2013 NFL Draft: The Top 5 Draft-Eligible Quarterbacks
While the beginning of the 2012 college football season is still three weeks away, it's never too early to start breaking down players who are eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft.
The position that is most publicized and most magnified during the draft process is the quarterback position. Elite signal callers can drastically change NFL franchises in a matter of just a few years.
Several teams will be looking for a franchise quarterback in next April's draft, and there are at least five quarterbacks who will likely be selected in the first two rounds of the draft.
1. Matt Barkley, USC
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Heading into the 2011 college football season, the Stanford quarterback was undoubtedly the best draft-eligible quarterback. This year, that man is Matt Barkley.
After a stellar 2011 campaign in which he threw for 39 touchdowns, Barkley is quickly becoming a can't-miss prospect.
The only knocks on him are his size (6'2), and his arm strength. Of course, Barkley's lack of ideal height is out of his control, but his arm strength can certainly be fixed.
Barkley has reportedly improved his arm strength, and showed it while participating in the Manning Passing Academy, as reported by NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah.
2. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
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While Matt Barkley is widely considered the top draft-eligible quarterback, that title could change.
One quarterback who could unseat Barkley as the top quarterback prospect in the draft is Tyler Wilson. 2011 was Wilson's first season as the starting quarterback for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and he greatly exceeded expectations.
Playing in the always competitive SEC West, Wilson threw for 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He won't wow scouts with his athleticism, but his pocket presence and solid accuracy make him a top 10 overall prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft.
3. Geno Smith, West Virginia
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Geno Smith isn't getting the recognition he deserves, as he isn't even considered a first round quarterback by some. But that will change once Smith's 2012 season begins, as he will be able to showcase his elite skills at quarterback.
Not only is Smith one of the most athletic draft-eligible quarterbacks, but he's one of the most accurate. While he needs to improve his deep ball accuracy, Smith excels in short and intermediate throws.
In fact, Smith may be the most accurate passer on throws under 15 yards. He consistently puts the ball right on the receiver's numbers, so if he can improve his deep throws, he will undoubtedly be a first round pick.
4. Tyler Bray, Tennessee (Junior)
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Out of all of the top quarterbacks eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft, Tyler Bray is the most raw. At 6'5, Bray has the ideal size to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
With the right set of physical tools to be an NFL quarterback, Bray has plenty of potential.
But, that potential has not fully translated to the field. Part of the reason for that is because Bray has struggled to stay healthy. He missed five games in 2011 due to a broken thumb. In order to keep his draft stock as high as it is right now, Bray will need to stay healthy for the whole 2012 season.
He also needs to improve his decision-making this season. Bray routinely stares down receivers and drops his weight back on throws instead of shifting his weight towards the intended receiver.
If Bray can't stay healthy and fails to live up to his potential, he may consider returning to Tennessee for his senior season.
5. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech (Junior)
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Much like Tyler Bray, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has immense potential. Due to his size (6'6, 262 pounds), Thomas has drawn comparisons to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
While Thomas certainly doesn't match Newton in talent, his build is quite similar.
Thomas uses his arm strength to his advantage as he can complete deep throws to anywhere on the field.
Where Thomas struggles is with shorter throws. His slow feet decrease his chances of completing a throw into a tight window. However, footwork can easily be fixed over time. If Thomas can improve his footwork, he will be able to combine that with his quick release, making him a solid all-around passer.
Thomas could easily become the second-best quarterback in the 2013 draft by the end of the 2012 season. While it would be hard for him to become a better prospect than Matt Barkley, Thomas' athleticism and upside could easily put him in the conversation.