Question: What do you get when you take a historically weak QB class, subtract the top two prospects, then spend a full week watching the residuals work out in Mobile, Alabama?
Answer: the 2013 Senior Bowl.
Scouts poured into Ladd Peebles Stadium this week to watch a band of the nation's brightest prospects work out, and no position was more contentious than quarterback. Given the conspicuous absence of Matt Barkley and Geno Smith, many of the players in attendance entered with more questions than answers about their game.
For many of the prospects in Mobile, they left the exact same way. But after a week of grueling practices, NFL personnel men are at least an inkling closer to properly evaluating this year's signal-callers.
Here's how all six quarterbacks have graded out thus far:
Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Billed as one of the fastest rising players in this year's draft, Nassib has recently seen his name mocked as early as eighth overall, where former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and his Buffalo Bills make their first selection.
But he hasn't emerged as a sure-fire first-round guy in Mobile (as some, Marrone ostensibly among them, hoped he would), putting the kibosh on talks about him going in the top 10.
Per Charlie Campbell of Walter Football:
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib has had a disappointing Senior Bowl in the early going. Sources have said that they expected more out of Nassib. They also were disappointed to see a hitch in his delivery that slows down his throwing motion. They did say that they like Nassib's intelligence and confidence. However, Nassib hasn't done enough to make himself a top contender to be the second quarterback selected.
It hasn't been all bad for Nassib, though. B/R's own resident guru Matt Miller (who, admittedly, qualified himself by tabbing the Syracuse QB one of "his guys") has given him high marks this week:
Nassib has thrown the best ball of any North quarterback, outpacing Mike Glennon and Zac Dysert in terms of placement and mechanics. He's the more polished of the three, and it's definitely showing.
But even with Miller on his side, the consensus seems to be that Nassib was a disappointment in Mobile. The degree to which he unimpressed varies, but the first-round hype train—for now at least—has made a pit stop for repairs.
Mike Glennon, N.C. State
One of the most divisive prospects in recent memory, Glennon's performance in Mobile—along with his intrigue as a prospect in general—have run the gamut of opinions.
B/R's Matt Miller continues to sour on the lanky N.C. State passer, saying:
...Glennon's passes have a downward trajectory. That's somewhat normal for a 6'8" quarterback, but this is extreme. When throwing underneath, Glennon's passes far too often are placed below the waist of the receiver. His release point and mechanics need a lot of work.
On my board, Glennon is falling. He looks like a fourth-round pick to me.
As with Nassib, however, Miller's scouting comes in mild contrast to the sources Walter Football has talked to in Mobile this week:
Scouts say that North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon is clearly the best quarterback on the North squad. They like his arm strength and his ability to spin the ball. Glennon hasn't had a dominant week, but his skill set is very intriguing. Seeing him in person has won him more admirers, but there is still an ongoing debate about how high Glennon should go.
I'm not in Mobile this week, and I'm certainly no scouting expert. But my opinion on Glennon has always skewed closer to Miller's. Some are enamored by his height and arm strength, but all I see is an inconsistent ectomorph who accomplished a whole lot of nothing in four years at N.C. State.
But still—this piece isn't about how I feel. It's about how each quarterback has fared in Mobile this week. For Glennon, the consensus on that exhibition seems to be good, not great.
Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio)
The beneficiary of Matt Barkley and/or Geno Smith's absence, Dysert was invited to Mobile and given a shot to verify his gaudy MAC passing numbers. Unfortunately, by almost all accounts, he instead spent the week discrediting them.
Russ Lande of the National Football Post was particularly harsh, saying that Dysert "definitely struggled throughout the week," before elaborating:
Even though he flashed a strong arm on a few throws each practice, most of the time Dysert’s throws lacked good zip. Additionally, he struggled to consistently throw tight spiraling passes. His passes lacked power coming out of his hand and wobbled/fluttered on path to receiver. For such a highly productive college passer, I was surprised at the lack of accuracy on his throws. This week Dysert did not look like a quarterback with the talent to start in the NFL.
Dysert's underwhelming performance did provide one silver lining. Per Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, the Redhawk QB fared better than his peers against pressure:
Dysert is the opposite of Glennon/Jones. He's better working out of chaos than pure drop back stuff. #SeniorBowl— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 24, 2013
He's obviously got plenty to work on, but with his size and ability to shed tacklers in the pocket, it's hard not compare him (however speciously) with another Miami (Ohio) alum—Ben Roethlisberger.
Whether he ever reaches that lofty standard is up for debate, though. And after the week he had in Mobile, that debate is increasingly one-sided.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Wilson entered Senior Bowl Week with, perhaps, the most to prove of any quarterback. He followed a brilliant junior season with a disappointing senior campaign, which had scouts divided on whether he regressed or simply played on a much worse team.
