break off a 20-yard run at any moment. He has drawn comparisons to current Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, but he could become quite better than the former Hokie.
Personally, I believe that Griffin III will either be a humongous NFL star or a bust -- there's really no in-between. Hopefully, he's not the latter and I'm sure the Redskins are thinking that way, too.
First Round, Twelfth Overall: Ryan Tannehill, Seattle
The Seahawks are one of those teams that desperately need a quarterback, as we clearly saw that Tarvaris Jackson is not a starting quarterback and Charlie Whitehurst isn't the answer, either.
If Matt Barkley and Landry Jones still had their names in the draft, I would believe that one of them would be taken with this pick, but it's not going to happen. With the two players returning, Tannehill becomes the third-rated quarterback in the draft and the Seahawks will take him with the twelfth overall selection.
I believe that Tannehill is this year's version of Christian Ponder -- and by that, I mean that he is not a first-round talent, but combined with the fact that Seattle desperately needs a quarterback and there isn't going to be many good quarterbacks on the free agent market, he gets taken way earlier than projected.
I don't believe that Tannehill will become a franchise quarterback by any means, and I also think that Arizona's Nick Foles and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins will potentially become better than Tannehill.
But, there is one thing that we all know. Whether it be with the Trojans or with the Seahawks, Pete Carroll occasionally likes to take gambles and I think he will take one with Tannehill.
On paper, the Seahawks have a formidable roster, but they are missing a few pieces. If they could somehow get the right pieces, they could become a playoff-contending team, just like they were when Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander and Darrell Jackson were making plays for them.
Second Round, 37th Overall: Nick Foles, Cleveland
The Browns surprisingly had a decent defense last season, but their offense struggled mightily with Colt McCoy at the helm. I don't believe that the Browns will take Robert Griffin III with the fourth overall pick, as they have other needs.
In my mock draft, I have them taking Alabama's Trent Richardson with the fourth overall pick and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery with the 22nd overall selection. Taking Foles with the 37th overall selection, along with the first two, would give the Browns a bright future on offense.
A combination featuring Foles, Richardson and Jeffery, along with running back Montario Hardesty, wide receivers Greg Little and Josh Cribbs and tight end Ben Watson would definitely make the Browns competitive in a division that already features the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.
As we've seen over the last two seasons, Colt McCoy is not the answer at quarterback and hasn't become the player Mike Holmgren had hoped for when he selected him in the third round two years ago.
Foles has been a highly-touted prospect since arriving in Arizona and definitely has the potential to become a first-round selection. But, that will likely not happen, and he will probably be chosen in the early second round.
Making a bold prediction, I believe that Foles could possibly become the second-best, perhaps the best, quarterback in this year's class.
Third Round, 71st Overall: Kirk Cousins, Jacksonville
The Jaguars would want to be able to take Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but they will not be given that opportunity. That's why they will have to wait until the third round to take former Spartan Kirk Cousins with the 71st overall selection.
As we watched last season, Blaine Gabbert did not perform well for the Jaguars in his rookie season. Perhaps it was just being inexperienced or having a mediocre offensive coordinator, but Gabbert showed no signs of progression and at some points, it looked like he was slowly regressing.
However, Gabbert's receiving corps was by far the worst in the NFL, which could attribute to his struggles, but not all of them. The Jaguars will likely address that need in the draft and/or in free agency, and I think they will do the same with the quarterback position.
There are still many quality players on the board at this point, but if the Jaguars want to put some heat under Gabbert, they will take Cousins in the third round. If this does happen, I believe that Gabbert will be the starter heading into the season, but if he continually struggles and the Jaguars continuously lose games, Cousins will come in and replace Gabbert -- and therefore, the Blaine Gabbert Experiment in Jacksonville will be over.
Third Round, 88th Overall: Brandon Weeden, Denver
As everyone in the United States knows, Tim Tebow is currently the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Again, as we all know, Tebow helped lead the Broncos from a 1-4 start to the AFC West championship and eventually to an upset of the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, the Broncos would go on to get routed by the New England Patriots, 45-10, last week. Tebow struggled mightily and rumors have started to circulate that Tebow may not be the starter when the Broncos enter the 2012 NFL season.
That's why the Broncos could take a chance in the third round on a quarterback like Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.
