Top Quarterback Prospects for 2012 NFL Draft


Updated 1/18/2012

I’m going to leave our rankings up through the whole process so you can see our thought process and progression.

Now that all of the underclassman have officially declared for the N.F.L. draft, Sayre and I will be releasing our position rankings and big board over the next week. Sayre and I do a collaborative effort so our big boards will differ for sure, but this is a consensus rankings, I’ll note for the record where Sayre and I diverge signicantly.

Scouting reports for most of the players can be found on our scouting report page.

1. Andrew Luck, Stanford

2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor

3. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin

4. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

5. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

6. Nick Foles, Arizona

7. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

8. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

9. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State

10. Case Keenum, Houston

11. Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois

12. B.J. Coleman, Tennessee Chattanooga

13. Darron Thomas, Oregon

14. Dominique Davis, East Carolina

15. Austin Davis, Souther Miss

16. Aaron Corp, Richmond

17. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State

18. Patrick Witt, Yale

19. John Brantley, Florida

20. G.J. Kinne, Tulsa

The player that has the most disagreement might be Russel Wilson. Sayre has loved Russel Wilson all year and had him behind Barkley and Jones, but still in his top five for most of the year. He’s won me over more as the season as progressed, but I wouldn’t have him at number three. I’ve left Wilson where Sayre has him though for now.

Sayre likes Kellen Moore a lot more than I do as well. I’ve moved Moore down 7 spots. I realize that he’s a winner, but I don’t think he makes a lot of N.F.L. throws. Not rooting against him, I just don’t see him starting in the N.F.L. and like the guys ahead of him more.

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Update 11/21/2011

Sayre and I put out brains together to come up with these rankings. We didn’t quite go thirty deep and we’re not offering a ton of explanations on this page, but if you have any questions feel free to ask. I’ll write out our points of contention immediately following the list. After the list is our preseason bio/scouting reports for many of the player.

For breakdowns of these players check out our scouting report page. (more than 120 scouting reports of 11/21/2011)

1. Andrew Luck

2. Matt Barkley

3. Robert Griffin III

4. Ryan Tannehill

5. Landry Jones, Oklahoma

6. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State (on upside, likely to return to school)

7. Nick Foles, Arizona

8. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

9. Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois

10. Austin Davis, Southern Mississippi.

11. Russel Wilson, Wisconsin

12. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

13. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State

14. E.J. Manuel, Florida State (upside again, he has not played that well this year)

15. Geno Smith, West Virginia

16. Darron Thomas, Oregon

17. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State

Points of contention

I would agree with top 3 QBs, then I would adjust some things. Think L. Jones has more long term potential than Tannehill. Would put Russell Wilson at #5 or #6 for sure. He is the real deal. Definitely a better prospect than Nick Foles IMO. Lindley should be really low on this list. He is not a good player really. Not accurate, lot of bad decisions and INTs. I think the three kids at the bottom of your list should be higher than some other guys for sure. Geno Smith specifically. Definitely have Kellen Moore in the top 8-10.

(moved Lindley down)

Preseason rankings:

1. Andrew Luck, Stanford, 6’4″ 230 (RS Junior)

Simply put, Luck is the prototypical quarterback prospect, and at least right now, is pretty much a lock to go first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has great vision, and probably the best accuracy of any quarterback to come along in a long, long time. This is a very smart player with great intangibles, and right now he is my leading candidate to win the Heisman trophy. Ideal size and arm strength, and this year, I just want to see him have that killer instinct. I have Stanford rated as the second team in the country right now, and I would love to see him compete for a national title. He had over 70 percent accuracy last year, and is coming from a pro-style offense. Luck is the Stanford single season touchdown record holder over the great John Elway. People are already heralding him as the next Peyton Manning, and this and that. No matter what he  turns out to be, it looks as though Luck will be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL someday not too far away, both on and off the field.

