1. EJ Manuel – Buffalo Bills (Florida State University)
6’ 5" 237 lbs (10 3/8 inch hands!)
28 career interceptions, 47 touchdowns, 19 fumbles, 68 sacks and 7736 college career passing yards
Draft position: Buffalo Bills Round 1 Pick #16
I initially had Geno Smith #1 because that's where I ranked him pre-draft. After further reflection, Smith slides to #3 and Manuel takes the premier spot. Like Smith, Manuel was drafted by a team with a clear need at QB and he could easily be starting by week 4, if not earlier. Manuel excelled at virtually every single drill at the NFL Combine. The Bills have moved on from Ryan Fitzpatrick (great get for the Titans by the way) and Kevin Kolb is currently their starting QB. Bills fans fans everywhere say "GULP!"
Manuel is a load and the prototypical mobile quarterback long predicted to take the NFL by storm. With the success of Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and RGIII to name a few, he generally fits the mold of what makes newer offensive coordinators drool and defenses look the fool. He also has a very quick release and can get rid of the ball fast. Manuel is deceptively quick and incredibly hard to take down once he gets moving. He has overall good vision reading the lanes and seeing the field, and really good footwork. Nice touch on the ball too. Finally, he is going to be surrounded by Stevie Johnson, CJ Spiller, Robert Woods, Marquesse Goodwin, and Da'Rick Rogers.
Needs to work some on pocket recognition. Operates much better from the shotgun and will need work being under center. Took 33 sacks in 2011 and 26 in 2012. Scares me the way he holds the ball when he is running and will need to adjust for the NFL (19 fumbles). Tends to stare down his receivers. Was generally called upon to throw to his first read. Needs to learn to slide better.
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Where I would project him: Early middle rounds most likely beginning around Round 10. I believe Manuel is going to start the season and I think he could be a big time points producer. He is my clear favorite in this class to be an early and long time producer.
6' 2" and 313 lbs
52 career touchdowns, 26 interceptions, 10 career fumbles, 46 sacks and 7765 career passing yards.
Draft position: Raiders Round 4 pick #112
Wilson may have the best "feel" for the game of all the rookie quarterbacks. He surely has the "moxie" it takes to be a leader in the huddle. Has the ability to shake off mistakes and doesn't let them define him. Also mobile enough to move the chains and evade pressure but is not afraid to stand in the pocket and wait on his receivers with pressure coming (can sometimes backfire). One of the best play-action QBs in this draft in my opinion.
Really only 2 good years of college experience. Gunslinger mentality sometimes leads to bad decision making. Big tendency to stare down his receivers. Needs work on ball placement. Overall a one read guy in college.
Where I would project: Wilson is another guy I was really high on prior to the draft and like Manuel could end up the starter early on. I would target him somewhere around round 15. The Raiders are going to be better than projected and they are adding talent to the roster. With a good QB, Denarius Moore could really breakout, and I like the additions of Latavius Murray, Nick Kasa, and Mychal Rivera. I also have Conner Verner as an UDFA to watch in Oakland so overall talent looks to improved.
3. Geno Smith – New York Jets (West Virginia University)
6’ 2" and 218 lbs
21 career interceptions, 98 touchdowns, 78 career sacks, 28 career fumbles, and 11,662 career passing yards.
Draft position: Jets Round 2 pick #39
Unless you have been living under a rock, you are familiar with Smith’s rather colorful draft journey. I was really high on Smith coming out of WVA, but his stock took a hit, well several actually, during the pre-draft process. Starting with an ill advised decision to forego the Senior Bowl, a drama filled draft process, and the quick trigger firing of his agent to sign with Jay Z and his agency make me question his decision making process.
Assuming Smith doesn't prefer to be a rockstar and hang out with Jay Z and his entourage, and intends to dedicate himself to the hard work required to be a top notch NFL quarterback in the league, Smith is clearly one of the top rookie QB targets in keeper leagues. Mark Sanchez won’t get cut due to his contract, but he clearly isn't the answer at quarterback for the Jets.There is a prime opportunity for Smith to dominate in training camp and preseason, and snag the starting role early on.
Quick and elusive on the move. Always looking to pass first (can be a downside at times). When he is on he throws a beautiful ball. Patient but sometimes too much so.
