NFL Draft 2012: Ranking the Top Available QBs

Jeff KayerCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2011

NFL Draft 2012: Ranking the Top Available QBs

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    As seems to be the case every year around the end of the NFL season, a host of teams have managed to put themselves in a position of having terrible quarterbacks taking snaps.

    Whether it was a bad mistake drafting a rookie that doesn't have the goods to succeed, making a bad decision on signing a starter or not finding suitable backups, a fair amount of teams right now are seeing their season sabotaged by having a bad quarterback.

    This year, at least, there may indeed be plenty of help to go around as the NFL will see one of its deepest classes at quarterback in many years. Ignore the fact only two quarterbacks were in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. You could see plenty of quarterbacks from the 2012 draft class starting in the near future.

    Let's take a look at the 10 highest-rated college quarterbacks.

10) Russell Wilson: Wisconsin

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 2879

    Completion Percentage: 72.5%

    Pass TDs: 31

    Interceptions:  3

     

    Secondary Stats

    Rush Yards:  320

    Rush TDs:  5

     

    Russell Wilson enjoyed a very successful year in Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State. He will have the chance to convince NFL Scouts he has the right stuff when he plays Oregon at the Rose Bowl.

    The biggest knock on him is the fact he's under six feet tall. That usually doesn't bode well for NFL quarterbacks. He does, however, have the speed that could see him play another position and be a Wildcat weapon for years to come.  

    If Tim Tebow is indeed the long-term answer in Denver, drafting Wilson could make sense, as he has the speed and versatility to run the option-style offense currently employed by the Broncos. 

9) Ryan Tannehill: Texas A&M

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 3415

    Completion Percentage: 61.1%

    Pass TDs: 28

    Interceptions:  14

     

    Secondary Stats

    Rush Yards:  296

    Rush TDs:  4

     

    Tannehill was a well-rated quarterback and played like one for much of the year, especially in the first half of games. The biggest issue he and his team had was the tendency to blow leads in the second half of games, especially against its best competition. 

    That lack of ability to close out games could lead to Tannehill dropping way down in the draft. With that said, if a team who drafts him can help bring about some consistency, he could be a late-round steal.

    With John Kitna experiencing injury issues, having Dallas draft an in-state quarterback may make many people happy. 

8) Brandon Weeden: Oklahoma State

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 4328

    Completion Percentage: 72.6%

    Pass TDs: 34

    Interceptions:  12

     

    If you don't know much about Brandon Weeden and just look at his stats, you wonder why he isn't rated higher on this list. Weeden was a deadly accurate passer and led one of the best offenses in the country as Oklahoma State narrowly missed out on playing in its first national championship game.

    The problem for Weeden is he's 28 years old, as he came to Oklahoma State after failing to become a Major League Baseball player. His age will automatically knock him way down the draft chart.

    However, for a team that has an established starter but needs a good backup, Weeden could be a great fit. A team like the Bears—that is seeing Caleb Hanie literally throw Chicago's season away—could be a great place for Weeden to land.

7) Nick Foles: Arizona

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    Stats:

    Passing Yards: 4334

    Completion Percentage: 69.1%

    Pass TDs: 28

    Interceptions:  14

     

    Foles was a highly touted quarterback heading into the 2011 season, and for a good portion of the year, he lived up to the billing. However, he had issues with turnovers late in the year and analysts have said he locks onto one receiver too much.

    Another issue for the turnovers though is the heavy reliance the Wildcats had on Foles' arm as more times than not, they were playing from behind.

    At 6'5", 240 pounds, the guy has the perfect frame of an NFL quarterback. The question is, can he develop better field vision? For that reason, he'll likely drop down to the third or fourth round, but if he gets drafted to a team that succeeds in developing quarterbacks, he may yet succeed. 

    With Matt Flynn likely to take a walk from Green Bay at the end of the year, he could be a very good fit there. 

