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  • A Semi-Professional Opinion: Top 5 QBs in Draft

    I have been asked by the powers that be who are in charge of this site to produce a series of front page articles to help prepare the casual follower for the upcoming NFL Draft. I happily accepted and figured as good a place to start as any would be with the quarterbacks, and then going through every position by ranking the top five players in the class. So without further ado, it's time to stir up controversy!

    1) Andrew Luck - Stanford: At this point, there is almost nothing that can be said about Andrew Luck that hasn't already been said. Exceptional arm strength, phenomenal accuracy, supreme confidence standing tall in the pocket, excelled to the fullest in a pro style offense, tremendous athleticism, and an extraordinary ability to read defenses and dissect them like a veteran. The claims that he is the most complete QB prospect since Peyton Manning or John Elway are fully warranted, and barring some sort of catastrophic blunder by the Indianapolis Colts, he will be without a doubt the #1 pick in this year's draft. It's almost crazy to look back now and see people prognosticating that Luck would begin to slump after Toby Gerhart left Stanford.

    2) Ryan Tannehill - Texas A&M: And this is where I start to irk people by ranking Ryan Tannehill over Robert Griffin III, but we'll get to him in a second. Tannehill in his own right is a very accomplished passer and people shouldn't mistake Texas A&M's struggles this year as being his fault. He possesses strong accuracy in most facets of passing, but will have a tendency to sail throws on occasion. His arm strength isn't questionable, as he's fully demonstrated the ability to make every NFL throw. His past experience at wide receiver helps him as he has great mobility and speed for his size (6'4", 221 lbs.) that allows him to be proficient on bootlegs and rollouts. The main things that need correcting in his game are his pocket presence and diagnosis of blitzes, as he is prone to getting jittery under pressure when it comes under disguised formations. He also must work on refraining from staring down his receivers.

    3) Robert Griffin III - Baylor: My stance on Griffin is the same as it was with Cam Newton last year: can he make the transition from a quick-strike spread offense to a sophisticated pro style one? He did not have a playbook at Baylor until this last season, and even then it was hardly a complicated one despite the involvement of various zone and option schemes. And then there are several other question marks to deal with when evaluating Griffin as well. He is only 6'2", which is taller than most expected him to be, and that by itself is not too bad. However, when combined with the fact that he seems most comfortable throwing outside the pocket without having his offensive linemen obstructing his vision, it's cause for concern. His footwork is sloppy as he has essentially no experience taking snaps from under center. He seems too eager to escape the pocket, holds onto the ball too long on occasion, forces throws and has a disturbing tendency to throw across his body. If Griffin can work out all of these kinks, and he can improve his awareness both before the snap and while the play is developing, then and only then he can be a star.

    4) Brock Osweiler - Arizona State: Let me preface this ranking by stating right now that Osweiler is clearly a project at QB that will need at the very least a full year on the bench before he is ready to contribute to an NFL team. However, the junior who wasn't expected to come out early has tremendous potential and all the physical tools, and could very well end up being the #2 QB in this draft class when all is said and done. He too worked out of a wide open spread at Arizona state, but displays solid accuracy, including great ability to put the ball on point on short and intermediate timing routes. He can easily make every NFL throw with a strong right arm, potentially the strongest in this class, and uses his 6'7" stature to stand tall in the pocket. He too will need to make the transition from a wide open spread offense that emphasized quick-strike passing, and will need to learn how to read defenses and make adjustments, but he may just be scratching the surface of his potential and has a bright future at the next level if groomed properly by a patient team.

    5) Brandon Weeden - Oklahoma State: If Brandon Weeden was 21 or 22 years old, he would most likely be a first or second round pick this year. This is not the case however, as he is already 28 years old and is not likely to get any better than he already is. He also carries a lengthy injury history from his time spent playing professional baseball that includes a torn labrum and tendinitis in his rotator cuff. All of this leads most people to jump to compare him to former Panthers QB Chris Weinke, which to say the least is not a positive sign for Weeden's draft stock. However, Weeden appears to be a much more polished and advanced player than Weinke was at Florida State, displaying the arm power and accuracy most teams desire as well as being regarded as a strong team leader. There are other problems though; including his inaccuracy on sideline throws and forcing balls into dangerous places, showing he may have a bit too much faith in his arm. Like the two QBs listed above him, he too will also need to show he can make the transition to a sophisticated pro style offense at the next level. But in a top heavy quarterback class with not many appealing options after the first few guys go off the board, Weeden sees his stock rise up enough to likely expect a third round call.

    Comments 23 Comments
    1. GoBigOrGoHome's Avatar
      Excellent work, Kaba. Nice to see you gracing the front page.

      How about a KMF Breakdown on Nick Foles out of Arizona?
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      Well done. RGIII is pretty obviously going to be the 2nd quarterback (and probably player overall) off the board, so I think he has be ranked ahead of Tannehill, but you defend your point well.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Good one, Kaba.

