For the 2013 NFL Draft, quarterback may be the most intriguing and least agreed-upon of all the positions.
Quarterbacks are incredibly hard to rank because many them have a lot of talent, but just don't stick in the NFL. Some are just drafted by horribly bad teams, and rushed into a situation which hinders their development and ultimately ruins their career (see: Carr, David).
Others flourish in a certain system, a system where another equally talented but altogether different quarterback would have failed. And just by the nature of the position, quarterbacks sometimes sputter because they simply can't handle pressure.
It's incredibly easy to look at how well a quarterback plays in college in the middle of October against an average defense, but it's exceptionally difficult to predict how that same quarterback will perform in an NFL road playoff game in the freezing cold up in Green Bay or New England.
That big-game quality, regardless of talent, is what ultimately makes a quarterback and their career. That is the difference between Tony Romo and Eli Manning, two quarterbacks with relatively similar talent who just respond to pressure differently. One might also argue that is the difference between two all-time greats in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
So all of those things have to be taken into account when ranking quarterbacks for the draft. With that in mind, here are my top five quarterbacks in this year's NFL Draft.
For most of the season, Ryan Nassib was a relative unknown to most people in football. However, because of my friend Eric Galko over at Optimum Scouting, Nassib has been on my radar for awhile now.
Nassib went and beat West Virginia in the Pinstripes Bowl, performed relatively well in the Senior Bowl and now he's being thrown around as a first-round pick.
The more I've seen of Nassib, the more I've liked what he brings to the table. He's only about 6'2", but is able to put a lot of zip on short-to-intermediate throws, especially over the middle of the field. He does, however, lack the ability to make strong throws down the field, which will be a concern for some teams.
The senior is also an underrated athlete, and is both solidly built and surprisingly nimble. He can move around a bit and is a threat to pick up some yards if he gets out of the pocket.
Nassib's timing and anticipation are also exceptional, but easy to overlook because of how bad most of his receivers were. Nassib often put the ball in the perfect place at the exact right time, but his receiver wouldn't be up to speed, and it showed up as an incomplete in the stats column.
If he lands in the right situation, I think Nassib could be a very good starter for years to come.
Mike Glennon is still a bit of a mystery for a lot of people, including myself, due to his maddeningly inconsistent play. He comes in at 6'6", 220 lbs., and his frame and arm strength have drawn a lot of comparisons with Joe Flacco.
I don't think, however, that Glennon has the accuracy that Flacco possesses, and he certainly is less athletic than Flacco is. I don't think Glennon is as slow as others do, he looks pretty fluid in his movements, it's just that he doesn't move quickly enough and has almost no escapability whatsoever.
Glennon shows very good footwork and drives through the ball well when there's a clean pocket. But under pressure, his mechanics suffer and his accuracy is poor.
He just doesn't seem to have that "it" factor which would help pull together all of his physical abilities and make him the complete package. But his potential will make a team take a shot on him, probably in the first round, although he'd be better suited to go in the second.
The most hyped prospect at the beginning of the college football season, Matt Barkley has seen his stock drop tremendously in the past few months.
I don't think Barkley should have taken quite as big of a hit as he has in most scouts' rankings, but the flaws in his game were evident all season. He isn't a particularly good athlete, and doesn't have a very live arm.
He does have a ton of experience in a pro-style offense, and his accuracy and touch on shorter throws are elite. But while he has the strength to get the ball down field, he usually compromises accuracy in order to air it out.
Barkley also made a surprising number of mental errors this past season and went through phases where he struggled with accuracy, especially against the blitz.
But he has a lot of experience, is used to handling pressure and just has an impeccable mental makeup, which is huge for a quarterback. If he's put in a West Coast offense where he has a great offensive line, I think Barkley will be very successful in the NFL.
Until Johnny Manziel stole the spotlight, the most polarizing player in college football was Geno Smith. He put up some absurd numbers early in the season, and as quickly as Barkley's stock fell, Smith's rose, to the point where people were calling him an absolute lock as the first overall pick.
But I tried not to just buy into the hype, and while Smith should still get taken in the first round, he's not nearly as highly thought of now as he was in mid-October.
His best games came against poor defenses, and as the season wore on, it was evident that a lot of his numbers were inflated by huge runs after-the-catch by the explosive receiving duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
In fact, if he wasn't blessed with perhaps the second-best wide receiver duo in college football, I'd be willing to bet that those early-season blowouts wouldn't have been so significant and he wouldn't have gotten all of the attention which is still carrying him a little bit here.
There's no questioning his arm talent; Though he needs to work a little on his touch passes, I think Smith has a fantastic arm and can make nearly every NFL throw already at this stage. But I see him breaking down in the face of pressure too often, and his performance and general composure suffered against better competition.
He still has the skills to be a great quarterback: the arm, athleticism and intelligence are all there. But he hasn't yet shown the ability to really carry his team when they need him most, and that'll be the biggest question mark moving forward.
Let me put this out there first: As a prospect, Tyler Wilson is no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. But with this year's crop of quarterbacks, there is no real standout guy, no guaranteed franchise quarterback, no can't-miss talent.
But if I had to pick one for my team, I'd go with Wilson over Smith. There's something about toughness and leadership that is hard to see sometimes, and even harder to explain, but I see it a lot more in Wilson than I do in Smith.
I think Smith is a better athlete than Wilson. I think he probably has a little better arm than Wilson. But Wilson showed, time and time again, that he could step up in the pocket and make a big throw when his team needed it.
He never backed down to pressure, and would make sure he got off his release at the right time even if it meant taking a big hit. In a tumultuous season for Arkansas football, Wilson helped pull his team through the hard times.
Wilson had a very good week at the Senior Bowl, which could be just the first push to get the ball rolling for Wilson becoming the first quarterback selected in April.