Although he's this decade's version of Chris Weinke, Weeden still has a number of quality years in the NFL. He definitely has the arm strength of an NFL quarterback and could become a serviceable back-up, maybe even a starter.
The selection of Weeden in the third round shows Tebow that he needs to perform and become a better passer if he wants to retain his job as the Broncos' starting quarterback. Like the previous slide, the selection should light a fire under the starter, in hopes of a better performance by the main man under center.
Weeden definitely has all the capabilities of becoming a quality quarterback in the NFL and he could be given that chance if Tebow struggles next season.
Fourth Round, 105th Overall: Brock Osweiler, Buffalo
It was quite a surprise when the Arizona State quarterback announced that he would forego his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft. He will likely be a third- to fourth-round selection, as I have him going in the early fourth round to the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills, under Ryan Fitzpatrick, started the 2012 season on fire, but they would go on to struggle down the stretch and would eventually end up with a losing record. Their luck seemed to turn once the team re-signed Fitzpatrick to a six-year, $59 million contract extension in late October.
After his new deal was announced, the Harvard graduate's play was rocky at best, but he was not benched because of the Bills' lack of a back-up quarterback. Tyler Thigpen was really the only option behind Fitzpatrick -- Brad Smith is also listed as a quarterback, but more so in wildcat formations and other play sets of that nature.
With that being said, the Bills need a quality back-up quarterback if Fitzpatrick struggles again this season. Osweiler has the potential to become a starter in the NFL, but will likely be the one holding the clipboard for a season or two if he were drafted by Buffalo.
When watching videos of Osweiler, he actually reminds me of Fitzpatrick. He's smart, has an accurate arm and could run the ball, if needed. Fitzpatrick should become a good tutor to Osweiler if this scenario were to play out.
Fourth Round, 108th Overall: Russell Wilson, New York Jets
The Jets, most notably Mark Sanchez, have come under scrutiny lately, as it seems Sanchez has regressed over the season, albeit making the AFC Championship Game in his first two seasons as a pro. It has opened the door to a discussion that Sanchez may not be the franchise quarterback that they were hoping for when they picked him with the fifth overall selection.
With Mark Brunell likely to retire during the offseason, the Jets have an opening at quarterback. Rex Ryan and Co. selected Alabama's Greg McElroy in the seventh round last year, but he spent the entire season on injured reserve. It is unclear as to whether McElroy has the potential to become a quality NFL quarterback, so I see the Jets using a mid-to-late-round selection on another quarterback, in hopes of snagging a steal.
That's where Russell Wilson comes in, a player that transferred to Wisconsin from North Carolina State prior to the start of last year's collegiate season.
Wilson shined as the Badgers' starting quarterback and his draft stock went up because of that. Wilson is insanely accurate and could also run the ball when needed. Wilson's best feature may be the rarity in which he turns the ball over, which is something Sanchez did a lot of last season—the former Trojan threw 18 interceptions last season, along with fumbling the ball ten times, losing eight of them.
Wilson, on the other hand, threw for 3,175 yards last season, throwing 33 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
He is a developmental quarterback, but he could become a great player once he reaches his ceiling. Wilson could become a very valuable player to the Jets and could also be used in the wildcat formation, too—the Jets rarely ran that formation last season, as they lost Brad Smith to the Bills in free agency.
The former Badger has all the talent in the world; it just depends on how he is utilized.
Fourth Round, 112th Overall: Ryan Lindley, Arizona
Lindley, the ninth quarterback off the board, had a fantastic career with San Diego State, even though they lost to Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, 32-30. Although he comes from a rather small school, he showed great potential at the helm.
In this scenario, Lindley would be chosen with the 112th overall selection by the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals acquired Kevin Kolb from the Eagles prior to the 2011 season, but was a disappointment, as he stayed injured and put up lackluster numbers. In Kolb's absence, John Skelton came in and led the Cardinals to a number of wins, although he put up mediocre numbers in the process—in eight games, Skelton threw for 1,913 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, which calculated to a 68.9 quarterback rating.
Skelton is not a prototypical starting quarterback, but he does win games, although some of them were rather ugly. And like Kolb, Skelton has also had a history of injuries so if the Cardinals had to resort to a third option, they would be in deep water.
Selecting Lindley with their fourth-round selection would give them yet another option at quarterback if Kolb and Skelton struggled or were injured at some point.
