Stacking The Quarterback Class

I’ve seen a significant number of questions/comments/opinions/rants about the 2010 quarterback class in recent posts and have decided to finally jump off the ship into the deep black ocean that is evaluating quarterbacks.

Admittedly, I have been able to watch less prospect film this year than I normally try to, mainly as a result of this being the first year that I am manning Vikings Gab during the run up to the draft.  With that being said, I’m going to present you with my opinions on many of the quarterbacks (go use the bathroom now, this is going to be a long trip) and then ask for your opinions.  I’ve decided to simplify my evaluations, in a sense, by using a QB1 vs. QB2 format… you’ll see what I mean.

 

Sam Bradford vs. Jimmy Clausen

Clausen and Bradford are more neck-and-neck for top quarterback status than many people want to believe. 

Both have adequate size when you are looking for a franchise quarterback.  Both have strong arms, but Clausen has the upper hand when it comes to arm strength.  Both have experience in a pro-style offense, but Clausen was more immersed in one on a full time basis. 

Sam Bradford is known for his pinpoint accuracy, but in recent years Clausen has improved greatly in this area.  In 2009 Clausen’s completion percentage was 68%.  Throwing out Bradford’s 2009 season (which was a 56.5% completion percentage by the way) because of injury, Bradford posted a 67.9% completion percentage in 2008… which is on tenth of a point behind Clausen’s 2009 numbers.  Essentially, I think both of these guys are incredibly accurate quarterbacks.

The stats for both these guys are very impressive, but the fact that Clausen often faced a much more formidable pass rush is what puts him above Bradford in my mind.  Bradford seldom had to scramble, and his ability to throw on the run is a question mark heading into the draft.

One area where I think Bradford has the leg up on Clausen are some of the mental aspects of the game.  His technique and footwork, ability to really sell the play action, and the personality that seems to make him a natural leader of men.

Clausen’s personality is reminiscent of Phillip Rivers, for better or worse.  In fact, when comparing Clausen to Bradford it feels eerily similar to comparing Rivers to Eli Manning.  Also, much like Rivers and Manning, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they both panned out as NFL quarterbacks.

It is impossible to tell whether a prospect will ever reach their full potential, but I have to say that I see far more upside and “superstar” potential out of Clausen than I do Bradford.  Thus, Clausen is my pick for the top quarterback prospect in this draft, with Bradford trailing by less than a hair.  Both deserve to be taken in the top five of this draft.

Tim Tebow vs. Colt McCoy

Here we have two of the most productive and celebrated quarterbacks in the history of college football.  Both are athletic and versatile.  Both come from gimmicky offenses.  Both show incredible work ethic and leadership abilities.

On the flip side, both have terrible footwork and struggle with other techniques.  Both have never had to make a pro-style read.  Both have less than ideal arm strength (McCoy lacks much more in this area, however).  Both will probably require time to carry a clipboard and learn the ways of the NFL.

One major thing that sticks out to me when comparing this two is their athleticism and how they use it.  Both will be able to occasionally run for yardage at the next level, but neither will be able to do it with such prowess as they did in college.  McCoy comes from an offense that had scripted him into running, and rarely did he ever (possibly because he wasn’t asked to) keep his eyes down field and look for the passing option. 

Tebow came from an option offense which did require him to use his mobility to both run the ball and keep passing options open.  Tebow has better pocket awareness and has shown an ability to use his athleticism in the passing game, instead of limiting himself to run-first tendencies. 

Tebow also has size to his advantage when comparing these two guys.  Durability is very hard to judge, but there is no question that scouts around the nation are giving Tebow much better marks in this area than McCoy simply because of the difference in bulk.

Simply put, McCoy does not look like an NFL quarterback to me (despite his solid pro day) because of a weak arm, tendency to stare down his receiver, and poor decision making.

Tebow doesn’t really look like a prototypical quarterback either, but obviously for different reasons. 

One thing teams need to factor into their decision of how to stack these two players is their likelihood of being a complete bust.  If all of Tebow’s mechanical issues being solved in three weeks is just a show (which is extremely possible) and he can’t develop a decent throwing motion despite all the work he puts into it, he will be labeled a bust.  However, the overwhelming belief around the league is that Tebow could be a very useful fullback or H-back in the NFL.  Nobody wants to use a high draft pick on a fullback, but Tebow isn’t a fullback… he’s a quarterback with the ability to play fullback.

If McCoy busts, well, then he is out of the league and the draft pick is a complete waste.

Overall, I think both of these guys have been mislabeled as “second or third rounders.”  I believe Tebow belongs in the first round and McCoy belongs in the fourth round or later.  Tebow is my choice here.

Tony Pike vs. John Skelton

John Skelton is another prospect that Todd McShay indicates has character flaws and off the field issues but gives no reasoning or facts to back that up.  By all appearances, the two time captain at Fordham has the personality qualities required of a quarterback.

Without a doubt what-so-ever, however, Tony Pike is a high character guy and a natural born leader.

Both players have great height that would benefit them on the NFL’s playing field.  How they tend to use that height at the next level is the big question.

