NFL Draft Prospect Comparisons: Quarterbacks
Eric Galko, Optimum Scouting
It's sometimes best, especially when trying to peg how a quarterback
could develop in the NFL, is to have a (sometimes rough) comparison for
a combination of the prospects current ability as well as what he can
potentially develop into in the right situation.
While these comparisons are NOT an easy, obvious, and exact
comparisons, as each player, especially at quarterback. However, these
comparisons could be a solid indication for how these tough to project
prospects could turn out in 2-3 years in the NFL, and why each of these
prospects may have teams either excited or nervous.
Andrew Luck, Stanford: Aaron Rodgers/Peyton Manning
While Andrew Luck will likely always be compared to Peyton Manning as a
prospect because he'll be inheriting a franchise that has had so much
success with him as their quarterback, Luck is more of a mixture of two
All-Pro passers. While he possess the Peyton Manning-esque mental
make-up (maybe even further along coming out of college) because of his
pre-snap recognition and developed understanding of the game, he also
has the under-rated mobility, accuracy, and timing of Packers
quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This is why Luck is such an elite prospect:
Imagine the potential of a quarterback who's as sharp as Manning and
can make plays across the field and with his feet at the same level as
Robert Griffin, Baylor: Donovan McNabb
To me, there are 2-3 prospects every year that are just too hard to
compare, both for good and bad reasons. We never saw prospects like
JaMarcus Russell, Reggie Bush, or Patrick Peterson before, making them
both unbelievably exciting and somewhat risky as a prospect. While
Griffin is hard to peg and is in that mold of a truly "unique"
prospect, he displays many of the same mobility features, deep touch,
and desire to develop as a pocket passer to Donovan McNabb, especially
coming out of college. Griffin has flashed much more as both a runner
and downfield passer than McNabb, and is much more highly thought of
coming out of college. Griffin is no sure bet and could have a career
of flashes, excitement, but no Super Bowl's if he doesn't drastically
improve as a pocket passer, similar to McNabb's entire career.
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: Matt Schaub
While the (lazy) comparison of fellow aged quarterback prospect Chris Weinke from 10 or so years ago, but Weeden is a much better passer,
talent, and further along mentally in football IQ. While I don't
believe Weeden (as is true with most quarterback pas the 3-4 elite
passers) is a quarterback who can dominate regardless of receiver
talent, I believe he could use his accuracy, vision, and touch to
consistently pick apart defenses if he has ample talent around him. To
me, Matt Schaub landed in an ideal situation for a mediocre talent at
quarterback, much better off than Matt Cassell did in Kansas City, but
he's also more accurate and confident in his reads than Cassell,
similar to why Weeden is sure to have success in the NFL if given a
shot with ample talent around him.
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: Josh Freeman/Aaron Rodgers
Another Aaron Rodgers comparison, this link is why Miami is such an
intriguing landing spot for Tannehill. While coming out of college,
he's further along in mechanics and pocket presence than Rodgers, his
compact release and mobility talent means that he may able develop (if
given Rodgers-like year or two development) into a complete passer than
Rodgers has become. I do think he also has a lot of the same ability in
the pocket and athletically to Josh Freeman, who also I thought needed
some time, but seemed to assume leadership abilities in Tampa Bay.
Also, something Tannehill possess that I loved in Freeman coming out
that he has a short memory and doesn't seem to be a "rhythm" passer.
B. J. Coleman, Chattanooga: Ryan Fitzpatrick/Peyton Manning
Despite hailing from a small school, B.J. Coleman does not face the same
worries that many small school quarterbacks get hit with. After
studying Peyton Manning for a full year in his redshirt season while at
the University of Tennessee, that time lead to both his devotion,
value, and understanding of how to use the film room as a quarterback
along with having an uncanny resemblance to Peyton Manning in all of
his mechanical and footwork techniques as a quarterback. However, he
also has some of the limitations as an inconsistent downfield passer
and sometimes need for rhythm to be successful, a la Ryan Fitzpatrick,
who ran very hot and cold this past season but has been given the
thumbs up as the Bills "franchise quarterback."
