Mainly, on this team’s lone weakness as of this moment in time: the all-important QB position. Many fans were devastated the Chiefs refused to make a move for stud QB prospect Ryan Tannehill or even risk a pick on a midrounder later in the draft to challenge backup Chiefs QBs Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi. Clearly the fanbase is ready to move on from incumbent starter Matt Cassel.
The truth of the matter is, 2012 might have been the year to pass on a QB (no pun intended). Particularly because the market in 2013 is of a darn-near historic quality at the position.
In my young lifetime, I don’t know if I’ve seen such a loaded class at the QB position. There will be so many QBs to ponder over and drool about that any QB enthusiast will be in Football Heaven all fall.
The following prospects are highly discussed as being first round prospects in next year’s draft — there are no fewer than seven. Use this post as an introduction, and follow these players all year — we will likely be debating them in nine months!
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Wilson is somebody you absolutely must keep track of. He has Peyton Manning upside. His statistics are particularly strong, of course. He completed 63% of his passes this past season, stacking up nearly 4,000 yards with a 24/6 ratio. His measurables are strong as well; the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has great mobility and while he isn’t blowing up defenses with his scrambling ability, he can deftly evade pressure and create plays on the move. But while all of this is great, it’s not world-beater good.
Where Wilson differentiates himself from everybody else is between the ears. He is reputably a film rat with a very close eye for emulation and play formation. He was brought in by the same offensive system that Ryan Mallett succeeded in. He carries himself with such outstanding composure it’s possible the 1st picking team in the 2013 Draft will fall in love with him in interviews.
And while Wilson is legitimately #1 overall talent, he’s going to slide. He just lost his head coach in a fiasco and the new offense he’s adopting will not be as pass-obsessed. Add in the fact that he’s legimately losing all three of his best receivers to the NFL, and it’s going to be a fascinating slog for Wilson in 2013. Keep your eyes peeled.
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Thomas is going to definitely be a first round pick, whether his talents warrant it or not. Several teams are going to see him and just automatically assume he’s Top 10 talent. Whether he is, is yet to be determined.
The reason for this infatuation can be summarized in two words: Cam Newton. Logan Thomas is a rock solid 6’5, 255 lbs, and athletic as all get-out. He ran for over 600 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. That is all you need to know in terms of how high he will go when he declares.
Thomas has a ways to go to prove he is in the Newton mold, however, as his passing game is pretty good, but nothing outstanding yet. He sports a 60% completion rate, threw for just a hair over 3,000 yards and had a 19/10 ratio. It was his first year as a starter, however. If he can find a way to log more impressive stats in 2013, someone will overdraft him. As of now, I’d burn a second rounder on him without thinking, on potential alone.
Matt Barkley, USC
Barkley is the stuff NFL draft dreams are made of. He is a highly polished four-year starter out of USC who has improved dramatically every year he’s played. His athleticism is decent, as is his size (6’2″, 230 lbs), but he’s athletic enough to get the job done and has a body that can take NFL punishment.
His junior season was ideal for his draft stock — nearly 70% completion, over 3,500 yards passing with a whopping 39/7 ratio. He also is unflappable in the college game, and carries himself with an air of confidence with a short memory. The only aspect lacking to his game is arm strength, which is just about average. For my mind, the only way he doesn’t become the first player off the board in 2013 is if the team drafting demands elite arm strength on a 1st overall player. Which, I suppose, is possible.
Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Bray has earned top-notch scout attention ever since Tennessee secured him as a recruit. Last year was his highly anticipated first year as starter, and he didn’t disappoint — up until his hand injury. Missing games and suffering from it otherwise, he threw for slightly less than 2,000 yards, with a nice-to-look-at-ratio of 17/6, a completion percentage of 59%. Needless to say, Bray’s composure is a selling point.
It will be interesting to see if he fills out. He is a magificent 6’6″, but looks very lanky, not very filled-out at all. Needs time in the weight room. Otherwise, he has the look. His arm is fantastic — there is a Favre-ian zip to his passes that injure his receivers. There is not a throw on the field he can’t make, at this point I’d put it just shy of Matt Stafford’s. Dynamite arm.
I would say it is unlikely he makes the leap to the NFL in 2013, however. Still possible, I suppose. But he’s going to probably want more time to groom his game, and he won’t have to compete with Barkley for the #1 overall in 2014.
Aaron Murray, Georgia
Murray doesn’t dazzle you like most of the other players on this list. He is a measly 6’1″ and 210 lbs with limited mobility, so he’s not exactly an eye-popper there… And while he’s from Georgia’s pro-style system, he’s still a work in progress. He needs more time to get adjusted to the game, and more polish — there is only a slight chance he will declare in 2013.
His numbers are great if you understand he’s just getting started: over 3,000 yards, 60%, 24/8. That’s extremely good for a freshman. He shows really good maturity for a young buck with no meaningful experience leading into last season. And he has a very Croyle-like spin on the ball. Fluid, sharp, and accurate.
Nonetheless, he has one advantage almost nobody else on this list has: he’s in the SEC and gets tons of media coverage. Nobody else can match it, other than Barkley. Bray will not hit media radars for potentially another year, unless he just goes off. Wilson will struggle in a new system with an inexperienced freshman WR corps. And Murray is following in Stafford’s footsteps, heightening the excitement around him.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma
I’m not going to lie, I see a lot of a better Matt Cassel in Landry Jones. He’s got Cassel’s great size (6’4″, 220 lbs), his intelligence, his leadership, and his appreciation and love for being scheme reliant. He also features Cassel’s physical limitations, in that he still flinches in the face of pressure and is relatively uneasy fitting the ball into tight spaces. His throwing motion, also like Cassel, takes a lot of sizzle off his passes.
Unlike Cassel, Jones is very accurate, with a 63% rate of completion. And check out these numbers: nearly 4,500 yards passing, 29/15 ratio. Gorgeous.
Jones is a pure system QB, a West Coast offense QB. Teams running that scheme could be entranced by his intelligence and upside. He has the look of a mid- to late-first rounder.
Geno Smith, West Virginia
I don’t see a first round quarterback in Smith, but others do. At this point, he’s a third rounder to me. I think he’s too much of a hot head, and doesn’t keep his composure in games. Others see an athletically gifted scrambler, a poor man’s RG3 with a ton of upside if a coach could harness his ability.
I’m including him for completeness sakes. Not much more.