NFL Draft 2012: 5 Quarterbacks Who Could Sneak Up Draft Boards
At this point, it's a guarantee that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III won't be drafted too high come April. Both have solidified themselves as top flight picks who certainly won't sneak up on anybody.
The depth of this quarterback class is what's up for debate. Regardless of the depth of talent, quarterbacks will be taken off the board following Luck and Griffin III simply because teams will reach for a position that holds so much importance to team success.
They will justify their pick by preaching potential, collegiate production, leadership qualities, or whatever it may be in order to quantify picking a quarterback far higher than was originally expected.
We saw it with Tim Tebow a few years back and last year it was Jake Locker and Christian Ponder who were selected unexpectedly high.
Who are 2012's top candidates to sneak up draft boards before the draft? Continue on to find out.
5. Kellen Moore, Boise State
Kellen Moore makes the top case for production and impressive body of work over elite arm talent. He won the starting job at Boise State as a freshman and never looked back, going on to have one of the best collegiate football careers in NCAA history.
Moore underwhelms with a weak arm and below average size, but he's an intelligent, reliable player who is a great candidate for any team looking to find a quality backup.
Moore's a proven winner and knows how to play within his skills. He also has the mentality to play in the NFL and accuracy to be a serviceable backup.
4. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Brandon Weeden is as NFL-ready as any quarterback prospect on this list, but he's 28 years old. That's an enormous drawback for teams looking for a quarterback to groom for the future, but it improves his stock in the eyes of teams needing an immediate backup at a cheap rookie salary figure.
Weeden is a solid all-around talent that lacks the weaknesses in his game that will deter teams from taking a chance on most quarterbacks in this class. He has the arm strength to hit any throw and the level of accuracy that can be refined and improved to become more consistent.
Ultimately, Weeden may be taken on day two simply because of his experience and his ability to remain calm under pressure. He's a prototypical pocket-passer that has limited potential, but great ability to have an early impact.
3. Russell Wilson, North Carolina State/Wisconsin
Russell Wilson is similar to Kellen Moore in terms of stature; he's a little more built, but slightly shorter. Wilson didn't post the insane production in college as Moore did, but he has a much better arm and is just as adept at stepping into a new situation and becoming a leader starting day one, as we saw when he transferred to Wisconsin.
At North Carolina State, we saw Wilson develop from a scrambler and game manager into a great passer who takes care of the football extremely well, but also has the ability to attack the defense vertically.
Wilson has underrated accuracy and his ability to improve is second to only Robert Griffin III in this class—and we're splitting hairs with that comparison. He always keeps his eyes down field and has a natural feel for the weak points in the defense. Given a good offensive line, Wilson can be a productive starter in the NFL.
2. Nick Foles, Arizona
In my opinion, Nick Foles is one of the most underrated players in this draft class. He had no help at Arizona—his returning linemen had one combined start—but still managed to produce well in spite of that surrounding youth.
Foles has arguably the best arm in this draft class, something that got him into trouble in college, but should be an admired trait once he is playing with professional receivers. He is also incredibly accurate when given time in the pocket. He was seldom given that opportunity in his senior season, but it's easy to see the potential in the Arizona quarterback.
Foles will go as far as he wants to; the natural ability is there. He has a great work ethic, but needs to spend countless hours to understand the scheme he is drafted into. Continuous scheme changes like we saw Alex Smith struggle through in San Francisco would drastically delay Foles' development.
The best-case scenario would be if he's drafted by a team with an aging veteran quarterback where he's given the chance to learn the offense before being thrown into the lineup. Foles could rise as high as Round 1 by April's arrival.
1. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State
Brock Osweiler shocked many when he elected to enter the NFL draft following this season. It was widely believed that he could do wonders for his draft stock if he were to stick around in college another season, but it appears his decision is paying off.
Osweiler is already rising up draft boards and has himself in first-round discussion after previously being thought of as a fringe second day pick. NFL teams are seeing the potential in the 6'7" gunslinger.
Most lankier quarterbacks like Osweiler have an elongated release that deters many teams, but he has a compact release that reminds me of Philip Rivers in some capacity—he also looks a lot like Mark Sanchez.
Osweiler will easily see over any offensive lineman and has the live arm and raw accuracy to make you believe he can do big things at the next level.