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Report Card Grades for Every Rookie QB So Far This Preseason

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterAugust 20, 2013

Report Card Grades for Every Rookie QB So Far This Preseason

1 of 20

    Following the 2013 NFL draft, rookie quarterbacks were added to NFL rosters as drafted and undrafted players. So far this preseason, 17 first-year quarterbacks have taken a snap under center. How have they looked?

    Judging the performances of preseason players can be difficult. You have to weigh which players have faced first-team defenses and which have seen third-stringers. Which quarterbacks have benefited from playing with their own starting offenses and which are struggling behind the backup offensive line? Not all statistical performances in the preseason are equal, which is why we've gone to the film room to get a true look at how the rookie quarterbacks of 2013 have played so far.

    Which grade does each player get after two games?

EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills

2 of 20

    Pick: Round 1, Pick 16

    Analysis:

    There is no doubting that EJ Manuel has been the best quarterback in training camp and preseason showings for the Buffalo Bills.

    Manuel has done an excellent job showing off the talents that made him the only quarterback drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft—notably his arm strength, quickness in the pocket and the potential to run an uptempo offense. What's been most impressive is his ability to improve on his flaws in such a short amount of time.

    Manuel struggled at Florida State to get to his second and third reads in a given play. He wasn't particularly quick about making reads and diagnosing a defense. Now in Buffalo, Manuel is holding safeties with his eyes and showing a safe-yet-aggressive approach to quarterbacking.  

    Through training camp and two preseason games, Manuel has proven to be the best rookie quarterback on the field.

     

    Grade: A

Geno Smith, New York Jets

3 of 20

    Pick: Round 2, Pick 7

    Analysis:

    The second quarterback drafted in the 2013 class, Geno Smith was considered a potential steal for the New York Jets in the second round. Thus far, through training camp and the preseason, he hasn't shown enough to warrant that optimism.

    Smith has thrown just seven passes in the preseason thanks to injuries. While he's completed six of those passes, it's too small of a sample size to gauge just those throws or plays. Going back through notes of training camps and games, the picture becomes more clear. Smith has been working out with wide receivers while he nurses his ankle injury, but he's not able to grab the starting job on the sidelines. Not even with Mark Sanchez on the field.

    Smith was drafted on his quick-strike ability, athleticism and accuracy. To date, those haven't been on display. Perhaps with more time we'll see what he can do, but as of now, the ankle injury has left this as an incomplete picture.

     

    Grade: Incomplete

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4 of 20

    Pick: Round 3, Pick 11 

    Analysis:

    If there was an award for most improved player of the preseason, Mike Glennon might win it.

    The former North Carolina State quarterback struggled in college to move in the pocket and make plays when pressured. Behind the Tampa Bay offensive line, he's shown much better footwork, vision and patience under fire. Glennon is playing with more confidence—in the play calls and the protection—and it's showing.

    With two touchdowns and two interceptions on the year, his performance has been spotty, but he's making big improvements each week. Anyone who saw Glennon play in college knows that he has a huge arm and can sling the ball all over the field, but his underneath accuracy and pocket presence needed work. Early appearances are positive, and with his development way ahead of schedule, Glennon looks like a future starter.

     

    Grade: B+

Matt Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles

5 of 20

    Pick: Round 4, Pick 1 

    Analysis:

    Forget that Matt Barkley was supposed to be the No. 1 overall player in the 2013 draft before an uneven senior season led to his dropping down draft boards. None of that matters anymore. All that matters now is how well he performs for the Philadelphia Eagles in a crowded quarterback battle.

    Barkley's snaps have been limited due to the fight between Michael Vick and Nick Foles for the starting job. When on the field, his play has been a lot like that of his final year at USC—up and down. Barkley will make a great throw but too often follow it up with a poorly timed throw resulting in an incompletion. You can see talent, but it's raw as he learns the Chip Kelly style of offense.

    It's tough to separate Barkley from the expectations of a year ago, but looking at him as just another rookie quarterback, you see some flashes of brilliance covered by equal amounts of flaws and raw tools.