But with the NFL community eager to see how Wilson would perform in a showcase setting, the Razorback signal-caller has thoroughly excelled.
Dave Richard of CBSSports.com rated Wilson the top QB in Mobile this week, saying:
Wilson has been the most consistent and has the smoothest mechanics, so if I had to pick one of the quarterbacks to start a game for my team, he would be the guy.
Wilson didn't take a ton of chances and it resulted in a lot of completions. It feels like he's a bit more of a playmaker with experience in a pro offense and that's enough to make him the best passer here.
His status as top dog under center was further endorsed by a panel of NFL scouts and executives in attendance, who bestowed him the Practice Award for best QB:
@seniorbowl Alabama Power Co. "Practice Awards" were given out: QB Tyler Wilson, RB Stepfan Taylor, WR Quinton Patton, OL Lane Johnson...— Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) January 25, 2013
Perhaps no one summed up Wilson's superlative quite like NFL Network's Mike Mayock, who (per Rotoworld.com) said:
I think what we're seeing right now is that, given the opportunity to come out here with all that baggage gone, I think he's taken advantage of it. I think he's looked real good. ... Wilson's a guy I've heard a lot about this week at night from the coaches and scouts. Because he had such mixed reviews coming off the tough senior season. Came down here, spun it pretty effectively.
With so many NFL teams wanting for competence under center, Wilson could easily slip into the first round. And if he doesn't, he shouldn't be on the board long in Round 2.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma
He's been shielded from widespread vitriol thanks to Matt Barkley, but just like the USC quarterback, Landry Jones damaged his draft stock by returning in 2012.
On the heels of a stellar junior year, he was pegged as a potential first-rounder in last year's historically strong QB class. Now he's seemingly out of the discussion in 2013's historically weak one.
In Mobile, however, he looked every bit the part of a serviceable NFL player.
Though Dave Richard of CBSSports.com ranked Jones behind teammate Tyler Wilson, he called the competition "close," before continuing to laud the array of nice deep passes Jones completed.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com concurred:
Oklahoma's Landry Jones, on the other hand, has looked good according to NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah. Jones can make all the throws and has shown improvement making plays after plays break down.
Jones has the size, arm and mind to succeed at the next level. There's little opposition to these claims. His pocket presence and mobility, however, leave a lot to be desired; he looked markedly worse against pressure this week in Mobile.
Arm skill can make you a Heisman candidate, but against the speed of NFL defenses, it will only take you so far. Without at least the pretense of mobility, Jones could find himself sacked or benched more often than he's standing upright in the pocket—regardless of how well he throws the rock. Don't believe me? Just ask Blaine Gabbert. He knows the drill.
Jones showed enough to warrant a mid-round pick this week, but his weak spots were visibly highlighted. He'll need to prove he can move around a bit before he gets a shot to start.
E.J. Manuel, Florida State
Manuel, blessed with a unique melange of size, speed and arm strength, perfectly fits the new model of NFL quarterbacks. But playing in the league isn't quite that simple. His decision-making and accuracy have always been a question mark, making him one of the most contentious prospects in this year's class.
In like manner, Manuel's performance in Mobile—just like his performance in Tallahassee—earned him mixed reviews.
Shutdown Corner editor Doug Farrar praised the former Seminole as Team South's top passer on Wednesday:
It all came together during the Wednesday South team practice, and Manuel looked a cut above fellow quarterbacks Landry Jones and Tyler Wilson. He made several throws across his body with accuracy and velocity, and showed nice touch on a deep seam throw. Add in his ability to run boot action and read option packages, and Manuel starts to look a bit more like the kind of player the right kind of team could build an offense around.
Farrar also proceeds to quote a couple NFL personnel men (including Philadelphia's Howie Roseman, whose new coach Chip Kelly is sure to be intrigued by Manuel's tools) who noted how impressive Manuel has, at times, looked this week. But Dave Richard of CBSSports.com wasn't quite as smitten:
Between some issues with his throwing style and his decision making, Manuel's weaknesses outweigh his potential.
He also has a strong arm and can push the ball downfield but he was iffy in drills all week. He's not close to being a starter in the NFL and his drafting will be done by a team that thinks they can mold him into a major threat.
It's a little unnerving to see such harsh words put in print, but that Manuel was able to impress some NFL men at the Senior Bowl is enough to deem the week a tepid success. The evolving nature of NFL football is sure to exacerbate interest in Manuel's game, so as long as his workouts aren't loaded with pratfalls, he could well be given a chance.