College Football Top 25 QBs: Future NFL Star or Just Big Man on Campus?

Kevin PaulSenior Analyst IAugust 23, 2010

College Football Top 25 QBs: Future NFL Star or Just Big Man on Campus?

0 of 25

    SEATTLE - DECEMBER 05: Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies passes the ball against the California Bears on December 5, 2009 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Huskies defeated the Bears 42-10. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Ima
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    For years, it has become common in college football for a quarterback to lead his school to double-digit win seasons, a BCS bowl victory, and gaudy statistics—only to either be completely ignored by NFL teams come draft time, or to be selected late and eventually spend a career stylishly holding a clipboard.

    So how does that thought process translate to some of the best draft-eligible college quarterbacks today?

    In particular, let’s say the top 25 draft-eligible quarterbacks according to Phil Steele—who, if you haven’t read him, is the best in the business when it comes to preseason college football rankings and projections.

    Will each of these players be remembered for their time as an NFL quarterback, or instead, as just “Big Man on Campus?”

    Certainly, with examples like Ryan Leaf at the top of an NFL Draft or Tom Brady near the bottom of one—it can be an inexact science predicting QB success—but let’s give it a shot anyway:

25. Kevin Prince – UCLA – 6'2", 229

1 of 25

    PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 17: Quarterback Kevin Prince #14 of the UCLA Bruins throws a pass against the California Golden Bears on October 17, 2009 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.   Cal won 45-26.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Prince has the size and frame as a pro-style quarterback, but has been injury-prone throughout his career with the Bruins thus far—and hasn’t impressed with his numbers, either.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

24. Adam Weber – Minnesota – 6'3", 221

2 of 25

    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 31:  Quarterback Adam Weber #8 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers throws a pass during the second quarter of the Insight Bowl against the Iowa State Cyclones at Arizona Stadium on December 31, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Sure, he’s 6’3” and has pocket presence, but with more picks than touchdowns in ’09, one has to wonder how much of it was Eric Decker (pre-injury) saving him more than anything else.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

23. Scott Tolzien – Wisconsin – 6'3", 208

3 of 25

    COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 10:  Quarterback Scott Tolzien #16 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Tolzien is often overlooked with John Clay also in the Wisconsin backfield.  Still, he struggled against big boys, Iowa and Ohio State, so he could easily be compared to Penn State’s Daryll Clark, who had the same struggles—and wasn’t drafted.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

22. Jordan Jefferson – LSU – 6'5", 220

4 of 25

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Jordan Jefferson #9 of the Louisiana State University Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    First thing’s first: Add the fact that Ryan Perrilloux and JaMarcus Russell were packed with hype—and that will likely jade your image of LSU QBs.  That, plus Jefferson himself hasn’t been anything short of mediocre, but he does have the frame of an NFL quarterback—and has limited his mistakes, so there’s still a good chance he could turn things around…but for now…

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

21. Pat Devlin – Delaware – 6'4", 217

5 of 25

    COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 25: Quarterback Pat Devlin #7 of the Penn State Nittany Lions hands off the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes on October 25, 2008 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Many forget that Devlin led a game-winning drive for Penn State on the road against the Buckeyes a few seasons ago.  He transferred that offseason and wound up at Delaware, the same place where Ravens QB Joe Flacco played in college.  He also possesses an arm and talent similar to that of Flacco too.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

20. Kirk Cousins – Michigan State – 6'3", 202

6 of 25

    MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 26: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Michigan State Spartans looks to pass the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers on September 26, 2009 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Cousins is a 6’3” pro-style guy who—with all the talent around him—could develop his game at Michigan State, but for now, unless he can improve on his completion percentage and be more consistent, he’ll just be another one of Dantonio’s solid signal callers.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

19. Kevin Riley – California – 6'2", 223

7 of 25

    LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 8:  Quarterback Kevin Riley #13 of the Cal Golden Bears passes the ball during the game against the USC Trojans at the Memorial Coliseum on November 8, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Riley has decent size for a prospect, but no skills that immediately jump off the page and scream "Pro Star."  It will also be interesting to see how he performs without Jahvid Best this coming season—and at this point, an elite NFL career would be a surprise.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

