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Quarterback Readiness: Matt Barkley and the 2013 QB class

In my last article I introduced the concept of Quarterback Readiness and examined how current NFL starters faired in this metric during their final college season.  As a refresher, we’re looking at games played against bowl eligible competition.  It’s easy for college players to pad their stats against one or two cupcakes, but the mettle of a man can be found when the stakes are highest.  Yes, I realize that not every bowl-eligible team has a good defense, but whether it be a defensive slugfest or an offensive shootout, it’s important for a quarterback to demonstrate that “extra gear” in those premium games.

According to NFL Draft Scout, the typical draft will have 12 quarterbacks selected.  While the odds say that only two or three quarterbacks from this class will have long range success, I wanted to consider the top 15 prospects.  My spreadsheet encompasses many more statistics, but these are a few that I believe are most telling.

QB PCT games w/ 2+ TD pass Yds per Att TD:INT ratio QB Rating
Smith, Geno 0.78 7.30 5.40 106
AVG NFL Starter 0.64 7.90 3 98.20
Jones, Landry 0.70 7.60 2.30 96.50
Griffin, Ryan 0.75 7.10 3.30 94.50
Manuel, EJ 0.38 8.30 1.70 93.90
Rodgers, Jordan 0.33 7.40 7 91.60
Barkley, Matt 0.71 8 1.60 91.10
Nassib, Ryan 0.50 7.30 1.60 86.50
Scott, Matt 0.80 7.30 1.60 86.20
Renfree, Sean 0.25 6.50 1.40 84.80
Glennon, Mike 0.67 7.70 1.40 84.40
Sorensen, Brad 0.50 6.90 1.70 84.30
Dysert, Zac 0.38 7 1.10 81
Wilson, Tyler 0.63 7.70 1 79.80
Bray, Tyler 0.71 6.60 1.20 73.80
Tuel, Jeff 0.25 6.40 0.30 72.80

A few observations:

–          It appears to be Geno Smith and then everyone else.  One GM predicted that quarterbacks would “fall like logs” during the draft and my outlook is similar.  Outside of Geno, nobody else appears ready to start immediately.  I have a round 1 grade on Smith, but would be hesitant to take him in the top ten.

–           Like Brandon Weeden before him, Landry Jones is another Big 12 signal caller with a high readiness grade, but a low ceiling.  Jones has held steady in the high 90s for three straight seasons, which is good, but I am weary of a guy who has already peaked before his NFL days.

–          I’ll wait while you Google the name Ryan Griffin…

–          So, go ahead and argue that he is a sample size fluke, argue that he was a leader among losers, or argue the conference.  I hear all your rebukes.  But take a second to watch some of his YouTube highlights and you’ll see why several of the smarter organizations in the NFL (Saints, Eagles, Chargers) have held private workouts with him.  Guys like him are why I refuse to reach for somebody like Zac Dysert or Mike Glennon.

–          Lots of people are falling for E.J. Manuel, but I’m frustrated by how infrequently he throws touchdowns, a feat that’s only going to get tougher against NFL defenses.  And it’s not like he’s an ultra productive runner as evidenced by his 2.8 career yards per carry.

–          Instead of taking EJ Manuel with the 40th pick, I’d rather have Arizona’s Matt Scott with the 120th pick. He’s not as big as Manuel but has dual threat athleticism with a strong passing resume.  Considering that Scott played ten bowl eligible opponents this year, the fact that he had 8 games with multiple touchdown passes is incredibly strong.  His 5.4 career yards per carry is tasty too.  If you love the pistol, Scott is a guy you should hope your team drafts.

–          Aaron Rodgers’ little brother Jordan makes a nice showing on the list.  Unsurprisingly, he profiles as a game manager who takes excellent care of the ball.  The upside looks to be limited though.

–          I included Barkley in the article title because I think he’s the posterboy for this QB class.  Guys like him, Ryan Nassib, and Tyler Wilson are solid prospects and probably top 60 picks, but they’re not rare.  You could probably find guys just like them (or better) in the 2014 draft.  Take your pick of A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Derek Carr, David Fales, or some guy named Teddy.

–          You couldn’t pay me to have Tyler Bray on my team.

To consider this information in a different light, I’ve put the QBs into tiered groups.  Using the color coded boxes above, I’ve assigned one point for a green box, zero points for a yellow box, and a negative point for a red box.  I like the above rankings better, but I think this is an interesting way to look at things.

plus 4        
plus 3        
plus 2 Geno Smith      
plus 1 Ryan Griffin      
even Landry Jones Jordan Rodgers Matt Scott  
minus 1 Matt Barkley Ryan Nassib    
minus 2 EJ Manuel Mike Glennon Brad Sorensen Tyler Wilson
minus 3 Zac Dysert Tyler Bray    
minus 4 Sean Renfree Jeff Tuel  

Because of their dual-threat capabilities, I think Geno Smith, Matt Scott, and E.J. Manuel are the three most interesting names in the draft.  There is no elite pocket passer in this class (like Luck) and I just assume sign a free agent QB that I KNOW is average (Kolb, Flynn, Palmer) than to waste a top 100 draft pick on a guy who will probably be average at best.  Nothing good will come of overpaying for Zac Dysert, Mike Glennon, or Tyler Bray.  Give me their ‘off brand’ equivalents.

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