2012 may prove to be one of the best years for quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went to the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins with the first two picks, respectively, and both led their clubs to the playoffs in their rookie seasons. Ryan Tannehill showed some good signs with the Miami Dolphins after being taken eighth overall, and the Seattle Seahawks may have gotten the best signal caller in the draft in Russell Wilson at No.75.
A similar outcome isn’t likely for the 2013 Draft. The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t expected to take a quarterback with the first pick, and there’s a chance that no more than one quarterback will go in the first round.
Still, there are a few quarterbacks that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Below are the top six quarterback prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft in predicted order of their selection.
Geno Smith, West Virginia
The former Mountaineer has emerged as the No.1 quarterback prospect among most draft experts. As a senior, Smith was one of the best players in the nation, passing for 42 touchdowns and throwing just six interceptions.
Smith’s athleticism and potential make him an intriguing selection for many teams. His 4.59 40-yard dash time at the Scouting Combine was the best at the position, and will benefit him in a league where mobile quarterbacks have started to have more success.
There are some questions about Smith’s mechanics, but his talent will make it hard for him to get past the top 10. The Philadelphia Eagles could take a chance on him at No.4, but it’s more likely that he falls to the Arizona Cardinals at No.7.
Matt Barkley, USC
Before the start of the 2012 season, Barkley was regarded as the best collegiate quarterback in the country. Now, it seems staying an extra year in college may have hurt his draft stock.
Barkley led a USC team that was a major disappointment last season, losing four games in the Pac-12. His stats even dropped a little from his junior to his senior season, as he threw eight more interceptions in 2012.
Barkley, though, has been impressive at USC’s pro day. That, combined with the Buffalo Bills need for a quarterback, may see him go to Buffalo at No.8 overall.
E.J. Manuel, Florida State
After Smith and Barkley, the rest of the first round could go by without another quarterback being selected. Manuel has the best shot of being the third signal caller taken on Day 1.
Manuel improved every season at FSU, finishing 2012 with a 156.0 passer rating. He led the Seminoles to a 12-2 record atop the ACC.
Teams like the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles have worked out the quarterback, but he isn't expected to go in the first round, and could possibly slip as far down as the third round. Blaine Gabbert hasn’t shown much in his two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, so they might take him with the first pick of the second round.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Some draft experts have called Wilson the best quarterback prospect in the draft, and the former Razorback has stated that he is worthy of a first-round selection. A poor showing at the combine, though, may keep him on the board throughout the first day.
Wilson threw just eight more touchdowns than interceptions last season, but proved to be a consistent pocket passer in college. He played for a struggling Arkansas team that lost Bobby Petrino before the start of the season.
The 23-year-old hasn’t shown enough to warrant a first-round selection, but he could perhaps find his way into the second round. Look for a team like the Eagles or New York Jets to take a chance on him
Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
The lack of depth at the position in the 2013 Draft has allowed Nassib to emerge as a top signal caller in the class. He went to Syracuse without high expectations, and emerged as the team’s starter when Greg Paulus left.
In his senior season, Nassib became as a more complete quarterback, completing 26 touchdown passes. He even led the Orange to a win over Smith and West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl.
If the Bills decided to pass on Barkley, new head coach Doug Marrone, who coached Nassib at Syracuse, could use Buffalo’s second-round pick on his former player. Nassib’s arm strength could also entice a team like the Chiefs to go after him in the early third round.
Mike Glennon, North Carolina State
Glennon doesn’t have much of a chance to be drafted early, but he may turn out to be one of the better quarterbacks in this class.
The former college standout threw 31 touchdowns in his second year as the team’s starter. But his lack of mobility, and 17 interceptions, are a concern for NFL teams.
Glennon has been linked to the Cardinals. Arizona won’t take him with their first pick, but would probably strongly consider Glennon if they pass on Smith or Barkley. If Arizona doesn’t snag him, the slinger might still be available on the final day of the draft.