1. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
The impact a rookie quarterback will have on his team has as much to do with his opportunity for playing time as it does with skill.
Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel has both—skill and the likelihood of much playing time in 2013.
Buffalo didn’t use its first-round pick on Manuel for clipboard-holding duties, mostly because there is no mentor for Manuel to learn from on the Bills roster.
Manuel only has to beat Kevin Kolb—who hasn’t been truly relevant since 2010—to earn the starting job in Week 1.
2. Tyler Wilson, Oakland Raiders
Tyler Wilson doesn’t have much of a shot at a Week 1 start in Oakland, but that doesn’t mean his possibility of playing time is bleak.
The Raiders brought in Matt Flynn, who had a contract-grabbing fantastic game for the Green Bay Packers in 2011 before losing the Seahawks job to Russell Wilson.
Flynn doesn’t have much of a track record as a starter in the NFL. That means Flynn could lose the job early (possibly even in training camp) to Wilson, or he may hold Wilson off for a while before ultimately handing over the signal-calling.
Either way, Wilson should be under center full time in 2013 at some point.
3. Geno Smith, New York Jets
The New York Jets are an absolute train wreck at quarterback, and not just in regard to the current depth chart. Tim Tebow is gone, but the bad taste of that signing will linger for some time.
Mark Sanchez doesn’t appear to be the answer for the Jets, and since David Garrard wasn’t the answer for the Jaguars last season, he’s unlikely to rekindle his NFL career in New York.
That leaves Geno Smith, who has tasted nothing but success at West Virginia the past two seasons. The Jets held off on a quarterback in the first round and landed Smith early in the second. How early he starts in 2013 will determine how much of an impact he has.
Odds are, he’ll start at some point, maybe even by midseason.