Like Russell Wilson, Lindley is a work in progress and it will take time for him to learn the system. But he could become a very valuable asset if he learns quick and is eventually thrust into a starting role.
Fifth Round, 145th Overall: Chandler Harnish, Philadelphia
Yes, this may seem like weird selection for the Eagles, but I believe it could happen. The Eagles are likely not to re-sign Vince Young to an extension and Mike Kafka is mediocre at best.
Personally, Harnish reminds me of Dan LeFevour. who played collegiately at Central Michigan from 2006-09. They both played at small schools, while putting up good numbers through the air and running the ball pretty well. However, LeFevour hasn't gotten a chance to show what he's made of in the NFL, even though he wasn't drafted by an NFL team.
Last season, Harnish threw for 3,216 yards, while accumulating 28 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also carried the ball 194 times for 1,379 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Harnish definitely has the ability to run the ball, but he may not be a prototypical passer in the NFL.
However, he could see some playing time in Philadelphia if Michael Vick were to go down with an injury.
Sixth Round, 173rd Overall: Case Keenum, Chicago
The record-breaking quarterback from Houston is one of the most electrifying passers in NCAA history. However, players such as Keenum never get drafted in the earlier rounds—over the past few seasons, we've seen quarterbacks such as Timmy Chang, Colt Brennan, Graham Harrell, Chase Daniel and Dan LeFevour get drafted in the later rounds, if at all for that matter.
But Keenum may be different. Yes, Houston ran a pass-friendly offense, but it looked as though he would thrive in any offense.
In this scenario, I have the Bears taking a chance on him in the sixth round because well, as we saw last season, they really need a back-up. Apparently, Caleb Hanie is not the answer, as he played badly when Jay Cutler got injured and was forced to miss the remainder of the season.
At the time of his injury, the Bears were in the playoff hunt and it looked like they would make the postseason, but they faltered down the stretch with Hanie at the helm.
Keenum could immediately come in and become the team's back-up, even in front of the aforementioned Hanie. He is a prolific passer that can get the job done if he were to learn the system and playbook.
Personally, I believe that Keenum could become a good pro quarterback if he were given the opportunity. He may not have a career in the NFL like he had at the collegiate level, but he could become a solid back-up quarterback, especially for the Bears, who are in dire need of a passer.
Keenum could flourish if he landed with a team such as the Bears.
Sixth Round, 175th Overall: Austin Davis, Dallas
Like a few quarterbacks on this list, Davis is a developmental player, but he could succeed once he reaches his potential.
As of right now, the Cowboys have an opening at back-up quarterback after news outlets reported that former Seahawk, Bengal and Cowboy Jon Kitna has set his eyes on retirement. The only other quarterback that remains on the roster is Stephen McGee, who hasn't quite lived up to Jerry Jones' hopes.
In case something happens to the fragile Romo, the Cowboys need to acquire another quarterback through the draft or free agency. I'm thinking that they go the drafting route, as they will likely pay less money and the player will perhaps be with the team longer than a free agent would because of his age.
At Southern Mississippi, Davis was a sensational quarterback who was also multi-dimensional. Over his four-year collegiate career in the south, Davis threw for 10,898 yards, while also accumulating 83 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. He also ran for 1,375 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Davis certainly has the ability to become a quality back-up for the Cowboys, especially if he flourishes in the preseason and McGee falters.
I believe he has the ability to become one of the better quarterbacks that were chosen in the later rounds of the draft.
Sixth Round, 183rd Overall: Kellen Moore, Pittsburgh
The Steelers are in need of a quarterback, even though it's not dire. Pittsburgh currently has Ben Roethlisberger as their starter and even though he's perhaps the toughest quarterback in the league, he's still somewhat fragile. He rarely misses games, but in case that does happen, the Steelers need an option that could help them win games in his absence.
Charlie Batch is currently the team's back-up, but it is unclear as to how much he has left in the tank after being in the NFL for fourteen years. They have two other quarterbacks on the roster in Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, but neither would be able to start on a week-to-week basis, especially Leftwich who is exceptionally injury-prone.
With that being said, the Steelers should use a late-round selection on Moore, who has the most wins in college football history. Moore should go down as one of the best collegiate quarterbacks in history, as he consistently led the Boise State Broncos to success. He clearly had a winning pedigree in college and the Steelers are the very same way in the NFL.
The Steelers are also undoubtedly the best drafting team in the NFL and if Moore is selected by the Steelers, that shows something.
