2013 NFL Draft Position Review: Quarterbacks

Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2013 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2013 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.

By Charlie Campbell.
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This page was last updated March 20, 2013. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Position Review: Quarterbacks

Quarterback Class
Early-round talent: D
Mid-round: C
Late-round: C
Overall grade: D

2012 prospects vs 2013
Andrew Luck > Geno Smith
Robert Griffin > Matt Barkley
Ryan Tannehill > E.J. Manuel
Brandon Weeden > Ryan Nassib
Brock Osweiler > Tyler Wilson
Russell Wilson > Mike Glennon
Kirk Cousins > Tyler Bray
Ryan Lindley < Landry Jones

The 2012 class was a banner year for quarterbacks. It looked great a year ago and lived up to the billing after the class’ first season in the NFL. So this comparison features a class with an A grade versus a class with a D grade. Thus, it is rather ugly for the 2013 group.

If you were to take Geno Smith and include him in last year’s class, I would place him behind Tannehill and above Weeden. Smith is pretty comparable as a prospect to Tannehill.

If Barkley were in the 2012 class, he would be behind Osweiler. Manuel would go around the same level as Osweiler. Nassib, Wilson, Glennon and Bray would all fit in the third- to fourth-round region where Russell Wilson and Cousins were selected in a far more talented draft class. Lindley would go behind Jones.

Safest Pick: Geno Smith, West Virginia
Overall, Smith has the best skill set of any quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft. He has the least amount of flaws in his physical makeup. Smith does everything well while being the most accurate passer in this year’s draft. He may not turn into one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, but he is the most likely prospect in this class to develop into a quality starter.

Biggest Bust Potential: Mike Glennon, N.C. State
Glennon could be a boom pick if he goes to a team that develops him well. However, Glennon is clearly a work in progress. He has great size and a powerful arm, but plenty of quarterback busts have had those characteristics. Many busts have had flaws of accuracy and ball security. Those are two weak points for Glennon, and if he doesn’t turn them around, he won’t work out in the NFL.

Quarterback Rankings by Attributes

NFL prototype: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
  1. Geno Smith
  2. Tyler Wilson
  3. Matt Barkley
  4. Ryan Nassib
  5. Landry Jones
  6. E.J. Manuel
  7. Tyler Bray
  8. Mike Glennon

Recap: The most important characteristic for any quarterback in the NFL is accuracy. Not only do accurate quarterbacks reduce turnovers and maintain time of possession, they increase the opportunities for skill-position players to have a bigger impact. Thus, accurate signal-callers will give team more return on its dollars with high priced wide receivers.

Smith is definitely the most accurate signal-caller in the 2013 NFL Draft. The evidence for that can be seen in his 71 percent completion percentage as a senior, even better than his 65 percent completion rate in 2011. College percentages are inflated, but Smith has superb ball placement and does a good job of throwing the ball in tight windows in all parts of the field.

Wilson, Barkley and Nassib are all accurate passers. They are of the West Coast variety who work the short to intermediate part of the field. All three of them should be able to complete 60 percent of their passes in the NFL.

Jones flashes great accuracy at times and then gets in streaks where he struggles. Manuel had a good completion percentage in college, but coaches told WalterFootball.com those numbers were inflated by his offense and weak competition. The majority of his throws were inside 10 yards on quick tosses. He rarely threw the ball into tight windows down field and the when he did go vertical it was off play-action. Those coaches believe Manuel needs to improve his accuracy significantly to have shot at being an NFL starter.

Bray had accuracy problems in college. The past two seasons he completed 59 percent of his passes. Part of that was caused by a hand injury in 2011 and a lot of dropped passes by his receivers in 2012. Still, Bray is inconsistent with his feet and that causes a lot of his throws to be off the mark. At times, he throws some beautiful, perfect passes to hit receivers in stride downfield in a tight window. However, Bray needs a lot of work to improve his fundamentals to be an accurate passer in the NFL. He’s definitely a work in progress.

Glennon completed 58.5 percent of his passes in 2012. He can make some beautiful throws deep along the sideline and drop the ball in precisely down the field, but too often he is off the mark. Glennon needs to improve his footwork to become a more accurate quarterback. His feet are out rhythm too often and that prevents him from getting passes where they need to be. His inaccuracy also led to a lot of interceptions, 29, over the past two seasons.

Arm Strength:
NFL prototype: Joe Flacco, Ravens
  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Tyler Bray
  3. E.J. Manuel
  4. Geno Smith
  5. Landry Jones
  6. Ryan Nassib
  7. Matt Barkley
  8. Tyler Wilson

Recap: Glennon and Bray have the strongest arms of the class and can clearly spin the ball better than the others. I give the edge to Glennon, but they’re pretty equal.