6) Kirk Cousins: Michigan State

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 3016

    Completion Percentage: 65.0%

    Pass TDs: 24

    Interceptions:  7

     

    Throughout his collegiate career at Michigan State, Kirk Cousins was never the most flashy of quarterbacks, but he'd always be good for one or two big games a year against the Spartans biggest rivals. 

    His numbers have been consistent the last three years, ranging between 2,680 and 3,016 yards passing and 19 to 24 touchdown passes. Given these consistent numbers, it's unlikely Cousins will be the type of franchise quarterback that will throw for over 30 touchdowns per year.

    In his defense though, he played in a system that often focused on running the ball.

    What you will get is a tough, intelligent and battle-tested quarterback that could likely play in the NFL quickly if need be. A perfect spot for Cousins could be in his own state, backing up Matt Stafford in Detroit as the Lions seem to have a tendency to bring in Spartan quarterbacks. 

    To me, Cousins is a lot like their current backup Shaun Hill. Neither player will set records, but they can come in and be a stabilizing force as a backup quarterback.

    If Stafford were to go down with yet another long-term injury, Cousins has the talent and level head to still lead the Lions to possible contention.   

5) Kellen Moore: Boise State

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 3507

    Completion Percentage: 74.1%

    Pass TDs: 41

    Interceptions:  7

     

    Is there a chance I am too high on Moore? Perhaps. He has been ranked as far down as 12th on NFL draft rankings for quarterbacks. The biggest concern?  His 6'0" height and slender 191 pounds.

    Optimally, you want your quarterback to be 6'3" or taller, but you know who else is just six feet tall? Drew Brees. I doubt Saints fans complain about his height.

    Yes, Moore will need to bulk up a bit in the NFL, but his prolific passing numbers should not go unnoticed. He's been remarkably consistent his entire college career, throwing for over 70 percent his final two years. He threw 140 touchdowns in college to only 26 interceptions.

    His pass yards dipped slightly this year, though he lost two receivers to the NFL in Titus Young and Austin Pettis, thus further proving that Moore wasn't merely part of a "system" offense like you have seen from other smaller schools that have prolific quarterbacks.

    Moore has consistently shown to beat his toughest competition as was highlighted in his demolishing of a Georgia defense this year that was a top-10 unit.  

    With the Kansas City Chiefs playing themselves out of a top-10 pick, I could see Moore going here in the second round. Though Cassel is bigger, he plays small, lacks big arm strength and really hasn't proven to be a franchise quarterback. 

4) Landry Jones: Oklahoma

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 4302

    Completion Percentage: 63.1%

    Pass TDs: 28

    Interceptions:  14

     

    To me, Landry Jones will be the red-headed stepchild of this draft class.

    He's not going to get the headlines of the quarterbacks above him and may in fact be overshadowed by a guy like Moore, who is more of a household name. Despite all of that, he could end up being a top pick in the draft between 10th and 15th. 

    The guy has the mold of a professional quarterback. He is 6'4" and possesses the kind of arm that makes many scouts believe he can be a franchise quarterback.

    The concerning thing though is he actually regressed a bit this year, throwing for fewer yards, fewer touchdowns and more interceptions. He got outplayed by both Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden in contests this year as well.

    His best year was actually his sophomore year, in which he threw for nearly 5,000 yards, 38 touchdowns and 12 picks. 

    But with his pedigree, there will undoubtedly be a team that believes he can be their savior. With the Dolphins likely to win between four and six games, I can see them grabbing Jones. 

    It should be noted that if Jones believes he can improve on his 2011 season, he may forgo the draft and play his senior year in an effort to be the top pick in the 2013 draft. 

3) Robert Griffin III: Baylor

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 3998

    Completion Percentage: 72.4%

    Pass TDs: 36

    Interceptions:  6

     

    Secondary Stats

    Rush Yards:  644

    Rush TDs:  9

     

    The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. If this were almost any other year, the year RG3 had would catapult him into the top pick of the draft, much like what we saw last year with Cam Newton.  The problem is, there are two excellent, more traditional-looking quarterbacks ahead of him.

