Full-Season Predictions for NFL Rookie QBs

Ty SchalterNFL National Lead WriterMay 9, 2013

Full-Season Predictions for NFL Rookie QBs

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    No player in team sports has more impact on a team's bottom line than an NFL quarterback.

    An ace starting pitcher only plays every fifth game. A great goaltender can only stand on his head for so long. A star point guard can't do all the passing and all the shooting. A modern professional quarterback, though, holds the entire offense in his hand.

    For many years, rookie quarterbacks weren't given the opportunity to play right away. Only the most outstanding prospects—or those on teams without any other option—would be trusted with the ball. Now? Many are thrown into the fire, given one chance to either be forged into sterner stuff or melt.

    This year's rookie class, though, is an exception to the recent trend. Unlike in 2011, when so many quarterbacks were drafted early and dropped into the deep end, 2013 rookies slid down draft boards and often landed on teams with solid starters in place.

    Which rookies will bubble up to the top of the depth chart? Which rookies will be given chances to prove themselves? Of the ones that get on the field, how will they do?

    Here are my full-season statistical projections for every quarterback in this 2013 draft class.

Sean Renfree, Atlanta Falcons

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

     0   0      0     0    0.0       0     0    0   0.0  0

     

    The last of three Falcons seventh-round picks, Sean Renfree fills out a three-deep quarterback depth chart behind starter Matt Ryan and 2012 undrafted free agent Dominique Davis. The first Duke draftee since 2004, Renfree must finish rehabbing from pectoral surgery before trying to move up the depth chart, according to Daniel Carp of The Chronicle.

    Davis, who excelled last preseason, will likely have the inside track on the backup job anyway. Renfree, for now, has a chance to make the 53-man roster but almost certainly will not be active for any game day in 2013.

B.J. Daniels, San Francisco 49ers

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

     0   0      0    0    0.0        0     0    0  0.0   0

     

    A strong, athletic quarterback under six feet tall, B.J. Daniels would invariably draw comparisons to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson—except that Daniels has been drafted by San Francisco and has experience running zone-read-based offenses. He'll have to live in the shadow cast by breakout starter Colin Kaepernick.

    Daniels, in order to challenge newly-traded-for No. 2 quarterback Colt McCoy, will have to show in camp and preseason he truly does have dual-threat skills like Kaepernick. In fact, Daniels won't necessarily have a lock on the No. 3 job; 2011 undrafted free agent Scott Tolzien won't likely give up his roster spot without a fight.

Zac Dysert, Denver Broncos

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

     2    0   12    27  44.4    187   0    1   6.9  3

     

    Zac Dysert is one of the more intriguing prospects in the 2013 draft class. Hailing from Miami (Ohio) University, boasting good size, good mobility and a knack for accurate throws on the run, Dysert is not unlike a small version of "Big" Ben Roethlisberger.

    The lowest quarterback drafted likely to generate stats, Dysert will likely see time competing with 2012 second-round pick Brock Osweiler late in the season, when the Broncos have locked up home-field advantage and the Broncos must succession-plan for Peyton Manning's eventual retirement.

Brad Sorensen, San Diego Chargers

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

    4    0     0     0    0.0       0    0   0   0.0  0

     

    The quarterback situation in San Diego has been relatively static for quite some time. Starter Philip Rivers, however, is 31 years old and moving in the wrong direction, performance-wise. Backup Charlie Whitehurst is perhaps most famous for once commanding an impressive pick and salary package from Seattle for him and his almost nonexistent résumé.

    Though there's opportunity for Sorensen to make the roster, and the 6'4", 229-pound passer sure fits the Chargers profile, Southern Utah's all-time leading passer has little chance of challenging Whitehurst, let alone Rivers.

    I have him making the team and being activated for four games as the No. 2 due to injuries above him—call it a hunch.

Landry Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

     0   0     0      0     0.0      0      0   0   0.0  0

     

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have consistently been one of the NFL's best teams at identifying future needs, drafting to fill them and grooming prospects to be ready just as the older veterans are no longer worth their paycheck.

    As Jamison Henley of ESPN.com wrote, though, there's a huge exception to this: The Steelers can't groom quarterbacks. Since Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have drafted Brian St. Pierre, Omar Jacobs and Dennis Dixon, yet graybeard Charlie Batch remained the team's best backup quarterback for years.

    With Batch finally retired and former Cincinnati Bengal Bruce Gradkowski in the fold as the No. 2, Landry Jones should have an easy fight to beat out street free agent John Parker Wilson for the No. 3 spot, but he likely won't see live reps in 2013.