18. Jacory Harris – Miami – 6'4", 190

8 of 25

    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 03:  Quarterback Jacory Harris #12 of the Miami Hurricanes drops back to pass against the Oklahoma Sooners at Land Shark Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Miami defeated Oklahoma 21-20.  (Photo by Doug Benc/
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Harris has been arguably the most inconsistent college quarterback—featuring moments of explosiveness in one game, mixed with inconsistency and poor decisions in another.  That kind of mobility coupled with inaccuracy makes me think of a guy like Quincy Carter, who was a bust at the pro level.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

17. Nick Foles – Arizona – 6'5", 245

9 of 25

    LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 5:  Quarterback Nick Foles #8 of the Arizona Wildcats throws a pass against the USC Trojans on December 5, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. Arizona won 21-17.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Foles has a large, intimidating presence in the pocket—and certainly could continue to develop and improve on his game, but an awful performance in last year’s Holiday Bowl is the freshest thing in many minds.  He’ll need to play that performance out of critics’ heads.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

16. Landry Jones – Oklahoma – 6'4", 216

10 of 25

    DALLAS - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Landry Jones #12 of the Oklahoma Sooners drops back to pass against the Texas Longhorns at Cotton Bowl on October 17, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Sooners suffered a number of injuries last season—including one to star QB Sam Bradford, which paved the way for Landry Jones to get a shot—and some experience.  With some extra time under center at OU, he’s only going to get better—and has the skill-set and the frame to become something special years down the road.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

15. Tyrod Taylor – Virginia Tech – 6'1", 217

11 of 25

    BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 29:  Quarterback Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech University Hokies runs with the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the fourth quarter of the game at Lane Stadium on October 29, 2009 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (P
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Taylor is drawing comparisons to Mike Vick—mostly due to his size, mobility, and the fact that he’s also a Hokies QB.  Still, while he can throw the deep ball fairly well, his game suffers when the running game isn’t clicking—a Vick-like NFL career seems possible…hopefully, without the additional drama.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

14. John Brantley – Florida – 6'3", 218

12 of 25

    GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 10:  Quarterback John Brantley #12 of the Florida Gators drops back to pass during the Orange & Blue game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on April 10, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Following in the footsteps of a legend like Tim Tebow can derail some players, but Brantley doesn’t appear to be one of those types.  He has the skills to succeed and the talent around him to assist with his development.  With Tebow fresh in Gator minds, it’s safe to say Brantley will be more known for his pro career, no matter what happens.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

13. Greg McElroy – Alabama – 6'3", 225

13 of 25

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 17: Quarterback Greg McElroy (12) of the University of Alabama throws during the Alabama spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)
    Dave Martin/Getty Images

    He doesn’t blow you away with any of his skills, but that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t stick around in the NFL for a number of years.  Still, with one national title already—and a top ranking heading into 2010, it’s more likely that McElroy will be remembered as the BMOC—and not for his accomplishments in the pros.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

12. Kellen Moore – Boise State – 6'0", 186

14 of 25

    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 04:  Quarterback Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos passes the ball against the TCU Horned Frogs during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 4, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jed
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Many will quickly dismiss Moore for his size and frame, saying that he’d never make it in the NFL.  But take a look at the success of Super Bowl-winning QB Drew Brees, and also Colt McCoy—who got drafted and could get a shot with the Browns in the near future.  Moore is extremely accurate, and has been a great leader.  My gut tells me he could be the next undersized quarterback to become something.

    NFL QUARTERBACK 

11. Ricky Stanzi – Iowa – 6'4", 230

15 of 25

    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05:  Quarterback Richy Stanzi #12 of the Iowa Hawkeyes rolls out of the pocket against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium on January 5, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Iowa won 24
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Stanzi has the size and frame to make an impact in the NFL—and while he certainly kept Iowa in a lot of games last season, he also made way too many mistakes passing the ball.  In the end, an average NFL signal caller like a Chris Chandler comes to mind more than anything.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

10. Andy Dalton – TCU – 6'3", 215

16 of 25

    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 04:  Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the TCU Horned Frogs passes the ball against the Boise State Broncos during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 4, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    He certainly doesn’t have the biggest frame of all the quarterbacks who will enter his class, but Dalton is hard-nosed player who has become a proven winner for a program that made a BCS bowl last year—and open in the top 10 this year.  Success in the NFL could definitely happen.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

