Greeson: QB options spotty after the top two

Greeson: QB options spotty after the top two

April 17th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III make this a special draft class of quarterbacks, and those surely will be the first two names off the board. They also have more pressure than any two rookie quarterbacks in recent memory.

Stanford's Luck enters the league as the guy the Colts cut Peyton Manning for, and Washington mortgaged its future by dealing three first-round picks for the chance to take Baylor's RG III No. 2. Those are some pretty high stakes.

And the questions do not end there.

Somehow, a strange combination of buzz, potential and overall quarterback need has propelled Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill firmly into the top 10 of this year's draft. When the season ended, most normal college football fans had little idea where Tannehill even played, never mind that there would be teams looking to deal first-round picks to be his future home. Whatever, but we think Ryan Tannehill is more Ryan Leaf than Matt Ryan.

The extreme need and possible early run on quarterbacks even makes Brandon Weeden a possible late first-rounder. Do what? Weeden, the former Oklahoma State quarterback with whom you may be more familiar using his nickname, Chris Wienke 2.0, is a 28-year-old former minor league baseball player who put up huge stats in a high-octane offense throwing to the best college wide receiver since Calvin Johnson.

No, thanks. Plus, unless you think Weeden is ready to play right now, why draft him? If he sits for three years learning the system, he'll be in his early 30s before he ever starts an NFL game.

The two quarterbacks at the top are awesome. From there it's which project a team deems the least risky. Tannehill and Weeden may be the bets of that lot, but that does not mean either warrants a first-round pick, especially with the players -- Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, Geno Smith, et al -- who will be on the board next April.

There are a lot of familiar names but not a great deal of depth in this year's class. When the next tier of QBs is highlighted by Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles and Ryan Lindley, it's hard to get overly jazzed. In fact, after the first three -- and this is not anti-Tannehill per se as much as anti-spending a mid-to-high first-rounder on Tannehill -- it's really kind of a hodgepodge. Here are our top 10 QBs:

  1. Andrew Luck, Stanford. He's a huge star in the making, and his stint on Jon Gruden's QB show was every bit as good as expected and maybe better.

  2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor. The Heisman winner is the most athletic quarterback prospect since Mike Vick.

  3. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M. The athletic former receiver has less than 20 college starts at quarterback.

  4. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State. He's an underrated quarterback who was a supreme competitor and is experienced.

  5. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State. He has an above-average arm but was a product of a quarterback-friendly system.

  6. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State. He has big-time size and measurables, but the 6-foot-7 former basketball player could have been better served with another year in college.

  7. B.J. Coleman, UTC. The local kid has the size and work ethic to make a career in the league. Here's saying he's a late-fourth-rounder and could be a real possibility in Denver or even Pittsburgh.

  8. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin. He's impressive if undersized at 5-11. He learned and mastered a pro-style Wisconsin offense in one season.

  9. Nick Foles, Arizona. He had a big senior season in the defensive-allergic Pac-12.

  10. Dominique Davis, East Carolina. He was not invited to the combine, which was somewhat surprising. He was at his best against the best teams on the Pirates' schedule.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6273.