As we get closer to draft night next week, our draft team will be doing a series of positional rankings that will highlight the top 10 players in this year’s draft, by position. Today, we continue with a look at our top 10 quarterback prospects. Be sure to check our previous installments of our top 10 defensive tackle prospects, top 10 outside linebacker prospects, top 10 defensive end prospects, and top 10 inside linebacker prospects and make sure to check back, as we will continue our rankings series right through the start of round one.
1 – Geno Smith, West Virginia – I haven’t been shy about criticizing Smith on this site and firmly believe he is not a top ten talent. However, he is the best of the bunch this year and makes more sense in the 20-40 range, even though he wil be drafted higher than that. Smith racked up eye-opening numbers at WVU, showed quick decision making and an ability to make plays while protecting the football. However, Smith struggled in big spots last season and saw his team go through an ugly five game losing streak. His pocket presence, decision making and accuracy fell off at an alarming rate against Syracuse, Kanas State and Texas Tech. In the proper situation, Smith should be a productive starter in this league with the potential to develop into a Pro-Bowler. He remains rough around the edges and if put in the wrong situation, shouldn’t be expected to immediately turn around a bad team.
2 – EJ Manuel, Florida State – Manuel was wildly inconsistent at times in college but possesses immense physical talents and has the highest ceiling out of any quarterback in this year’s class. He showed toughness and leadership throughout his Florida State career and is also regarded as an exceptionally intelligent individual. His accuracy and shakiness when faced with a pass rush are major causes for concerns. Manuel is 6 foot 5, can move, and has good arm strength which means somebody is taking a shot on him in the top 40-50 picks. The ceiling is high but Manuel would be best served sitting behind a veteran for a year while ironing out the rough patches in his game. He is not ready to start from day one.
3 – Ryan Nassib, Syracuse – Rapidly rising up draft boards, Nassib is expected by many to be a first round pick and there is a feeling that Buffalo, and his former coach Doug Marrone, could find a way to grab him by trading into the back half of the first round. Nassib lacks ideal size and has stretches of inaccuracy because of poor footwork. He is a third round talent who will be over-drafted because of this weak class. However, he has good mobility, a strong arm and developed nicely over his career at Syracuse. He could probably step in as a starter quicker than any quarterback in this class, particularly in the right situation. There is a limit to his ceiling and potential in the NFL.
4 – Matt Barkley, USC – Barkley was overhyped last year and now is being gradually ripped apart, even though his skill-set hasn’t changed over the past year. He doesn’t throw a good deep ball, doesn’t move around the pocket well and remains a little inconsistent. Yet, Barkley still has good accuracy, makes quick decisions and could be a solid starter in an offense that emphasizes the short/intermediate passing game. He’ll probably get taken in the 2nd or 3rd round and find his way into being a competent starter in the next 2-3 years.
5 – Zac Dysert, Miami (OH) – A big quarterback with playmaking ability who is getting natural comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger because of where he played and his style. There are valid concerns about Dysert’s decision making and how he handles himself in the pocket. The physical tools are all there but he could use a season on the bench to fine-tune his game. Dysert is good value in the 3rd or 4th round, which is where he will likely be drafted. Keep an eye on the Jets having interest in him.
6 – Tyler Wilson, Arkansas – A tough player who is coming off a disappointing season. He has a strong pocket presence, good arm strength and size. There is appropriate concern over the long wind-up of his delivery along with his ability to consistently push the football down the field. Wilson must also show better ball security when moving around the pocket. He is 4th round talent, who could end up going a little higher if the right team falls in love with him.
7 – Mike Glennon, NC State – Because of his height (6-7) and arm strength he is drawing some wishful comparisons to Joe Flacco. Glennon isn’t that type of prospect but has intriguing potential down the road as a NFL starter. He is going to take a ton of sacks at the next level and his accuracy still needs to improve in a big way. However, with the right seasoning, he could end up being a competent starter in a couple of seasons. Similar to Wilson, he is a 4th round type guy who could get over-drafted by a team who loves his particular skill-set.
8 – Tyler Bray, Tennessee – Terrific arm strength but an overall game mired by inconsistencies. His decision making, accuracy and field vision all need immense work. He is a project player who needs to be coached in the NFL before being starter material. Somebody’s offensive coaching staff will fall in love with his arm and think they could cure all his other issues.
9 – Landry Jones, Oklahoma – Took an even bigger tumble than Matt Barkley since the end of last year. Jones struggles under pressure and has a tendency to let things snowball when he is having a rough game (AKA The Sanchez Effect). He shouldn’t be drafted before the 4th round and will struggle to read NFL defenses. Jones could project to being a capable backup in the right situation.
10 – Matt Scott, Arizona – Our resident Eagles insider, Mike Nolan, remains adamant that Chip Kelly is going to target Scott in the 3rd or 4th round as the long-term option run his offense in the NFL. Scott is a terrific athlete who needs to fine tune his passing skills to be a serious option at the next level. This is the right year for him to be coming out with the read option sweeping into the NFL.