In the coming weeks here at Turn On The Jets, we will be providing a position by position breakdown of prospects that could potentially be targeted by the New York Jets in this year’s NFL Draft. These prospects are not ranked based on where they may stand in the overall prospect pool. They are ranked based on the specific needs of the Jets, and the reality (or lack thereof), of New York targeting and potentially selecting them, taking into account not only on their ability and potential, but where they would be most valuable to the Jets based on the current state of the roster. Today, we begin with a look at potential quarterback prospects that New York could target. Be sure to give our draft team, Chris Gross, Frank Giasone and Zev Sibony a follow on Twitter, as they’ll be leading our NFL Draft coverage through April.
While the play at the quarterback position was nothing short of a blooper reel for the better part of the 2012 season for the Jets, there are a surplus of holes on the roster that need to be addressed before touching the personnel that may be lining up under center in 2013. While quarterback is certainly the most important position in today’s NFL, quantity does not equal quality. New York cannot afford to stockpile mediocre quarterbacks hoping that one of them catches on, while ignoring their glaring holes at outside linebacker, offensive line, running back, inside linebacker, safety, and tight end.
While a top tier quarterback prospect would certainly mask many of the flaws that plague New York’s current roster, there is not one player in the 2013 draft who fits that bill. It is because of this that the Jets are highly unlikely to address this need via the draft in any round earlier than the fourth, if at all. Here is a look at some potential prospects who could potentially be available late on day two or early on day three in April’s draft.
EJ Manuel, Florida State, 6’5″ 240 lbs - Manuel, to me, is one of the most intriguing prospects at the quarterback position this year. His size fits the bill of a prototypical NFL quarterback, but does his play? Manuel threw for an impressive 3,392 yards and 23 touchdowns at Florida State this past season, including a 68.0 completion percentage and a 156.0 passer rating. What’s encouraging about Manuel is that he has improved in each of his four seasons at FSU, in a career that allowed him to display his vast intangibles including 2010 Academic All-ACC recognition, receiving a community service award in 2011, and being named team captain for his junior and senior seasons.
The red flags on Manuel stem primarily from durability concerns and overall mechanics. His footwork and release need serious improvement for him to be effective at the next level, and he has sustained multiple injuries during his career as a Seminole. However, Manuel does a good job of making pre-snap reads and going through his progressions. He isn’t NFL ready by any means, but with a year or two of quality coaching and fine tuning his fundamentals, he can surely be a starting quarterback in this league. His draft stock will likely depend on how he performs in the upcoming pre-draft events (Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, Pro Day), but there is a chance he could be had in the late third, early fourth round this year.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma, 6’4″ 218 lbs - Jones was a highly touted prospect after a strong sophomore season at Oklahoma, but has tailed off recently. Still, he has been very productive during his tenure as a Sooner, having thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of his three seasons as a full time starter. Jones has the size and arm strength to be an effective NFL quarterback, but like Manuel, his mechanics are flawed at times. When Jones executes the proper footwork and release, his accuracy and zip are excellent. However, he has developed a tendency to extend his release longer than neccesary and, coupled with inconsistent footwork, his accuracy and arm strength have taken a hit.
What Jones needs to do is work on these fundamentals, while displaying a level of confidence in the interview process with NFL teams. There are some concerns about his mental makeup considering that his production has dipped in each of the past two seasons, following his strong sophomore campaign. Still, the potential is there for him to grow into a quality player in this league. Depending on how his pre-draft performances go, he could be in the same range as Manuel, availability wise.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas, 6’3″ 220 lbs - Wilson is another viable late round option. While his production at Arkansas has not been off the charts, some feel as though he has been hampered by a poor supporting cast (sound familiar?). Wilson, like the previous two players, shows inconsistencies in his mechanics, but flashes brilliance when fundamentally sound. He has proved an ability to throw accurately on the run which, depending on who the Jets offensive coordinator is next season, could be an appealing quality.
As a leader, Wilson has been highly praised by his coaches at Arkansas for his work in both the weight and film rooms, as well as having fantastic poise in tough situations. He has the mental makeup of a quality quarterback which could make him the pick for New York, considering the hit that they have witnessed Mark Sanchez take in that area this past year. His flaws can certainly be worked on, but his abilities are unlikely to garner him a selection until late day two, at the earliest. Again, a lot will depend on how he is evaluated in the coming weeks.
The Hot Names - Every year following the conclusion of the collegiate football season, there are a few “hot names” at each position; players who were marginal during their seasons, but put together stronger performances to finish the year. This year, at quarterback, the two players being most commonly discussed are Mike Glennon of North Carolina State and Ryan Nassib of Syracuse. While each of these players have the tools to be good players at the next level, the way each of their stocks are rising, they are likely to be selected in one of the first two rounds. Last year, neither would likely have been considered until day 3, however with a depleted class at quarterback this season, each of them could find themselves rising up draft boards, particularly if they have strong Senior Bowl performances. While both of these players could help the Jets current quarterback situation, don’t expect New York to use an early pick at the position this year, primarily for the reasons mentioned above.
