Obviously, as teams are starting to fall apart, people begin looking forward to the draft. What better way to rebuild your franchise then drafting a rookie quarterback? The 2012 NFL draft is quarterback heavy, any team shopping for a new signal caller can definitely find one. Here we break down the Quarterbacks expected to be early round selections, and what to expect from them upon entering the NFL.
Andrew Luck: Of course we start with Luck. With so many people talking about him, it's impossible to start anywhere else. So much publicity has been following the Junior out of Stanfond that there has been a "Losing for Luck" grass-roots type campaign beginning in cities of terrible teams all over the nation. This kid is definitely a real deal prospect. He has arm strength, footwork, mobility, accuracy, football IQ, he plays in a pro-style offense...ect, ect. ect. He will probably be the first overall pick in April. There are several terrible teams that will definitely be in the market for a quarterback in the draft. Andrew Luck will be the first Quarterback taken. And he will be successful. I know that's a bold statement. He will be at the very least a starter in the NFL. The biggest downside to Andrew Luck is his hype. With so many lauding Andrew Luck with praise the expectations will be very, very high. When Andrew Luck takes the field for the first time there will be the expectations surrounding him to be exceptional. It's important for everyone to remember that he will be a rookie. He will face a learning curve, he will struggle at times, and he will fail to win games occasionally. This is very dangerous for a rookie Quarterback. He must display the mental fortitude to overcome not meeting the expectations that will be there. The scouts all say he is John Elway with Peyton Mannings field vision, arm, and play-calling ability. This amounts to unattainable expectations. He will not step on the field and be the best Quarterback in the league. But, given time, he may be exceptional. In all likelihood he will be exceptional. But he will still be a rookie, so, to everyone that is hoping that Andrew Luck steps in a saves their franchise, temper your expectations...even if just a little. Give him a chance to win your praise, instead of giving him the chance to lose it. Likely landing in Miami, or my personal vote of Inianapolis.
Matt Barkley: If it weren't for Andrew Luck scouts would be touting Matt Barkley as the top Quarterback prospect in the draft, and perhaps the best in several years. Barkley brings an above average arm, a good ability to make reads and follow progressions, and a great leadership ability to the table. Barkley has a solid throwing motion, one that will require no tweaking or tinkering at the NFL level. Barkley has solid mechanics and great arm strength to boot. His greatest asset is his natural leadership ability. He, like Luck, plays in an NFL-type offense at USC. He was criticized early in his collegiate career for his turnovers. This seems to be worked out as he now is an extremely efficient passer. Personally, Matt Barkley is the Quarterback in the NFL draft I am most excited about. He has all of the tools and abilities to make him a successful in the NFL. The biggest downside so far to Matt Barkley is that he tends to be a little rattled when the pressure is on. He has yet to solidly win a really big game, and tends to be a little more erratic when the spotlight and pressure is on him. Andrew Luck is probably the best thing that ever happened to Matt Barkley as, once in the NFL, Luck will make more headlines and draw more attention than Barkley, and this will allow Barkley the opportunity to grow as a starter in the NFL. Barkley will have less of a learning curve then most Quarterbacks drafted as USC plays pro-style ball to the highest degree, USC is perhaps the closest offense to an NFL team anywhere in the college world. Probably landing in the top 3 to top 5 draft picks Barkley may best taken by Seattle if they land a pick this high. Pete Carrol, as the former USC coach, has a love for USC players and the Seahawks system is very similar to the one the USC currently utilizes. This would be a dream of an opportunity for Barkley and would allow him to step into the offense with very little hitch or learning curve. But any team that is hoping to get Luck(y) and ends up drafting Matt Barkley will in the end be very happy with their selection. He has all of the makings of being great, with his upside being somewhere in the realm of Hall of Fame-type career prospects. Seattle, Washington, or Miami will likely acquire Barkley's services next April.