Tyler Wilson, Oakland Raiders

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

    10  3    45   78   57.7    452   2    3   5.8   5

     

    Tyler Wilson is the latest addition to one of the most intriguing quarterback situations in the NFL.

    Last year's starter, Carson Palmer, is gone to Arizona via trade. This year's named starter, Matt Flynn, arrived from Seattle via trade. Terrelle Pryor, arguably the most talented quarterback on the roster, remains a little-used enigma for whom this season is likely make or break.

    Wilson, as a two-year starter in the SEC and fourth-round draft pick, has the most NFL-ready résumé of any of the three. Flynn, whose claim to fame was backing up Aaron Rodgers before signing a well-moneyed deal with Seattle, got thoroughly beat out for the starting job by then-rookie Russell Wilson.

    Tyler Wilson should enter camp as the No. 3 quarterback, but neither Flynn nor Pryor figures to impress. The Raiders, I predict, won't be able to keep themselves from getting Wilson on the field and seeing what he can do.

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

     0   0      0    0     0.0       0     0    0   0.0   0

     

    One of the biggest controversies—if not the biggest controversy—of the 2013 draft was the Buffalo Bills' decision to not trade down and take Nassib, who'd made his name playing under new Bills head coach Doug Marrone at Syracuse.

    Turns out Nassib stayed in the state of New York after all.

    Though Nassib's got interesting talent, Eli Manning is one of the most reliable starters in the game, and the Giants have re-signed entrenched No. 2 David Carr. Nassib likely won't see the field in 2013, even though he certainly figures heavily into plans going forward.

Matt Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

    16  1    12   16   75.0     119   1   1   7.4   1

     

    The Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback situation was going to be the most intriguing in the NFL—and then presumed second-day pick Matt Barkley fell to the Eagles in the fourth round.

    Barkley's game is much more like presumed starter Nick Foles than presumed change-of-pace/zone-read relief quarterback Mike Vick. If Foles gets hurt, the Eagles have a polished pocket passer to use as Vick takes the lead. If Vick gets hurt, Foles and Barkley are a natural starter and backup.

    For that reason, I expect head coach Chip Kelly to diverge from most of his peers and activate three quarterbacks every game this season. Barkley will likely see a little action towards the end of the season, regardless of the Eagles' win-loss record, as they evaluate him and Vick before the end of the season.

    Statistically, Kelly's offense (and Kelly's desire to protect Barkley) should provide a lot of low-risk short passes and a play-action game that will open up a long bomb or two.

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/A Sk

     0    0    0     0    0.0        0     0   0    0.0    0

     

    Few expected Mike Glennon to be the third quarterback taken, given the prospects in front of him, but the 6'6", 232-pounder passes the eyeball test. Starting quarterback Josh Freeman has not fulfilled his immense physical potential—and No. 2 quarterback Dan Orlovsky represents no threat to Freeman—but it's still hard to see a non-injury scenario where Glennon sees the field for the Bucs in 2012.

    Glennon spent three seasons as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's understudy; he should be used to being patient for his turn to shine.

Geno Smith, New York Jets

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G  GS Cmp  Att Cmp%   Yds    TD  Int   Y/A  Sk

    16  16  337  550  61.3   3,960    18   25   7.2   31

     

    Geno Smith is the only 2013 rookie quarterback I foresee starting every game. With new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg—and strong questions about the running backs—the Jets will pass more often than they have in recent years.

    Smith was very accurate on short passes in college, but it will take time for him and his receivers to develop a rapport. Smith has a tendency to press passes that aren't there when the going gets tough, and this will sometimes snowball into three-, four- or five-interception games for him in 2013.

    That said, Smith's talent will be obvious. He should remove any doubt about his NFL ability—but the learning curve will be steep.

EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills

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    PROJECTED STATS

    G  GS Cmp  Att Cmp%   Yds    TD  Int   Y/A  Sk

    16  11  172   321  53.6   1,814    14   17   5.7  34

     

    EJ Manuel, the surprise first quarterback selection, has all the opportunity in the world to walk in from Florida State to a starting job in the NFL. However, Manuel will have a hard time transitioning to new head coach Doug Marrone's advanced passing offense.

    I actually project Manuel to win the starting job in camp, be pulled in favor of veteran Kevin Kolb and then "win" the job back as the Bills fall out of the playoff picture.

    I project Manuel to throw most of his picks in the beginning of the season and then ramp up in both completion percentage and TD/INT ratio as the season wears on. Early on, Manuel's athleticism will likely get him into more trouble with pass-rushers, not less (see: Mike Vick).