Trying to find an NFL ready quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft is about as easy as, well, finding an NFL ready quarterback on the New York Jets roster. With names like Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson and Mike Glennon the leading candidates as April approaches, one thing is clear. A few teams are going to reach for a QB…and it’s not going to end well.
Here are my top five QB prospects for the Jets heading into the Draft:
Brad Sorenson, Southern Utah, 6’5’’, 235 lbs- A BYU transfer, Sorenson is an intriguing small school “project” QB. His big build, strong arm and ability to fit passes into small windows are sure to the peak the interest of NFL scouts as Draft Day approaches. The senior also boasts surprising athleticism, accuracy throwing on the run, and does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield, even when pressured. Some concerns are his time spent in a shotgun-heavy offense, as well as the low level of competition in the Big Sky Conference, but his late round projections make him a great choice for the Jets.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma, 6’4”, 220 lbs- The decision to return for his senior season may end up hurting Jones, as some view him as a second or third round prospect in 2013. After being ranked as high as third in last years QB class, Jones now find himself lumped in with the likes of Mike Glennon, Tyler Wilson and Ryan Nassib. While his stock has fallen, Jones still possesses the arm strength, accuracy and intelligence that made him a top prospect last year, making him an interesting option if he slides.
Matt Scott, Arizona, 6’2”, 200 lbs- With mobile quarterbacks all the rage now in the NFL, Scott has a very good chance to climb up draft boards in the next few months. Extremely successful running Arizona’s spread-option offense, Scott is sure to draw comparisons to Colin Kaepernick as the ’13 Draft nears. For now he’s projected as a third or fourth round pick, but that could all change with an impressive showing at The Combine.
Mike Glennon, NC State, 6’5”, 232 lbs- Glennon has been a popular name in college football the past two seasons and with good reason, as his impressive arm strength and accuracy have some projecting him as a top 10 pick in this years Draft. While he’s still needs work on his footwork and fundamentals, his ability to stand tall in the pocket and move efficiently certainly helps conjure up images of a future franchise QB.
Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio), 6’3”, 228 lbs- Dysert also spent a lot of time in the shotgun formation at Miami University, but shows good accuracy on short and intermediate passes. Not asked to go downfield often, Dysert lacks the zip on his passes some look for from a QB. He does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield consistently and is also athletic enough to run with the football, but he may be the biggest project QB on this list.
The draft this year is not stacked at Quarterback like it was last year. None of the quarterbacks in this year’s class fit the mold of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. There are no players that are going to wow you in the first round, and few, if any, “steals” like Russell Wilson. I do not believe Geno Smith will be good in the NFL, nor do I think Matt Barkley will be. The USC curse is real. After that, you have Quarterbacks like Tyler Wilson and Tyler Bray who are both questionable picks. Landry Jones is still there, but he has underwhelmed this past season and I’m also not sure he will translate well into the professional league. None of this really matters because with the amount of holes the Jets have to fix, they aren’t going to spend a pick on a Quarterback in the first 4 or 5 rounds.
The Jets should address their quarterback situation in free agency by bringing in a veteran who can be a game manager. That being said, if the Jets choose to select a quarterback, they should target one of the following. The players below are likely to go undrafted and it should stay that way. This is a mix of the Jets having greater needs, combined with an underwhelming talent pool at the quarterback position in this year’s draft.
Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech, 6’2” 205 lbs- 4147 yards, 68.8 completion percentage, 31 TDs, 5 INTs. Coming out of the WAC, one can’t really expect that much, which is why Colby will probably go undrafted. I have watched some film of him and I think if he had the proper quarterback coach, something may sprout from him. While he may not have the strongest arm, he shows great accuracy. He is strong in the pocket and has good touch on the long throws. Nothing to ogle about but things to consider.
David Fales, San Jose State University, 6’3” 220 lbs- 4193 yards, 72.5 completion percentage, 33 TDs, 9 INTs. He has the “prototypical” size of an NFL quarterback, but again, it is hard to go undrafted and become somebody in the NFL. Fales doesn’t throw the prettiest ball, but he makes the right reads. Then again, he is going against WAC competition so it is tough to get a great read on him.
Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State, 6’1″ 205 lbs- 3342 yards, 68.8 completion percentage, 24 TDs, 4 INTs. Aplin finished his season strong at Arkansas State with a bowl win over #25 ranked Kent State. He went 21/30, 213 yards and 1 TD. While not jumping off the page, Aplin seems to take care of the ball and make the right decisions. The quarterback also is a 4 year starter and got better each year he played. He likely wont be drafted but another QB that may surprise people if drafted by the right team with a good QB coach.
It is hard to be an undrafted free agent QB and succeed in the NFL. Typically there is a reason quarterbacks go undrafted. Tony Romo is a rare guy. Can Colby Cameron, Dave Fales or Ryan Aplin be the next Tony Romo? Unlikely. But it will be interesting to take a look at each of them as they go through the draft process.