NFL Draft 2013: Looking Ahead at the Top 10 Quarterbacks for 2013
The NFL draft boards are starting to fill up for the 2012 draft. Quite a few quarterbacks who are, or may become, starter-worthy down the road in their careers.
With Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, and Robert Griffin III all presumably skipping their senior seasons, it's fair to ask what kind of talent at quarterback will be left for the 2013 draft?
There's not much, if any chance that the stock of 2013 will be in comparison to that of next year's draft. However, we might as well get to know some of the top NFL prospective quarterbacks for next fall's college football season.
10. Jeff Tuel, Washington State
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Considering his calf and collarbone problems that kept him out most of this season, there may not be too many teams willing to even take a chance on Tuel as a backup quarterback.
Tuel has good size (6'3", around 225 lbs.), and the arm strength is certainly there. It is those two things that we have come to learn (thank you JaMarcus Russell) aren't nearly all that counts when evaluating quarterbacks.
As much as I hate to use this word too many times, Tuel has a great amount of up-side in his abilities. If he can stay on the field long enough to develop those abilities is what's in question.
Also, the mobility that was once considered solid may not be the same due to the calf injury he suffered this fall. With many questions surrounding Tuel, even the fourth round may be far-fetched for the time being.
9. Darron Thomas, Oregon
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Darron Thomas is a great college quarterback. There's not much objection to that statement, but a NFL prototypical he is not. At the same time, there may still be a chance for him in the league. And no, it's not by changing positions.
With the offense he is currently in, there's not a whole lot of times where Thomas is forced to play like a NFL quarterback.
With all the hurry up offense and constant switching of plays, formations, or what not, Thomas has great control of his offense. Transferring that over into the NFL will on the other hand be much more difficult.
Thomas can extend plays with his speed and elusiveness. Execute in pressure-packed situations, and he actually has fairly decent arm strength to go with his 6'3" frame.
He also doesn't take enough time in the pocket, has yet to fill out the way he should, and can't make the deep throws like NFL-ready quarterbacks can.
I'll give him a shot at becoming a quarterback in the NFL one day based on his readings of defenses. As well as his amount of smarts to go with a good arm, and the threat he has to scramble. But, he's not a franchise quarterback by any means coming from a spread-option offense.
8. Collin Klein, Kansas State
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The wide receiver-turned-quarterback Klein has led his Kansas State Wildcats to an impressive, and rather surprising season. This in turn will have them in the Cotton Bowl on January 6.
Klein's size is what you look for in a NFL quarterback (6'5"-225), and has a decent share of athleticism saved over from his wideout days. He has also showed just how tough he is by fighting through injuries this season.
It's still clear to me that Klein has the body for a NFL quarterback. However, he has yet to throw enough in a game to say he can make all the throws he needs to make, in order succeed at the highest level.
Klein has only went over 30 attempts in a game once. It was one of his better games of the season. The fact that he has 26 rushing touchdowns doesn't come close to hiding the fact that Klein has a 57.8 completion percentage in the Big 12, and has only attempted 251 passes.
The way Klein is used next year in the offense will determine a lot in terms of how he's evaluated by NFL teams. His loads of talent will at least get him viewed by a fair share of scouts.
7. Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt
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No, he's not up this far because he's Aaron Rodgers' brother. Otherwise, he'd be in the top five. But Jordan Rodgers has showed signs of a NFL-caliber player in his first season as a starter.
Going 6-6 with Vanderbilt University might as well be the same as making a BCS bowl with most other teams. Most likely the best Vanderbilt quarterback since Jay Cutler, Rodgers will be leading the Commodores to only their second bowl since 1982.
Rodgers' stats are far from eye-popping. However, I thought from watching him against University of Kentucky and University of Florida, he is making strides with his throws and reading of defenses. The jury is still out, but at least it may actually give us a reason to watch the Liberty Bowl against University of Cincinnati.
He may not be exactly the size of a NFL Quarterback, but neither is his older brother, who you might as well hand the MVP award to now. Jordan may be his brother, but it's way too early to make comparisons.
But it's fair to say Jordan has shown signs in and out of the pocket that remind us of his older sibling in the NFL. We should get much more of an idea next season on exactly where Rodgers should be placed among the other 2013 quarterback draftees.
6. Tyler Bray, Tennessee
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He didn't play against any of the big boy teams of the SEC this year (except Georgia), but Tyler Bray has a very high ceiling in my opinion. So much so that he could end up on top of this list by this time next year.
Bray's biggest games were indeed against overmatched opponents University of Cincinnati, University of Buffalo, and University of Montana. Then again, he's only a sophomore leaving the possibility that he may not even declare for the 2013 draft.
