Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Top Players by Position- Quarterbacks

by John Huffstetler

Now that the college season has regrettably concluded, players are faced with the decision of whether to return to school or enter the NFL draft. This process is critical for teams looking for their next great player at need positions, and no position is more vital than the Quarterback spot. Unfortunately for those teams drafting outside the top 5, there isn't a whole lot of talent out there since Landry Jones and Matt Barkley decided to return to school. Here is a list of the top "draft eligible" players at QB for the upcoming draft.


1) Andrew Luck- Stanford- This is a no-brainer and deserves no further explanation. His potential is unlimited and he is the clear #1 player in the draft.

2) Robert Griffin III- Baylor- The athleticism alone warrants a high draft pick. Couple that with his fantastic TD/INT ratio (37-6) and his ability throw the deep ball with accuracy and you have to consider him a top 10 pick. He's the clear #2 QB in the draft, but taking him at pick #'s 2-4 might be a reach as there is better talent elsewhere on the board.

3) Russell Wilson- Wisconsin- Most sites have Wilson ranked much lower and I'm not quite sure why. His athleticism is unquestionable, having turned down the Colorado Rockies to enter the draft, and his 40-time rivals Robert Griffin's. He was also the highest rated passer in college football last year with a 191.8 QB rating and only 4 int to 33 td's. His size is certainly a question at 5 ft 11, but sometimes you just need to ignore those things and take the best player. He won't come off the board until possibly round 3, but whoever drafts him will be happy.

4) Nick Foles- Arizona- Before Arizona's season fell apart late in week 6 leading to the firing of head coach Mike Stoops, Foles was having an excellent senior season. In a tough 4-game stretch against Okla St., Stanford, Oregon, and USC, Foles completed 70% of his passes with a 9-2 TD/Int ratio. His completion % and TD/Int ratio have improved every year, despite the lack of talent on the roster this past season. Foles has the potential to be a solid starter in the league.

5) Brock Osweiler- Ariz St.- Although Osweiler had a questionable second half of the season, I still believe in his abilities. He's an imposing 6 ft 7 with a rocket arm, but has also shown the ability to put touch on his passes. With his massive hands he throws a tight spiral that's easy to catch. His TD/Int ratio wasn't great (26-13) but his numbers would have improved with a better offensive line. He seems to be positioning nicely as a 2nd or 3rd round pick and could blossom in to a fine QB.

6) Kellen Moore- Boise St.- I used to laugh at the thought of Kellen Moore playing football in the NFL, but he has definitely grown on me mainly because of his field awareness. His ability to manipulate the defense using his eyes to create space for his throws is spectacular. His stats at Boise are unquestionable, but his size and lack of speed slide him down the QB lists slightly. Like Russell Wilson, sometimes you have to ignore the measurables and just look at the success on the field and the awareness in the pocket to know that he will be a solid NFL player.

7) Brandon Weeden- Okla St.- If not for his age (28), Weeden would be the clear #3 QB in the draft. He has perfect size and consistently put up numbers at Okie St. But the age is a huge issue. Theoretically, he has 5-6 less years remaining in his career than the average NFL QB prospect. If you're looking for a franchise QB, that doesn't inspire you with confidence. I think he can perform at the pro level right away, however, which adds to his overall value.

8) Ryan Tannehill- Tex A&M- I have Tannehill graded lower than his projected 1st round pick for several reasons: 1) His QB rating was incredibly average at 56th in the nation, despite getting sacked only 9 times behind a strong offensive line, 2) His complete lack of big-time wins and his penchant for disappearing in the 2nd half of games shows a lack of "it" factor, and 3) He is inexperienced at QB and will need several years on the bench. The 1st round grades are outrageous and should be lowered dramatically, but he could still turn out to be a good QB after some time sitting and learning.

9) Kirk Cousins- Mich St.- Cousins is undoubtedly a solid QB, but he lacks that "wow" factor needed when considering drafting a QB high in the draft. There is no doubt that he is an efficient player who manufactures victories and can be a solid back-up in the league, but that's his ceiling. He won't win games for your team and he also won't lose them either. Although his ranking is too high, he certainly has a role in the NFL (see TJ Yates).

10) Aaron Corp- Richmond- If you recognize the name, it's because Corp was originally supposed to be the starting QB at USC in 2009 before an injury cost him the season. A then freshman Matt Barkley took over and never relented the starting job. He transferred to Richmond only to suffer another injury setback. He is certainly a risk, but the potential is there for Corp to be a terrific player. If some team takes a risk on him in the middle rounds of the draft, they could get a steal.

Honorable Mention- Dominique Davis- ECU, Chandler Harnish- NIll, Ryan Lindley- SD St., Case Keenum- Houston

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