2012 Top 10 Prospects: Quarterbacks

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So last year, I joined the staff of Phin Phanatic right around draft time and my first series of articles was a Top 10 prospects for each position in the 2011 NFL Draft. I enjoyed doing it and learned a lot about players that I otherwise would’ve known almost nothing about. I’m back this year and getting a bit of a late jump on it. Last year I did every single position and realized that it was a bit pointless as many positions there was no chance the Dolphins would target in the draft. So this year, I am saving myself a lot of time and will only focus on positions that have been established as a need for the Phins. We will start with the position that is on everybody’s mind, quarterback.

The dreaded position. The one we have been trying to fill for the past 13 years. More than ever before, Phins fans are tired of waiting for our franchise quarterback. Stephen Ross has pledged to find the guy this offseason and so far has whiffed on every potential target. Some I’ve been happy about missing on (Peyton Manning) and some I have not been so happy (Matt Flynn) but that leads us to today. No point in looking back at what could’ve been, so now we look forward towards the draft.

Matt Moore had a solid season in 2011, leading the Dolphins from the oblivion of an 0-7 start and finishing with a semi-respectable 6-10 mark. However, NOBODY in Dolphin land is giving Moore a fighting chance at being a long-term answer for the team, even though he will only be 28 at the beginning of this season. The Dolphins went out and signed David Garrard to a one-year deal to presumably compete with Moore for opening day starter. Garrard has had some decent years in Jacksonville but he is 34, missed an entire year and hasn’t really had a great season since 2007. With all that said, everybody knows the Dolphins will be targeting a quarterback in the draft, and many people assume it will be Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. Quite possible, but let’s take a look at him and some of other options for the Phins:

1. Andrew Luck, Stanford 6’4, 234 lbs

The best quarterback to come out since Manning, Luck will be the surefire number one selection for the Colts and will spend at least the next decade under center there, barring injury. He is as complete as they come, ready to step in and lead the team from day one. Jim Irsay may have said that they haven’t made any definite decisions on the pick, but if Irsay doesn’t pick Luck, he will be run out of Indy will knives and pitchforks. Not much more to say.

2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor 6’2, 223 lbs

The Redskins didn’t trade away this draft and the next one to select anybody else; Washington D.C. has RGIII fever and it’s growing. I wish the Dolphins would’ve pursued this trade harder because I definitely do not think the Skins gave up too much to get him. A freakish athlete with unbeliavbly accuracy for a guy that runs as much as he does, RGIII is a better version of Michael Vick, with a better attitude. He will be driving defenses in the NFC East crazy for the next decade at least.

3. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M 6’4, 221 lbs

Okay, now we can move on. Tannehill presents the first question mark of the quarterbacks in the draft. I’ve never been a huge fan of guys that don’t have a ton of experience at a position (especially quarterback) but Tannehill is intriging. He is accurate both in the pocket and on the run, a must for somebody running the West Coast Offense. On top of that, the guy was a wide reciever (and a pretty successful one) for two years so you know he can move. He has great size and possesses an NFL caliber arm. It’s not difficult to see why some experts are calling him a franchise quarterback. He will need a year to learn and I’m okay with that as Matt Moore is a solid interim option. I would not suggest moving up for him but if he is there at #8, you can’t pass. This is the guy.

4. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 6’4, 221 lbs

The reality with Weeden is simple. If he was six years younger, he would easily be a top 15 guy. Bottom line is, he is 28 years old and will already be in decline by the time he fully settles down in the NFL. With that said, he is definitely more ready to jump in right now than Tannehill is. He has the intangibles you look for in an NFL quarterback. As a former pitcher, he certainly has the arm strength. He fits passes into tight windows and isn’t afraid of contact. However, you have to wonder how much of his success at Oklahoma State came from throwing to Justin Blackmon? Also, he does have his injury concerns from his baseball career, even though he insists they do not affect his throwing motion. I could see Cleveland taking him at #22 if they pass on Tannehill early. That could be more possible if they take Blackmon at #4, and want to match him up with his college quarterback.

5. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State 6’7, 242 lbs

I talked about the lack of experience for Tannehill above and Osweiler is even more raw, starting only 15 games in college and surprising a lot of people by declaring after his junior year. However, it was a hell of a year, throwing for over 4,000 yards and completing more than 63% of his passes. His size is what many people are taking about, but he can move as well, as he was recruited to play basketball for Gonzaga. He has the tools (great arm strength, accuracy, athleticism) but he will need a few years to develop and he is coming from a spread offense. Osweiler tweeted that he was visiting Miami, so we know he is on their radar. More than likely will be a second round selection.

6. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State 6’3, 214 lbs

He has been shooting up draft boards since his solid showing at the combine. All-time leader in passing touchdowns (66), passing yards (9,131), completions (723), passing efficiency (146.1 rating), total offense (9,004 yards) and 200-yard passing games (26) at MSU. Cousins is also a great fit for the WCO, often completing short and intermediate routes and is very accurate. He doesn’t have a huge arm and sometimes has difficulty making decisions on the run. Cousins reminds me a lot of Andy Dalton from last year. He is smart, was successful in college but didn’t have the raw talent many others had and scouts weren’t sure how that would translate to the next level. Cousins is my sleeper and if they miss on Tannehill, Cousins should be the pick.

7. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 5’11, 204 lbs

Wilson had a great pro day workout, completing every pass, but his size will hurt him come draft day. A Troy Smith like player who will probably be used mostly in wildcat situations in the NFL. He has amazing decison-making skills (33 TD’s vs. 4 INT’s in 2011) and would probably be higher on this list if he was taller. He led the nation in QB efficiency in 2011 (191.78 QB rating — over 22 points higher than the next highest rated QB from a pro-style offense which was Andrew Luck) and possesses uncanny arm strength for somebody his size. We all know he can run as well, rushing for 23 TD’s in his college career. Could be a sleeper if he ends up in the right system.

8. Nick Foles, Arizona 6’5, 243 lbs

Really drops off after Wilson, so I’ll be quick with the next three. Foles has great size and single-handedly kept Arizona in many games in 2011. He completed 69% of his passes but that could be inflated due to many short passes and screens. Does not have great arm strength and didn’t impress anybody with his pro day where one scout said he  “was terrible. He couldn’t throw a spiral. Obviously, the weather conditions played a part in that but in reality, it only accentuated that he couldn’t throw a spiral.” He will be drafted on size and stats alone, but certainly not until Saturday.

9. B.J. Coleman, Chattanooga 6’3, 233 lbs

Had a solid pro day last week and showed good arm strength that eased any concerns of him making all of the NFL throws. Coleman has a solid release that certainly looks the part of an NFL quarterback and at 6’3, he possesses the size scouts look for. He was a natural leader on the field for Chattanooga. His stats never jumped off the page against less than top-tier competition. Coming off an injury to his pinkie.

10. Kellen Moore, Boise State 6’0, 197 lbs

The NCAA’s all-time winningest quarterback gained some attention by having a solid pro day back in March in which he completed 48 of his 50 passes and displayed better than expected arm strength. Extremely intelligent guy who can move around in the pocket and avoid pressure. He does not have ideal anything (size, strength, arm strength, measurables) which will have been huge red flags on draft day. But the guy does win, and that’s worth something.

Everyone is clamoring for Ryan Tannehill to be in Dolphins uniform in 2012 and I do agree, but I think you can find some gems if we miss out on him. Cousins is shooting up draft boards and just like Andy Dalton whom was not a sexy pick last year, Cousins will be the unsexy pick that could be the gem this year. Also been a fan of Russell Wilson, though his size obviously is a huge concern.

Let me know what you think and who you would take!

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Tags: 2012 Nfl Draft Andrew Luck B.J. Coleman Brandon Weeden Brock Osweiler David Garrard Kellen Moore Kirk Cousins Matt Moore Miami Dolphins Michael Rosenbloom NFL Draft Nick Foles Quarterbacks RGIII Robert Griffin III Russell Wilson Ryan Tannehill Stephen Ross Top 10 Prospects

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