2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor, 6’3″ 220 (RS Junior)

**No scouting report yet available**

3. Landry Jones, Oklahoma, 6’4″ 230 (RS Junior)

Started 24 of 27 games that he has played at Oklahoma, and has vaulted himself into the discussion as a potential top 10 pick in 2011. Saw his accuracy increase dramatically as a sophomore in 2010 when he went from 58.1% completion to 65.6%. Honorable mention All-American in 2010 after throwing for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns (12 interceptions). Works primarily out of the shotgun but has very good vision down the field, as well as excellent footwork in the pocket. Goes through his progressions and knows how to read defenses. Has the arm strength to be able to fit the ball into tight spaces. His accuracy has dramatically increased, as I pointed out, and he has a very quick release. Not a scrambler by any means, but knows how to work outside of the pocket and use his athleticism to his advantage. Arm strength overall is very good to excellent. Great placement on his deep throws, and I would love to see him decrease his interception totals even though the Sooners are a big time passing offense. Could compete with Andrew Luck to be the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft if he chooses to come out.

4. Matt Barkley, USC, 6’2″ 220 (Junior)

NFL personnel men have been waiting to get their hands on Barkley since high school when he was the 2007 Gatorade Player of the Year as a Junior. He was the #1 overall prospect when he committed to USC and became the very first true freshman to start for the Trojans. This year, Barkley will be a Junior and it may be his last year playing for the Trojans before he takes his talents to the NFL. I have watched every game of Barkley since he became a Trojan and I am confident that he will be a top 5 pick whenever he decides to come out. Barkley has great poise in the pocket. He is great at stepping up, side stepping, and doing whatever is necessary to avoid the pass rush. He has an NFL caliber arm. Now, it isn’t the best arm, but he’s more then capable of making all the NFL throws. He has a good, compact throwing motion. He improved significantly from 09 to 10. He threw 11 more touchdowns and 2 less interceptions. He runs a pro style offense, is a great leader, and works hard. Now, Barkley is not perfect. He has been inconsistent with his accuracy during his time at SC. He completed 60 percent of his passes as a freshman and 62 as a sophomore. He will likely have a difficult time this season thanks to a very young, and injured o-line. Additionally, Barkley has been dinged up each of the two years he played at USC. A full, healthy year at USC will due him good or he might be labeled “fragile” when he comes out. Nevertheless, Barkley is an elite prospect who will be a franchise QB for some team whenever he comes out. He is a likely top 5 pick and with the offensive weapons that surround him at USC, he could challenge Andrew Luck for the #1 pick in 2012.

5. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State, 6’6″ 233 (Senior)  **Drafted by Oakland Raider, 4th round of 2011 Supplemental Draft**

Another of the five Buckeyes who are suspended for the first five games of 2011. Pryor is the complete package at the quarterback position, and those who say he’s not one of the top senior quarterbacks in the country are just flat out wrong. Those who say he is best fit as a tight end or h-back in the NFL? There’s a word for those types of people–dumb. Pryor has one of the strongest arms in the country, and not only that, he improved almost EVERY facet of his passing game. He increased his completion percentage from 56.6 almost 10 percent to 65 percent on the season. He went from 18:11 touchdown to interception ratio to 27:11, a ratio that went from roughly 2:1 to 3:1. Despite only 28 more pass attempts in 2010 as he had in 2009, he threw for almost 700 more yards, going from 2,094 yards in 2009 to 2,772 yards in 2010. Pryor also had fewer sacks (19) than any other season in his collegiate career despite a career high in attempts, and the fact that he makes plays out of the pocket. Oh, and by the way, not only did Pryor significantly improve his passing numbers and efficiency as a junior, he also is one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the country. Over the last three seasons, he has run for 754, 779, and 631 yards to go along with 17 touchdowns. Pryor has fantastic arm strength and the ability to keep plays alive, and I see no reason why if Cam Newton was the top overall pick in the draft that Pryor can’t be as well. He is as good as Newton is, perhaps even better. Unlike Newton, though, Pryor has been required to take snaps under center, and doesn’t run a spread offense like Newton does. Ohio State is a pro style program, and Pryor knows how to move the chains. He is a clutch player and a winner, who has two BCS Bowl victories to his name. If not for this foolish suspension, he would easily be one of the top Heisman candidates in the entire nation. If he can continue to improve his accuracy and decision making, he will be a great NFL quarterback, so long as he keeps his head on straight.

6. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin, 6’0″ 200 (Senior)

7. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M, 6’4″ 220 (RS Senior)

Not unlike the Dos Equis guy, Tannehill is one of the most interesting men in the (NCAA football) world. At 6’4″ 220 he has the makeup of the ideal NFL quarterback, but he just took over as the team’s starting quarterback late in 2010 and prior to that was the backup QB–as well as a playmaker at wide receiver. Yes, you read that correctly, and you must YouTube it to believe it. Tannehill was a big time playmaker at WR who at one point led the Aggies in all time receiving yards. Could be one of the most versatile players in the entire draft. Has been a very good WR for the Aggies as well as a playmaker at the QB position who emerged as the starter last year, and is just a guy who you want the ball in his hands at all times. Has a rushing touchdown, has punted for the Aggies, and also has a tackle. Throw in a couple of two-point conversions as well, and you have one of my favorite up-coming prospects in the draft. I can’t wait to see if he makes strides as a quarterback this offseason. I think he will emerge this season as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, a guy that you always want with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. Characterized as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country at the end of last season.

“This is my team, my offense, and it’s my job to lead them,” Tannehill said earlier this month. “The leadership role is definitely different. I’m the guy, instead of a second-team player. It definitely carries a different leadership role that allows me to step up and get guys going when we start dragging a little bit.”

8. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, 6’4″ 218 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

9. E.J. Manuel, Florida State, 6’4″ 234 (Junior)

Manuel enters his first season as the unquestioned number one quarterback on the Florida State roster, and he could be poised for a big season. Has been tweaking and perfecting his mechanics and footwork for the last couple of years, to the point where head coach Jimbo Fisher has indicated he should see significant improvements in accuracy and arm strength, and has decreased his chances of re-injuring his shoulder (which he has had problems with in the past). Perhaps not a candidate to leave early because he is so raw, but he should be the focal point of the FSU offense this year, and could be poised for a huge season. Fans will want to see him make great strides in his touchdown/interception ratio, which last year was 1:1, even though he only threw 93 passes overall. Big, rangy athlete with a strong arm and solid vision down the field. A threat to move the chains any time he touches the ball because of his ability to scramble. To this point, has been more of a thrower than a passer, which has resulted in some poor throws and interceptions. Still, his completion percentage has always been high. When he sets his feet correctly, his accuracy down the field is dead on, and he has a strong enough arm to complete any and every NFL throw. Look for this kid to really break out in 2011 and potentially vault himself into first round discussion with a solid year as a first time starter.

10. Geno Smith, West Virginia, 6’3″ 210 (Junior)

**No scouting report yet available**

11. Nick Foles, Arizona, 6’5″ 240 (Senior)

**No Scouting Report yet available**

12. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State, 6’3″ 205 (RS Senior)

Cousins is one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Michigan State history, and is one of the top senior signal callers in the entire country. Cousins was a third team All Big 10 selection by Phil Steele in 2010, academic All Big 10 for the third straight year, and showed that he is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country. The fourth year junior completed just under 67 percent of his passes for 2,825 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions (three came in Iowa game). Michigan State is a run oriented offense, but Cousins definitely makes the most of every throw. Had a dominant performance (22-of-29) in the MSU Spring game where he threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns, and could be poised for a big season in 2011. Cousins is an accurate quarterback who will have a long NFL career because he is smart and makes great decisions. Not a mobile quarterback by any means, but is a guy who can get outside the pocket and make plays. Gets rid of the ball quickly and excels in play-action. Some people might call him a game manager, but field general is probably more appropriate. Will occasionally throw the ball into traffic when under pressure instead of getting rid of it. Sometimes tries to do too much, and ends up making risky throws or poor overthrows.

13. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, 6’4″ 220 (RS Senior)

Really emerged in 2010 as a first year starter for the Cowboys and ignited the offense to the tune of 4,277 yards, 34 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Helped lead the Cowboys to third in the nation in scoring and total offense, and was an All Big 12 selection. We know that Weeden can dominate bad defensive teams, but now we need to see him step up his accuracy and decision making against teams like Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Weeden is a guy whose story will be receiving a lot of attention in the coming months. He was a 2nd round pick of the New York Yankees in 2002, and was born in 1983, so he is going to be an older NFL rookie. Because of that, his stock will probably take a hit, and he might be a second round pick similar to John Beck a few years back. Still, there is no question about this guy’s ability, and if he can repeat on his 2010 performance, he should be a real hot name in NFL Draft circles. He joined the Oklahoma State program in 2007, and returns in 2011 as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.

14. Darron Thomas, Oregon, 6’2″ 220 (Junior)

**No scouting report yet available**

15. Kellen Moore, Boise State, 6’0″ 200 (RS Senior)

I would venture to say the only thing keeping Moore from being a top tier NFL prospect is his size, and I don’t think there are many that would disagree with me. One of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country and a perennial All-WAC selection as well as a pre-season All American. Moore has an astounding 5:1 career touchdown to interception ratio, and over the last two seasons has only thrown nine picks despite the Boise State offense being predicated on the pass. Has 40 career games under his belt already, including one of the most winning records in all of college football. This is a guy who is really just flat out a winner on the football field and his play reflects it. As the Boise State starting QB, he has 10,867 yards, 99 touchdowns, only 19 interceptions, and has only been sacked 23 times, 10 in the last two seasons combined. He also has three rushing touchdowns, and his only career reception has gone for a touchdown. Not only that, but he has three career punts, and a long of 54 yards! This kid is just an exceptional athlete, and you would love to see him turn out to be like a Drew Brees type of player. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he can make any and every throw and is dead-on accurate. He completed over 71 percent of his passes last season, and led the nation with a quarterback efficiency rating of 182.63. He is undersized and his arm strength doesn’t overwhelm, but he should be drafted and will undoubtedly make an NFL roster.

16. Case Keenum, Houston, 6’1″ 210 (RS Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

17. Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois, 6’2″ 220 (RS Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

18. G.J. Kinne, Tulsa, 6’2″ 215 (RS Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

19. Jordan Jefferson, LSU, 6’4″ 225 (Senior)

Jefferson is a guy who is known for his ability to make plays on the ground, and right now he is a “tweener” to me. He will get drafted because of his size and athletic ability, but will it be at quarterback? He has not made any progress in terms of his accuracy, and over the last two years has thrown just 24 touchdown passes compared to 17 interceptions, including only seven touchdown throws last year. Where Jefferson makes his mark is as a runner, where he had seven rushing touchdowns last year. According to LSU’s official athletic site, this will be the first time under offensive coordinator Gary Crowton that a starting quarterback has returned the next year. There is no doubting that Jefferson is capable of making every NFL throw, but is he capable of doing it on a consistent basis, and will he be willing to try out different positions at the next level? His senior season will show us a lot about where he is headed, but for now, he is an exciting player who is going to help LSU win football games.

20. Dan Persa, Northwestern, 6’0″ 200 (RS Senior)

Persa is an excellent quarterback who is coming off of a major injury.  He is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country, and it can be argued that other than Cam Newton, no player meant more to his respective team then Persa.    He also has some running ability, as he was Northwestern’s leading rusher last season with 519 yards and 9 touchdowns.  He also threw for 2581 yards with an astounding 73.5 percent completion rate.   The 6’1″ senior missed the final three games last season with an injury, so these numbers could be even better had he finished the season.  He also led many clutch drives, most notably against Iowa, where Persa rallied his team from being 10 down to a 4 point victory, with the winning touchdown pass coming in the final 90 seconds of the game.  He reminds me of a Colt McCoy type player- a dual threat quarterback who is also deadly accurate- and should be a 3rd round pick.