Tendency to hold onto the ball. Has 78 career sacks. Operated primarily out of the shotgun. Very bad ball security with 28 career fumbles at WVU. Happy feet. Won't have Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin or Adrian Buie. Tendency to run around to avoid contact instead of sliding or taking on contact. Will he be willing to pick up the tough yards? Weather could be a factor as he struggled to throw accurately in windy conditions. Tendency to float his passes.
Where I would project him: Middle to late rounds, largely due to doubt that the Jets will manage this situation well. Smith SHOULD enter the season as the starter but for some inexplicable reason the Jets remain committed to Mark Sanchez. Still, Smith's upside is too great to pass over. Right now I would anticipate targeting him beginning in Round 15.
6' 2" and 227 lbs (10 1/8 inch hands)
Draft position: Eagles Round 4 pick # 98
For the record, I am not a Barkley fan for reasons that have nothing to do with Lane Kiffin (Volunteers fistpump) and everything to do with USC and his performance on the field. If you can name a USC player not named Bush that has been hugely successful in the NFL in the recent past, please do so. Even more so, please name a USC quarterback who hasn't been an overwhelming disappointment in the NFL since Carson Palmer? I'll wait. Barkley makes the list because Mike Vick can't stay healthy and Nick Foles hasn't shown he can be the guy. Personally, I would shy away but timing and opportunity means Barkley could be "the guy" sooner rather than later.
Good ball security with only 5 career fumbles while at USC. Has the least career sacks of the top 4 at 55. Threw for 12,327 yards at USC. Played in a pro style offense. Is not a quick read guy and can work through multiple reads. Has a good feel for the position and showed the ability to make changes to the offense at the line of scrimmage.
Has 48 interceptions to 116 touchdowns. Not very mobile and needs to work on pocket presence. Drop in overall efficiency and production from 2011 to 2012 (although his Y/A improved). Lacks the height of some other quarterbacks and isn't the athlete of an EJ Manuel or Geno Smith.
Where I would project him: Late round flier although he could move up after camp. Hard to tell how he figures in right now with Vick and Foles in front of him on the depth chart.
6' 6" and 232 lbs
28 career interceptions, 69 career touchdowns, 7 career fumbles, 35 career sacks and 7444 career passing yards.
Draft status: Chiefs Undrafted Free Agent
Bray is clearly the enigma in this year's quarterback class. One of the most physically talented of the quarterbacks, his maturity and decision making prior to and during the 2012 season cost him dearly. Bray has all the physical tools to be a franchise quarterback what is at issue is whether he can be trusted to do the things required to make it at the next level.
Bray currently occupies the 4th spot on the Chiefs but unless he really screws the pooch surely he can handily move past Ricky Stanzi and Chase Daniel. Alex Smith is the incumbent and undoubtedly will be the starter. However, Smith is only signed through the 2014 at which point he will be 30 years old. Still young by QB standards but with Bray we are talking late round flyer.
He has the height and arm strength to be the real deal in the NFL. When he is on he looks the part and is amazing to watch. When he is focused, he has good arm strength and touch. He is better under pressure than he gets credit.
Has shown the mentality of a 12 year old far too often and has shown a marked inability to learn from his mistakes. Mental lapses cause him to regress in his mechanics. Exhibits extremely poor attitude when things don't go his way. Left school following his junior year when it was clear he would benefit from an extra year of experience.
Where I would project him: Right now it's hard to put him anything more than a late round flier but like Barkley he could rise a bit depending on the results of training camp battles. Again, its hard to believe he won't be at least #2 on the depth chart.
6' 7" and 225 lbs
Draft status: Buccaneers Round 3 pick # 73
31 career interceptions, 63 touchdowns, 19 career fumbles, 69 sacks, and 7411 college career passing yards.
Obviously this guy's height weighs in his favor. He also good pretty good touch and feel for the game. Decent ability to avoid pressure. Can play immediately from under center.
Only 2 years of real college football experience. Really needs work on reading the field and recognizing pressures and defenses.
Where I project him: Late round flier. I can't recommend drafting him this year but he is the clear #2 and Freeman has been the subject of a lot of offseason chatter. Still, you would think Freeman is the clear choice and Glennon only a developmental guy at this point.