Landry Jones: Landry Jones' stock has been sliding of late. The Oklahoma product has produced unbelievable numbers and regularly displays the talent that have scouts' mouth watering. Landry Jones has shown athleticism, above average arm strength and accuracy, and a calm under fire that is an underrated attribute among talent analysts. Landry Jones took the reins from the injured Sam Bradford in 2009 and performed admirably. He went in as a back-up and left as a starter. He has a good delivery, and throws very accurate passes. At Oklahoma the stable of wide receiver talent have produced stellar numbers with Jones under center. Or behind center I should say, as the majority of snaps at Oklahoma are taken from the shotgun spread formation. This is one big knock on Landry Jones, as many feel that spread offenses running no-huddle often inflate a qb's numbers. This trepidation as been alleviated somewhat with the success of players such as Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Joe Flacco, who ran spread-type offenses during their college years. The hesitation is still there , but not so much. Talent advisers are now coming to the realization that talent is talent, regardless of offensive scheme. Landry Jones' biggest detriment is the recent reports of a low "football IQ." A term that I'm not terribly fond of, but one that is more telling than I would like to admit. According to sources he is a slow learner, that may not be able to make hot reads or alter plays at the line because defensive alignment. This is a very real concern. In the NFL, quarterbacks are expected to be field generals, who not only play their position well, but also recognize defenses and make adjustments on the fly. While Landry Jones has shown the heart and will to do so, many are concerned that he doesn't have the head to. I don't necessarily feel that this is the case, but it's impossible to get a real assessment of this until he plays in an offense that forces a quarterback to do so. Unfortunately, the jury will be out until Jones comes under fire in an NFL game. I really like Landry Jones, I like his ability to make plays when all else breaks down, I like the courage he has shown, and I like his demeanor. Likely he heads to a team that will miss out on the top quarterback selections of Luck and Barkley. Perhaps Washington, Oakland, Seattle, or Denver (depending on how the Tebow drama plays out).
Nick Foles: Nick Foles has been outstanding in Arizona surrounded by a terrible team. He is the only shining star of Arizona's football program, perhaps the only reason they have been competitive in games. Foles' huge arm has led the Wildcats to many more wins than could be expected otherwise. Having a slight hitch in his delivery, Foles will likely need some tweaking upon entering an NFL system. While his mechanics may not be as refined as the top quarterback options, his spirit is second to none. With many shootouts under his belt, Foles shows an affinity for the big play. He may struggle with his reads at times, and may not be the most deceptive quarterback around, as he seems to struggle at using his eyes to disguise plays. It can sometimes be clear from the snap who is getting the ball thrown their way. This allows defenses to close on a receiver before even the ball is thrown. This can be worked out. Good coaching can go a long way. Foles college career reminds one of Jay Cutler's time in Denver with shootouts developing every week. With flash and style, Foles has produced outstanding numbers and shown fortitude and a will to win. I can see Foles falling to the late first, or early second round of the NFL draft. However, any team with an aging quarterback, or with time to develop the Arizona product, may be paid huge dividends long term. With my gut telling me that Luck comes off the board first (Miami, Indianapolis), Barkley next (Seattle, Washington, Denver, Miami/Indianpolis), I see Foles vying with Landry Jones for the 3rd quarterback taken and see him landing somewhere like Oakland or Denver where there is a quarterback in place, but may be in need of a change in the near future.
Robert Griffin: Comparable to Vince Young the mobile, strong-armed, and electric Baylor product Robert Griffin has been relatively overlooked because of the golden prospects of Luck, Barkley, and Jones. Griffin's accuracy and mobility are his calling card. He has shown the ability to squeeze passes into very tight windows, and do so while on the run. His accuracy to all parts of the field has been outstanding. Griffin is a highlight reel of talent. He is also said to be an extremely intelligent and coachable player. After Barkley, Griffin is the quarterback that I would want my own Washington Redskins to call on draft day. While Barkley is my first choice for Washington, I feel like Griffin is the more probable. IF he declares for the draft. Early reports are that Griffin will remain in college and declare for the 2013 draft, where he will likely be a top 10 pick. If he does declare for the draft, I believe he will likely be a second or third round selection depending on how the early quarterback picks play out.
Ryan Tannehill: What to make of Ryan Tannehill. An intriguing quarterback prospect out of Texas A&M, Tannehill started his collegiate football career as a wide receiver. He entered the Aggies system as a quarterback. He was redshirted as a freshman and in his second season he lost a quarterback competition and was moved to a wide receiver spot. He was successful as a receiver but desired to return to the quarterback position. After being granted the opportunity Tannehill produced mixed results. He was criticized for his inclination to turn the ball over. Otherwise he produced admirably. Of late he has cleaned up his intercpetions and become a much more efficient passer. He has a strong arm and very good athleticism. He has good footwork for a converted quarterback, and shows a decent amount of pocket presence. He has produced surprisingly good numbers and become a solid collegiate quarterback. The biggest detriment to Tannehill's game is his inexperience at higher levels of football. He has relatively little experience at the position and has only a couple dozen starts. This may make teams wary of spending an early round pick on Tannehill. If a team is bold enough to take him, there will definitely be a learning curve and he will require a good amount of grooming and coaching in order for him to be successful. In all likelihood Tannehill will be drafted in the middle rounds as a back-up to an established starter. From there he will begin the learning process to become an NFL starter. It may be a long road for Tannehill, but there are fewer critics of Tannehills talent then there were of Tim Tebow, and Tebow was a surprise 1st round selection of the Denver Broncos. Anything can happen in the NFL draft, someone may be particularly ambitious and hitch their wagon to Tannehill early on.