A Full Scouting Guide to the Top Quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft

Ryan RiddleCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2013

A Full Scouting Guide to the Top Quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft

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    For this scouting breakdown I studied, surveyed and analyzed the top nine quarterbacks in the 2013 draft class.

    The purpose was to break down the strengths and weaknesses of each QB in direct comparison to one another. 

    Each of the nine QBs was graded on key components of the quarterback position using thorough tape study, advanced statistics and collecting input from people I trust. By pooling together these resources I was able to better determine both the best and worst QBs at each of the 11 critical categories. 

    The categories are as follows: size, scrambling ability, pocket presence, ability under pressure, toughness, arm strength, intermediate and deep accuracy, improvisational skills, decision-making and best footwork. 

    The nine quarterbacks who were considered in this breakdown are: Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, Zac Dysert, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, E.J. Manuel, Mike Glennon, Tyler Bray and Landry Jones. 

    So without wasting any more of your precious attention-span, let's get straight to it. 

QBs with Prototype Size and Build

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    Winner: E.J. Manuel

    With an ideal height of 6'4" and weighing in at nearly 240 pounds, Manuel has more than just a couple of good measurements; his build is highly functional of a man who is in great physical condition.

    He has the length to find NFL passing lanes and the thickness to take a beating. 

    Runner-up: Tyler Bray

    Though similar in height/weight to Mike Glennon, Bray carries more girth to his frame than does Glennon and appears to be better equipped to handle the punishment with the extra padding on his bones.

    Bray is one of the taller QB prospects at 6'5" and 215 pounds. 

    Worst: Matt Barkley

    Keep in mind Matt Barkley's height issues aren't as bad Russell Wilson's, and the Seattle quarterback still had a fantastic rookie season.

    However, of the nine quarterbacks to choose from, Barkley is clearly the shortest prospect. Historically, height has been a factor in poor quarterback play. 

    Barkley measures in at 6'2", which is just tall enough to avoid being a major problem. He does carry a good amount of weight with his frame, and his size is unlikely to be a real setback at the next level. 

Best Scrambling QBs

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    Winner: E.J. Manuel

    This is Manuel's second consecutive first-place nod. Any team that prioritizes mobility in its quarterback should certainly give E.J. a very close look. He may not be a Michael Vick, Cam Newton or Robert Griffin III—but he has the legs and athleticism to escape pressure and pick up first downs. 

    Manuel is a pass-first QB who seems intent on establishing himself as a true pocket passer.

    His running ability is used more as a "in case of emergency" type of skill, but the good news is that it's there when he needs it. Last year he rushed for over 300 yards and four rushing touchdowns. 

    Runner-up: Zac Dysert

    Dysert is a scrappy guy with a lot of heart. His effort pops out big on tape, and he is often forced to take off running to avoid being destroyed by unblocked defenders.

    He's not overly fast or athletic, but he does have the courage to gain a few extra yards at all costs.

    Worst: Tyler Bray

    Bray might be the least mobile quarterback of the nine being considered.

    He has slow feet and will almost always throw the ball away rather than take off running. Besides, if he did decide to run he likely wouldn't get far before being taken down by a 300-pound defensive tackle. 

    Runner-up: Mike Glennon

    Glennon is never going to be a guy who will beat a team with his legs. He prefers to stay behind his linemen where it's safe and much more predictable. This awkwardly lanky prospect also lacks the athletic ability and coordination to become a proficient scrambler. 

QBs with the Best Pocket Presence

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    Winner: Matt Barkley

    Barkley is savvy when it comes to stepping up or to the side in the pocket to avoid pressure. Having played in a West Coast offense, Barkley must contend much more with the struggles of holding onto the ball to allow time for his progressions.

    For a guy who had to hold onto the ball longer than most shotgun and pistol teams, he was impressive at avoiding sacks, allowing one every 27 pass attempts. 

    Runner-up: Tyler Wilson

    Wilson was under pressure constantly in 2012, yet his quick feet and great instincts to feel pressure allowed him to buy time while keeping his eyes downfield

    Worst: Mike Glennon

    Glennon is pretty much a statue in the pocket and seems to lack the ability to sense pressure and get out of the way. As a result, he was sacked about once every 15 pass attempts on average.  

    Runner-up: Tyler Bray

    Bray is an example of a guy who may not get sacked often but still lacked pocket presence. He showed little ability to move around in the pocket, and when pressure came he often backed up and either threw the ball away or up for grabs. 

Best QBs Under Pressure

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    Winner: Tyler Wilson

    Wilson seems to be unfazed by pressure or getting hit, which is something he had to contend with quite often in 2012.

    His poise and ability to keep his eyes downfield are impressive and should translate well at the next level. 

    Runner-up: Geno Smith

    Geno is another QB who has demonstrated tremendous poise in the pocket.

    Pressure rarely causes him to make a poor decision, and he has a knack for maintaining his cool and not panicking. It's these qualities that helped him throw for over 4,000 yards with only six interceptions in 2012. 

    Worst: Landry Jones

    In a discussion with me, Ryan Lownes, who is an analyst for Draftbreakdown and fellow columnist for Bleacher Report, talked about how Landry gets jittery with his mechanics and panics.

    Once this happens, Jones often fails to reset and throw accurately. 

    Runner-up: Mike Glennon

    Glennon's lack of pocket awareness, as discussed in the previous slide, naturally contributes to his poor showing under pressure.

    Lownes and I both agree, however, that Glennon isn't afraid to stand in there and take a hit. When he does get those balls off, they often land either in the dirt or in the hands of the opposing defense. 

The Toughest QBs

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    Winner: Tyler Wilson

    When I put out feelers to the "draftnik" community via Twitter asking people who the toughest quarterback in this draft is, the responses were overwhelmingly in favor of Tyler Wilson.

    This kid has taken more than his fair share of licks, yet he continues to get up, dust himself off and just keep keep on firing away. 

     

    Tyler Wilson. RT @ryan_riddle: When you think leadership & toughness in this draft class what quarterback comes to mind?

    — Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 21, 2013

     

    Runner-up: Zac Dysert

    As I mentioned earlier, Dysert is a tough, scrappy quarterback who played with a less-than-adequate supporting cast yet never gave up and continued to compete all season long. 

    Worst: Tyler Bray

    Bray is a guy who just failed to show much toughness on tape.

    He avoided hits and all cost and did not impress with any displays of unwavering competitiveness. 

    Runner-up: Landry Jones

    Jones never showed the type of toughness or fire you'd like to see in a quarterback giving up his body to win a game.

    He may have tremendous talent with his arm but compared to other QBs on the list, he simply fails to stand out in regards to toughness. 

QBs with the Strongest Arms

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    Winner: Mike Glennon

    Well, it's finally time for Glennon to emerge from the basement and take center stage in this category.

    This may be the most defining aspect to Glennon's game and his most attractive skill as an NFL prospect. It's no secret that Glennon has a cannon for an arm.

    His velocity allows him to attack tight windows in coverage, and he's widely seen as a guy capable of making every throw on the field. 

    Runner-up: Tyler Bray

    It's interesting watching Bray throw the ball because you usually see him relying exclusively on the strength of his arm.

    Unfortunately this has led to some poor mechanics and footwork, which we'll discuss later. 

    Teams looking for a true arm talent capable of launching the ball 80-plus yards off of his back foot (joking) should give Bray a closer look. 

    Worst: Matt Barkley

    Barkley's deep balls tend to float and drop out rather than slice through the air like a dart. Arm strength is not necessarily a major weakness for him, but when compared to the other QBs his zip seems to be lacking the most.   

Most Accurate Deep Ball QBs

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    Winner: Zac Dysert

    According to SecondRoundStats, Zac Dysert had the highest completion percentage of passes over 20 yards of the six quarterbacks studied.

    He completed an astounding 69 percent of his passes thrown beyond 20 yards. This puts him on par with Robert Griffin III's numbers from last year. 

    Desite this high completion percentage, Dysert rarely threw the ball deep, which accounted for only 7.88 percent of his passes.

    This was the lowest percentage of all six quarterbacks studied. 

    Runner-up: Ryan Nassib

    Nassib was second in completion percentages over 20 yards (not including yards after the catch) with an impressive 62.5 percent. To put this into context, the average percentage from all QBs studied over the last two seasons is only 47.57. 

    Worst: Landry Jones

    According to friend and fellow draft analyst, Josh Liskiewitz, Landry Jones was a disaster on passes over 25 yards, completing 7-for-28 with three touchdowns and four interceptions over a 10-game span.

    Runner-up: Tyler Bray

    Oddly enough, Bray may have a rocket for an arm, but his deep ball accuracy was severely lacking. In a four-game span, Bray was 6-for-18 passing with only one touchdown and four interceptions. 

    The information on Landry Jones and Tyler Bray was acquired from unpublished passing charts by Josh Liskiewitz, pro scouting director of The Football Standard.

QBs with the Most Accuracy on Intermediate Throws

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    Winner: E.J. Manuel

    Defining intermediate throws as any pass targeted between six and 20 yards, E.J. Manuel clearly takes top spot in this category.

    Within that passing range Manuel was able to complete 73 percent of his passes—significantly better than most quarterbacks in this breakdown. 

    You can see this type of accuracy show up on tape as well—he's very consistent with his throws in the intermediate range. 

    Runner-up: Geno Smith

    Smith was the the most accurate quarterback in the study from 6-10 yards.

    Within that range he completed over 78 percent of his passes. From 11-20 yards his percentage drops to 64 percent which is still significantly higher than the average 60 percent.

    These numbers were impressive enough to earn Smith a nod for runner-up. 

