Part of the 2013 QB class, trying to get separation at the scouting combine. (USA Today Sports Images))
With less than one month until the NFL draft, a quarterback class with minimal actual first-round talent is coming into sharper view. At no time in NFL history has the quarterback position been more important to team success, which leaves those teams without a certain solution grasping for answers. More often than not, those types of teams try to remedy the situation by reaching for their franchise guy, a move that leads to a lot of unemployment in front offices. The 2013 draft class is full of potential NFL talent, but it seems that each quarterback has at least one fatal flaw. As our own Greg Cosell wrote in his most recent piece for Shutdown Corner, some of those flaws are coachable, and others are most certainly not.
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With that time winding down, we've taken another look at the tape and the rumors, and here's where we see this year's marquee draft prospect quarterbacks going.
Geno Smith, West Virginia
Pros: Tremendously productive player with attributes that contribute to efficient stats and performances. Excellent size, arm, and mobility, though he's not a run-around read option guy. Can legitimately make all the NFL throws. Throws well on the move.
Cons: Needs to shore up his mechanics, especially under center, as he took most of his college snaps out of shotgun. Footwork can be an issue and this leads to some serious inconsistencies. Made hay against some inferior defenses (Baylor) and struggled against tougher ones.
Where he could go: Smith won't make it out of the top 10. Jacksonville is a possibility with the second overall pick, Oakland is a real probability at 3. You could also see the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, and Buffalo Bills in play. Almost certainly will be the first quarterback selected.
E.J. Manuel, Florida State
Pros: Big, tough, mobile quarterback with a great arm and the best potential ability to play in read-option, zone-option, and Pistol offenses of any quarterback in this class. Plays the play action and boot action game with great aplomb. Senior Bowl MVP wh responded very well to more advanced coaching.
Cons: Primarily a first-read passer who struggles with multi-read throws and throws into zone coverage. Doesn't always react well to more complex coverages. Doesn't throw with great anticipation.
Where he could go: In my opinion, most of Manuel's flaws are easily coachable, and he may have the most untapped talent of any quarterback in this class. But with the flaws there, he'd seem to be a good fit at the late first round/early second round level. Watch out for the Philadelphia Eagles in the early second round -- Eagles head coach Chip Kelly tried to recruit Manuel to Oregon.
Matt Barkley, USC
Pros: Has perhaps the best overall array of mechanics in this draft class, and commands a pro-style offense very well. Experienced starter in a complex system. Outstanding footwork. Throws with tremendous anticipation, looking especially polished on short and intermediate timing throws.
[Also: Will QB Matt Barkley get drafted in the first round?]
Cons: Barkley's long-discussed arm strength issue is real, and it will affect him at the next level. Most balls he throws over 15 yards in the air tend to sail with wobbly spirals and questionable accuracy. Legitimate questions about his ability to throw into tighter windows at the NFL level, especially in cold weather under pressure.
Where he could go: A team like the Cardinals or the Bills might take a shot at Barkley early in the first round, but that would be a surprise -- even at his pro day, when he showed that he was fully recovered from a separated shoulder, NFL teams were on the fence about his velocity. Most likely, he'll be fighting with Manuel for position in the late first and early second rounds.
Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Pros: Tough, mobile quarterback experienced in multiple systems. Like Barkley, he's a very good boot-action quarterback, but his arm is much stronger -- Nassib can make the stick throws Barkley can't. Deals well with pressure in his face. Equally good under center and out of shotgun.Read More »from Quarterback picture is still foggy as draft draws near