Manuel also has a cannon for an arm and can make all the throws at every level of the field. Smith and Jones have good arms that are capable of making all the throws required in the NFL.

Nassib and Barkley have decent arms, but they don’t have the ability to spin it like the other signal-callers. Neither can beat defensive backs solely on arm strength. Nassib and Barkley need good anticipation, timing and ball location on downfield throws.

Wilson did well in the short to intermediate part of the field at the Senior Bowl. However, his arm doesn’t look capable of driving the ball in the deep part of the field in the NFL.

Field Vision:
NFL prototype: Peyton Manning, Broncos
  1. Geno Smith
  2. Matt Barkley
  3. Tyler Wilson
  4. Tyler Bray
  5. Ryan Nassib
  6. Landry Jones
  7. Mike Glennon
  8. E.J. Manuel

Recap: Field vision is one characteristic that separates the elite quarterbacks in the NFL from the rest. Signal-callers who throw a lot of interceptions are inclined to lock onto their primary read and stare down receivers. Quarterbacks with good field vision can quickly work through their progressions and see more than one receiver on a route. They also can help get wide outs open by looking off safeties and playing games with their eyes. Many college quarterbacks enter the NFL with subpar field vision and have to improve this at the next level.

Smith is advanced at reading defenses and working through his progressions. He doesn’t panic when his first read is covered and generally stays patient in the pocket.

Barkley and Wilson both have been well-prepared with their college offenses. Both signal-callers do a good job of working through their options and are able to move their eyes quickly.

Bray also has experience in a pro-style offense. He improved his field vision in 2012 and was able to work through his progressions. That allowed him to distribute the ball to a variety of targets like Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Mychal Rivera and Zach Rogers.

Nassib received good training in his field vision from Doug Marrone. Behind Nassib, there is a significant dropoff to the bottom three. Jones is just sloppy with his field vision. Sometimes he executes it well, and other times he locks on to to one wide out. Like Jones, Glennon shows potential for good field vision, but is too inconsistent.

Manuel needs a lot of improvement. He showed progress at the Senior Bowl, but he would usually take off and run in college when his first option was covered. Manuel also didn’t have a lot of complex plays called on which he would drop back, survey his options and fire the ball to an open receiver. Florida State’s offense was much more simplistic, but he has the work ethic to potentially overcome this weakness.

NFL prototype: QB Tom Brady, Patriots
  1. Geno Smith
  2. Ryan Nassib
  3. Tyler Wilson
  4. Matt Barkley
  5. E.J. Manuel
  6. Tyler Bray
  7. Mike Glennon
  8. Landry Jones

Recap: This was a tough one; Smith, Nassib, Wilson and Barkley were all pretty comparable. Smith won out because he threw the ball in the least amount of dangerous places and avoided interceptions. Nassib threw only 10 interceptions as a senior and was very reliable with his decision-making for Syracuse.

Barkley would’ve been ranked first in decision-making for the 2012 NFL Draft, but he regressed as a senior and was forcing passes to covered receivers. Thus, his interception total rose. Wilson suffered a senior-year regression as well.

Manuel and Bray’s decision-making struggled whenever they faced a good defense. Bray’s decision-making was far too streaky and unreliable over the course of his career, but the junior showed some progress in 2012. Manuel improved as well this year.

Glennon’s decision-making needs serious improvement. He routinely made throws that were extremely questionable.

Jones’ reputation for shoddy decision-making is well known. If he was in Norman, and playing with a lead, he was solid. But against good defenses, Jones’ decision-making was consistently bad. He also had some meltdowns on the road.

NFL prototype: Peyton Manning, Broncos
  1. Matt Barkley
  2. Tyler Wilson
  3. Geno Smith
  4. Ryan Nassib
  5. E.J. Manuel
  6. Mike Glennon
  7. Landry Jones
  8. Tyler Bray

Recap: While this quarterback class is weak, this could be their strongest attribute collectively. There really isn’t a signal-caller in this group whom I would call dumb.

Barkley and Wilson are both intelligent signal-callers who already have a good basis of knowledge of an NFL offense. Smith is known around West Virginia as a dedicated patron of the film room. He will need time to learn an NFL offense, but he studies hard; the habits are there for him to be a smart quarterback.

