The 2013 NFL draft class currently has a large hole at the quarterback position. There is no Cam Newton, no Andrew Luck and definitely no Sam Bradford. With the season underway and conference play approaching, it's time for a quarterback prospect to show himself as the best of the bunch.
Our two contenders: Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas and West Virginia's Geno Smith. Who will be the better NFL quarterback?
Thomas entered the season as my top overall prospect, with the belief that he could develop enough between seasons and over the course of the year to justify his draft position. That hasn't happened yet. Smith, on the other hand, started the year as a late first-round prospect, and he has done nothing but improve his stock.
Geno Smith Scouting Report
The first thing you notice when breaking down Geno Smith is his quick release. He wastes no time or motion in firing strikes. He has the arm strength to make every throw in an NFL route tree, but he has to learn to become a better touch passer. Currently, every throw from Smith is sent at 90 mph.
The West Virginia QB is a good runner, but more so by design than when improvising. He's patient in the pocket and rarely panics. With the size (6'3", 220 lbs) to absorb some hits, Smith can be a threat as a runner in the NFL, but he's more shifty than strong when on the move.
The biggest weakness for Smith is his footwork. He's athletic enough to learn on the fly, but too often he forgets his feet when throwing and relies on his arm alone. He'll need to become more consistent at bringing his feet with him on throws and following through if he hopes to avoid interceptions as a pro passer.
Logan Thomas Scouting Report
The former tight end is a massive man at the quarterback position, and that size and strength are a big part of what adds to the intrigue of Logan Thomas. When a 6'6", 245-pound quarterback can get outside the pocket to make plays, defenders are going to move out of his way.
Thomas is an accomplished runner, but as a pure passer he needs work. The arm talent is there from a mechanical standpoint, but his ball placement and decision-making are spotty. Thomas will go through hot streaks where he looks unstoppable, but then he'll turn around and end drives with bad decisions. He's too inconsistent at this point to be looked at as a finished product and elite quarterback prospect.
There's potential here though—a lot of it. Thomas has similar college traits to Josh Freeman or Ben Roethlisberger, two players who learned on the fly in the NFL and have become better pro quarterbacks than they were in college. The scary part of passing on Thomas is that no one knows if his potential will lead him to becoming a top-five NFL quarterback or a draft bust, a la JaMarcus Russell.
Both quarterbacks have a unique position in this year's draft class, as their best football is clearly ahead of them. It's tough to get a true evaluation on Thomas at this point, as he looks like the type of player who will be a much better pro, similar to Josh Freeman in that regard.
What Smith is doing this year cannot be ignored. We saw Robert Griffin III make a similar rise last year, and anyone denying that Smith is dominating defenses right now is a fool. If Smith can keep up this high performance level through Big 12 play, he will emerge as the top quarterback prospect in the 2013 class and a clear favorite to be the better NFL player.
Our money is on Smith.