Top 5 Quarterbacks
This is a very top-heavy quarterback class for the 2012 NFL Draft. After Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in the top two spots, there are only a few draft-worthy candidates left. Kirk Cousins, Kellen Moore, and Russell Wilson are three of the top five remaining prospects. Teams should place a "Buyer Beware" tag around the names Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles and Brandon Weeden on their draft boards.
1. Andrew Luck (Stanford): It seems almost a foregone conclusion that Andrew Luck will be the top pick in April's 2012 NFL Draft. Statistically speaking, he meets and exceeds every benchmark I use to evaluate quarterbacks. Luck leaves Stanford breaking almost every statistical record set forth by some guy named John Elway, who may or may not have had a decent NFL career. With a career record of 31-8, a career completion percentage of 67.0% and 9,430 yards passing, there is no doubt he is ready and capable of handling the rigors of the NFL. In the red zone is where Luck has been most lethal. Last season, he led Stanford to 69 trips into the red zone and was able to walk away with points in 67 of those trips. The only two times they didn't walk away with points, their placekicker missed field goals. He will be selected into organization with limited offensive weapons and a shaky offensive line. According to Paul Bessire, Luck is projected to have a completion percentage of 60% next season, with 26 TDs and 20 INTs.
2. Robert Griffin III (Baylor): Though not as big as Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III is just as physically impressive with his athletic ability. He showed remarkable accuracy with a career completion percentage of 67.1%. The studies I have done have found that his career completion percentage in a pro-style offense in college would have been between 62-63%. He had a great deal of weapons surrounding him at Baylor with possible first round pick Kendall Wright and late round selection Terrance Ganaway. Given the tools in a high powered offensive system, "RGIII" was able to maximize everyone in his arsenal. There is no reason to believe that RGIII won't be a long-term, successful QB in the NFL.
3. Kirk Cousins (Michigan State): Cousins is a three-year starter and three time-team captain with a 27-12 record as a starter playing in a pro-style offense. Cousins, was able to produce a career completion percentage of 64.1%, an impressive number to go along with his leadership achievements. He is a seasoned leader who should be given an opportunity to come into an organization, sit for a few years and learn the offensive system. In terms of player comparisons, Cousins reminds me of Tony Romo coming out of college. Romo had 26 wins, 86 TDs, 36 INTs and a 62.1% completion percentage at Eastern Illinois. Romo also spent a few years on the bench learning the Cowboys' offensive playbook. Cousins has the talent, make-up, measurables, tools and the ability to be an effective starting QB in a few years.
4. Kellen Moore (Boise State): Though he is undersized, his production and leadership are second to none in college football. Going into this season Boise State lost two of their main targets on offense in Titus Young (2nd Round, Lions) and Austin Pettis (3rd Round, Rams) to the NFL. Losing two valuable weapons on offense didn't seem to slow down Boise State or Kellen Moore. In 2011, Boise State ranked 12th nationally in passing offense with an average of 309 passing yards a game and 45 TDs on the season. There are only four players since 2000 with 40 or more victories as a starting QB in college football: Chad Pennington, David Greene, Colt McCoy, and Andy Dalton. Moore's coaching staff and teammates consistently praise his work ethic and attention to detail. In watching his game film, he showed a tremendous ability to put touch and accuracy on his passes. He throws the best back shoulder fade of anyone in this year's draft class. Moore's throws are consistent and have seemingly perfect ball placement for his receivers to make plays. A team that selects him will undoubtedly be getting a player who is a prepared, precision passer, and a leader. If put in the right offensive system, Moore could be an elite starting QB in this league.
5. Russell Wilson (Wisconsin): Wilson is an energetic, dynamic leader who played at not just one major BCS program but two (Wisconsin, and North Carolina State). As with Moore, most scouts continue to harp on his size or lack thereof as a major strike against him. Wilson is a very talented athletic QB who shows good functional mobility inside and outside the pocket. He has 30 career wins as a starter, 109 career TD passes thrown and a TD/INT ratio of 3.63, all passing the benchmarks set forth in our QB Report. Wilson is often compared to Drew Brees (24 wins, 90 TDs, 2.0 TD/INT in college), which is true in terms of height and measurables both standing roughly six feet tall. The statistical comparison I would use for him is Byron Leftwich coming out of Marshall. It would not surprise me to see Wilson have a long-term career as a top back-up in the NFL.
BUYER BEWARE: Teams would be wise to avoid these quarterbacks. From statistical measurements, none of these QBs meet the benchmarks set forth in my QB Report.
Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M): A limited starter who only has 12 career wins. The only other QBs with 12 or fewer career wins to be drafted since 2000 are Rohan Davey, Kevin O'Connell, Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and Mike Kafka. I would recommend teams avoid using a high round draft on Tannehill and look at possibly selecting him in the late rounds and developing him just as the Packers did with Matt Flynn.
Brock Osweiler (Arizona State): It's simple and easy why teams should avoid selecting Osweiler in the NFL Draft. He wasn't even a one year wonder in college with only seven career wins to his name. Since 2000, the two players who most mirror Osweiler's production to be drafted are Spergon Wynn (2000) and Jim Sorgi (2004). That's not necessarily a group of players who are beating down the doors of Canton. Given that he played in a spread offense and still was only able to produce a career completion percentage of 60.5% is a major red flag. If he played in a pro-style offense his completion percentage would be in the range of 56-57%. Tall? Yes. But, not good enough. Pass.
Nick Foles (Arizona): It is easy to see why scouts like Nick Foles. He is 6-5, 244 lbs. and possesses with decent mechanics. What I don't like about him is he only had 15 wins as a starter in three years at Arizona. The offensive system he played in is not conducive to the NFL. The vast majority of his throws last season were for bubble screens, quick strikes or presumed high percentage throws. His accuracy falls below 60% when his passes go over 15 yards. The player Foles most compares to is Jimmy Clausen, and the only thing Clausen has done in the NFL is lose enough games for the Panthers to be able to select Cam Newton.
Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State): Players who recently failed at baseball only to come back and try their hands in college football and be drafted: Josh Booty, Drew Henson and Chris Weinke. None of them have succeeded. Odds are just not in his favor on this one.