     

    Grade: C+

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants

6 of 20

    Pick: Round 4, Pick 13

    Analysis:

    It's never wise to get too worked up, one way or the other, over a few preseason games. That said, what Ryan Nassib has shown this year in training camp and preseason games hasn't been good. In two games, he's just 3-of-10. 

    To be fair to Nassib, the Giants have rarely let him play—as evidenced by his 10 attempts in two games. Without reps behind Eli Manning and David Carr, his development has been slow and, in game situations, painful. Nassib has good natural talent, but he's missing on too many passes where his accuracy is off. Blame it on timing or poor mechanics—both are noticeable—but the bottom line is that Nassib looks more like a fourth-round pick than the No. 1 quarterback some were calling him pre-draft.

    Two games in is way too early to write the book on Nassib's career, but he's starting off trending in the wrong direction.

     

    Grade: D

Tyler Wilson, Oakland Raiders

7 of 20

    Pick: Round 4, Pick 15 

    Analysis:

    A one-time first-round prospect at Arkansas, Tyler Wilson fell to the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round and was thought to be an outside contender for the starting job if he could perform well in camp and the preseason. So far, that's not been the case.

    Wilson has thrown just six passes in the preseason and only played in the team's opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps the most telling fact is that Wilson has been getting fourth-team reps behind undrafted free agent Matthew McGloin (more on him later).  

    Wilson has struggled with timing, understanding the play calls and learning the offense. On a team with very little established quarterback talent, Wilson should be challenging for a starting job. Instead, he's surrendering reps in practice and games to a player the team didn't feel good enough about to invest a draft pick in.

    No matter how you spin it, that's bad news for the start of Wilson's career.

     

    Grade: F

Landry Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers

8 of 20

    Pick: Round 4, Pick 18

    Analysis:

    The former Oklahoma quarterback may or may not be Ben Roethlisberger's eventual replacement, but for now he's just trying to learn Todd Haley's offense and secure a job as the team's No. 3 quarterback. Early returns are positive for Landry Jones after a shaky start.

    Jones' first snap in the NFL resulted in a safety, definitely not the way he wanted to get into the stat book, but he rebounded from that to complete five of nine passes and otherwise show good decision-making and ball placement. Jones' struggles at Oklahoma came when pressured, especially up the middle, and thus far he looks to have improved there. He's quicker moving and reading, two things he had to improve upon to compete in the NFL.

    It's way too early to call Jones the Steelers' quarterback of the future, or even Roethlisberger's backup, but he's done well in camp and limited preseason action. There are an equal number of positives and flaws for the Steelers' coaches to work with.

     

    Grade: C

Brad Sorensen, San Diego Chargers

9 of 20

    Pick: Round 7, Pick 15

    Analysis:

    Big-armed and raw, Brad Sorensen has an uphill battle to fight as he acclimates to the NFL after playing his college ball at Southern Utah. Through training camp and two preseason games, Sorensen looks to be handling the transition well.

    Sorensen hasn't been helped in his preseason outings, as I've charted his receivers with four dropped passes in just 37 snaps from the rookie. Playing with third- and fourth-team players, Sorensen has shown good zip on the ball when throwing upfield and to the edges. He has the arm talent, but the challenge will be giving him time to let the speed and mental aspect of the game develop. 

    As the Chargers' likely No. 3 quarterback, he'll have time. As my pick to be the team's No. 2 quarterback over Charlie Whitehurst, he may be called on sooner than expected.

     

    Grade: B+

Zac Dysert, Denver Broncos

10 of 20

    Pick: Round 7, Pick 28 

    Analysis:

    One bad week at the Senior Bowl started a downhill slide for Zac Dysert's draft stock. A one-time third- or fourth-round player fell to the seventh round. Expectations are low for Dysert in Denver, especially with him behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, but that lack of pressure has been good for the former Miami of Ohio quarterback.

    Dysert, although limited in game-time reps, has had a very good training camp. He's 3-of-3 on the year in game situations, but he's secured himself a job with good showings when given the chance. His deep-ball accuracy is top-notch, and while he didn't show it at the Senior Bowl, he's a good athlete with quick feet in the pocket.

