2012 NFL Draft: Late-Round QB Prospects Jets Must Target

Danny Paskas@DannyPaskasSenior Analyst IMarch 5, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Late-Round QB Prospects Jets Must Target

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    In some people's eyes, New York Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez is unproven, and that's even with two back-to-back AFC championship game appearances. There should be no reason to start looking for a replacement, as he is progressing statistically and may simply need more time to show what he is truly capable of.

    But, when Greg McElroy is your No. 2, it may be time to start looking for a more capable backup.

    After the Jets fulfill their positions of need like safety, pass rusher, offensive lineman and wide receiver, they should start looking for quarterbacks in the later rounds of this year's draft.

    While New York doesn't need a starting quarterback, they can look for a project with flaws. This quarterback can be from a smaller school or lack the ideal size. With Sanchez as the starter, they'll have the time to develop without the pressure that comes with being selected early in the draft.

    Here are five quarterbacks the Jets should keep their eye on in the later rounds.

Russell Wilson

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    As a transfer, spending only one year at Wisconsin, Russell Wilson excelled. He was voted the team captain, the team's most valuable player and the inaugural Big 10 championship game most valuable player. While he was at North Carolina State, he was also voted team captain in 2010.

    In his year at Wisconsin, Wilson passed for over 3,000 yards, 33 touchdowns and compiled a quarterback rating of 191 on the way to leading the team to an 11-3 record and a Rose Bowl appearance.

    Wisconsin narrowly lost the Rose Bowl to Oregon behind a strong performance from Wilson, as he went 19-25, 296 yards and two touchdowns.

    As he is only 5'10'', Wilson's problem is his height. He also has just average arm strength. But he has great pocket presence and has the ability to scramble when he needs to.

    Wilson can be a good pickup for the New York Jets in the later rounds of this draft. He won't challenge Mark Sanchez for the starting job, but he can be in adequate replacement if Sanchez goes out with injury. He should have no problem mastering the offense as he has showed how quickly he was able to grasp Wisconsin's offense after transferring from North Carolina State.

Chandler Harnish

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    Chandler Harnish has the size to be an NFL quarterback, his problem is that he went to Northern Illinois and played in the MAC conference.

    Harnish is a dual-threat quarterback that can pass as well as run. In his senior year at Northern Illinois, he passed for 3,026 yards, threw 28 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for at least 100 yards in five games during the season. Against Western Michigan, he ran for 229 yards. He did all this on the way to winning the MVP of the MAC conference.

    Harnish is worth a look in the later rounds even with the level of competition he faced. Other quarterbacks have came from non-major conferences and have proven that they belong in the league.

Kellen Moore

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    Kellen Moore has two strikes against him coming into this year's draft. He lacks the ideal size and because he played at Boise State, his level of competition might leave a lot to be desired.

    But if the New York Jets can get past those two facts, they'll be getting a very accurate quarterback who knows how to win.

    During his four-year college career at Boise State, Moore has only lost a total of three times. Quarterbacks coming from smaller schools have done well at the next level in the past. Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami University of Ohio is doing just fine while  Steve McNair out of Alcorn State had a decent career.

    Moore is a very accurate passer as his completion percentage in his senior year was 74.3. His accuracy can prove to be invaluable if Mark Sanchez does not work out.

    In his senior year, Moore threw for 3,800 yards, 43 touchdowns and nine interceptions on his way to 124.1 quarterback rating.

    His height is comparable to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. He does though, need to add some muscle to his slight frame. Given the time to develop behind Sanchez, Moore may transform himself into an actual NFL quarterback.

    It still remains to be seen if Moore level get his shot at the next level.

Kirk Cousins

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    Kirk Cousins has a 27-12 record as the starting quarterback at Michigan State. He has earned Big Ten academic honors in all of his four seasons.

    Being a three-year starter, Cousins has a lot of experience in a pro-style offense, which is run at Michigan State. Because of this, he likely is ahead of the learning curve going into the NFL already.

    He has average size and an average arm, but what stands out is his great leadership ability, as he was only the second player to be voted team captain three times in Michigan State history.

    His leadership would be welcomed in the New York Jets locker room that is devoid of it. Even if he doesn't have a shot at taking over for Mark Sanchez, he can be that much-needed, strong voice to lead.

    Cousins would probably have to drop to the later rounds for the Jets to take a chance on him.

Brandon Weeden

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    Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State would possibly be the best quarterback prospect the New York Jets can draft, that is if he falls into later rounds.

    In his senior year, he passed for 4,727 yards, 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a completion percentage of 72.3.

    He also led the team to a 12-1 record and a victory over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. In the Fiesta Bowl, Weeden threw for 399 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

    Weeden comes into the draft at 28-years-old, older than most starters in the NFL. He played in a pro-style offense at Oklahoma State and can immediately serve as a backup role to Mark Sanchez.

    He has the ideal size for an NFL quarterback and throws a tight spiral on his down-the-field passes or short drop-offs.

    He could even challenge Sanchez for the starting job. But that might be unlikely, with all the investment the team has in Sanchez.