Ranking the Top 10 Quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft Class
There is no Andrew Luck on this list, nor is there Robert Griffin III, at least not on the surface. As we rank the quarterbacks of the 2013 NFL draft, there is no leader in the clubhouse—yet. Opinions are all over the place.
As NFL draft analysts, it is our job to evaluate what makes players transcendent, especially at the most important position in football. We evaluate and identify, then initiate an annual groupthink-punditry on cue around this time every year.
There is no groupthink in 2013, however—at least not at the QB position. It is every analyst for himself/herself.
Every player on this list comes with a little clue—some small glimpse into their future—a benchmark from which we can reasonably derive expectations. It is what we do with that clue that is important.
As Senior Bowl practices loom large in our near future, we have a few things to sort out. This list will very likely change after one week in Mobile, Ala., but this is today, and here we are.
Before I punch my ticket to Ladd-Peebles Stadium and 2013 Senior Bowl Week, I want my initial thoughts on record. Approximately 10 quarterbacks get drafted every year, and if the NFL draft occurred tomorrow, this is how I would be taking them.
10. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Weight: 230 pounds
Something tells me Landry Jones is going to come into Mobile at the Senior Bowl and turn some heads.
Jones is a tall, well-put-together specimen looking every bit capable of thriving in a pro-style attack. I know Jones all too well, though, living in Big 12 country. He's indecisive, and his game breaks down under duress.
If you give Jones enough time, he is smart enough and accurate enough to hurt you, though.
He's the epitome of a practice all-star. He's going to look great against the vanilla one-high safety looks he will face exclusively during his week of practices at the Senior Bowl, and I won't be one to buy into the subsequent hype.
9. Matt Scott, Arizona
Weight: 220 pounds
Matt Scott is apparently showing up at Shrine Game practices this week and may be making some money for himself.
Scouts will like how quickly Scott was able to catch on to Rich Rodriguez's spread offense in 2012, and I like the fact that he is a teammate. Instead of bailing at the first sign of adversity, Scott stayed in school at Arizona, despite losing his job to current Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles.
Scott took a redshirt in his senior season and burst back onto the scene in 2012 like gangbusters. Scott has a good enough arm, great feet and the ability to pose a real threat as a ball-carrier in the zone-read attack.
Scott is patient in setting up screen plays and is very obviously a smart player who loves football. He is a player we will see creeping up draft boards as April gets closer.
8. Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Weight: 215 pounds
Bray is a long, skinny passer who slings the ball a little bit harder than it looks due to the length of his lever.
Bray lets his body loose through his release and generally keeps excellent balance from snap to dropback. His ease of movement is good in this phase—his eyes stay downfield, and he can hit his receivers in stride, sometimes even being able to throw a receiver open on a second read.
Sometimes, he gets a little too smart, though. This leads to indecisive throws and picks.
As good as Bray looks during his dropback, it's how he looks once he drops back that's unsettling. For all the balance that exists through his initial cadence, his delivery is inconsistent to say the least. While he can zip the ball around from any position due to natural strength and ability, the position he throws from is often hard to predict and messy.
Any scout will tell you athleticism starts in the feet and moves up. I worry about Bray's feet at certain times in the pocket.
7. Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio)
Weight: 240 pounds
Zac Dysert is a big player with a big arm, and it is hard to get away from fellow Miami of Ohio alum Ben Roethlisberger comparisons when evaluating his skill set as a quarterback.
Big Ben's signature trait is his escapability, and Dysert has it. While he doesn't seem like the most mobile athlete on the field, like Roethlisberger, he extends plays. He feels pressure, fends off opposition and can glide to open space.
The rest of the time, he gets wrecked. Dysert is the only quarterback I have evaluated in the 2013 draft who seems to take it on the chin more often than Mike Glennon.
Dysert is going to need to show that he can make more throws than just the easy first reads, which he will be able to do against the Senior Bowl's remedial defensive packages allowed. He has a body and overall package that teams will be very interested in kicking the tires on.
6. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Weight: 220 pounds
Tyler Wilson is pretty good across the board. He has good size, good accuracy and a fairly good arm. He has a good drop but a delivery that is unorthodox at best and awkward at worst.
I worry about his stubbornness. Wilson will sit and sit and sit in the pocket until he gets creamed trying to find a place to put the ball. It is the opposite of Blaine Gabbert's bailout disease. While a QB like Gabbert looks for the first opportunity to escape the pocket, Wilson hunkers down for the long haul.
It often results in him getting blasted and sometimes concussed.
Wilson has a little bit of a "gunslinger" mentality that I personally like to watch as a fan, but I'm not sure how much scouts love this trait. It is the Brandon Weeden, Tony Romo and Brett Favre gene that leads to some dazzling plays but also crucial mistakes.
5. Mike Glennon, N.C. State
Weight: 232 pounds
Glennon is a pure pro-style passer who was highly recruited coming out of high school. He is always making good reads across the intermediate lanes of the play call and has a penchant for putting the football into good, tight spots between the hashmarks.