    But what may be his loss in dollars could be his gain in that he may indeed go to a team that is better prepared to win. With an accurate arm, blazing speed, tremendous leadership and a knack to play his best in the biggest of games, this is a guy that has top-10 pick written all over him.

    It's all a matter of where teams finish to see where he will end up.  There are two teams in particular that I believe could desperately used the energy and enthusiasm a guy like Griffin would bring. One place is Washington, which hasn't had a great quarterback in what seems like 20 years when Mark Rypien was winning them a Super Bowl.

    The same thing can be said about the other team, the Buffalo Bills, who have been searching for a franchise quarterback since the days of Jim Kelly. I believe Ryan Fitzpatrick is a starter in this league in the same mold of a Kyle Orton.

    But if Buffalo has a chance to take Griffin, you better believe they will do it.

    The one interesting fact about Griffin is that he is only a few inches taller than others on this list like Russell Wilson and Kellen Moore, yet you don't hear similar concerns regarding Griffin's prospects in the NFL. 

2) Matt Barkley: USC

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 3528

    Completion Percentage: 69.1%

    Pass TDs: 39

    Interceptions:  7

     

    If Matt Barkley wasn't stuck on a team that is stuck in a scandal, it's possible he may be thought of as the number one pick in the draft. The ascension from inconsistent freshman to dominant junior has been incredibly impressive, especially when you consider it's been amidst a scandal that knocked the Trojans out from postseason competition for two years.

    He was very accurate all year and went toe to toe with Andrew Luck in an epic 56-48 triple overtime thriller in October.

    In fact, Barkley actually put up better numbers than Luck against the Oregon Ducks—on the road, no less—when he threw for 323 yards, four touchdowns and a pick. 

    Luck, meanwhile, only threw for 256 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as Stanford lost at home to the Ducks. 

    Barkley should be a lock to be a top-10 pick in this draft. The only thing that could actually knock him down below Robert Griffin is the recent perception that USC quarterbacks don't translate well to the NFL. Other than a few good years from Carson Palmer, the most recent Trojan quarterbacks have struggled, including Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel and Mark Sanchez. 

    With that said, any team after the Indianapolis Colts that needs a quarterback is likely going to take him off the board. Looking at the teams at the bottom of the standings, that could prove to be the Cleavland Browns, who have to be questioning if Colt McCoy is a franchise quarterback given his struggles this year.

1) Andrew Luck: Stanford

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    Stats

    Passing Yards: 3170

    Completion Percentage: 70.0%

    Pass TDs: 35

    Interceptions:  9

     

    Secondary Stats

    Rush Yards:  153

    Rush TDs:  2

     

    Could the bloom be coming off the Luck rose at all? With a so-so game against Oregon and losing out yet again on a Heisman Trophy, the talk about Luck being the next John Elway has faded a bit in recent weeks.

    With that said, Luck is about as sure a bet to go No. 1 as you'll find. It frankly would be more of a shocker than when Houston passed up on Reggie Bush, who everyone at that point thought was the next big thing in the NFL.

    There's not much more you can say about Luck and his numbers. He's been very consistent the past two years, throwing for about the same amount of yards, touchdowns and interceptions in that span and his completion percentage hovering between 70 and 71 percent.

    His 6'4", 235-pound frame is what NFL scouts dream about and he is a tremendous athlete, as seen with a one-handed catch going out of bounds on a quarterback option play. 

    He's personally led a Stanford team with hardly any NFL talent on offense to its second straight BCS game. 

    If the Colts don't take him with the first pick, it's because another team offered Indianapolis a trade offer they couldn't refuse. If that is not the case, then the Colts are going to have to deal with a very uncomfortable situation with Manning and Luck perhaps having to share the same locker room together.

    While Luck may not be happy about it, perhaps he should see what happened with Aaron Rodgers when he waited for several years for his chance to shine.