NFL draft preview: Quarterbacks

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 18, 2013 - 6:40 AM

One hot topic: Just how good is Geno Smith?

The hot topic: Just how good is Geno Smith?

Let’s face it. This was going to be a tough year for quarterbacks regardless. After the 2012 draft provided the 1-2 combo of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III plus third-round gem Russell Wilson, the bar was raised significantly for what rookie quarterbacks should be capable of achieving.

Luck, RG3 and Wilson all reached the playoffs in 2012, providing a lot to live up to. But now there’s endless debate on whether any of the quarterbacks available this year can be long-term answers in the NFL.

Enter Smith, the 22-year-old out of West Virginia, who has become the most coveted of this bunch. Early last season, he emerged as a Heisman Trophy front-runner with a video-game statistical blitz that was highlighted by his 656-yard, eight-touchdown effort in a 70-point explosion against Baylor. But a five-game West Virginia losing streak soon after quelled the buzz.

Now as pre-draft analysis has circulated, the Smith discussion heated up last month when Pro Football Weekly skewered his lack of work ethic and leadership, asserting those deficiencies would kill Smith’s chances of ever excelling in the NFL.

Those concerns do not seem to be widespread. But they became debate-worthy.

In a league where elite quarterback play is a prerequisite for high-level success, some organization will make a play to nab Smith early, possibly even in the top five. But will that investment be worth it?

THE FRONT-RUNNER

Geno Smith, West Virginia

There’s a lot to love, namely Smith’s prototypical size, quick delivery, strong arm and ability to make plays with his feet. But then comes the obvious worry about whether his production in the Mountaineers’ spread offense was a mirage. How’s this for risk-reward? Best-case scenario: Smith showcases all the eye-catching skills of Sam Bradford. Fear: He’s Jason Campbell 2.0.

THE CONTENDERS

Matt Barkley, Southern California

Did Matt Kalil’s presence at left tackle make that much difference? In 2011 with Kalil, Barkley had a .691 completion percentage while passing for 3,528 yards and 39 TDs with seven interceptions. Following that surge, he was touted as a top-10 pick. In 2012, his numbers dipped (.636 completion percentage, 3,273 yards, 36 TDs, 15 picks) and so did his draft stock. With the right system, his promise should return.

Ryan Nassib, Syracuse

He is polished fundamentally and can be highly efficient when dialed in. His rocket arm has enabled him to rise up draft boards. Nassib doesn’t seem to have a glaring weakness, though he can be erratic with his accuracy at times.

E.J. Manuel, Florida State

His combination of size (6-5, 237 pounds) and mobility is a major plus. Manuel tested very well at the combine. He can throw deep or into tight windows and has the skills to dabble in the read-option fad if asked to do so. His intelligence and charisma also are positives.

THE SLEEPER

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NY Mets 4 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Minnesota 2
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Washington 1
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 4
NY Yankees 10 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
Tampa Bay 0 Cancelled
Baltimore 0
Detroit 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Chicago WSox 3 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 6
Texas 6 FINAL
Oakland 7
Cleveland 2 FINAL
Arizona 3
Arizona 7 FINAL
LA Angels 2
Miami 0 Cancelled
Houston 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 5
San Francisco 8 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
San Diego 7
Milwaukee 8 FINAL
Cincinnati 6
Detroit 111 FINAL
Orlando 97
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Philadelphia 98
Charlotte 107 FINAL
Washington 110
Boston 96 FINAL
New York 92
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Brooklyn 106
LA Lakers 83 FINAL
Toronto 94
Miami 86 FINAL
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Golden State 107 FINAL
Memphis 84
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New Orleans 102
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Houston 120
Dallas 76 FINAL
San Antonio 94
Utah 91 FINAL
Denver 107
Portland 87 FINAL
Phoenix 81
Calgary 2 FINAL
Minnesota 4
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Chicago 2
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Louisville 75
Utah 57 FINAL
Duke 63
Kent State 73 FINAL
Northern Ariz 74
Michigan State 62 FINAL
Oklahoma 58
(15) North Carolina 65 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 67
(18) Iowa 66 FINAL
(5) Baylor 81
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(14) Stanford 60 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 81
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
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