    Dysert may be a practice squad guy, as the Broncos may carry just two quarterbacks, but he's earned himself a chance to develop as an NFL quarterback. 

     

    Grade: B

B.J. Daniels, San Francisco 49ers

11 of 20

    Pick: Round 7, Pick 31

    Analysis:

    A surprise pick from the San Francisco 49ers late in the 2013 draft, B.J. Daniels didn't look to be an NFL-level quarterback during his time at South Florida. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke are confident they can develop him.

    Daniels has played in just one game so far, a Week 2 closing against the Kansas City Chiefs, but in his 25 snaps, he looked better than Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien—the two guys competing to back up Colin Kaepernick. Daniels was throwing against reserves, while McCoy and Tolzien saw a mixture of starters and backups, but his athletic ability, confidence and toughness were impressive. In a game in which the other backup quarterbacks struggled, Daniels was a bright spot.

    That might be enough to earn him a No. 3 quarterback job, with Tolzien the odd man out in San Francisco.

     

    Grade: B

Sean Renfree, Atlanta Falcons

12 of 20

    Pick: Round 7, Pick 43 

    Analysis:

    The first words that come to mind when watching Sean Renfree play are "well-coached." Coming out of a Duke system that allowed him to be coached by quarterback guru David Cutcliffe, Renfree is leaps and bounds ahead of most seventh-round picks in terms of football IQ and ability to read a defense. Now he has to learn to adapt to the speed of the NFL.

    Renfree is raw, but his instincts, vision and touch are all very good. Those are also the three areas where young quarterbacks struggle most when transitioning to the NFL. He's been solid in 39 snaps, but he has yet to throw a touchdown (or an interception), which can be caused by a conservative mindset to eliminate turnovers. The key for Renfree will be to loosen up a bit and play his game.

    Don't be surprised to see the former Duke prospect as the Falcons' No. 2 quarterback at some point in his first season.

     

    Grade: B+

Tyler Bray, Kansas City Chiefs

13 of 20

    Pick: Undrafted Free Agent

    Analysis:

    Tyler Bray's talent has never been questioned, but off-the-field issues led to him going undrafted. Now the former Tennessee starter has to work up the depth chart in a crowded Kansas City backfield.

    Bray has the raw ability to be a very good quarterback, and with Andy Reid handling his tutelage, you have to like his chances to be coached up. However, Bray's maturity and work ethic were questioned by many team scouts who wished to remain anonymous when speaking to me before the 2013 draft. There was enough truth there for every team to pass on selecting him.

    On the field, Bray has been up-and-down. His accuracy goes through spotty stretches, but you also see flashes of his arm strength—especially on outside throws. He has all the natural ability to become a starter at this level if he can catch up mentally and emotionally. 

     

    Grade: C

Ryan Griffin, New Orleans Saints

14 of 20

    Pick: Undrafted Free Agent

    Analysis:

    The New Orleans Saints have a major need for a young, capable backup quarterback. No offense to Luke McCown or recently released Seneca Wallace, but the team has to be worried about the talent and potential behind Drew Brees. Local boy Ryan Griffin may be easing those concerns.

    The former Tulane quarterback has been sharp this preseason, showing off nice accuracy and vision in his 45 snaps with mostly third-team players. He may be just 9-of-15 passing in preseason games, but Griffin is showing a willingness to challenge the defense and get through his progressions. Given reps with more talent on his side of the ball, he would show even more potential.

    Griffin may not be threatening McCown this year, but the Saints need to keep him around as a developmental quarterback behind their 34-year-old starter.  

     

    Grade: B

Matthew McGloin, Oakland Raiders

15 of 20

    Pick: Undrafted Free Agent

    Analysis:

    Having scouted Matthew McGloin at Penn State, I was sure he wasn't an NFL-level quarterback. And yet, here he is, getting reps ahead of fourth-round draft pick Tyler Wilson for the Oakland Raiders.