2014 WATCH LIST
7. Ryan Nassib - New York Giants (Syracuse)
6' 2" and 227 lbs (10 1/8 inch hands)
Draft status: Giants Round 4 pick # 110
Nassib is clearly a work in progress and it is doubtful he supplants Eli Manning in 2013. Having said that, Manning's contract makes his future in Giants blue somewhat of a mystery. Yes Manning led the Giants to a Superbowl win in 2007 and 2011 yet somehow doubt still remains on the former Ole Miss quarterback. Personally, I'm an Eli fan but his base salary in 2013 is $13 million, in 2014 it jumps to 15.15 million, and in 2015 he is set to earn a cool $17 million. There is also an annual $500.000 workout bonus. Manning struggled in 2012 and if he struggles in 2013 there could be an opportunity for Nassib. Clearly a guy to keep a watch on.
Not a quick read quarterback but really stares down his targets. Has the ability to look off a defensive back but struggled to have time to do it. When he sets his feet right and throws into it he really throws a nice ball.
Really indecisive at times in the pocket. He has to learn to get rid of the ball faster. His 21 career fumbles are troubling. Also takes way too many sacks and has 83 career sacks. He really needs to work in his footwork and makes some amazingly bone headed decisions at times. Struggles to avoid pressure.
Where I would project him: Undrafted this year though it's certainly possible someone might take a chance. Right now he is #3 on the depth chart behind David Carr. Is that a gulp from Giants fans? As a developmental guy on the back end of the roster you could certainly do a lot worse.
8. Zac Dysert - Denver Broncos (Miami OH)
6' 4" and 228 lbs
51 career interceptions, 159 career sacks, 73 career touchdowns, and 12,016 passing yards.
Draft status: Broncos Round 7 pick #234
I might not ordinarily put a 7th round quarterback on this list but I was surprised Dysert lasted as long as he did. While Peyton Manning has proven to be extremely durable through his NFL career, he is 37 years old and has undergone multiple neck surgeries including a stem cell implant. Should Peyton go down, are the Broncos prepared to go forward with Brock Osweiler? Maybe so.
I tend to view mini camp reports that blow rainbows and sunshine with a grain of salt and the pick of Dysert indicates some reservation. Granted Osweiler was a 2nd round pick but he has only played in 5 games and has 2 completions out of 4 attempts for 12 yards. Still, without more data on the depth chart it's hard to recommend drafting him this year.
He isn't built like Ben Roethlisburger but broke his career passing attempts, completions and yardage records. Shrugs off pressure like Roethlisburger. Certainly looks the part of an NFL quarterback.
He needs to work on his pocket presence. Sometimes has some lazy footwork and isn't terribly elusive but can still shed defenders. Typical of young quarterbacks but he tries to do too much. Overall, just needs more experience and would benefit from sitting a year or two.
Where I would project him: Probably best not to draft him this year although that picture will become clearer after camp. Still, it appears he will be the #3 so its best to put him on your watch list for next year's draft. Unless, YOLO.
9. Sean Renfree - Atlanta Falcons (Duke)
6' 3" and 219 lbs
40 career interceptions, 50 career touchdowns, 11 career fumbles, and 9465 career passing yards.
Draft status: Falcons Round 7pick # 249
I went back and forth on including Renfree on this list. Surely the Falcons get their extension done with Matt Ryan and all is well in Falconland? Still, Renfree is too intriguing a guy for me to pass by so he makes the watch list.
While surely a project, this David Cutcliffe protege' has all the tools to be a good NFL quarterback. You could question where he fits given the rise of Ryan, but the future is an unpredictable commodity and strange things can happen in the NFL. Now I won't say he is going to be the next Tom Brady but now I have you thinking don't I?
Coached by one of the best young quarterback developers in David Cutcliffe. Has good size and decent athletic ability. Pretty solid footwork and mechanics and has a very strong arm. Played in a pro style offense.
Tries to force throws at times leading to a lot of interceptions. Will need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. Will sit behind Matt Ryan (both a positive and a negative).
Where I would project him: Another guy you could take a chance on as he could, and probably should, end up the #2 in Atlanta. Still, I can't give this guy more than a watch list status at this point. Still he is an intriguing player and someone you should keep on your radar.
CURRENT TRENDS IN ROOKIE QB ADP's
After compiling this list, which by the way is based entirely on my own filmwork and analysis, I decided to take a look at current rookie QB ADP trends in dynasty startup leagues. If anyone runs across others, please shout them out. This list will be revisited as the offseason progresses so keep in mind this is my first look.
Here are some linkys: