By most accounts, West Virginia's Geno Smith is going to be the first quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL Draft. The debate really starts at No. 2, where at least four quarterbacks have worked their way into the conversation:
» EJ Manuel, who has Mike Mayock in his corner.
» Matt Barkley, who is coming off of a big pro day.
» Ryan Nassib, whom Greg Cosell likes best of all.
» Mike Glennon, whom Bucky Brooks sees as a franchise QB.
It prompts the question: Who is the second-best QB in the draft?
Mayock's right -- Manuel's the manI'll roll with Manuel. In a watered-down quarterback class, I'd rather take the guy with the highest ceiling. Manuel has the arm, mobility and smarts to become a Pro Bowler, even if he is a little raw. None of these guys should be starting as rookies, but plenty of them will start down the line. Manuel has the best chance to be an actual difference maker. Who am I to argue with Mike Mayock?
Forget these four; Wilson's got the goodsI'm going to pick someone who isn't on this list -- someone who is, in my view, the top signal-caller in this class: Arkansas' Tyler Wilson. Successful quarterbacks earn their keep by making difficult throws in the face of pressure. At Arkansas, Wilson took big hit after big hit behind a porous offensive line and continued to test vertically. I also believe Wilson's ability to buy time for himself, either by stepping up or drifting outside of the pocket, is being overlooked. He isn't close to perfect, but if I draft Wilson, I know I'm getting a passer who doesn't crumble under pressure while finding open targets.
I'll take Barkley or Glennon -- depending on the situationI think the more accurate query is, "Which of these quarterbacks, when placed in the right situation, has the best chance to succeed?" Because you can't just put any of these players into any system. Glennon's not mobile. Nassib has touch issues. Barkley's arm isn't the greatest. Manuel does many things well, but he's not exceptional.
I'm going to eliminate Manuel and Nassib right away. Manuel disappointed at Florida State for much of his career, while Syracuse sprinted to a share of the Big East title this year by diminishing Nassib's role. They don't strike me as anything more than projects.
My choice between the other two really depends on my team's system. If I'm running a West Coast-style offense, Barkley is my choice. I love four-year starters who are accurate with the football. Guys like that make smooth transitions to the NFL; they avoid the early-career turnovers that can kill a young quarterback's confidence. However, if my team's philosophy is to throw the football downfield a lot, and/or it plays in a city where inclement weather is a factor, then I'm going with Glennon and his big arm. He might have the most potential of the group. The big thing, of course, is not to "square peg-round hole" any of these signal-callers.
Drafting Bray will pay offWell, I'm going to go completely off the grid and say Tyler Bray will end up being the second-best quarterback of the draft. In fact, when all is said and done, he might even end up being the top guy.
Bray probably should have stayed another year at Tennessee to answer questions about his maturity, but he will likely be drafted by a team with an established quarterback (like the Pittsburgh Steelers or New England Patriots, if they deal Ryan Mallett), a squad that can take some time to work on the player whose arm is regarded as the best in the draft. If he's put in the right situation with the right team around him, Bray will find success, either as the heir apparent to a current star or as a trade chip down the road.
Manuel is bound for stardomI believe that Manuel, who had a solid Senior Bowl week and outstanding NFL Scouting Combine, will be the second quarterback off the board. Manuel has a history of playing well in big games and, compared to the other quarterbacks, has tremendous mobility for his size. His escapability will serve him well in the fast-paced NFL. Manuel also accurately throws the ball down the pipe between the hashmarks while standing tall in the pocket. He's a prime candidate to be groomed under a system that will build on this accuracy. Bottom line: This quarterback is a star in waiting.
It's an underwhelming group, but I'll take NassibThis is a hard question to answer because I don't have a strong belief in any of these guys. Back in early February, I spent an entire day looking at the top quarterbacks in this draft. Every time I went to look at another QB, the Alex Smith option kept looking better and better. (It is easy to see why the Kansas City Chiefs did what they did.)
But back to the question at hand: Who is the No. 2 QB in this draft class? My choice is Ryan Nassib. I like his arm strength and he has shown he can put the ball in tight spots. I have seen him make good decisions and spread the ball around in a pro-style offense. He possesses good touch on deep balls, too, displaying an ability to shuffle in the pocket and keep his eyes downfield to find the open target. Nassib's weaknesses? He suffers spells of inaccuracy, isn't a running threat and needs work on his mechanics. All in all, I rate him as a second-rounder.