    Worst: Tyler Wilson

    Perhaps Wilson's terrible intermediate accuracy was the result of too many sudden changes for that Arkansas offense—or perhaps this is actually a concerning weakness in his ability.

    Wilson was only 63 percent passing between 6-10 yards and 53 percent when passing between 6-20 yards. These numbers were the lowest of all the quarterbacks evaluated. 

    All stats from this slide were acquired at SecondRoundStats.com 

Best Improvisational QBs

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    Winner: Zac Dysert

    Dysert was forced to become a great improvisational QB due to the lack of talent around him.

    He routinely abandoned the designed play and either ran the ball himself or bought time to help his receivers get open.

    Unfortunately, he tends to rely on this ability a bit too early and often when his initial read is not clearly defined.

    Runner-up: Ryan Nassib

    Nassib is a fun quarterback to watch as a fan.

    He's constantly battling to keep a play alive and can make some miraculous plays by way of improv.

    Worst: Mike Glennon

    Glennon simply doesn't trust his athletic ability enough to allow him the confidence to work outside of the structure of the play.

    Runner-up: Landry Jones

    This weakness ties into Landry's trouble with pressure and struggling to maintain a cool head when things get chaotic. Without those qualities Jones will likely struggle with this element his entire career. 

Best Decision-Makers

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    Winner: Geno Smith

    This was a close race between Geno and Matt Barkley.

    In the end, Geno's unbelievable touchdown-to-interception ratio of 42-6 really pushed it over the top. Geno has proven the ability to limit turnovers while still slinging the ball down field at extremely high rates. 

    With his poise under pressure and impressive pocket-presence, Smith is making his case for why he deserves to be the first quarterback taken in the draft. 

    Runner-up: Matt Barkley

    After starting for four years at USC, Barkley's experience is a major strength.

    His ability to make proper decision and go through his progressions in a pro-style offense make him perhaps the most NFL-ready signal-caller available. 

    Worst: Mike Glennon

    Glennon threw for 17 interceptions last year compared with 31 touchdowns.

    Though this ratio is not terrible, it is however the worst ratio of the nine quarterbacks being evaluated here.

    Furthermore, he only completed 58 percent of his passes and was ranked 66th in the nation in passing efficiency at 130.7 (ESPN.com). 

    Runner-up: Tyler Bray

    Bray is continuing to find his name on the negative end of these lists much more than he would like. However, his gunslinger mentality and carelessness with his throws have given many scouts cause for concern. 

Best Footwork

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    Winner: Matt Barkley

    This decision was relatively easy considering the pro-style system he comes from and the years he has had to develop.

    Barkley has smooth mechanics and by far the best footwork in this draft class. His sound technique has also aided in his ability to have premier pocket-presence as well. 

    Runner-up: Geno Smith

    Smith's footwork is consistently crisp.

    His throws are almost always done with his legs under him while putting his weight on the forward step. He also looks quite polished when shuffling within the pocket and only abandons his footwork when absolutely necessary. 

    Worst: Tyler Bray

    Bray's arm strength has created some terrible habits with his feet.

    He shows little consideration for footwork and can make most of his throws powered by his arm alone. This has affected his accuracy and consistency and will be a major issue to rectify for any team who brings him aboard. 

    Bray routinely throws off of his back foot or standing with his feet squared to the line of scrimmage with poor spacing and a lazy base. 

Conclusion

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    E.J. Manuel

    First place: 3 (6 points)

    Runner-up: None

    Last place: None

    Runner-up: None

    Total: 6 points

     

    Zac Dysert

    First place: 2 (4 points)

    Runner-up: 2 (2 points)

    Last place: None

    Runner-up: None

    Total: 6 points

     

    Geno Smith

    First place: 1 (2 points)

    Runner-up: 3 (3 points)

    Last place: None

    Runner-up: None

    Total: 5 points

     

    Tyler Wilson

    First place: 2 (4 points) 

    Runner-up: 1 (1 point)

    Last place: 1 (-2 point)

    Runner-up: None

    Total: 3 points

     

    Ryan Nassib

    First place: None

    Runner-up: 2 (2 points)

    Last place: None

    Runner-up: None

    Total: 2 points 

     

    Matt Barkley

    First place: 2 (4 points)

    Runner-up: 1 (1 point)

    Last place: 3 (-6 points)

    Runner-up: None

    Total: -1 point

     

    Mike Glennon

    First place: 1 (2 points)

    Runner-up: None

    Last place: 3 (-6 points)

    Runner-up: 2 (-2 points)

    Total: -6 points

     

    Landry Jones

    First place: None

    Runner-up: None

    Last place: 2 (-4 points)

    Runner-up: 2 (-2 points)

    Total: -6 points

     

    Tyler Bray

    First place: None

    Runner-up: 2 (2 points)

    Last place: 3 (-6 points)

    Runner-up: 3 (-3 points)

    Total: -7 points