      Now explain why you chose a guard over Tannehill in the mock draft when the Redskins are crying out for a QB? I'm still baffled!

      Either you think there's only one QB worth a high pick in the draft, or you think the 'Skins are still the wheeling-dealing Vinnie Cerrato outfit that likes to spend big on free agents.

      To the Tannehill dissection, I would add that he has a slightly strange release. It's a bit low and might lead to blocked passes.
    1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by GoBigOrGoHome View Post
      Excellent work, Kaba. Nice to see you gracing the front page.

      How about a KMF Breakdown on Nick Foles out of Arizona?
      Foles was my #6 QB and just missed making the cut. He's got pretty good arm strength and better than expected pocket presence, especially considering he played behind a very inexperienced offensive line last year. He also seems to be very confident and not easily rattled or shaken during playing, he keeps his cool and his emotions in check. I also like his ability to go through his routes and be content with the underneath throw instead of trying to force something that isn't there.

      On the other side of the scale, his accuracy is inconsistent and he sprays the ball at times - especially the deep ball. He can also hold the ball too long and take unnecessary sacks, almost like his internal clock is a tick slow. He'll also experience a bit of a learning curve coming from a primarily shotgun based system at Arizona, but not as much as someone like Griffin or Osweiler would. All in all I'd say Foles is worth a 3rd-4th round pick.
    1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Good one, Kaba.

      Now explain why you chose a guard over Tannehill in the mock draft when the Redskins are crying out for a QB? I'm still baffled!

      Either you think there's only one QB worth a high pick in the draft, or you think the 'Skins are still the wheeling-dealing Vinnie Cerrato outfit that likes to spend big on free agents.

      To the Tannehill dissection, I would add that he has a slightly strange release. It's a bit low and might lead to blocked passes.
      It's definitely the former, I think Luck is the only QB worth a top pick in this draft. Tannehill ideally I see going somewhere in the 20s. I'll be able to spotlight DeCastro once I get to interior OL later on. Good point about his release by the way.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Before last year's draft, how did you rate the draft-worthiness of the quarterbacks?
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Kaba...

      First of all, great job. The time and effort you put into this is obvious, and your reasonings are top notch. Plus, you know you're my favorite Ravens fan, and it's not close. You are my boy, and one of my favorites on the site.

      Wait for it....

      Still waiting....

      BUT!

      Come on, man! RGIII? Dude. I get that we want to search for question marks. But we have NEVER seen this combination of size, arm, accuracy, athleticism, intelligence, etc. He's got the potential of being a Vick/Favre hybrid with much more intelligence. He's already pass first, which means he knows how to run intelligently. Running is instinctively his 2nd option. He's easily smart enough to protect himself. The perfect blend of a relatively high floor, and a ceiling we've never seen. What more do you want in a prospect?

      I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Since Elway in 1983, in my mind we've had 4 prospects that stand above and beyond, irregardless of actual professional performance. They are Manning in 98, Vick in 01, then Luck and RGIII. In a grand hypothetical, there are teams that had they been in the same draft would have taken Vick for his athleticism and upside over Manning (who's safe label masked the upside to some that he's actually shown). In this draft, if possible, Luck could have a higher ceiling than Manning. And RGIII's upside could be even higher than that. This is truly a phenomenal draft. I stand by my argument that RGIII-Luck should be a debate, although I'll admit there is no wrong answer.

      Still amazing to me everytime I see it. Elway, Manning, and now Luck (or RGIII ) Somehow, the Colts hold the top pick each of those seasons. Can someone calculate the odds on that? Or the odds that thus far, those selections would have resulted in exactly 1 world championship?
    1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Before last year's draft, how did you rate the draft-worthiness of the quarterbacks?
      If I recall correctly, I believe my Top 5 was Locker-Newton-Mallett-Gabbert-Dalton and I had them all going in the first two rounds along with Ponder and Kaepernick. It was a much deeper QB class last year looking back it.
    1. Turk Schonert's Avatar
      I think there are two QB's worthy of a first round pick, Luck and RGIII. The rest of them have big question marks. I didn't like Nick Foles from Arizona when I saw him in the Senior Bowl. He was slow footed, slow anticipating, and inaccurate with his passes. Tannehill is too raw right now, he needs to sit and be taught by a good teacher. Weeden is a stop gap QB if the cupboard is bare. I was in Carolina when Weinke came out, we drafted him in the 4th round because we didn't have a legitimate QB on our roster. Weinke threw for just under 3,000 yds (2nd only to P. Manning at the time) his rookie season, but after that, he never got coached (his statement, not mine), or got much of an opportunity to play under the new regime. I see Weeden in the same light. Kirk Cousins from Mich St will get some interest but his accuracy on deep balls is not good. A couple of middle round QB's that I like are Ryan Findley from San Diego St and Chandler Harnish from N. Illinois. I don't know anything about Osweiler from Ariz St so I can't comment on him. Russell Wilson from Wisconsin could be a 4th round pick with a team that sees him as a wildcat QB (he's only 5' 10). He has a strong arm, very good mechanics, and is mobile. My question with RGIII going to the Redskins or Dolphins is this ... who's going to teach him how to be an elite NFL QB? I'm surprised at how many WR coaches are getting "promoted" to the QB coach position, when did WR coaches suddenly become experts on QB mechanics, fundamentals, how they think, what they see and don't see, and everything else that goes into teaching the position. I've seen a big dropoff in QB teachers (Bill Walsh wouldn't like this) over the last few years. Nice job with the article Kaba!
    1. Polishguy00's Avatar
      Great article. Well done, Kaba. Also nice to see Turk on here evaluating as well. I look forward to each and every future installment.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      I'm no draftnik, but sometimes an outside view is refreshing. Drafting is a balance between potential, and necessity. Ranking players is obviously determined by how much you weigh both parameters

