Immediately following what could turn out to be the best quarterback class of all time, the 2013 group of rookie signal-callers faced an uphill battle. The way they played this season didn't help their case.
Sure-fire first-rounders in August—the likes of Tyler Bray, Logan Thomas and Matt Barkley—all bungled their way through college football this year, likely costing them all a first-round selection.
But what this class of passers lacks in top-heaviness, it boasts in depth. Starting at the top of Round 2, we could see a lot of quarterbacks fly off the board in rapid succession.
Here's a look at where the top five quarterbacks currently project to go.
Geno Smith, West Virginia: Philadelphia Eagles (4th Overall Pick)
Critics have bemoaned this quarterback class as one of the worst we've ever seen. And you don't have to beachcomb the internet too long to find mock drafts with no QBs going in Round 1.
But count me among the masses who think, at the end of the day, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith will be the cream that rises to the top.
NFL.com's two lead draft writers—Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah—both have Smith going No. 1 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. I don't think he goes quite that high (not with Luke Joeckel on the board and lineman-crazy Andy Reid at the helm), but he won't be around much longer.
He doesn't run like Chip Kelly's cadre of mobile college quarterbacks, but Smith already has good-to-elite accuracy. In Philly's new scheme, the importance of that cannot be overstated.
Mike Glennon, North Carolina State: Jacksonville Jaguars (33rd Overall Pick)
I don't quite see what others do in Glennon, who I believe will be the bust of this year's class. But how fitting would it be to see Jacksonville replace Blaine Gabbert with a bona fide Blaine Gabbert clone?
The lanky passer from N.C. State does have a cannon attached to his right shoulder; no one can reasonably deny that. But he's a statue in the pocket and reckless with his reads—two giant no-nos in the new, quarterback-driven model of the NFL.
Glennon will likely go fairly early, but ultimately I don't believe he will translate to the pro game.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: Kansas City Chiefs (34th Overall Pick)
E.J. Manuel might have won MVP honors during the game, but Tyler Wilson was the best quarterback all week at Senior Bowl practices. Per Rob Rang of CBS Sports:
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.
There are reasons to be wary of Wilson's stock—his inconsistent senior season among the principals—but his upside is too good to ignore.
This is also around the same spot Andy Reid selected Kevin Kolb—a player who, as a prospect, greatly resembles Wilson—six years ago.
Matt Barkley, USC: Arizona Cardinals (38th Overall Pick)
The mighty have fallen, but not as far as some might think.
Yes, Matt Barkley isn't a consensus top 10 pick anymore. And sure, his chances of going No. 1 overall are all but dead. Yet that doesn't mean it's time to hang up the laces.
There's a reason teams were so high on him coming into the season, and though he had a down campaign those reasons haven't gone away. Barkley has a beautiful throwing motion and blue-chip leadership skills—the latter of which is something you can't teach.
His performance at the combine will likely determine where he goes, a fact Barkley acknowledged by calling February's showcase "the biggest test of his life" (h/t Pro Football Talk).
Ryan Nassib, Syracuse: Buffalo Bills (40th Overall Pick)
We all know about the nepotism side of things—that is, new Bills coach Doug Marrone coached Nassib at Syracuse—but the fast-rising signal-caller from West Chester deserves this spot on just his own merit.
That being said, I'd be remiss not to say the Marrone connection won't play at least a small role in this one. Nassib proved that he could manage the former Saints assistant's complicated offense, something that would give him a leg up in training camp.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has proven, time and time again, that he's not the long-term solution under center. With a new staff in tow, he might not get another shot.
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