Nassib is intelligent; a trait noticed by scouts at the Senior Bowl. Manuel impressed teams with his intelligence at the Combine and in the Senior Bowl meetings. That is impressive considering he ran a very simple offense in college. Glennon isn’t significantly behind Nassib, Smith or Manuel. Glennon is said to be smart enough.

Jones is experienced and knows what to do, but it seems to be forgotten during the games in high-pressure situations. Bray had a good college coordinator in Jim Chaney, but scouts have concerns about Bray’s maturity and study habits.

NFL prototype: Robert Griffin III, Redskins
  1. E.J. Manuel
  2. Geno Smith
  3. Tyler Wilson
  4. Ryan Nassib
  5. Matt Barkley
  6. Tyler Bray
  7. Mike Glennon
  8. Landry Jones

Recap: Mobility is becoming a more sought after attribute for quarterbacks in the NFL. The top young quarterbacks in the NFL; Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson all have excellent mobility. They aren’t statues in the pocket like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

Offensive coordinators like to challenge defenses with spread option plays. Mobility also can help a quarterback to avoid hits and in turn avoid injuries if the skill is used wisely. Jon Gruden and Rich Gannon have always maintained that there are a few third downs in every game that a mobile quarterback can provide a first down over other quarterbacks who may have to force a pass into a covered receiver. Having mobility is in demand.

Manuel and Smith are truly mobile quarterbacks with the ability to make big plays on the ground. Offensive coordinators will be able to use some of the en vogue read-option plays that took the NFL by storm in 2012.

Tyler Wilson moves well and can pick up yards on the ground. He has good scrambling ability to buy time and throw on the run. Nassib and Barkley can move around some in the pocket. Each of them can buy some time, but neither is a significant threat to run with the ball.

Bray, Glennon and Jones are pretty much statues in the pocket. They all got hit a lot when going against good pass rushes.

Ball Security:
NFL prototype: Tom Brady, Patriots
  1. Geno Smith
  2. Ryan Nassib
  3. Tyler Wilson
  4. Matt Barkley
  5. E.J. Manuel
  6. Tyler Bray
  7. Mike Glennon
  8. Landry Jones

Recap: Obviously, turnovers are killers for offenses in the NFL, and players who turn the ball over a lot won’t stay on the field long.

Smith had great ball security in college. The 3-year starter threw just 20 interceptions over three seasons with his highest totals being seven per year as a sophomore and junior. He threw only six picks as a senior. However, Smith can be prone to fumbling when sacked. His real ability to avoid throwing interceptions sets him apart from the other signal-callers.

Nassib demonstrated good ball security as well and wasn’t careless with the football. Wilson and Barkley would’ve ranked higher last year before they significantly increased their turnovers as seniors.

Manuel’s decision-making was generally okay against weak teams, but it was pretty ugly versus good defenses. The regular-season finale against Florida was an example. Bray threw 12 interceptions in 2012, but came close to a number of others. He has room for improvement in protecting the football.

Glennon can throw picks in bunches. The senior threw multiple interceptions in five games in 2012, including four in the season opener and three in the season finale. He must get better at avoiding turnovers in the NFL.

When the pressure amps up, Jones’ ball security is horrible. He was prone to poorly timed interceptions and fumbles. It was too much of a trend for it not to be a huge red flag entering the league.

NFL prototype: Drew Brees, Saints
  1. Matt Barkley
  2. E.J. Manuel
  3. Ryan Nassib
  4. Tyler Wilson
  5. Mike Glennon
  6. Geno Smith
  7. Landry Jones
  8. Tyler Bray

Recap: The only quarterbacks with bad intangibles are Jones and Bray. There are off-the-field maturity concerns with Bray along with questions about his work ethic. Jones isn’t a bad teammate, but he rarely ever performed well in crunch time or elevated his play when his team needed it. Jones completely lacks the “it” factor, so his lack of intangibles are field related.

Smith was practically bipolar in college. There were times when he sulked on the sideline and acted immature. At the same time, former teammates have told WalterFootball.com that Smith has leadership skills, works hard and is well-liked in the locker room. It seems to be a mixed bag with his intangibles.

Glennon, Wilson, and Nassib are all pretty equal. Each has a reputation as a good teammate who embraces a leadership role. All of them are said to have good work ethics, too. These three had some clutch second-half performances in their careers and some games where they fell flat.

Manuel has helped his draft stock by really standing out in the meeting room. Teams love his work ethic, good character and leadership skills. He appears to be extremely dedicated to his craft.

Barkley is known to be a good guy off the field who represents his team well. He is also known as a positive presence in the locker room. Barkley tries to rally his team on the sidelines. His intangibles are perhaps his best asset.

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