Saturday, February 22, 2014

NFL Draft Looking Back: 2012 QBs

We're looking back at our notes from two years ago, and letting you have a look at what we said about the 2012 draft class. I thought it would be fun and open myself up to some critiques about how we wrote up that class as we prepare to write up the 2014 class for our 2014 NFL Draft Prospectus. Here's what we said about the 2012 Quarterback class...

#1 Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck, son of West Virginia AD and former NFL QB Oliver Luck, is a lock for the best QB in the 2012 draft in our opinion. He may not have had the flashy numbers that others had in front of him on the stat sheet, but he certainly is the most pro ready QB in the draft, and even stayed a year longer in college to develop further, despite the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh for the 49ers. Those expecting a Harbaugh/Luck NFL reunion can forget about it, as the Niners will never be able to climb high enough to pry the top pick out of the hands of the Colts. Besides, Luck certainly proved in 2012 that he was his own man.
Pros: It's been a long time since I have seen a QB in the college game operate the way that Luck does under center. He already possesses the innate skill at reading defenses and realigning his offense to suit what the defense is throwing at him. He almost operates as his own OC on the field, changing plays like the best of them. He reads defenses spectacularly well, and has an amazing football IQ. He is certainly a high IQ guy, on and off of the field. He has the right build for the position, and is built to take some punishment. He fits just about any offense in the NFL, as he has operated in a run first, grind it out offense in 2012, and in prior seasons had also shown the ability to toss the ball around. He started for three years, which means that he has an amazing amount of experience. Luck passed for 3517 yards and 37 TDs in 2012, and threw only 10 picks while completing 71.29% of his passes, all outstanding numbers. He passed for 3338 yards with 32 TDs and 8 picks, completing 70.7% of his passes in 2010, and passed for 2575 yards with 13TDs and 4 picks as a freshman. He progressed and got better every season at Stanford, and the team got better around him, including in 2011, when he had probably the worst receivers during his time at Stanford. Makes all of the throws, and is smart about where he puts the football on throws. Can also make plays with his feet, in and out of the pocket.
Cons: Can't really find many in his game. The only drawback that one can think of is that he may not be a great fit for a high powered pass happy team. He is best in a balanced system, where he can play off of a power run game in play action. Fits best with a team that uses the TE, but really, he can fit anyone's scheme at the end of the day. May struggle at first with a team that may not have the best line in front of him. As was said earlier, he is built to take a beating, but that doesn't mean that he should.
Overview: His percentage improved every season at Stanford, and he continues to grow every season. He is a motivator. He takes the reigns of his team and moves them on his shoulders. Do not blame the end of the Fiesta Bowl this season on him, as play calling from the sidelines was awful in OT. Luck is a consummate leader and pro, and whomever drafts him may get one of the best young QBs to enter the league in a long time. Put a good, solid power back behind him, give him top flight TEs, and watch him go to work. He will likely play on a dome team in Indy, but he could fit very nicely in any of the cold weather outdoor cities as well. Luck is the absolute best player available, and will be the face of a franchise.

Update: Largely the best QB from that class, and one of the best in the last 10 years. Had some minor issues in 2013, but nothing that can't be undone.

#2 Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Overview: I like Griffin very much, but there are concerns with him. If he is handled the right way, you get a great player, but if he is thrown to the wolves with too many responsibilities early on, he may flame out. Let us not forget, he has the Heisman curse to live off of. That being said, he was a one man wrecking crew at Baylor, and took that program where they have not been before. He has the potential to be a super talent for the right team, but he has to go to the right team. Where Luck can thrive in any environment, Griffin cannot, and would be a terrible fit for a team like the Bears or Redskins. He is a dome QB to the letter on the next level, and if the right players are not around him, he may be a dangerous pick for some teams. He is a major risk/reward selection, and the jury will be out on him until he shows what he can do in training camp and beyond. All of that taken into consideration, he is still a top 3 selection, worst case.

Update: The Redskins haven't been much good with him, and injuries have been an issue, as he has tried to do too much. He ended up in a bitter feud with Mike Shanahan, and Shanahan was fired. Not a great start.

#3 Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Overview: I am a Weeden fan, but he has many risks involved. That being said, he also has huge upside as he was extremely efficient and successful at Oklahoma State, driving them to a league title as QB in the Big 12 last fall. He has the ability to be very successful in the right situation, but taking him early would be a big picture mistake. If you can take him in the 3rd or 4th round, that is a great thing. If there is a run for him earlier than that, let someone else take the gamble and be happy that the pressure is not on you. Do not be too tempted by the upside to take too early a grab, or you could get stung. Weeden is all about value, and is a winner. It's tough out there for a 28 year old rookie.

Update: The Browns reached, and got stung. He's been largely a flop who's just hanging on by a thread to an NFL job.

