Last season's draft was the year of the quarterback with four quarterbacks taken in the first round and another taken very early in round two. This year the top two picks will undoubtedly a pair of quarterbacks, but after that there only figures to be one other first round selection, and his first round ability is very debatable. One of the stories of this class may be size, with highly successful and productive shorter signal callers such as Russell Wilson and Kellen Moore possibly slipping due to their diminutive stature, while less productive and less successful players such as Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, and Nick Foles going higher due more to their measurables then their play on the field.
Most Overrated Prospect- Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M
Most Underrated Prospect- Russell Wilson Wisconsin
Potential Late Round Steal- Ryan Lindley San Diego State
1 Andrew Luck Stanford 6'4 234-A pick that has been two years in the making, maybe more, Luck has been seen as the top pro prospect at the quarterback position in college for the past two maybe three seasons. Undoubtedly would have been the top pick in last seasons draft had he elected to turn pro. Ironically, Luck is the most polished pro ready quarterback to enter the NFL since the man who he will be taking over for in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning. Like Manning, Luck is the son of a former NFL quarterback, and has been groomed for this moment since childhood. Perhaps because of his outstanding fundamentals and a cerebral approach to the game that defies his age, Luck's outstanding athleticism has flown a bit under the radar. Luck ran just under 4.6 in the 40 yard dash, had a 36" vertical jump and had the top broad jump of any quarterback at the combine. When you add to all of that the fact that he spent the majority of his college career being coached by perhaps the best young football coach on the planet and a former NFL quarterback himself in Jim Harbaugh, you couldn't enter a lab and create a more perfect number one overall choice. Luck likely would have been the top choice in any NFL draft, since another former Stanford signal caller, John Elway in 1984, and he will no doubt be the Colts top choice in 2012.
Prediction- Number 1 overall pick
2. Robert Griffin III Baylor 6'2 223- RG3 took the college football world by storm last season coming seemingly out of nowhere to lead Baylor to their most successful season in school history en route to becoming the school's first Heisman Trophy winner. Griffin entered Baylor as a track star who also played quarterback, but his skill set as a passer has improved dramatically under coach Art Briles, and now Griffin is more then just a world class athlete under center, he is now a quarterback who can beat you with his arm, as well as his legs. Just as Andrew Luck's other skills make you forget about his athleticism, RG3's athleticism makes you forget about his other skills. While he has the ability to avoid the pass rush, Griffin is fearless in the pocket, showing an uncanny willingness to take a big shot and still deliver the football with accuracy. Though he has the ability to stand in the pocket, Griffin is at his best on the run, displaying tremendous accuracy as well as the patience to not just give up on a play tucking and running. That being said, tucking and running is still a very real aspect of RG3's game, making him a nightmare to prepare for for opposing defenses. While you may prefer a more over the top delivery, Griffin gets rid of the ball quickly when he decides to throw, with very little effort or wasted motion. It's very apparent why the Washington Redskins gave up so much to have the chance to draft RG3, with Mike Shannahan's penchant for rolling out and sprinting out the quarterback, the skill set possessed by Griffin is the perfect fit for what he wants to do offensively. Perhaps any other season you'd be looking at the top overall pick in the draft, and it would have been very interesting to see who'd have been selected first had RG3 been in the same draft as last year's top choice Cam Newton. While there seems to be fewer questions about Griffin's ability to succeed in the pros, the reason for that may very well be the success that Newton had last season.
Prediction- Number 2 overall pick
3. Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M 6'4 221- Tannehill has the raw tools to be a successful NFL quarterback, but he is nowhere near ready to succeed at the next level. A former wide receiver, Tannehill has outstanding athletic ability, prototypical size, terrific leadership ability,and a big arm. However, fundamentally Tannehill has a lot of work to do to clean up his game and succeed in the NFL. Breakdowns and second half turnovers marred his last season with Aggies and illustrated some very real flaws in his game. He has a tendency to stare down his primary receivers as well as telegraph his throws with a slow and inconsistent release loaded with wasted motion including a tendency to tap the ball with his off hand, re-**** and then fire. These flaws led to 17 INT's last season at the college level, and will lead to many more in the pros unless he is able to refine his game. Tannehill will be reached for, just as one or two quarterbacks always are, in the top half of the first round of the draft. If given time to develop, Tannehill could end up being an outstanding NFL quarterback, but if he's rushed into the fire, he will burn and flame out fast. Because of his potential, I have ranked Tannehill as the number 3 quarterback in this class, but if I needed to win an NFL game tomorrow there's probably 3 maybe 4 quarterbacks ranked below him that I would rather have under center.