9. Blaine Gabbert – Missouri – 6'5", 240

17 of 25

    COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 7:  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Missouri Tigers looks to pass during the game against the Baylor Bears at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    He may be the most underrated QB in the college game—and if it wasn’t for an ankle injury last season, he could have posted the best numbers in his conference.  Gabbert will need to improve on his completion percentage to eventually make it in the pros, but his size and talent is enough to get him there if he can stay healthy.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

8. Colin Kaepernick – Nevada – 6'6", 215

18 of 25

    COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 13:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #10 of the Nevada Wolf Pack rolls out during the first half of the game against the Missouri Tigers on September 13, 2008 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty I
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    No quarterback in the college game combines this kind of height with this kind of mobility, and those are the kind of traits that will draw NFL scouts towards him.  If he’s drafted into the right situation, an NFL team could certainly find a way to hone his skill-set, get him to learn a pro offense, and turn him to a legitimate NFL QB.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

7. Terrelle Pryor – Ohio State – 6'6", 233

19 of 25

    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes drops back to pass against the Oregon Ducks during the 96th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Many say Pryor grew into something special late last season—specifically against Penn State and Oregon.  But while the talent and athleticism has always been there, one can’t help but think of how he succeeded against the Nittany Lions—in some cases with deep passes that were nowhere near on target, but the receivers were just that wide open, that the receptions were made anyway. 

    NFL superstar?  Don’t see it, but that could change after this year.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

6. Jerrod Johnson – Texas A&M – 6'5", 243

20 of 25

    COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Quarterback Jerrod Johnson #1 of the Texas A&M Aggies looks to throw the ball downfield to an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second half at Kyle Field on November 26, 2009 in College Station, Texas. The
    Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images

    If you saw Johnson against the Longhorns last year, you will know how good he can be.  Featuring big-play ability, plus an NFL frame, it’s a good bet that Johnson could wind up as one of the better—if not the best—quarterbacks in his draft class.  He’s a dark horse—and you heard it here first—but just as long as he can translate his game and learn a pro system.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

5. Christian Ponder – Florida State – 6'3", 227

21 of 25

    CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 22:  Christian Ponder #7 of the Florida State Seminoles throws a pass against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Kenan Stadium on October 22, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    He has a pro-style QB frame, combined with the smarts that could allow for him to easily learn in an NFL system, but there has been a lot of inconsistency at times throughout his college career—which in the end might be what he’s most known for.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

4. Case Keenum – Houston – 6'2", 210

22 of 25

    NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Case Keenum #7 of the Houston Cougars throws the ball against the Tulane Green Wave at the Louisiana Superdome on October 17, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Keenum has done nothing but light up the scoreboard at Houston, posting gaudy statistics that most college quarterbacks would never come close to seeing in a career—let alone one season.  Still, while he has a lot of tools to become a solid NFL quarterback—he seems to be more of a product of his school’s system, instead.

    BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

3. Ryan Mallett – Arkansas – 6'7", 238

23 of 25

    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 28:  Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansa Razorbacks throws a pass over Rahim Alem #84 of the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Ge
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Let’s see, the kid has the kind of frame, coupled with a cannon arm that NFL scouts will just drool over—and many have slated him as a potential top pick in next year’s draft.  The biggest strike against him has been some injuries over the last few years—but all in all, whether he pans out or not, he does seem destined to be a high NFL draft pick with loads of hype.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

2. Andrew Luck – Stanford – 6'4", 235

24 of 25

    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal in action during their game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Luck already has the talent and the frame of an NFL quarterback—and combine that with being under the tutelage of Stanford Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, and one can point towards a successful pro career in his future.

    NFL QUARTERBACK

1. Jake Locker – Washington – 6'3", 226

25 of 25

    SEATTLE - DECEMBER 05: Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies moves to pass the ball during game against the California Bears on December 5, 2009 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Huskies defeated the Bears 42-10. (Photo by Otto
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Locker is quite mobile and also possesses top-notch arm strength.  If he can stay healthy and continue to grow within Coach Sark’s system, he also has an outside shot to be the top pick in the NFL Draft.

    NFL QUARTERBACK