Pike has the exact decision making ability that you look for in a prospect and his overall knowledge of the game appears to be quite solid.  He has a knack for sensing a pass rusher from the blind side, puts very nice touch on the football, and has impeccable timing on his throws which results in solid accuracy.

Skelton has managed to establish himself as a somewhat big time prospect despite his small school status, and that be primarily attributed to his big time arm strength.  He, like Pike, has a quick release and solid awareness.  His athleticism will only increase his chances of being successful at the next level. 

Both quarterbacks here are going to be given the “project” label after they are drafted.  Neither have faced the truly elite college defenses so there are many questions left to be answered for each prospect.  Skelton does not have the decision making skills that Pike does, but Pike lacks a great deal when it comes to arm strength.

Pike may be serviceable as a backup or spot starter, but the upside does not appear to be as great as what Skelton has to offer.  Skelton could be drafted into about any offensive scheme and have good potential, while Pike would/should be limited to west coast offenses requiring smarts and good accuracy on short and intermediate throws.

I think both these guys are worthy of consideration in the latter part of the second round, but are more likely to go in the third or the fourth.  Due to the fact that he has more upside and may be targeted by more teams, I give Skelton the slight edge over Pike.

Jevan Snead vs. Jarrett Brown

When it comes to athletic “running” quarterbacks, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy get all the hype. 

While Jevan Snead and Jarrett Brown may not get the high-profile attention of the two previous names, they are superior when it comes to athleticism. Imagine if Tarvaris Jackson could put all of his physical tools to good use and fulfill the potential that Brad Childress had originally pictured.  We saw glimpses of it (2008 versus the Cardinals) and it was pretty awesome.  Jackson has proven to be far too inconsistent and lacks decision making skills to ever be taken too seriously as an NFL quarterback.

Both Snead and Brown, however, offer teams a chance at those same physical tools.  Whether or not they can consistently use those tools has yet to be proven.

I think both of these quarterbacks could succeed as “running quarterbacks” at the next level.  They have the speed, quickness, agility, and toughness to be as big of threats on the gorund as they are through the air.

Both quarterbacks have really strong arms, can put nice touch on a throw, elusiveness in the pocket, the ability to throw on the run and keep plays alive. They both, however, struggle in the aspects that have hampered the career of Tarvaris Jackson.  While Brown is the more accurate passer of the two, both would need to work on their timing and decision making. 

The transition to a pro-style offense will be a difficult one for them both. They both will need to coached on their release of the ball, footwork, reading NFL defenses, and many more nuances before they’ll be consistently productive.

Snead is a little more troubling than Brown.  While Brown’s short-comings can be somewhat attributed to his lack of experience (one year starter), Snead actually regressed over the course of his college career and is coming off of a terrible 2009 campaign at Ole Miss.

Both are projects, but Brown has the better accuracy of the two and has had less of a chance to prove himself than Snead, which causes me to give him the nod over Snead.  Brown is a “piece of clay” with raw but undeniable talent, and some team will take the chance on him.

MY TOP 15 QUARTERBACKS

Here is how I stack my top 15 quarterbacks in this draft class: 

  1. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
  2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
  3. Tim Tebow, Florida
  4. John Skelton, Fordham
  5. Tony Pike, Cincinnati
  6. Jarrett Brown, West Virginia
  7. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State
  8. Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
  9. Colt McCoy, Texas
  10. Jevan Snead, Ole Miss
  11. Sean Canfield, Oregon State
  12. Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee
  13. Max Hall, BYU
  14. Bill Stull, Pittsburgh
  15. Rusty Smith, Florida Atlantic
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9 Responses to “Stacking The Quarterback Class”

  1. coolio says:

    I agree with everything except Colt McCoy, this guy is a leader. You are higher on Jarret Brown than him? Colt McCoy has just as much athleticism as him.

    ( I don’t mean to come of rude, it’s just an opinion)

  2. wtfvikesfan says:

    Colt McCoy won’t get past to vikes at 30 if he is there.

  3. Fragile Freds says:

    WTF,

    All Freds can say to you is WTF? As you look down the board, what teams do you think would take Colt in the first round? Do you think he will go before Clausen and Bradford or we will have 3 QBs go in the first round?

  4. wtfvikesfan says:

    McCoy will go to the vikes at 30. Or someone will trade up from the second, in front of the vikes like the browns or bills.

  5. Luke Hoyhtya says:

    Adam,
    So if you were the Vikes GM, who would you take and in what round if the chips fell like you are thinking?

    • Adam Warwas says:

      Generally, look at my top 15:

      1-3: First round
      4&5: Second Round
      6-8: Third Round
      9-11: Fourth Round
      12: Fifth Round
      13: Sixth Round
      14&15: Seventh or good Undrafted FA’s.

  6. Coach B says:

    Adam, Nice critique ! I like Bradford over Clausen by a conciderable amount. I too, like Tebow and think he should get a good look in the first, and would be hard to overlook at number two. I also agree that Colt McCoy is vastly over rated. But I disagree about Tony Pike. I think his body is still immature, but he has the intangibles teams love and will only get better as he physically matures. I think Pike is a classic late bloomer with excellent upside.

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