He's good throwing against man coverage and "going up against" a DB. That's what comes naturally.
Glennon has one of the best, if not the best arm in the 2013 NFL draft—and there are a lot of things about his game that scouts are going to fall in love with.
When his pocket is clean, Glennon shines. It's a five-step drop, and the ball's off. He has put nearly every NFL ball on tape during his ACC-leading 2012 season and is clearly a smart player, operating in a system that utilizes more than a few advanced NFL-like concepts.
The problem I always observed in Glennon was his absolute melting down in the pocket when pressure came. Many times, Glennon looked like a Drew Bledsoe statue, not feeling a rush. His mechanics oftentimes go out the window with the slightest degradation of the pocket.
He can't seem to escape pressure and has trouble manipulating the pocket when things break down.
Glennon is growing on me, though. I was having a conversation about him today with my radio co-host, and he disagreed with me. He said that while Glennon is not as mobile as a sneaky Joe Flacco was coming out, he has shown some things—even against a filthy FSU defense.
As you go through the tape, you can see little pieces of evidence that Glennon might have the tools to overcome his biggest problem—trouble sensing and evading the pass rush:
First play: slides, evades sack, incomplete.
3:45—moves well, resulting completion.
5:10—moves well in pocket but ends up throwing a horrible ball off his back foot.
5:30—moves well in pocket but ends up throwing an inaccurate ball he hurls his body into.
5:40—good awareness; moves very well, resulting in a nice completion.
7:15—steps back to buy time and drops off nice completion.
7:40—slides then hops away from pressure to throw nice completion.
9:42—great example of mobility in the pocket to move; steps up and makes a great completion.
4. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Weight: 230 pounds
Very simply, Ryan Nassib has put every NFL throw on tape and has had a very good senior season from an evaluation standpoint. Any throw that any team (the Buffalo Bills or otherwise) will want to see resides in the film.
Coming from a very conceptual version of the West Coast offense in Syracuse, Nassib flourished under new Bills head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. They run a variation (ironically) of the old Jim Kelly K-Gun offense that is designed to make a quarterback "comfortable"—but only a smart one.
Nassib has a clean, quick release and can throw on the run. He exhibits strength and balance through his core that allow him to absorb contact fairly well.
Nassib is a substantial player who just looks thick. He is underrated as an overall athlete and should test very well in Indy and impress scouts in Mobile.
3. Matt Barkley, USC
Weight: 230 pounds
I've always thought Matt Barkley would develop into a very good NFL quarterback, and I am not changing my tune now.
I love the timing, pace, rhythm and cadence of his dropback. In this aspect, Barkley has no rivals in the 2013 NFL draft. I love his presence in the pocket, leadership and toughness. He will absolutely kill his interviews and impress the pants off of numerous teams. When I think of Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez coming out of USC, I never recall this sort of focus.
I certainly never recall this sort of attention to detail in the fundamentals of the game and overall presentation—not from either of the aforementioned USC flops who preceded Barkley and whose stinky, rag-armed shadows he has to reside in for now.
Sometimes your eyeballs just tell you. Ask any scout. Test No. 1 is the eyeball test. Barkley passes it and then some. A few extra interceptions in a lost season behind a bad offensive line aren't going to sway me too much.
Even in a "down" season—and having missed a game—Barkley led the Pac-12 in touchdowns and yards per attempt while setting a career record for total touchdowns.
Some bullets for the resume next to the 20-plus USC records he has shattered.
2. E.J. Manuel, Florida State
Weight: 240 pounds
People say that stats are for losers, but inaccurate quarterbacks are for losers, too.
E.J. Manuel is accurate. Six of the 10 players on this list will be in attendance at the Senior Bowl, and every single one of them will have the opportunity to distinguish themselves in front of all 32 NFL staffs next week.
Of those six players, Manuel comes in as the most accurate. He is also the most physically imposing and the most dangerous to defend against in the open field when the pocket breaks down.
Manuel keeps his eyes downfield through pressure and is a pass-first QB despite his billing as a dual threat. He displays good, clean footwork and super-slick ball fakes in the play-action game. He delivers the ball on time with a naturally high delivery.
Manuel throws a ball that just seems easy to catch, and he has a clear understanding of intermediate timing routes. His issues come in deep outs and daggers—the same routes that everyone doubted Ryan Tannehill would be able to throw coming out in 2012.
As we come upon Senior Bowl week, I feel like a team will be drafting the next Daunte Culpepper in E.J. Manuel.
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
Weight: 220 pounds
It's not clear that Geno Smith is the best quarterback in this draft; it's just clear that it's very hard to put anyone else above him.
Smith simply represents too much upside. It's cliche to talk about the evolution of NFL offenses, so I'm sorry to say that NFL offenses are evolving. A player with Smith's explosive potential both through the air and with his feet is like a big gold bar in today's NFL.
He's the kind of player one has to take a chance on.