    McGloin has been impressive, especially to those like me who saw him extensively in college. He's throwing with more command on the football, playing with better pocket presence and all-around confidence. The jittery passer from Penn State is gone, and in his place is this matured version of McGloin. It's been eye-opening.

    While it's unclear if he can beat out Wilson—on draft positioning alone, it may be tough—there is no doubt that he's been the more impressive of the two in camp and preseason games. McGloin's control of the offense, his placement of passes and his all-around ability are exceeding expectations.

     

    Grade: B+

Matt Scott, Jacksonville Jaguars

16 of 20

    Pick: Undrafted Free Agent

    Analysis:

    If you are not part of the NFL draft community on Twitter, you might not be aware of the hype surrounding Matt Scott. Trust me, it's there, and it's big.

    Scott was a favorite of many draft analysts, including myself, as a sleeper at the position. Then he went undrafted and was picked up by a team with a gaping hole at the position. Too many thought he would walk into Jacksonville after just one season starting at Arizona and win the QB1 job. That hasn't happened.

    Forget the Internet hype surrounding Scott and look at him as another undrafted free agent fighting for a job. Scott's performance has been uneven and at times very bad. He's completed just 35 percent of his passes in the preseason. That's not good enough, especially considering the reps he's seen (17 attempts). 

    Scott has talent and athletic ability, but everyone has to remember how little he played at Arizona. He's the definition of a work in progress.

     

    Grade: C

Matt Simms, New York Jets

17 of 20

    Pick: Undrafted Free Agent 

    Analysis:

    Five throws in two preseason games is hardly enough to get a look at Phil Simms' son Matt, but the New York Jets will need to take a hard look at his ability and upside as they figure out the quarterback depth chart heading into the season.

    With Geno Smith injured, Simms is in line for more reps as the team's No. 3 quarterback. From what he has shown thus far, Simms looks more like a developmental practice squad quarterback, though. Poor accuracy is masked by a strong arm, but when the lights come on, he doesn't have the control or command on passes to be a consistent threat. As was the case in college, Simms has the arm strength and athletic ability but lacks the fine tools to be a high-level quarterback. 

     

    Grade: C-

Caleb TerBush, Arizona Cardinals

18 of 20

    Pick: Undrafted Free Agent 

    Analysis:

    An undrafted quarterback out of Purdue, Caleb TerBush won a camp spot with the Arizona Cardinals after a workout for the team. He's parlayed that into a trial period as the team's No. 4 quarterback.

    TerBush has thrown just two passes in game situations, but he's shown his arm strength and natural ability in workouts and training camp. Anyone who saw him play at Purdue knows he's raw when asked to read a defense and make secondary throws, but as someone who will see little playing time while he learns, he's in a good spot.

    TerBush's abilities are a perfect fit for Bruce Arians' downfield passing game. While his NFL career may be started on a practice squad, TerBush has upside as a project.

     

    Grade: C

Jeff Tuel, Buffalo Bills

19 of 20

    Pick: Undrafted Free Agent 

    Analysis:

    Jeff Tuel has been a pleasant surprise for the Buffalo Bills, at times outplaying veteran Kevin Kolb (albeit against reserves). Tuel has the accuracy and timing to work underneath routes well and give the receiver time to operate.

    As an undrafted free agent, Tuel has little expectations, but the play he's shown makes him worthy of the No. 3 quarterback job. 

     

    Grade: B+

James Vandenberg, Minnesota Vikings

20 of 20

    Pick: Undrafted Free Agent

    Analysis:

    The Minnesota Vikings signed former Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg with the intention of carrying him through training camp and a few preseason games as a fourth quarterback. He might stick around longer than that.

    In a quarterback battle with Bethel McLeod-Thompson for the No. 3 job, Vandenberg has been up-and-down. He's 3-of-3 in very limited preseason action but has been improving in practices since signing with the team. We haven't seen equal reps between the two young quarterbacks, and while the smart money would be on McLeod-Thompson to take the job, the former Hawkeye isn't giving up without a fight.

    He may not be the next Kurt Warner, but his potential as a developmental quarterback is worth a practice squad spot or No. 3 quarterback job.

     

    Grade: C

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