Gunner Kiel is the best quarterback in the 2012 class period.
Kiel has ideal size and height for an elite quarterback at 6’4" and 220 pounds. He is very strong for a quarterback his age and surprisingly athletic as well.
Columbus East High School runs a four-wide offense with Kiel in the shotgun. This offense suits him well because he can make any throw needed both vertically and horizontally.
Kiel gets rid of the ball so fast and his release is so quick that defenses rarely get any pressure on him.
He runs the ball a lot in this offense off of zone reads; this is when both his athleticism and competitiveness are on the greatest display.
He keeps the ball tight to his body and his quick feet make him a legitimate threat. However, what I like the most is how he lowers his shoulder whenever the first down marker is within reach.
What makes him special as a thrower is how hard and tight he can throw the ball when he sets his feet. Yet on the next play he might throw a fade with perfect touch.
My only concern for him is we have not seen him under center enough. Can he make the same reads dropping back to pass?
With his talent and competitiveness I would not bet against him. But how do the rest of the top quarterbacks compare?
If there is a prospect who is flying under the radar that could surpass Gunner Kiel during their college careers it is T.J. Millweard from Fort Worth, Texas.
Millweard has good size at 6’4" and 225-pounds. Despite his big frame, which is likely to get bigger, he has great mobility and athleticism. He has a very strong arm and has a quick release as well. He can make any throw necessary with little effort.
He reminds me of Matthew Stafford-lite. Like Stafford, he has a strong arm but can gamble with his arm a little too much sometimes. I like his confidence, but he needs to understand that he will need to throw the ball away on some of those passes on the collegiate level.
He is behind the curb in comparison to Kiel but has a ceiling that is about equal.
Faton Bauta ranks higher on my list than most other peoples and is a quarterback whose stock is on the rise. Bauta recently verbaled to UGA.
I rank Bauta so high because of his potential. He might be a teenager but he is built like a college senior. He is 6’3" and 230-pounds of solid muscle. He is being recruited as a quarterback but is athletic enough to play many positions.
With his size and speed (4.54), if he becomes more polished as a quarterback he has All-American potential—but has a ways to go. He possesses a very good arm and nice footwork, but he needs more reps in the drop-back passing game.
He is not going to play immediately but could become an elite quarterback his junior season.
Preston Dewey has a rare combination of athleticism and great accuracy. Both his footwork and his throwing motion are consistent and efficient.
He does not have a rocket arm but he can make any pass needed in the short to intermediate range. He works both under center and in the shotgun and has the ability to successfully read the defenses in both.
Dewey has been well coached and it shows in his fundamentals. He will be able to challenge early playing time but is limited in his ceiling.
Tanner Mangum is a prospect that does not jump off the page in any certain area. However, he is a prospect that I believe will put up solid stats in college. He is a true game manager who has very good accuracy and understanding of the game.
Mangum does the small things that many quarterbacks lack at the high school level. He is great at sailing the fake and setting up the play action. He never stares down his receivers and linebackers have no shot of reading his eyes and jumping the play.
He is very good against the zone in the small and immediate passes. With Mangum you don’t get the flash but you will get wins. He does not have great arm strength but he knows his limitations and will play within them.
Anthony Alford is an elite-level quarterback that can make plays with his feet and his arm.
He has a quick release and great arm strength. He needs to work on his technique and accuracy but has such a high ceiling he is worth the effort.
Alford is good in the pocket but is at his best when things break down. He has a wow factor that very few players possess. He can take nothing and make a touchdown out of it.
Has the zip and power to be an effective short and intermediate passer now. He reminds me of Denard Robinson, but with enough work could become Charlie Ward 2.0.
The risk is low with Alford because if he fails to adjust to the offense at QB, he can play a variety of positions.
Chad Kelley is another one of those quarterbacks who could become elite or end up at another position. The 6’2" and 205-pound quarterback. He has confidence in the pocket and has good footwork. However, he is extremely erratic in his throwing motion.
When he plants his feet and sets his shoulders he can make great throws. He has a confidence in the pocket that makes him an intriguing prospect but he is extremely raw.
He will need to redshirt this season and work on his overall throwing motion if he is going to become a starting quarterback. He is unlikely to reach the level that Gunner Kiel will, but could become a solid contributor at the college level.
Matt Davis is one of the top dial threat quarterbacks in this year’s class. When he takes off out of the pocket he is as elusive as most running backs. He has great change of direction speed and acceleration after he cuts.
He is listed at 6’1" and 200-pounds, but runs stronger than his stature would lead you to believe.
He is best passing the ball on the move. When he is used in the play action game he shows his most potential as a passer. His throwing motion is compact but he needs to deliver the ball higher on the collegiate level.
What keeps Davis from reaching the level of a player like Kiel is that he does not have very good arm strength and is not consistent with his deep pass. He is very talented and could become a solid quarterback but he could also end up being moved to wide receiver.
Zach Kline is an intriguing prospect. Unlike most of the top quarterbacks in the 2012 recruiting class, he has played under center. The fact that he has played in multiple formations gives him an advantage over other prospects because the learning curve will be smaller.
Kline has one of the best deliveries of any prospect this season. In fact, he does have the quickest release of any quarterback on this list. This quick release and his solid footwork make him an extremely accurate passer.
His short and intermediate passes can rival any quarterback prospect. His biggest flaw is that he only has average arm strength on the deep ball. He can make the throws down the field but is limited.
Kline is one of those quarterbacks who are much more elusive than you would think by his appearance. He can buy time with his feet and is accurate on the run. He has a high ceiling but his arm strength will need to improve to join the like of Kiel.
Outside of Gunner Kiel, Connor Brewer is the most prepared quarterback to play immediately of the 2012 quarterback recruits. He is extremely accurate and deceptively athletic.
Brewer is very bright and his pre-snap reads are nearly flawless. He can make any throw required on the collegiate level. He does not have a perfect throwing motion but he keeps it tight and it should not be an issue at the college level.
The thing that was most impressive when I watched him on film is how well he progresses through his reads. Chaparral High School goes four wide with him in the shotgun. While he goes through his progressions he seems to have a built in clock that tells him when to release the ball.
With the issues that Texas has had at quarterback since the departure of Colt McCoy, Brewer could play as a freshman. He is even with Kiel on every area but arm strength.
As I stated above, he has very good arm strength but not elite.
Jameis Winston is regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects in the state of Alabama’s history and yet he is leaving the state to play for the Florida State Seminoles.
Winston is ranked as the No.1 quarterback in the nation by ESPN and the No. 2 quarterback by Scout. Moreover, Rivals has him listed as the No.1 dual threat quarterback. Part of the reason is ranked so high is because he has the highest ceiling of all the quarterbacks in the 2012 class.
However, of the elite quarterbacks, he has the most work to do before he is ready to become a starter on the collegiate level.
The 6’4" and 295-pound quarterback can do it both with his feet (4.62 forty) and his legs. When Winston is on his game he is the best quarterback in the nation. His arm strength has no limits and at times his deep balls are perfectly thrown.
When the pocket collapses around Winston, he is just getting started. He is great on the move and can throw off balance. This can be one of his weaknesses, however. Sometimes he gives up on the play before it is necessary and takes off running. He will need to learn to be a little more patient.
He also has a tendency to wind the football up like a baseball player. This is because he is one of the nation’s top baseball players as well.
It should also be noted that he is considered to be an excellent leader and should develop into a fine quarterback. He might end up being better than Gunner Kiel in the long run, but in the immediate he is too raw to contribute to the level Kiel can as a freshman.