1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
No, I’m not putting Robert Griffin III ahead of Andrew Luck just to stir up controversy. If you’ve been following the site during this process, you’ll know that I’ve had Griffin ahead of Luck since day one. Griffin’s elite athleticism, big-time arm and stellar accuracy make him my top quarterback in this year’s draft.
The common belief is that Andrew Luck is the best quarterback prospect since John Elway. However, I’m not buying it. While I do believe Luck will be a star in the NFL, he won’t be as great as many expect him to be. Just my hunch, if Luck went to any school besides Stanford, there wouldn’t be as much hype. The misconception by the media is that just because Luck attended Stanford, he is one of the most intelligent quarterbacks in NFL history. Don’t buy that. He went there on a football scholarship, not academic scholarship. Putting that aside, Luck will have a productive career. I just feel that he’s close to reaching his ceiling which doesn’t leave much room for improvement.
3. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
There’s no quarterback with more upside in this year’s class than Ryan Tannehill. This is because Tannehill didn’t even become a quarterback until midway through his junior season. Prior to that, Tannehill was a wide receiver for Texas A&M. In 2011, Tannehill threw for 3,744 yards and 29 touchdowns, which is quite impressive since it was his first complete season as a starting quarterback. Tannehill will have some learning to do in the NFL, but he has all of the physical tools to be a star.
4. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
If you’re wondering who my most underrated player in the 2012 draft is, he’s right here. It’s somewhat shocking to me that most experts don’t even have Russell Wilson in the top five of their quarterback rankings. After transferring from NC State, Wilson spent his senior season at Wisconsin, where he threw for 33 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Had it not been for two Hail Mary throws in the final seconds of Wisconsin’s two losses, the Badgers likely would have played LSU in the BCS National Championship Game. The only knock on Wilson is his height, as he is just 5’11″. But, if you’ve seen Wilson play, you’ll notice that his lack of height hasn’t really affected his performance. No quarterback in this year’s draft throws the deep ball with more accuracy than Wilson, so don’t be surprised if he is a longtime starting quarterback in the NFL.
5. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
Much like Tannehill, Kirk Cousins has great potential. Cousins’ potential doesn’t come from his athleticism, though, as he is solely a pocket-passer. In college, Cousins showed flashes of being a solid quarterback in the NFL by excelling in both of his games against Wisconsin. But, Cousins struggled in games against other top defenses, such as Georgia, Nebraska and Ohio State. He’s a high-character guy that will be ready to learn from day one, which is why he has a chance to be a starter in the NFL someday.
It’s a known fact that Brandon Weeden is 28 years old, but that’s not why I have him this low on my list. The reason Weeden is lower on my list than other quarterback rankings is because of the pass-happy Oklahoma State offense that he played in. That offense allowed him to excel, as he threw for 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2011. But, that’s because the offense he played in allows him to spread the field out, sit in the pocket and easily find an open receiver. That won’t happen in the NFL. When the field was condensed on plays in college, Weeden played much worse. His accuracy greatly worsens when he has less time to throw the ball, which is why I think he will struggle in the NFL.
7. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
When the 2011 season ended, Nick Foles appeared to be right behind Griffin, Luck and Tannehill as a quarterback prospect. But, after a poor showing at both the Senior Bowl and Combine, Foles is starting to look less impressive. Despite having a big-time arm and throwing for 28 touchdowns in 2011, Foles’ tape is not very likable. He has a tendency to look down receivers and force throws, which won’t bode well in the NFL. It is unlikely that Foles will be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he will be a very reliable backup.
8. Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
Every year, the media loves to pick out a few prospects and make them look better than they actually are. This year, Brock Osweiler is one of those prospects. ESPN has graded Osweiler out as a first-round pick, which just baffles me. Despite being 6’7″, Osweiler had more passes batted down than the previously mentioned 5’11″ Russell Wilson. Osweiler has a big-time arm and is athletic for his size, but the praise from me ends there. His poor mechanics, slow release and the fact that he wasn’t asked to make many tough throws at Arizona State make Osweiler a developmental prospect in my mind. He needs to go to a team where he can learn behind a veteran quarterback for a few years, as Osweiler is nowhere near ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
9. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
I usually don’t buy into the fact that physical tools/athleticism will hold a player back in the NFL, but I am here. Kellen Moore is the winningest quarterback in college football history, which would make one think that he will have success in the NFL. But, Moore is listed at a generous 6’0″. Moore is also under 200 pounds, which isn’t the type of body frame that will hold up against NFL defenses. On top of his limitations physically, Moore’s arm strength is lacking. While he is accurate and can read defenses with ease, Moore will be nothing more than a solid backup in the NFL.
10. Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois
Here’s one of my favorite prospects in the draft. Chandler Harnish doesn’t have the arm strength that is needed to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he is a true dual-threat quarterback whose production in college speaks for itself. Harnish threw for 2,942 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior season, while also leading Northern Illinois to a MAC Championship. The former MAC player of the year may not start in the NFL, but a team should definitely use a late-round pick on him as a developmental player.