Moore would be a great addition to the Steelers, as he is one of the smartest quarterbacks to enter the NFL Draft over the last decade or so. He is also very accurate, which is something the Steelers pride themselves on.
The former Bronco could thrive as an occasional back-up to Ben Roethlisberger.
Sixth Round, 189th Overall: Darron Thomas, Baltimore
It was a completely stupid decision for Thomas to enter the NFL Draft, as he left way too early and will likely not warrant a high selection. It is also uncertain if he will even play quarterback at the next level and could eventually switch to wide receiver at some point.
In this scenario, I have Thomas going in the late sixth round to the Baltimore Ravens—a team that is really not in desperate need of a quarterback. But, Thomas could learn the system and the Ravens could go back to running a couple of plays in the wildcat formation—most notably with talented running back Ray Rice.
This selection may be questionable, as the Ravens used a draft pick on Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor last year and he and Thomas seem to virtually be the same player.
Personally, I don't think Thomas will ever be a superstar quarterback or the next Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham, but he could become a valuable asset to a team if he stayed as a quarterback.
It just depends on which team uses a selection on him.
Seventh Round, 202nd Overall: Aaron Corp, Kansas City
Corp's journey has been a strange one. The quarterback was originally a commit to USC, where he decided to redshirt the 2007 season, only to enter the 2008 season as a possible back-up, along with former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain, to current Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
At the end of the 2008 season, Sanchez decided to enter the NFL Draft, which led to a quarterback battle between Corp, Mustain and freshman Matt Barkley. Corp was ultimately thought to have won the battle, but suffered a fractured fibula during fall camp and Barkley was awarded the starting job.
Apparently, Corp did not want to a back-up for the Trojans and on Jan. 7, 2010, head coach Pete Carroll announced that Corp was leaving Southern California and transferring to the Richmond Spiders in the Football Championship Subdivision.
In 2010 for the Spiders, Corp played in five games and completed 67 of 123 passes for 645 yards, along with three touchdowns and four interceptions. Last season, Corp was the main man throughout the entire season, completing 247 of 388 passes for 2,682 yards and 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
There is no doubt that Corp is a raw talent and it would take time for him to develop into the quarterback that everyone was hoping for when he left Orange Lutheran High School as a highly-touted prospect.
In this scenario, Corp likely wouldn't see any playing time soon as a healthy Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, Ricky Stanzi and possibly Tyler Palko would be ahead of him on the depth chart. But he could get higher on the depth chart if he flourishes in training camp and in the preseason.
Seventh Round, 223rd Overall: Nate Montana, San Francisco
Yes, I'm calling it. The family legacy lives on by the bay. I should also probably begin by saying that I think the 49ers will win the Super Bowl, which means that they will earn the last selection in each round of the NFL Draft. Anyway, I believe that the second-generation Montana gets chosen with the last pick in the NFL draft (except for the compensatory selections), which is also known as "Mr. Irrelevant."
The younger Montana never lived up to the expectations that followed his father, so he hasn't been as highly-touted as Joe once was.
Montana has rarely played since entering the collegiate level, as he enrolled at Notre Dame following his senior year of high school. He found himself in the lower rungs of the depth chart so instead, Montana decided to leave Notre Dame in 2009 and enrolled at Pasadena City College in southern California. However, in Jan. 2010, Montana re-enrolled at Notre Dame, successfully becoming the third quarterback on the depth chart behind Tommy Rees and Dayne Crist.
As a junior, Montana played three games for the Irish, completing nine for 18 passes for 116 yards and an interception. On Feb. 14, 2011, Montana announced that he was transferring to the FCS school Montana—and since he was going from an FBS school to FCS, he was able to play immediately.
However, he was average at best, completing 26 of 42 passes for 274 yards, along with two touchdowns and one interception.
Like a few quarterbacks on this list, there is no doubt that Montana will be a work in progress. There is also a very good chance that he will never see time on the field, but anything can happen.
There are a few quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft that could get taken with compensatory selections or could get signed as a free-agent after the draft.
* Jacory Harris, Miami (FL)
* Stephen Garcia, South Carolina
* Dominique Davis, East Carolina
* Patrick Witt, Yale
* Zach Collaros, Cincinnati
* Dan Persa, Northwestern
* B.J. Coleman, Chattanooga
* Jordan Jefferson, LSU