Tale of the Tape: Scouting the Top 5 Quarterbacks of the 2012 NFL Draft
A big part of my job here at Bleacher Report as well as my jobs previous to here were to break down a college or NFL player and describe what he does well. A large part of the job as a scout is to tell your employer or audience what Player X can do that our players cannot.
Today, I'm going against the grain.
No more talking players up in an effort to sell them to a head coach or general manager. It's time for you, the reader, to meet the flaws of the 2012 NFL draft's five best quarterbacks.
The 2012 draft class has five players being touted as potential first-round draft choices. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Landry Jones, Matt Barkley and Ryan Tannehill are those players. I've spent considerable space telling you what these guys do well.
Let's take a look at the top five, in order of where I rank them, and look at the major flaw that each has to overcome.
Andrew Luck, Stanford
Andrew Luck has been highly regarded since the 2011 season began, and rightfully so. I've spent hundreds of words telling you how good Luck is, so what can be fixed?
The biggest issue that I see with Luck this season isn't his arm strength, as some have questioned, it's actually his decision making and accuracy
In the video, we see Luck making a bad decision by forcing the ball deep and severely overthrowing the receiver. You could argue that Luck's receiver ran the wrong route, when in fact it's just an overthrow. And it's happening quite often this season as Luck struggles to replace key targets at wide receiver and fullback from the 2010 season.
On this play we see the receiver start to break inside on an option route. The receiver sees the middle of the field open, but Luck throws the corner fade, which the cornerback is actually in better position for.
Luck is still my No. 1 overall prospect, but there are flaws to his game like this that pop up each week. NFL teams will look at his complete body of work, but for Luck to remain the king of prospects, he needs to clean up his decision-making and re-focus his accuracy.
Robert Griffin III, Baylor
The athletic ability of Robert Griffin III is what has people talking about him most, but it has to be said that his throwing ability is good enough to warrant drafting him in the first round even without that speed and running ability.
This is what I call a "frustrated throw." Griffin has at times this season looked and acted frustrated by his receivers and offensive linemen. When this happens, sometimes he'll chuck the ball as deep as he can and ask his teammates to help him out. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn't.
Griffin is an elite athlete and an intriguing quarterback prospect. The combination of those two things makes him a Top 5 player on my board each week. For Griffin to take the next step from elite college player to elite NFL player he has to overcome his inner Jay Cutler and trust his linemen and receivers to make plays. Controlling that frustration will make him a fourth quarter quarterback that his team trusts and responds to.
Matt Barkley, USC
The more time I spend watching Matt Barkley, the more I like him as a prospect. There's a great chance that Barkley won't leave USC early after this season, but if he does I'm seeing a Top 10 draft prospect.
I've said before that Barkley concerns me due to his accuracy and footwork. That hasn't changed, and the USC offense does little to showcase his arm strength on a weekly basis. A good coach will clean up Barkley's footwork, but his accuracy has to be questioned.
Here we'll see a common play from Barkley. He takes a short drop, reads the safety and looks to pass to the right hash. The overthrow, caused by Barkley failing to follow through all the way, sailed high and were it not for an amazing catch by the receiver would have been incomplete.
I'll be looking at Barkley more in-depth as the season unfolds, but this is what I've worried about all season. Much like Cam Newton's pre-draft workout, Barkley struggles when throwing that 15-20 yard out.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Depending on who you ask, and when you ask them, Landry Jones is either the next Sam Bradford or the next Chase Daniel. In reality, he's neither.
Jones is a very good prospect, but he's not the player Bradford was. Bradford's pro day is still one of the most impressive throwing displays I have ever seen, and it led to his being drafted No. 1 overall. Jones isn't going to put on that type of display, whether in shorts or in pads.
The video is almost funny, but there is a point you have to realize. Jones' stats are phenomenal, but that high completion percentage is due to a large number of screens and short throws over the middle against zone defenses. Three straight bubble screens to start the game is akin to running three straight tosses. Throws don't get easier than this.
Overcoming the system at Oklahoma will be a chore for Jones, and his supporters, but he will need amazing Scouting Combine and Pro Day performances to quiet all doubters.
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
As a one-time wide receiver at Texas A&M, Ryan Tannehill has a cult-like following in the southern Midwest due to his athletic ability and production over the last season at A&M.
The biggest question mark surrounding Tannehill is his experience, but that's not something we can show on film. Be sure that it will come up often that he's started just one and a half seasons for the Aggies. Experience is a key to being successful early in the NFL.
Partially due to his inexperience and largely due to his lack of elite arm strength, Tannehill is prone to throwing deep interceptions, like we see here.
Tannehill is pressured in the pocket, and instead of throwing the ball away or trying to run with the football, he throws a deep pass down the sideline. That's mistake No. 1.
The second mistake comes because the player is in double coverage, with a safety and cornerback converging on the ball.
Mistake No. 3 is that Tannehill doesn't try to step in to his throw due to the pressure surrounding him, and because of this he underthrows the receiver. The play results in a key interception.
I like Tannehill as a prospect, but I wish he were two years younger and just starting to develop as a quarterback. As it is, he's a senior and will need to sit behind a veteran quarterback once in the NFL as he continues to learn and develop.
The 2012 NFL draft class at quarterback could be very strong, depending on which of the four underclassmen ranked atop the leaderboard decide to leave college and which decide to return to school. The general consensus as of today is that Luck, Griffin and Barkley will leave school, but even that is guesswork at best.
It's easy to look at the negatives and start to downgrade a prospect, but it's important to remember that scouts look at an entire body of work. No one game or one play will ever change a grade completely. So while these videos show a handful of bad plays, these five are first round prospects and will be the future of NFL franchises by May 1.
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