Josh Norris


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QB Rankings: Top 15

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

After discussing my top-151 rankings without including quarterbacks, I thought it was only fair to post the position in a separate article. It truly is an odd group, with each prospect having their own flaws. In fact, I believe this group is being underrated a bit. I do think we will look back in five years and see a handful of adequate starters come from this class, but that isn’t the first time you’ve heard that.

I really hate quarterback comparisons, especially when forcing them, so I do not spend a lot of time getting frustrated over them. Some are based on traits while others are based on style.

1. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Height/Weight: 6'2/215

College Experience: Fifth-year senior

40 Time: 4.93

Comparison: Brett Favre, in terms of playing style

2012 Stats: 249-of-401 (62.1%) for 3,387 yds (8.44 YPA), 21 TD/13 INT

Pick projection: Third-round to Texans

Positives/Negatives: First and foremost, a very tough player who bounces up after hits. Consistently steps up into the pocket to deliver the ball under duress. Does not mind taking a beating when sensing a receiver will slip open. Underrated ability to buy himself time, can get first downs on the run when defenses are in man or in deep zones. Unafraid to test the field vertically. Arm strength is impressive in the intermediate game. Not overly concerned about the ball fluttering at the end of his targets, believe it is a footwork issue. Leads receivers on crossing routes and takes chances in the middle of the field rather than taking the conservative approach. Looks at multiple targets before checking down. Changes throwing plane in the face of pressure. However, delivery can be a bit elongated as he drops the football. Vertical shots can be floated, receivers tend to work back into a jump ball situation but the placement likely isn’t on purpose. Holds ball low in the pocket. Tended to lock onto receivers, namely Cobi Hamilton, and forced throws as a result. Made a number of throws that will make evaluators shake their heads, but have to take the bad with the good with him.

2. Geno Smith, West Virginia

Height/Weight: 6'2/218

College Experience: Fourth-year senior

40 Time: 4.56

Comparison: Tony Romo

2012 Stats: 369-of-518 (71.2%) for 4,205 yds (8.12 YPA), 42 TD/6 INT; 151 rush yds, 2 TD

Pick projection: Jets in the late first-round

Positives/Negatives: As Eric Stoner put it, he has a bit of a Kobe Bryant mentality on the field. Accuracy can be an issue, poor placement to open targets in the intermediate to downfield levels of the field. Does not mind testing tight windows over the middle. Leads receivers open on the sideline and showed good chemistry on fades into the end zone. Keeps his eyes downfield and feet moving within the pocket to find a target instead of looking to run. In fact, he could have looked to run more often, almost wanting to prove he is a pocket passer. Started the year by looking to second and third options, but that field vision seemed to regress week to week. Needs work on his footwork, tends to bounce on his drops. Placement and velocity diminish when feet are not set or when balance is an issue. Improved throwing on the run. Blitz awareness is only adequate and there are instance where he backs up from pressure instead of unloading the ball or stepping up to make the throw.

3. Zac Dysert, Miami (OH)

Height/Weight: 6'3/231

College Experience: Fifth-year senior

40 Time: N/A

Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger, in terms of being able to buy himself some time and throw with defenders draped

2012 Stats: 302-of-480 (62.9%) for 3,483 yds (7.26 YPA), 25 TD/12 INT; 265 rush yds, 2 TD

Pick projection: Raiders in the third-round

Positives/Negatives: Forced to play out of a quick throw, four and five wide receiver offense in 2012 to compensate for poor offensive line play. Much more effective in 2011, working in the pocket, stepping up against edge pressure, and making throws when draped by defenders. Very good at throwing on the run, even testing vertically when moving to his right. Sailed targets at the Senior Bowl but didn’t see that happen in tape review.  Flashes anticipation on comebacks and breaking routes, not just on crossing patterns. Made some unbelievable throws downfield with effortless velocity and bucket placement. That's where his accuracy shows the most. Inconsistent feeling backside rushers. Needs to prove he can find check-downs and secondary reads inside the pocket rather than escaping to space, but that could have also been the offense’s fault in 2012. Some easy throws are blatantly off target for no apparent reason. Also showed a tendency to lock onto a first read in 2012. Did the offense in his final season stunt his development?

4. Mike Glennon, NC State

Height/Weight: 6'7/225

College Experience: Fifth-year senior

40 Time: 4.94

Comparison: Nick Foles

2012 Stats: 330-of-564 (58.5%) for 4,031 yds (7.14 YPA), 31 TD/17 INT

Pick projection: Bears trading into the third-round

Positives/Negatives: Best when working out of a quick tempo, plant off back foot and throw offense. The longer he holds the ball, the more worried I get. Will test vertically immediately if the read is correct, single high with the receiver gaining a step on the corner. Has solid placement and velocity in these instances, bucket to outside shoulder. Uses his height to see receivers running open in the short and medium ranges, making accurate throws to lead them into open areas after the catch. Interesting that his arm strength dips a bit in the intermediate game, perhaps looking for location and placement. Average foot quickness will cause him issues trying to avoid interior pass rush. Does show some escapability, but working in confined spaces or buying himself time could be a big issue since there’s nothing quick about his mobility. Had a lot of practice with that, too. Tends to retreat instead of stepping up to deliver in the face of pressure.

5. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse

Height/Weight: 6'2/227

College Experience: Fifth-year senior

40 Time: 5.06

Comparison: Jake Locker with better accuracy

2012 Stats: 294-of-471 (62.4%) for 3,749 yds (7.96 YPA), 26 TD/10 INT; 142 rush yds, 2 TD

Pick projection: Bills at No. 8

Positives/Negatives: There are some frenetic qualities to the Syracuse product’s game, but if harnessed he can be quite good. Perhaps he is comfortable with the jittery movements, but they have resulted in good and bad things. Has plus velocity in the short and intermediate game when balanced and clean in his footwork. Quick release, gets the ball out in a hurry when necessary. When the rhythm is there, the accuracy follows. Shows that he can make multiple reads, san look off safety to come to the opposite side of the field. Does his best to avoid sacks, but puts himself in those situations too. Puts a lot of air under deep balls, perhaps due to his motion, footwork, or lack of vertical arm strength, but it gives his man a chance to make a play. Sells play action and screens well, throwing well on the run to his right. Trust in his arm strength has led to poor decisions and poor placement when forcing passes into tight windows. It all goes back to that frenetic movement, for me.

6. Matt Barkley, USC

Height/Weight: 6'2/227

College Experience: Fourth-year senior

40 Time: N/A

Comparison: Ryan Fitzpatrick

2012 Stats: 246-of-387 (63.6%) for 3,273 yds (8.46 YPA), 36 TD/15 INT

Pick projection: Jaguars at No. 33

Positives/Negatives: Might make more adjustments at the line than any other passer in this class. Usually accurate when he is able to set his base and stride into his throws. Asked to move the pocket and throw on the run, or roll and plant to reset and test downfield. Needs to be a rhythm passer, plant off back foot and hit target. Will struggle to make time for himself. Has good placement when able to step into throws, even on vertical targets, but lack of velocity will make those throws more difficult in trash. Will he have smaller windows to hit if he is a tick late on his reads?

7. E.J. Manuel, Florida State

Height/Weight: 6'5/237

College Experience: Fifth-year senior

40 Time: 4.59

Comparison: Blaine Gabbert

2012 Stats: 263-of-387 (67.9%) for 3,397 yds (8.77 YPA), 23 TD/10 INT; 310 rush yds, 4 TD

Pick projection: Eagles in the second-round

Positives/Negatives: Throws from the shotgun formation quite often, but is also effective on play action. Flashes velocity to test vertically, but not sure the placement comes along with it. Didn’t seem him throw with anticipation along the sideline. Some will like how he carries the ball high and tight, but it looks uncomfortable and mechanical, like Rodgers coming out of Cal. Can make things happen with his feet and that can be taken advantage of by OCs more in the NFL. Does some crazy things in the face of pressure, makes me uncomfortable. Must step into these throws more consistently. Teams keep using the words “clean slate” and “coachable”. Was he held back by FSU or did he hold them back?

8. Tyler Bray, Tennessee

Height/Weight: 6'6/232

College Experience: Third-year junior

40 Time: 5.05

Comparison: Jeff George

2012 Stats: 268-of-451 (59.4%) for 3,612 yds (8.01 YPA), 34 TD/12 INT

Pick projection: Browns in the fourth-round

Positives/Negatives: When set, and even unbalanced at times, he has a ridiculous arm. not only from a velocity standpoint, but some vertical shots are precise. Was on the losing end of a lot of drops and contested catches. Footwork is a major issue. Does he care about improving it and does his decision making drop as the team’s falls further back on the scoreboard? Has added weight, but throws were all arm. Very little use of the lower body. Can change his arm slot.

9. Matt Scott, Arizona

Height/Weight: 6'2/213

College Experience: Fifth-year senior

40 Time: 4.69

Comparison: Seneca Wallace

2012 Stats: 301-of-499 (60.3%) for 3,620 yds (7.25 YPA), 27 TD/14 INT; 506 rush yds, 6 TD

Pick projection: 49ers in the third-round

Positives/Negatives: Has a very quick and snap release, getting the ball out with good velocity. An athletic mover and showed a ton of toughness to take hits and keep firing it. However, made some poor throws under pressure in the same circumstances. Decisive on his first read, willing to stick passes in tight windows over the middle. Does tend to escape the pocket in the face of pressure. Has the arm to test vertically. Can show too much confidence in his arm, which leads to poor decisions and throws.

10. Sean Renfree, Duke

Height/Weight: 6'3/219

College Experience: Fifth-year senior

40 Time: N/A

Comparison: Kellen Clemens

2012 Stats: 297-of-411 (72.3%) for 3,113 yds (7.57 YPA), 19 TD/11 INT

Pick projection: Broncos in the fifth-round

Positives/Negatives: Has the arm to make all the throws and height helps. Show velocity when drifting or fitting pass along the sideline. Willing to take chances and has been known to throw receivers open. Those risks or targets into covered receivers lead to mistakes. Lots of shotgun or pistol with quick throws and reads. Footwork gets a bit odd in the face of pressure, crosses steps. There are times when he won't work through his progressions properly, and will simply lock on to his intended target. Hurt shoulder on final snap of senior season.

11. Ryan Griffin, Tulane


12. Landry Jones, Oklahoma


13. Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt


14. Brad Sorensen, Southern Utah

15. Matt Brown, Illinois State

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris

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