For those fans hoping their team will strike gold in April, we have some advice: don’t get your hopes up.
Throughout, the history of the NFL teams have drafted players from NCAA football and molded them to fit the NFL style. This NFL style has always been a great influence on the schemes used in college. However, there has recently been a paradigm shift, and this influence has been turned on its head. Teams from the NFL are now routinely borrowing their ideas from the college rank, with extreme success. This has turbocharged the acclimation process for NCAA quarterbacks.
Now when college quarterbacks come to the NFL, they are essentially running the same schemes as they did in college. Signal callers like Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson have come into the league and set it ablaze.
Fans of bottom feeding teams have taken note of these rookie phenoms and now hold out hope that their team will draft a quarterback who will take them to the playoffs—Immediately. With the overlap in schemes between the ranks this is sound logic. The only problem is that their teams are more likely to get a Brendon Weeden, than a RG3 in this year's draft.
Geno Smith is considered to be the best quarterback in this year’s class. Smith is a great example of the new age NFL quarterback. He is fast and electric with a big arm. After being described like that, it seems like Smith is going to be an NFL star.
Then, why did Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both state that he is not worthy of a top-20 pick?
Some will make the argument that Smith leading his team to a 7-6 season is a good indicator of his NFL success. In this case, Smith has to be given a pass for his team’s poor record (by elite quarterback standards). West Virginia was playing its first season in the BIG 12 and through no fault of Smith's, was out manned talent wise. His numbers this year were outstanding and he is reason why they won the seven games that they did.
The knock on Smith is his lack of the most important trait to an NFL quarterback—ability to go through his progression.
“Going through a progression” simply means looking at your first option, if he is covered, moving on to your second option, and so on. Smith played in an offense that lived on the bubble screen and the short slant (coming off of read option action) or plays in which the quarterback has a predetermined receiver that they are throwing the ball to. Rarely was Smith able to make completions in which his first option was not available. Although some quarterbacks do succeed with this problem (Tony Romo probably being the best example), the odds are stacked against him.
The next quarterback on the board is Matt Barkley, who is next in the line of great USC college QBs. Unfortunately, he shares the negative traits with the last two USC quarterbacks who have underwhelmed in the NFL.
Barkley has an arm similar to Matt Leinart. Considering that Lienart has been glued to the bench for this reason that is not a positive statement. He also shares a trait with the most recent USC QB Mark Sanchez; turnovers.
This year Barkley threw 15 interceptions that helped usher his team out of elite status. Some of those picks were not his fault, but the 15 interceptions could point towards decision making problems in the NFL.
The last quarterback who can stake claim to being elite is Mike Glennon of NC state. Fans of his compare him to Matt Ryan, both who were coached by Tom O’Brien and ran a similar offense.
Well, Mike Glennon, I know Matt Ryan, and you are no Matt Ryan (OK, maybe I don’t know Matt Ryan, but we did have one class together, that counts right?). Matt Ryan took an offense comprised of spare parts to the best record in his school’s history. Mike Glennon led his team to one game over .500. Glennon threw a lot of picks this year, was unable to avoid pressure and completed a pedestrian 58.5 percent passing.
Tom O'Brien compared Glennon to Matt Ryan and this has been the driving force behind his hype. I don’t know about you, but when I look for the driving force behind a quarterbacks success, I want it to be his play, not kind words from his coach.
This year’s draft is a barren wasteland of quarterbacks. Despite the college QBs coming into the league more prepared than ever, there isn’t a QB in this year’s class ready to compete immediately. For teams like the Arizona Cardinals this is awful news. For the fans of such teams it means they should prepare themselves to wait a year.