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.