In the upcoming 2012 NFL draft, the top two quarterbacks are as clear cut as they possibly could be, those two obviously being Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin. However, aside from the two standout guys, there are several other quarterbacks meriting serious attention.
It is worth noting, that out of the current top quarterbacks in the NFL, very few were the first quarterback selected in their draft class. Those being Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and recently Andy Dalton and even TJ Yates, who led his team to a playoff victory. So, clearly, there is significant talent beyond the top one or two quarterbacks.
So, here are the top five quarterbacks eligible for the 2012 NFL draft not named Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.
6. Nick Foles: Arizona
7. Case Keenum: Houston
8. Kellen Moore: Boise State
9. BJ Coleman: UT-Chattanooga
10. Austin Davis: Southern Miss
Russell Wilson is an excellent prospect. A good baseball player, he is giving up a contract with the Colorado Rockies to pursue football in the NFL.
First, the positives. Wilson has a cannon for an arm, and has shown the ability to fit the football into tight windows. He has great speed, running consistently in the mid 4.5 range in the 40.
Building off that, Wilson is a very creative quarterback who can make plays outside the pocket and improvise by using his feet. He's a natural playmaker, and that should help him at the next level.
The main knock against Wilson is his height. He's under 5'11, which is extremely short to play quarterback in the NFL. This is going to turn a lot of scouts away, and will cause Wilson to fall in the draft. Had he been a few inches taller, he'd be a first-round pick.
I may have Wilson rated slightly higher than many do, but I think he'll surprise a lot of people. He should be a mid-round pick when the draft rolls around.
Being a fan of the Big Ten, I got to see a lot of Kirk Cousins this past season, and I was impressed with what I saw. Cousins' main attribute is that he is a very accurate passer who doesn't turn the ball over often, shown by him only throwing seven interceptions all of last season.
Cousins did struggle at times last year, specifically against the tough defense of Nebraska, but the style of offense he was playing in limited his potential to put up big numbers. Cousins kind of reminds me of Alex Smith, in that he won't wow you with huge plays and crazy stats, but he'll manage the game for you and will always give you a chance to win.
Cousins would benefit from playing on a team with a strong defense and a good running back. Let him manage the game for you, a la Alex Smith, and he'll be a very successful starter at the next level in a few years. Look for him to go off the board somewhere around the third round.
Osweiler is a big quarterback, out of the mold of Ryan Mallett. He stands at 6'7" and more than 240 pounds. However, unlike Mallett, Osweiler has the ability to make plays with his feet, as he possesses good speed and mobility in the pocket which is always a plus, especially for a quarterback of his size.
And as you'd expect with his stature, he has an excellent arm which will definitely help him to succeed in the NFL.
I'm not sure if Osweiler has the tools to be a starting quarterback in the NFL right away. I see him more as a work in progress who needs to sharpen and hone his skills for a few years before he's ready to be a starter. Still, any time you're 6'7", run a 4.7 and have a good arm, there's always a shot for you to do well at the next level.
I really struggled with going back and forth between Osweiler and Weeden for the No. 2, or No. 4 overall spot. However, I really like Weeden's game and maturity, so he gets the nod. The positives on Weeden are that he is extremely accurate, completing 72 percent of his passes last season, a crazy number no matter what system you play in.
Weeden is deadly when given time to sit back in the pocket, because along with his accuracy he has a solid arm and underrated mobility within the pocket. He absolutely has the tools to be a good starter in the NFL.
The one big negative on Weeden is his age. Weeden is 28 years old, so he's already lost about six years of time in the NFL due to his prior career as a baseball player. If Weeden were 22 he'd be considered an elite prospect. I'm afraid that a lot of teams will pass on Weeden because they won't want a guy who's nearly 30 with no NFL experience.
I think someone will give Weeden a shot as high as the late second round. If he could step in and become a starter as a rookie, he could give your team a solid eight to 10 years at quarterback, which is great no matter who you are.
I think Ryan Tannehill has a good chance to be a very solid starter in the NFL. First, he has excellent size at 6'4" 220 pounds, and runs in the low 4.6s, so his mobility certainly is good enough. He has great athletic ability and a solid arm. Tannehill would probably go lower in a different draft, but due to the landscape at quarterback he's bumped up to the first round.
Tannehill is still a little bit raw in my mind. He still needs to work on his mechanics and decision making. He definitely needs to be developed, but I think that he absolutely has the tools to succeed. He just needs to be drafted by the right team, with a good coaching staff to help him.
Tannehill may not be great yet, but the potential is there. Look for a team to pick him in the mid to late first round.