The 2012 NFL Draft class is loaded at the quarterback position, with Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III pegged as can't-miss prospects at the top of the board. Both are elite-caliber playmakers capable of reversing the fortunes of dismal franchises, and their extraordinary potential will most likely lead to both coming off the board within the first five selections.
Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill is widely regarded as the third-best prospect, but an injury threatens to sideline him for most of the workout season. This inability to work out might prevent him from addressing concerns about his readiness at the next level. Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler have been thrust into the conversation as potential first-round prospects, but they must perform exceptionally well in workouts to make up for some of the bad film that exists in their profiles.
Given a big stage to perform at the NFL Scouting Combine, several quarterbacks have the potential to send their draft stock soaring by the end of the four-day visit.
Here are the top five quarterback prospects entering the combine, plus one sleeper:
1. Andrew Luck, Stanford: Luck is the most polished quarterback prospect to enter the league since Peyton Manning. He elevated the Cardinal to the ranks of the elite with his play, and his ability to put the program on his back suggests he is capable of thriving as a franchise quarterback in the NFL. While some scouts have nitpicked his game, Luck has a chance at the combine to cement his status as the undisputed top prospect in the 2012 draft class.
2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor: Griffin is an electrifying athlete with exceptional skills as a dual-threat playmaker. He is the master of improvisation, but also possesses the football aptitude and arm talent to pick apart defenses with a series of pinpoint throws from the pocket. There has been some concern about his ability to transition into a conventional offense after directing a spread system at Baylor, so Griffin's impressions in interviews and on the field at the NFL Scouting Combine will be vital to sway the opinions of some critics.
3. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: Tannehill won't be able to perform at the NFL Scouting Combine due to a foot injury, so he must make his impact in the interview sessions. Through intense discussion and chalk-talk sessions, Tannehill will still have opportunities impress scouts and coaches with his football IQ and leadership skills. If he can prove to evaluators that his game is advanced beyond his limited game experience, Tannehill could solidify his status as a first-round pick.
4. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: The former pro baseball player has created a buzz in scouting circles after putting together a pair of impressive performances at the Fiesta Bowl and Senior Bowl. Weeden's exceptional arm talent has convinced some scouts to overlook his advanced age (28), but a spectacular showing at the NFL Scouting Combine could make the issue a moot point come draft day. With so much riding on his performance on the big stage, Weeden has a lot to prove on his visit to Indianapolis.
Wyche: The future is now
The 2011 campaign has ended ... which means next season is upon us! Steve Wyche has 12 storylines to follow in 2012. More ...
5. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: The former highly touted basketball recruit is beginning to garner some attention as a potential franchise quarterback after scouts pored over the tape of his solid junior season. However, questions persist about his inconsistent play in big games and quirky arm motion. While Osweiler can't address concerns about his game-management skills during the workout, the 6-foot-8 signal-caller can showcase his arm strength, accuracy and throwing mechanics. If he can display consistent ball placement and velocity using an unorthodox motion, Osweiler can continue to maintain his high standing on draft boards across the league.
Sleeper to Watch: Kirk Cousins, Michigan State. Cousins lacks the flashy game of his counterparts, but has been a winning quarterback in a highly competitive conference. His leadership skills and game management are ideally suited for the next level, but scouts want to see if he possesses the arm talent to develop into a potential starter. While most assessments will be based off tape evaluations, Cousins could alter opinions on his pro potential with a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.