After listing my top-20 non-quarterback prospects attending the Senior Bowl, I thought it was only fairly to flesh out my thoughts on the group attending the week long event.
I’ve said it numerous times, but this quarterback class is all about flavors. Obviously there will be no consensus top prospect at the position, unless something shocking takes place in the next few months. The tape has been recorded and every single signal caller has flaws. Major ones, in many cases. But each evaluator shows preference to certain traits and skills in these situations, which is what will determine the variance in grades.
Without Geno Smith or Matt Barkley present, the six quarterbacks attending the Senior Bowl have an excellent opportunity to stand out among their group, whether it be the North or South squad. Again, it is tough for me to argue others’ quarterback rankings this year and I doubt anything will surprise me, in terms of draft order, in April. Prepare yourself for every outcome.
These are obviously brief glimpses of full evaluations (that will be completed in the coming months), but here is how I would rank the attending quarterbacks:
1. Tyler Wilson (South), Arkansas - My top quarterback all season, Wilson can give a positive spin on the term “gunslinger” on one play, then follow it up with the negatives aspects on the next snap. I absolutely love his willingness to stay in the pocket and unload downfield throws in the face of pressure. Sure, he might occasionally duck on contact or the ball might flutter at times, but for how often we see prospects fall away from their throws even when not asked to start from center, this characteristic is refreshing. Wilson did tend to lock on Cobi Hamilton at times this season and made a large amount of poor throws, but the tools and the mindset are there. I only hope he stands out like he should while practicing next to Landry jones and E.J. Manuel.
2. Zac Dysert (North), Miami (OH) - Did Dysert have the year I was expecting? No, but the skills are still there to be a successful NFL starter, including working through progressions. In all fairness, Dysert’s offense this year was garbage. To the rock step and release throws in four or five receiver sets, to poor blocking from the offensive line, to receivers that couldn’t catch, the senior had little help in 2012. Look back to 2011 and you will see a quarterback that is very comfortable working from center, allowed to freely step up in the pocket with confident footwork, evade pressure and hit vertical throws in double coverage. On top of that, Dysert’s ability to throw with accuracy and velocity when moving laterally or when draped by defenders is excellent. Nassib and Glennon are drawing plenty of attention in recent weeks, but I think Dysert will outperform both. Or I could just be jinxing him.
3. Mike Glennon (North), NC State - Comparisons of Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan have been mentioned in recent weeks. The longer Glennon holds onto the ball, the worse the outcome seems to be. This happened in spurts, most recently during the Wolfpack’s bowl game. Other times Glennon thrived in a faster tempo, quick progression offense due to his velocity on shorter throws and accuracy in tight windows. It also limited the frequency Glennon faced interior pressure, his kryptonite. The senior could have a very good week due to the lack of pressure against air, but I am not sure if that will answer the questions I have.
4. Ryan Nassib (North), Syracuse - I like Nassib, I don’t love him. The positives are there: mobility to move in the pocket, comfort in an offense of a team picking in the top-ten, and a rocket arm. He might have been comfortable in the offense, but Nassib is too frenetic in the pocket for my liking. The Syracuse product tends to unload on every throw rather than put some touch on targets at different levels of the field. It might seem like a small detail, but I wonder if he is too muscle-bound or can his velocity issues be fixed. Accuracy issues might also be tied to this aspect of Nassib’s game. Jake Locker’s placement is worse in that category, but I could see a comparison between the two.
5. Landry Jones (South), Oklahoma - I really do believe in Landry’s arm early in games, where he showed he can throw vertical routes with good placement. But as the Sooner starts feeling pressure or when forced off his first read, Jones gets shakier and shakier. There are definitely draftable talents there, but he is the same player as in 2009. Meaning, I am not sure if he can take the next step in the NFL. Add on his limited experience in the redzone due to the Belldozer, and Jones is likely a fifth-round projection.
6. E.J. Manuel (South), FSU - After failing to shed the “project” label, Manuel reminds me a lot of Blaine Gabbert in terms of his (in)ability to handle pressure. There are flashes, especially against Clemson this season, but too often Manuel left me scratching my head.