Since the current collective bargaining agreement instituted the new rookie wage scale in 2011, we've seen four quarterbacks selected in the first round in each of the past two drafts. Maybe it's too early to call that a trend, but we're certainly headed that direction, and a number of young signal-callers could be selected early in 2013.
But just because a quarterback is rated highly doesn't mean any team with a hole to fill should jump at the chance to call his name on draft day. Here's a look at the best and worst fits for the top draft-eligible prospects.
Best Fit: Kansas City Chiefs—Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll wants to build an offense focused around the deep ball but has never been blessed with the type of quarterback who can make those throws.
Daboll tried to make it work in 2011 with Matt Moore in Miami, when Moore ranked fourth in the league with 26.1 percent of his pass attempts travelling at least 15 yards down the field. And Matt Cassel was throwing one out of every five attempts at least 15 yards before his benching.
This scheme fits Geno Smith perfectly, as he already plays in an offense which likes to stretch the field. Smith isn't an elite prospect, but he could excel in a system which plays to his strengths and Daboll may be the guy to make that happen.
Worst Fit: Arizona Cardinals—Even when Kurt Warner was at the helm, Ken Whisenhunt's offenses have been centered around quick-strike passes rather than a downfield attack.
The Cardinals' offense will be tough for any rookie to pick up quickly, but especially so for Smith, who is used to having time in the pocket to survey the field before attacking the defense with the deep ball.
Best Fit: Arizona Cardinals—Barkley is essentially the opposite of Geno Smith. He lacks the physical tools of an elite NFL quarterback, but the USC trigger man is generally smart with the football and could fit nicely in Arizona if given time to develop.
Ideally, the Cards would be able to keep either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton around for a year in order for Barkley to learn the nuances of their fast-paced offense.
Worst Fit: Kansas City Chiefs—In a lot of ways, Barkley reminds me of Colt McCoy and that's probably the last thing Brian Daboll wants to hear after working with the Browns' QB in 2010.
There are a lot of things Barkley does well, but throwing the deep ball is definitely not one of them. It's a limitation he can deal with at the next level, but only if his coaching staff designs the offense around his skill set. If Daboll and the Chiefs are committed to featuring the deep ball in their offense, then Barkley is not their man.
Best Fit: San Diego Chargers—Bray should return for his senior year, but if he leaves school early he'll need to land with a team capable of bringing him along slowly. He clearly has the raw skills to play at the next level but his decision-making skills are lacking.
The Chargers may be the perfect organization to develop Bray. Like Bray, Philip Rivers was once a talented rookie with a quirky throwing motion who needed time to develop. The Chargers slowly brought Rivers along behind Drew Brees before handing him the keys to the offense.
Worst Fit: New York Jets—The last thing Bray needs is to be thrown into a situation where the fans will be calling for him from Day 1. The Jets are severely lacking talent on offense and any quarterback is going to struggle in that system right now.
If Bray were thrown into the deep end in New York he would drown. The Jets' supporting cast simply isn't capable of helping him ease into the NFL and the fans and media would eat him alive when he inevitably struggled.
Best Fit: Buffalo Bills—Wilson might actually be the most underrated prospect in this draft class, partially due to Arkansas' disappointing season. He's not an elite prospect, but does have the skills to play at the next level and potentially start as a rookie.
In the right situation, Wilson could be this year's Andy Dalton, especially if he lands in an offense where he would be surrounded by some decent talent. The Bills have the playmakers to support a rookie quarterback, and Wilson's decision-making skills are developed enough to handle an offense where he isn't the focal point.
Worst Fit: Jacksonville Jaguars—Wilson needs to land with a franchise that won't ask him to carry the team through a full rebuilding process. Unlike elite prospects such as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Wilson just doesn't have the tools to survive without a supporting cast.
The Jaguars, if they choose to give up on Blaine Gabbert, will be in full rebuilding mode this offseason. There's limited talent on offense and the one valuable piece they have in place, Maurice Jones-Drew, is currently battling an injury and is unhappy with his contract. No rookie wants to be thrust into that situation.
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