Prediction- Top 10 pick in Round 1
4. Russell Wilson Wisconsin 5'11 202- At the outset of this draft process I considered Wilson to be an overrated prospect, an undersized quarterback who thrived in a friendly system and had no value at the next level except for possibly changing positions or being a gadget type weapon for a year or two. However, the more I watched and the more I studied the former Badger's game the higher up on my board he went, to the point now I consider Wilson to be the number 4 rated prospect at his position, and outside of Andrew Luck, perhaps the most NFL ready signal-caller in this years crop of quarterbacks. Yes it is true that Wilson is shorter then you would like your quarterback to be, but if Wilson had measured out at 6'1 and not 5'11, I have no doubt he would be a consensus top 5 quarterback on every board in America. Now think about it, 5'11 or 6'1, based on the fact that Wilson has an over the top release as opposed to taller quarterbacks who's release slips to three quarters or even lower, and the fact that Wilson has the arm strength to make every NFL throw with relative ease, his size would seem to be an overrated knock against his NFL potential. What Wilson does possess is outstanding athleticism for the quarterback, or for that matter, any position. He also possesses outstanding leadership qualities, illustrated by his election as team captain after only a month of being a part of a Badger team coming off a Rose Bowl appearance. Wilson is loaded with all of the intangibles and football savvy lacking in Ryan Tannehill, who is regarded as a far superior prospect, and posses all and more of his athleticism, and was a far more productive and winning quarterback for his entire career beginning with three successful seasons at NC State. Basically, the only thing Tannehill has that Wilson is lacking is about 5 inches in height. Wilson has outstanding improvisational skills, a surprisingly explosive arm, tremendous athleticism, and all the intangibles you look for in a team leader and signal caller, including the ability to step up his game in crunch time, whereas other quarterbacks on this list struggled in the 2nd half of games (Tannehill). Given the right system and the right opportunity, the hard working, humble yet articulate Russell Wilson could very well end up being the steal of the 2012 draft and prove yet again just how overrated the height of a quarterback is when making an overall evaluation.
Prediction- Late 3rd or early to mid 4th round pick
5. Kirk Cousins Michigan State 6'3 214- Cousins was a four year starter for the Spartans, and a three time team captain, finishing his career as the all-time winningest quarterback in the Big Ten school's history. While he may be lacking in any physical attributes that wow you at first sight, he's a hard working, intelligent leader with sound fundamentals and enough physical tools to compete at the NFL level. Many compare him to Andy Dalton, a second round pick from a year ago who led the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs in a highly successful rookie campaign in 2011. At times, Cousins takes an almost too cautious approach to the game, and will need to take more risks in giving his receivers chances to make plays at the next level, an almost unheard of weakness for young quarterbacks in his game. Worst case scenario, Cousins will make a long successful living as a dependable and prepared NFL backup, best case scenario he will find a system where his physical tools don't need to carry the day, and his leadership and intelligence on the field will be emphasized.
Prediction- Late 2nd or early 3rd round choice
6. Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State 6'4 221- This former pitcher in the New York Yankee system is 28 years old, leading many to compare him to former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, who had a short and highly unremarkable career as an NFL starter for the Carolina Panthers. While he has tried desperately to avoid those comparisons, the truth is they may very well be valid. Yes, Weeden had an outstanding career in Stillwater including a senior season ending with a Fiesta Bowl victory over top prospect Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal. But the truth is that Weeden's tools are no more refined or exciting then quarterbacks in this class five years or more his junior. He also operated a relatively simple yet very quarterback friendly system at Oklahoma State. Weeden was probably the most impressive quarterback during Senior Bowl week, but that probably speaks more to the poise and maturity of a 28 year old who has been involved in many more pressure packed situations in his career as a pro athlete then the signal callers he was there with. Weeden could probably step into any NFL camp and be a capable number two from day one, but to expect much else at his age at his stage of development is likely wishful thinking.
Prediction- 2nd Round
7. Brock Osweiler Arizona State 6'7 242- Extremely tall and surprisingly athletic, Osweiler will try to buck the trend of other overly tall signal callers who have struggled at the next level. If anyone can do it, Osweiler has a good shot, whereas previous 6'6 or taller quarterbacks were severely lacking in athleticism, Osweiler was actually recrutied out of high school as a basketball player by Gonzaga. All that being said, Osweiler should have stayed for his senior season.
8. Ryan Lindley San Diego State 6'4 229-Highly productive career as a four year starter at San Diego State. ... Rocket for an arm, and cinder blocks for feet...Throws one of the better deep balls of any quarterback in this class...Intriguing project for a team with an established starter, could surprise.
9. Nick Foles Arizona 6'5 243- Towering pocket passer with very limited mobility...may be most overrated prospect in this year's crop...I just don't see anything special about this guy...will be drafted higher then he should because of his prototype size and ability to strtch the field deep.
10. Chandler Harnish Northern Illinois 6'2 219- Four year starter, scrappy competitor and team leader....Tough, smart, articulate according to most accounts teammates and coaches alike loved him at Northern Illinois...Could be this year's Matt Flynn
11. BJ Coleman Tennessee-Chattanooga 6'3 232
12. Darron Thomas Oregon 6'3 220
13. Kellen Moore Boise State 6'0 197
14. Tyler Hansen Colorado 6'1 218
15. Case Keenum Houston 6'1 208
16. Bo Levi Mitchell Eastern Washington 6'0 198
17. Jordan Jefferson LSU 6'4 223
18. GJ Kinne Tulsa 6'1 234
19. Aaron Corp Richmond 6'4 215
20. Patrick Witt Yale 6'4 225
21. Jacory Harris Miami (FL)6'3 203
22. Stephen Garcia ex-South Carolina 6'2 218
23. John Brantley Florida 6'3 218
24. Austin Davis Southern Mississippi 6'2 219
25. Jarrett Lee LSU 6'1 209