2012 NFL Draft: Breaking down the Quarterbacks

Throughout the next couple of months I’ll take a look at each position group leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft. Where should we start? Well at quarterback, of course.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (L) avoids the rush of Oregon State lineman Andrew Seumalo (49) during the second half of their NCAA football game in Corvallis, Oregon, November 5, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Best in Class: Andrew Luck, Stanford
There are many scouts who are intrigued by Robert Griffin III’s skill set and natural feel for the game, so there will be plenty of people suggesting that Griffin should be the first signal caller off the board in April. But “pound for pound” Luck is still the top quarterback prospect in this draft, if not the top all-around prospect, period. What impresses me most about Luck is his pocket awareness. He anticipates pressure and reacts to it instead of looking for it at the snap. He also keeps his eyes down the field, which is an attribute that all of the elite NFL quarterbacks posses. He goes through his progressions well, displays sound footwork, and has a better arm than people give him credit for. He’s also extremely bright, as evidence of his ability to call plays at the line of scrimmage in Stanford’s offense, and you rarely see him get frazzled. At this point Luck looks like a safe bet at the top of the draft, which is saying a lot considering the position he plays.

The Challenger: Robert Griffin III, Baylor
It appears that the Colts are set on taking Luck with the No. 1 overall pick but Griffin has plenty of time to change their minds. A smart, savvy player with the ability to create using his arm or his legs, Griffin has improved as a passer every year he’s been at Baylor. He has very good arm strength and can fit the ball into tight windows at the second level. He’s also a natural athlete with a high ceiling and plenty of room to grow if a team surrounds him with the right coaching staff. The main knock on Griffin is that he isn’t comfortable taking snaps from under center and isn’t particularly strong at reading the blitz at the snap. But he seems more “boom” than “bust” and certainly has the attention of fans in Cleveland.

Don’t Sleep On: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Weeden isn’t drawing the same attention as Luck, Griffin, or even Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. But at 6-foot-4 with a big, accurate arm, Weeden is worth a long look for quarterback-needy teams looking to either move up into the late first round or early second. His age (28) might scare teams away but the fact remains that he has all of the physical attributes and intangibles that pro teams look for in a quarterback. There are some concerns about his inconsistency and he has a habit of forcing throws into coverage, but he could be a perfect fit for teams like the Jets, Seahawks or Broncos.

Mid-Round Sleeper: Ryan Lindley, San Diego State
The biggest knock on Lindley is that he needs to improve his overall footwork and coordination inside the pocket. Thus, this isn’t a prospect that a team can plug into their offense and have him start in year one or two. But at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Lindley looks the part and has very good arm strength. He can make all of the throws at the next level and is an accurate passer. He would be perfect for a team that already has its starter in place but is looking to groom a developmental quarterback for down the line (i.e. the Giants, Falcons or Packers).

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