2013 Rookie QB Crop May Not Be Sexy, but Will Prove Their Greatness in Long Run
The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, and the performance of this year's batch of incoming signal-callers seemingly reinforced the notion that has become the conventional wisdom where this year's quarterbacks are concerned.
If teams are looking for a franchise quarterback in 2013, then they're out of (Andrew) Luck.
Unlike last year, when Robert Griffin III and Luck were viewed as far and away the top options at their position in the NFL draft, no passer has set himself apart as the king of the mountain this season.
In fact, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network went so far as to tell Nakia Hogan of The New Orleans Times-Picayune that he doesn't necessarily see a quarterback worthy of a first-round pick in this year's draft, although that doesn't mean none will be selected that early.
"Over the last several years, we've defined quarterback play at the top, and we still talk about them ad nauseam," NFL analyst Mike Mayock said earlier this month. "Everybody laughed at me last year at this time. I was trying to tell people Ryan Tannehill was not only going to be a first-round pick, but he might be a top 10 guy. And that's what happens with these quarterbacks. I don't know who the best quarterback is yet, and I don't know if there's a first-round quarterback. Yet I hear all these people talk about Geno Smith going No. 1. So I'm fascinated. This is going to be, by far, the most confusing quarterback draft we've had in years."
Granted, the trade that the Chiefs made that will reportedly send Alex Smith from San Francisco to Kansas City probably means that the Geno Smith talk is done, but the gist of Mayock's point still stands.
This year's draft appears short on quarterbacks who are ready to make an immediate impact in the National Football League.
However, that doesn't mean that a few years down the road we won't be talking about the "class of 2013" in an entirely different light.
In fact, there's reason to speculate that the exact opposite could wind up being the case.
For starters, while this year's class may not be especially flashy, and each player brings a wart or two to the table, it's a very deep bunch, with several players who could conceivably wind up being the first quarterback selected.
West Virginia's Smith is an athletic quarterback who threw for nearly 4,200 yards in 2012, and as ESPN's Todd McShay points out Smith had a solid week of workouts at the combine, including a 4.59 second 40-yard dash time, which was the fastest of all players at his position.
Matt Barkley of USC didn't participate in drills at the combine as he recovers from a separated throwing shoulder, but Barkley fits the prototypical mold of a "leader" under center and probably would have been a top-10 pick had he declared for the NFL draft after his junior season.
Mike Glennon of North Carolina State may have the best arm of any quarterback in this year's class, but some scouts question his athleticism, accuracy and consistency.
Then there are players such as Florida State's EJ Manuel, an athletic player with quite a bit of upside who was inconsistent at times. Or Tennessee's Tyler Bray, who has a first-round arm but is dogged by questions about his mental toughness and work ethic.
Move even deeper into the draft and there are later-round prospects such as Matt Scott of Arizona and Duke's Sean Renfree, both of whom have seen their stocks rise in recent weeks.
That list is far from exhaustive. Whether it's Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, Landry Jones of Oklahoma or Zac Dysert of Miami (Ohio) it wouldn't be at all surprising to see 6 to 8 quarterbacks taken in the first four rounds or so of the draft.
What this year's class lacks in flash it makes up for in depth.
Then there's the matter of the potential landing spots for some of these players, spots that may end up blessings in disguise for one or more of these youngsters in the long run.
As Nick Scurfield of the team's website reports, Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak didn't rule out the Texans selecting a quarterback early in this draft, stating that “In this business, you better be looking for young quarterbacks you think have a chance to be a 10-, 12-year guy. This year will be no different.''
Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald reports that while the New England Patriots aren't actively shopping backup Ryan Mallett they are at least open to offers, which could leave the Pats in need of a new understudy for Tom Brady.
That list is also far from exhaustive. Whether it's the San Diego Chargers, the New York Giants or the New Orleans Saints. the NFL is littered with teams that have established but aging starters and unsettled backup situations.
Give one of these rookies a few years as an understudy to one of the NFL's best and many of the dents in their game may get buffed right out.
Yes, it's true that there may not be a Griffin or Luck in 2013, a quarterback that's ready to step right in and take over the reins of an NFL team.
However, whether it's a year from now in Buffalo or New York (where Ryan Fitzpatrick and Mark Sanchez are essentially "lame ducks") or a bit farther down the road the class of 2013 is going to get their chance to shine.
We shouldn't act surprised when at least one of those quarterbacks takes advantage of that opportunity.
After all, Aaron Rodgers fell to 24th overall in the 2005 draft and didn't start until his fourth season.
Drew Brees was a second round pick of the San Diego Chargers who didn't start until his second NFL season.
Tom Brady? A sixth-round pick.
We all know how that turned out.
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