#4 Nick Foles, Arizona
Overall: He was a great QB on a bad to maybe average at best football team, and has never been a big winner. Someone will take a flyer on Foles, but realistically, there are enough red flags here to move him down to the 3rd round or lower. He is a gamer, and a stat producer, but his lack of winning, and his injury and INT history shows some issues that have to be worked out early in his NFL career, and it may take some time. If you draft him and throw him into action too early, he will be labeled as a likely bust. A few years as a backup would serve him very well, if he played under a decent QB with a stable coaching staff. Foles is good, but not yet great.

Update: I preached patience with Foles, and the Eages largely showed restraint with him early on. I believe that he developed ahead of the curve, and became the man in Philadelphia under Chip Kelly. His development time on the bench certainly helped.

#5 Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Overview: I have mild interest in Tannehill, but only because of the unexplored potential that he has. He still has much work to accomplish before he is even remotely ready to run an NFL offense, He dangles a carrot in front of you, for certain, but whether he can deliver or not is completely an enigma. He does have some skills, but once more, he was a solid player on a not so solid football team, and Mike Sherman did not survive as coach after last season, so that’s something to consider. Tannehill should be viewed as a three year project before he is ever ready to fully run the QB position for any NFL team.

Update: Drafted by the Dolphins, they jumped the gun by forcing him to be the guy early on. Results have largely been mixed, and he hasn't been to the playoffs yet in two seasons.

#6 Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
Overview: Cousins can be high reward at times, but can also be exceptionally frustrating, as he has that tendency to fold at times. His mistakes certainly became fewer as a senior, but he still has a bunch of work to do on the next level to become a successful NFL QB. He'll take some coaching, and will need a few years on the sidelines learning to read NFL defenses. He has potential, but may also never fully develop into a starting NFL QB. Too many inconsistencies that must be broken. Definite second day pick.

Update: Cousins showed early potential when Griffin got injured, and was dangled as trade bait before Washington decided to pull him back. Still a risk/reward guy, but he has value now.

#7 Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
Overview: Wilson has a major choice to make between baseball and football. He may not fit in entirely in the NFL due to his physical stature, but at the same time, he has been so amazingly productive that it hurts to not take a look at him and kick the tires. Wilson has never been a bad QB...ever. If I were an NFL GM, I may be tempted to make a mid-round gamble on him just to see what happens. He is worth that chance.

Update: The first QB from this class to win a Super Bowl with Seattle. He's not flashy, and is a typical point guard QB...he dishes the ball safely, doesn't turn it over, and wins. Was not drafted in 2012, but Pete Carroll did what I said someone should do...he gave Wilson a chance, and it paid off.

#8 Kellen Moore, Boise State
Overview: Moore is way too productive a QB to ignore, but NFL teams end up falling in love with physical packages rather than productivity, and if that is the case again with Moore, than he will fall like a rock, because he does not look like an NFL QB. If I am a GM, I take him no later than round three and take the risk. If teams let him slide to the bottom, he would be a rock star in the CFL, where his skills would be a perfect fit. I would rather see him do that than languish on a bench for his entire career. However, I see a guy who can make it on the next level, and I truly believe in him.

Update: Third string QB for the Lions, where he will languish forever. Never too late to bolt for the CFL game...

#9 Case Keenum, Houston
Overview: He put up far too many numbers to completely ignore, but the NFL learned all about system QBs with Andre Ware and David Klingler. I can see Keenum going in the 6th or 7th round, but he is far too much a gamble to take any earlier than that. He may just be too lost in translation to make it.

Update: Keenum was given a chance by his hometown Houston Texans, and even got some starting experience in 2013 when Matt Schaub was injured, and later benched. He played well enough, but the Texans are now flirting with Johnny Manziel, which I see as a huge mistake for the organization, but more on that later...

#10 Brock Osweiler, Arizona State
Overview: Osweiler does not bring nearly enough upside to you for any value as a drafted player. Look not at the one season totals, which were good but not great, but look at the big picture which shows an erratic at best player that never really asserted himself in a conference where the QB is king. Do the right thing by your franchise, and let someone else make this mistake.

Update: Osweiler is behind Peyton Manning in Denver, and is never going to be a starting QB in the NFL. His play in the pre-season has largely been crap.

Others of Mention

Mike Glennon, NC State
Sat behind Russell Wilson forever. Made a name for himself in one short season.
Update: Was named the starter with the Buccaneers in 2013, where he's been largely ineffective.

Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Nassib was the best QB at Syracuse since McNabb, but took time to get there.
Update: Drafted by the Bills, and has been ineffective. As have the Bills.

Ryan Lindley, San Diego State
Went from being elite to falling like a rock. Struggled badly in 2011.
Update: Lindley got limited opportunities with the Cardinals, but has largely just been bad.

Bo Levi Mitchell, Eastern Washington
Huge talent who won Payton award, national title at EWU.
Update: Has been a rising star in the CFL. Has a future in Canada, and wasn't afraid to grab it. Great choice.

Next: A look back at the Running Back class of 2012...

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