We are just a couple of weeks away from the 2013 NFL Draft and if you are a fantasy football player, you had better be paying attention. As I always say, the athletes that will be drafted on April 25th are all incredible. They can run, jump, throw, hit and do just about anything on the football field. What separates the great ones from everybody else is the system, coaches and surroundings they are brought into. Also, their willingness to adapt to those surrounds is so incredibly important. So, let’s take a deeper look at some of these prospects and find out where they fit the best. Today we start with the leaders on the field: The Quarterbacks
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Geno Smith – West Virginia – 6’2 – 218 Lbs
40 Time – 4.59 Seconds
Strengths – Smith is incredibly athletic and a very skilled passer. He has good size and strength for a QB and will be able to stand up to big hits at the next level. He made tremendous progress in accuracy throughout his college career. Smith plays with great confidence and seems to always rise to the occasion in big games. His arm possesses great velocity which allows him to make all the tough throws. He has a quick, professional delivery that scouts and coaches will love. His pro day performance catapulted his stock into the first half of the first round.
Weaknesses – Although he is an athletic freak, Smith isn’t mobile enough under pressure. Smith holds the ball too long and doesn’t necessarily feel the pressure well in the pocket. He will come to the NFL from a Spread Offense at West Virginia so the system to which he’s drafted to will be very important. Some General Managers knock him for not playing in the Senior Bowl after the season.
Final Analysis – Smith will be the first QB off the board this year. In a weak class of QB’s though he won’t have the best career. He has the raw skills to be a starting NFL QB but I seriously wonder if he will check out mentally if not given a job early in his career. Somebody will reach for him on draft day hoping to be selecting a savior for their franchise which in that context would be a big mistake.
Compare To – Colin Kaepernick
Tyler Wilson – Arkansas – 6’2 – 210 Lbs
40 Time – 4.95 Seconds
Strengths – Born to be a QB. Wilson has been groomed his entire life to be an NFL caliber QB and will get his chance despite an awful final season at Arkansas. He has good size and arm strength to compete at the highest level. Wilson is an incredibly tough passer who isn’t afraid of being hit as he delivers the ball, a trait that will help him immensely at the next level. He makes quick reads and doesn’t get fixated on his primary target as many college QB’s do. He is a lot like Matt Stafford in that he will deliver the ball from all angles amid pressure. His character is a plus after taking the blame for an underproductive season and bouncing back very well during the draft process.
Weaknesses – Like many college QB’s Tyler Wilson has gotten away with floating his passes to targets instead of throwing through the target as the elite NFL QB’s have learned to do. The NFL is too fast a game to get away with lollipop passing by a QB. Wilson is going to have to work on his throwing mechanic overall because he not only holds the ball too low, he also takes a tick or two too long to release the football. A good QB coach should be able to help him through these fixes but he will need to show coachability in doing so.
Final Analysis – Wilson still needs some molding to be ready for the NFL game. He has the swagger to be a strong leader for his team. His teammates usually like him and gravitate to him on a personal level. If he can replicate the accuracy and effectiveness he had in school while learning how to throw through his targets he could be a starter for many years.
Compare To – Matt Stafford
Matt Barkley – USC – 6’1 – 225 Lbs
40 Time – 5.19 Seconds
Strengths – Barkley is more experienced at running a pro style offense than any QB in this draft. He is a great leader who is very smart and savvy when it comes to the game of football. He’s a hard worker who shows a willingness to break down film and put in the necessary work to matchup against a defense. Barkley has improved every year at USC even though the numbers dropped off slightly in 2012. He is the type of player that is still improving and wanting to get better each and every day.
Weaknesses – His arm is fringy and velocity isn’t quite NFL caliber. Barkley needs to run a west coast system in the NFL or he will have a tough time being anything more than a solid backup. There have been concerns over his size mostly due to his throwing motion and release point. Ball could get knocked down quite a bit by aggressive defensive linemen. Without the big arm or much escapability defense are going to be able to scheme him to death. A NFL caliber Cover-2 would give him fits.
Final Analysis – Barkley needs the right system to flourish in the NFL. He;s more equipped than many to step right in and lead an NFL offense but the overall skills are just a bit short across the board. He may indeed find the right opportunity if he lands at the end of the first round. Ultimately he will have a long career in the league even if many of those years are spend at a serviceable backup.
Compare To – Mark Sanchez
EJ Manuel – Florida State – 6’5 – 235 Lbs
40 Time – 4.65 Seconds
Strengths – Outstanding all around talent. EJ is a physically imposing passer and runner. He is a mix between Robert Griffin III and Ben Roethlisberger. He has great arm strength and possesses the desire to push the ball down the field aggressively. His toughness is off the charts as shown by playing through a broken leg in the Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame his Junior year. Scouts love the way he holds the ball and his quick release. Coaches love his tenacity and dedication to his teammates.
Weaknesses – Struggles in the short passing game. He tries aiming the ball on shorter routes which account for the vast majority of his interceptions. Despite having elite speed and strength, he doesn’t take off and run very much. He needs to improve his blitz recognition as well at the next level. As a football player he is quite raw but has shown the desire to put in the work to be better.
Final Analysis – EJ Manuel will go down as the best QB in this draft class. I have a feeling many NFL GM’s are playing coy as to how much they value him and that he could move up into the early 2nd round possibly to Jaguars with the 33rd overall selection. I wouldn’t rule out the Cardinals (38th) or the Jets (39th) either.
Compare To – Robert Griffin III
Landry Jones – Oklanhoma – 6’4 – 225 Lbs
40 Time – 5.11 Seconds
Strengths – Landry Jones is as accomplished as any QB in this years draft. His college career was exceptional. He is a very astute pocket passer who can deliver the ball into the tightest of places. He played against good competition in college and many pro style defenses. He has shown great repetition in his mechanics and looks all the part of a starting NFL QB. Jones has a big arm and can burn defenses when coverage breaks down.
Weaknesses – Many scouts pan Jones because he is not the new era of athletic QB. He doesn’t escape pressure very well whatsoever. There are also questions about his confidence as he seems to get taken out of the game mentally after miscues. Jones is a hard worker but doesn’t seem to learn plays or read schemes quickly. He will have to put in a ton of work in the NFL classroom from week to week and during the offseason. He will likely be a backup QB early in his career but could develop nicely if placed in the right system.
Final Analysis – Jones is my dark horse candidate this year. He could wind up being the best QB in the draft or he could be out of the league in a few years. I think his “confidence issues” are more in the heads of scouts and avid College Football Fans then anything else. Jones has been successful at every level he has gotten to so far and has shown the work ethic necessary to make it at the next level. If he doesn’t get too discouraged at being second or even third string for a couple of years he could wind up working himself into a starting job by year three or four.
Compare To – Tony Romo
Ryan Nassib – Syracuse – Great shotgun passer who could develop into a starter one day if he gets into the right system.
Zac Dysert – Miami (Ohio) – Hilarious how often he is compared to Ben Roethlisberger. I love his tenacity and dedication but isn’t the overall talent of his fellow Miami of Ohio Alma Mater.
Mike Glennon – NC State – Love his height and his big arm capabilities. But he is slow in the pocket and not that fast of a learner.
Tyler Bray – Tennessee – Bray has a body like a franchise QB, but the brain of Sloth from the movie The Goonies.
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