      From what I can tell, Kaba privileges current skill over potential, i.e is the guy ready to help now.

      You draft Luck, you get a guy ready to help out immediately with ridiculous potential. He'll have his rookie mistakes, specially adjusting to the speed of the game, but he faced high pressure and did great last year.

      RGIII's ceiling is ridiculous, IMHO. In past years, drafting him would have been scary because of the money you had to pay him meant there was pressure to have him perform immediately. With RGIII, you can take a developmental approach because though you'll pay through the teeth in draft picks, he isn't hamstringing your cap.

      Tannehill, and I have to take his word for it cause I never saw the guy, is ready to help immediately.

      Personally, I think the new rookie salary structure allows teams to take riskier picks and go back to the days were you actually developed the talent into players.
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      Mike Sherman knows what an NFL QB looks like since he was coaching Brett Favre a good part of his career. At Texas A&M Tannehill could not beat out Johnson initially for the starting QB position. To his credit,Tannehill made major contributuions as a WR and in the end helped him be a better QB. He saw the WR position through the QB's eyes and then the QB position through a WR's eyes as well. Those experiences can't hurt. I think Tannehill can play in the NFL, but not necessarily an immediate starter. Turk's point about where RGIII lands in terms of having a solid QB coach is a great one. If he hooks up with a good teacher, this kid will thrive. He is a sponge, very intelligent and very coachable which is a great combination. I think both Luck and Griffin will bhe big time NFL QBs.
    1. brauneyz's Avatar
      I don't follow college ball enough to comment, but kudos to Kaba for a job well done. This is one-stop shopping for info to ready oneself for the draft.

      Nice job, pup!
    1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
      Thanks so much for all the kind words gang. Really appreciate it!
    1. darvon's Avatar
      Great job KMF.
    1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      I'm no draftnik, but sometimes an outside view is refreshing. Drafting is a balance between potential, and necessity. Ranking players is obviously determined by how much you weigh both parameters

      From what I can tell, Kaba privileges current skill over potential, i.e is the guy ready to help now.
      Perhaps, although I've never really looked at it that way. In my opinion I tend to value a player's floor and weight that more heavily than a player's ceiling, especially concerning high draft picks because if you bust there you're really hurting your team. Take Luke Kuechly for example. Will he ever be one the top three middle linebackers in the game? Probably not in all honesty. But I feel that at the worst he'll be a very solid player who will likely make a few Pro Bowl trips in his career. That makes him a clear Top 15 pick in my mind.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by KabaModernFan View Post
      Perhaps, although I've never really looked at it that way. In my opinion I tend to value a player's floor and weight that more heavily than a player's ceiling, especially concerning high draft picks because if you bust there you're really hurting your team. Take Luke Kuechly for example. Will he ever be one the top three middle linebackers in the game? Probably not in all honesty. But I feel that at the worst he'll be a very solid player who will likely make a few Pro Bowl trips in his career. That makes him a clear Top 15 pick in my mind.
      I'm guessing that you are more correctly showcasing how teams think than regular fans who love the hype.
    1. tubbs1518's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      I'm guessing that you are more correctly showcasing how teams think than regular fans who love the hype.
      Except in the case of RGIII who he sees as a 2nd round pick. No team sees that.
    1. GoBigOrGoHome's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by tubbs1518 View Post
      Except in the case of RGIII who he sees as a 2nd round pick. No team sees that.
      Maybe it's time to let that one go, man.
    1. Gandalf2300's Avatar
      RGIII is going to the Redskins. Who is coaching QBs in Washington? Can the Redskins upgrade their offensive playmakers quickly enough to help RGIII as a rookie? The Redskins fan base is restless-when was their last playoff win? A steep price to pay for the right to draft RGIII but if he turns out to be that 'franchise QB', the price will be worth it in the long run. You have to have an elite or near-elite QB to win a Super Bowl in the modern game. Hopefully the Redskins have that guy now.