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: Seneca Wallace/Drew Brees
The former NC State turned Wisconsin quarterback is a more unique
prospect than I think he's been given credit for. First off, he was
able to transition from a wide open, use of mobility offense at NC
State (where he had great success) to an anticipation, read and react,
pocket-based offense at Wisconsin. While his size is a major deterrent
and a scheme-limitation as he transitions to the NFL, his high release
as well as his comfortability dissecting linebacker and safety drops so
well (was the best based on film at this at the Senior Bowl), he
actually deserves the "undersized, Drew Brees-like" comparison. His
sporadic play ability combined with his sometimes lack of confidence in
the middle seems to draw similarities to Seneca Wallace (along with his
athleticism), he's far more polished as a passer and has a higher
ceiling than many give him credit for.
Kirk Cousins, Michigan State: Jon Kitna
This is where the comparisons get a little dicey and less "supportive".
While I've had Cousins rated highly since his sophomore season when he
flashed to me, Cousins seems to be limited overall as a quarterback and
seems like a quarterback who could start in the NFL, but will likely
always be deemed "replaceable". He has the leadership and intangible
qualities that will win over in interviews and in the locker room, but
on the field, he's limited. At times, he diagnosis pre-snap well, and
anticipates coverages smoothly. However, he seems lost at times in the
pocket and making reads, and struggles to jump off initial pre-snap
read against a more complex defensive team. His accuracy and touch
across the field, willingness to throw receivers open, and mental
ability are great, but his indecisiveness, lack of a big time arm to
make up for late reads, and his lack of NFL needed pocket presence and
vision make him more of a developing fringe starter in the NFL.
Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: Phillip Rivers (Raw)
One of the tougher comparisons to put my finger on, Osweiler's need for
maybe an overhaul of his technique and footwork means that he could be
a very different quarterback from today if he gets the chance to sit
for 2-3 years and develop. However, another quarterback who had ideal
size, mechanics question marks, and the fiery leadership that NFL teams
love was Phillip Rivers coming out of NC State. While he was far more
productive and was our top rated quarterback that season, he
also faced some of the same concerns. It will take an ideal sitiuation
and time for Osweiler to be an NFL ready starter, which is why many
"project quarterbacks" don't work out, but teams love his leadership
and confidence, both of which make him a worthy project in the 2nd-3rd
Ryan Lindley, San Diego State: John Skelton/Jay Cutler
Maybe the hardest quarterback prospect to compare of them all, Ryan
Lindley has the rare and frustrating blend of a quick release, a big
time arm, displays of outstanding ball placement when he can use his
velocity, along with widely inconsistent accuracy, poor downfield reads
and decisions, and overall poor diagnosis. He's a mixture of a
gunslinger with a quick release (Jay Cutler) and a pocket passer who
needs a lot of refining and patience (John Skelton). Both of these
comparison quarterbacks have become starters (Cutler obviously better),
yet Lindley may never become that if he can't become more decisive,
accurate, patient, and heady as a passer.
Nick Foles, Arizona: Derek Anderson
A pure anticipation, big arm quarterback in my opinion, Nick Foles
isn't worthy of a Top four round pick unless he's in that West Coast
offense like scheme in the NFL along with more coaching. His drop back
is awkward, he relied almost purely on anticipation and timing routes
in college, and doesn't reposition himself smoothly nor consistently on
point with footwork in the pocket. He has the big time arm and when
he's in rhythm, he displayed some top notch qualities as a quarterback.
But similar to Derek Anderson, he needs ideal protection, a combination
of vertical threats and wide catch radius receivers, and time in an
ideal system for him to have any chance at being an NFL starter.
Eric Galko is a contributing NFL scout for Patriots Insider at
Eric Galko is the Owner, Director
of Scouting of Optimum
Scouting and lead editor for OptimumScouting.com. He
has been scouting college football for eight
years, and for pro teams and other sports professionals for the last
four years. Eric is also a member of the
Draft Comparisons: Quarterbacks
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