Geno Smith is the best quarterback in the 2013 NFL draft class, but he isn't without fault. While he does possess many strengths that will serve him well, he isn't bereft of some glaring weaknesses.
Smith isn't alone, either.
Draft experts have lamented all winter long that this year's draft class isn't stocked with pro-ready quarterbacks. Recently Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey made a telling statement that supported these laments, via the Kansas City Star's Adam Teicher:
There is no quarterback where personnel guys can definitely say, ‘He’s a first-round pick.’ There were so many inconsistencies in the collective group. There was not one guy that stood up and said, ‘I’m the guy in the position this year.’ There really wasn’t one clear-cut guy. There are too many technical flaws, scheme flaws.
After making a statement like this, it seems clear that the Chiefs will look to draft a non-quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.
So, what is the deal with the top quarterbacks if this year's draft class?
Geno Smith, West Virginia
Smith looked like he was going to be a lock as the No. 1 overall pick through the first half of the 2012 college season. He threw 25 touchdowns without throwing a single interception in his first six games, seemingly a god amongst mortals.
Then, in the final seven games of the season, Smith came back down to earth, throwing 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
West Virginia went 7-6 after starting out the season 5-0, and Smith's draft stock took a huge hit.
Here's what he brings to the table:
- Good (but not great) size, at 6'3" and 220 pounds.
- Strong arm, but he's no Joe Flacco.
- Athletic enough to move around in the pocket, roll out and make plays under pressure.
- Does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield, even under pressure.
- Highly accurate, especially on medium-range throws.
- While Smith is athletic, he's not fast enough to run away from defenders.
- Poor touch on shorter throws.
- Poor pocket awareness.
- Locks on to his primary receivers and doesn't progress through his reads consistently.
- Played primarily in a shotgun offense.
Essentially, Smith is a raw pocket passer who has great arm talent, but who will struggle to manage an NFL offense. If he were thrust into a starting role right away, I'd be worried about him getting sacked a lot and about him throwing a lot of interceptions.
While he's capable of making big plays with his arm, I'd expect a Smith-led offense in 2013 to have a really tough time converting many first downs.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Wilson took a step back in 2012 after a phenomenal junior campaign in 2011.
Many of his struggles can be traced to the fact that Arkansas floundered badly as a program after the Bobby Petrino debacle and the fact that he lost two of his top receivers to the 2012 NFL draft, but there's no doubt Wilson brings his own demons to the NFL.
Wilson completed 63.2 percent of his passes in 2011, passing for 3,638 yards with 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
He followed it up in 2012 by completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 3,387 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Here's what Wilson brings to the NFL:
- Terrific arm strength. There isn't a throw Wilson can't make, though, like Smith, he doesn't have an A-plus arm.
- Quick feet in the pocket. Wilson sets his feet well when he has time.
- Good touch on his passes, and when he needs to, he can fit the ball into some tight windows.
- Throws well on the run to both sides of the field.
- A natural leader with great intangibles.
- Calm under pressure.
- Wilson makes some horrible decisions at times, thinking he can beat tight coverage (think Tony Romo).
- Inconsistent mechanics cause him to be highly inaccurate at times.
- Takes too many sacks.
- Throws off his back foot far too often.
Wilson has the tools to become a successful NFL quarterback, but he displays outrageously bad judgment at times. His touchdown/interception ratio was not acceptable last year, and he'll need to spend a lot of time in the film room studying before he's ready to start in the NFL.
Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
A three-year starter at Syracuse, Nassib improved every year under Doug Marrone. He finished his senior season having completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,749 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
There was some speculation that the Bills might be interested in taking him with the No. 8 overall pick for a while, but Nassib's stock has cooled off significantly since then.
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net divulged this bit of information back on January 23, when Senior Bowl practices were in full session, "We’ve been told the Buffalo Bills are not as high on Ryan Nassib as most presume. In fact we’ve heard their scouts don’t even rank him as the best quarterback in Mobile."
Here's what Nassib brings to the table:
- Athletic enough to make plays with his legs if he needs to.
- Nassib possesses a strong arm, and he isn't afraid to stick the ball into tight windows.
- Good basic mechanics and a short throwing motion that doesn't waste any energy.
- Keeps his eyes downfield at all times.
- Accurate passer most of the time, and he has excellent anticipation.
- Plenty of experience behind center.
- Struggles with decisiveness. Doesn't do a good job of throwing the ball away under pressure.
- Doesn't do a great job progressing through his reads.
- Poor touch on short and intermediate passes.
- Doesn't have ideal measurables (6'2" and 231 pounds with short arms).
Nassib isn't going to be drafted in Round 1. He just doesn't possess enough elite qualities to go that high. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah recently compared him to Ryan Fitzpatrick coming out of college, which isn't the kind of endorsement quarterbacks are looking for.
There's a chance Nassib could prove us all wrong, but at this point, he isn't ready to start in the NFL.
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