Bray's 6'6" frame is intriguing to NFL teams. Along with the amount of progress he's shown at the young age of 19. The fact he missed games with University of Alabama, University of Arkansas, LSU, and University of South Carolina while nursing a broken thumb, will keep us waiting on just how high Bray should be considered for next year's draft.
For Bray, he doesn't even have to worry about his stock for next year. He'll have yet another year of eligibility after the 2012 season. Though he is the youngest guy on the list, Bray has shown he can make NFL-type, right-on-the-money throws.
Bray's mobility is in question, which is common in a 6'6" quarterback. But this is the reason why he stays behind the even taller Brock Osweiler, who is much better with his feet.
5. Geno Smith, West Virginia
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Geno Smith is one of the best players in the Big East (for what it's worth), and could be one of the more dynamic players in college football next season.
To translate his talents from the college level to that of the NFL may be much harder. The 6'3", 215-pound frame he carries around is at least close to prototypical. But, his throwing abilities consistently are not.
Smith is a great athletic asset to any team. However, he may end up in the third round if he continues at the same pace of progression that he's at now. I don't think he has Bray or Rodgers' throwing up-side, but has more than them in terms of athleticism.
With that said, Smith has decent arm strength, and may even be considered a poor man's version of Robert Griffin III for being able to extend the play with his mobility, while still being rather poised in the pocket despite not being considered a pocket passer.
4. E.J. Manuel, Florida State
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This may come as a surprise to some, but I see alot of potential in E.J. Manuel. Take one look at the guy (6'5"-245) and you'll know why.
The fact he's 245 pounds and can run as fast as a 4.5 40-yard dash is something past incredible. How about aside from his athleticism? Well he may be smart enough to play quarterback, but arm strength is an issue. Along with his accuracy with that arm.
He had above average stats this season. Then again, stats don't come close to telling the story of how a guy will play in the NFL (cough-Case Keenum-cough). I consider him just as good of a prospect as Christian Ponder was after his junior year. So, we'll see how much of a leap Manuel takes next season.
Which brings us back to his arm issues. He has clearly bumped his game up a notch in terms of both placement of his throws, and the strength he puts behind them. The question will be if he can continue to improve in those areas. If so, I like this guy as a second round possibility come 2013, if not more.
3. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State
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Brock Osweiler is a big dude. There's no denying that fact. His NFL potential has grown pretty large as well this season.
The 6'8" Osweiler has a canon for an arm. He also has the quality of putting touch on his passes, which is obviously a huge attention-getter. His placement downfield is strong as well, which sets him apart from many of the other quarterbacks on this list.
To go along with his electric arm, Osweiler has surprised me with his movement in the pocket and his reaction to pressure in-between the tackles.
There's really not a lot of bad things to say about this guy. He's a clean thrower, hard to bring down in the pocket, and his football smarts aren't too shabby either.
I would question his reads every once in awhile, and going through his progressions is an area that needs improvement. He is first round material without a doubt for 2013.
2. Aaron Murray, Georgia
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I've had plenty of time to dissect Aaron Murray in SEC play. Overall, I like what I see from the Georgia Bulldog. Ever since his days in nearby Plant High School, he has seemed to be a pro-type quarterback in many ways.
He has strong leadership capabilities, and amazing foot work to boot. Many wonder if Murray can be a successful quarterback in the NFL with his lack of size. But his arm strength won't be a problem.
Reading defenses and directing passes into tight windows might, on the other hand, bring problems for Murray going forward. The highly athletic quarterback has yet to show me consistency in making all of the NFL-ready throws. That could change over time.
I won't stray from the idea of Murray being a franchise quarterback, but a vast improvement will be necessary for him to become one. His vision of the field and accuracy will determine if he will indeed become a big-time player, or a guy on the fringe between starter and backup
1. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
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Tyler Wilson may already be NFL-ready, and he's only started one year (thanks to Ryan Mallett). With that said, it's clear Wilson will return for some seasoning in the college ranks before going pro.
And that he will in 2013, perhaps as a top 10 pick in a weakened quarterback pool. The 6'3" redshirt junior can make all the throws needed at the next level. He's good in the pocket, and can take a beating (a la Cutler, which he is often compared to).
His decision-making we'll need to improve. Another season in the college ranks should help tremendously, especially playing in the Southeastern Conference where many future NFLers reside.
With another year, Wilson can fine-tune the NFL-ready tools he already possesses. The system in Arkansas isn't the greatest for Wilson. There is a lot of "free-throwing", which could lead to some poor decisions that plagued Mallett before him.
He has a strong arm, well-placed throws, and great mechanics. It's clear to see Wilson has slightly separated himself from the rest of the pack of quarterbacks in his draft class.