21. Jacory Harris, Miami, 6’4″ 200 (Senior)

Harris really regressed as a junior last year, leading to some speculation that he could possibly lose his starting job this year. If that happens, his NFL prospects will really dwindle even further than they already have. Harris has a solid arm and can be accurate at times, but he’s erratic with his throws and has never completed more than 60 percent of his passes in his Miami career. He went from throwing 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions as a sophomore to 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. At any rate, Harris can make all of the throws, but he really has to be more comfortable in his own skin. If he can make strides as a senior, he will be back on the NFL radar. He could also stand to add a few pounds to his frame.

22. Stephen Garcia, South Carolina, 6’2″ 230 (Senior)

It really seems like Garcia has been around South Carolina forever, and it’s because he’s been there for the better part of half a decade–through both very thick and thin. Garcia has had more extra chances than most college players receive, especially from a major university which has kicked off the likes of Weslye Saunders over the last couple of years. Still, Garcia has allegedly turned his life around (according to Spurrier), and he will start the 2011 season with a suspension coming off of the best season in his long USC career. Garcia has been suspended FIVE times by South Carolina, so it’s a wonder he’s still on the team. However, when his game is on, he is a very, very good quarterback. He is suspended indefinitely to start this season as well, but he is coming off of a year where he threw for 3,059 yards (64.2 percent) as well as 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His prior two years, his highest completion percentage was around 55 percent, and he really struggled with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in his first two seasons. Garcia is an excellent athlete who has 12 career rushing touchdowns as well as a three yard receiving touchdown. If he is drafted to the NFL, he will probably be a later round pick but he could definitely out-play his draft status because the talent is there, but will he be a problem off the field?

23. John Brantley, Florida, 6’3″ 225 (RS Senior)

Brantley has the requisite size and athletic ability to be an NFL quarterback, and he has the arm strength to do it as well. Against lesser competition (Florida International) it seems he is very accurate under pressure and on the run, and throws a very catchable ball. Obviously, he had some real problems translating that to the field this past year, where he threw for merely 2,061 yards, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions while completing just under 61 percent of his passes. This all coming after a sophomore campaign where Brantley threw for 410 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions completing 75 percent of his limited number of passes the year before. There’s no doubt the skills are there for Brantley to be a successful quarterback, and hopefully with one year in Charlie Weis’ system, he can grow into a potential starting NFL quarterback as well. He had shown glimpses of what he can bring to the table, but can he put it all together this year? Questions remain for Brantley, but he remains a viable NFL prospect.

24. Dayne Crist, Notre Dame, 6’4″ 235 (Senior)

Crist has had two major knee injuries, which are certainly going to hurt his draft stock. However, a weak group of senior quarterbacks could propel him near the top of the group and give him an edge. He is the ideal size you look for in an NFL player, but he has a lot of improving to do. It seemed he was well on his way to showing significant strides in his game last year before being injured against Tulsa. Crist is a very talented athlete who has a strong arm, and will put up big numbers in this offense if he can stay healthy. The pro adjustment will be a tough one for him, so he might need a year or two to season but he does have great potential if you ask me. Crist was a full go in Notre Dame’s Spring practices, so he is healed already from his serious knee injury last year. He should be on NFL radars as he is a good team leader, but he needs to really work on his accuracy over the course of the offseason. If he can improve in that regard this year, up into the 65-68 percent range, he will probably have a 2nd round grade, maybe better.

25. B.J. Coleman, Chattanooga, 6’4″ 215 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

26. Dominique Davis, East Carolina, 6’3″ 218 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**