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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

“I Don’t Care What You Smell!” – The 2013 QB Draft Class.

So who here doesn’t like Star Wars?

No, not the ones with Jar Jar Binks and those ridiculous poorly written scenes with Anakin and Padmé rolling in the fields. The REAL Star Wars, where there were generic bad guys called the “Galactic Empire” and generic good guys called the “Rebel Alliance”, using generic weapons called “blasters” and “lightsabers” (I guess the people in charge of being creative had the day off) and where there are apparently only two women in the entire universe, and one them is related to the main character (that must have really sucked for Luke). There’s an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” (a show, by the way, which used to be “Legen-wait for it-dary”, but has gone a little off the rails of late) where Ted finds out his fiancée, Stella, had never seen Star Wars. So Ted gets Stella to watch Star Wars because he decides that if she doesn’t like Star Wars, then he can’t marry her (as a side note, this is perfectly reasonable logic in my mind – I mean if you don’t like Star Wars, I’m fairly certain that means you don’t have a soul. But I digress…). Long story short, he tells him she likes it, but confides in Marshall that she actually hates it. She also hates imagination, adventure and fun as well. OK, I added that part, but come on, hating Star Wars? Really?

So speaking about Star Wars, everyone remembers the legen-wait for it-dary scene where Luke, Han and Chewbacca were trying to rescue Leia, but then got trapped in the detention block. So Leia blasts a hole in the wall and jumps through to escape. But Chewie backs out complaining about something, and Han says “Get in there, you big furry oaf! I don't care what you smell!” Not saying that NFL GMs are big furry oafs, but some of them who need a quarterback in the draft must be feeling a little bit like Chewie in that scene. Looking at the 2013 NFL Draft Class, it’s pretty clear that the quarterback class is decidedly average. Particularly as compared to just about every draft class back to around 2000. There’s almost always talk of 2 or 3 high end first round quarterback options. But this year, only one has potential to crack to the top 10, and most of them will be lucky to get a look in the second round. Why is this? Let’s take a closer look at who I think are the top four QBs in the draft and why they’re not going higher.

Geno Smith – West Virginia

Geno Smith has the privilege of being the only QB listed in Scouts Inc.’s top 32 (listed at #20 overall). He’s made the news for all the wrong reasons lately thanks to a particularly harsh review from draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly. Nawrocki goes into detail stating that Smith basically had poor ability to understand plays, is lazy, and has “small hands.” Really? It’s not bad enough to attack the guy’s intelligence, ability and motivation, you have to attack the size of his hands too? At any rate, he’s not completely wrong. Others have noted that he looks nonchalant and, at times, disengaged on the field. But he did have a little redemption in surviving cross examination by Jon Gruden on ESPN’s Gruden’s QB Camp. He accurately identified plays with ease and quickly described options from the play based on defense. So where is the real Geno Smith? Probably somewhere in between. Smith completed 71.2% of his passes for 4205 yards and an amazing 42 TDs to just 6 interceptions last year at West Virginia. That’s a nice resume, in addition to the fact that he started all 39 games in his final 3 years. Clearly, as long as he keeps his work ethic and dedication up, he has the pedigree to go far in the NFL. One common misnomer about Smith is that he likes to scramble. Believe it or not, he only had 151 rushing yards and 2 TDs in 2012. Although he has good agility and can avoid the rush to extend plays, he’s ultimately a pocket passer. He’s more of a Ben Roethlisberger when scrambling (though faster and smaller) than he is a Cam Newton. Either way, he probably deserves his Scouts Inc. ranking, but with all the off season QB moves, including moves to acquire the likes of Matt Flynn, Kevin Kolb and Carson Palmer (not saying they’re bad quarterbacks, but let’s face it, if you’re moving to get one of these quarterbacks, you must not think very much of the options in the draft), there might not be that much interest in the first round.

Matt Barkley - USC

I’m not going to lie. I hate USC. I know, you’re probably saying, “lighten up and stop hating everything”. Well, I can’t help it. Ever since the 2005 Reggie Bush Push against Notre Dame I just can’t stand the Trojans. But I don’t hate Matt Barkley. I mean he did manage to get hurt before playing ND at the end of last season, ultimately leading to a perfect regular season for ND that gave me the opportunity to way overpay to watch ND get crushed by Alabama in the BCS Championship game. On second thought, I hate Barkley too. Barkley actually came back for his senior year in hopes of having less competition in the draft than he would have had last year. Mission accomplished -- his competition in the 2013 draft is definitely less than he would have had last year. However, his draft stock took a hit in 2012 as he regressed in completion percentage (69.1% vs. 63.6%), total passing yards (3,528 vs. 3,273), TDs (39 vs. 36) and more than doubled his interceptions (7 vs. 15). And he also has a relatively long injury history, including shoulder, wrist and ankle injuries that sidelined him for various time periods throughout his college career. He still has potential to be a good QB in the NFL, but his lack of arm strength doesn’t allow him to go deep with accuracy. Sound like another USC QB? Mark Sanchez perhaps? Well, maybe. Sanchez’s problem (other than having a very fragile psyche) is that the Jets’ coaching staff really didn’t trust him to throw downfield for quite some time. When the reins were off, Sanchez started forcing passes into incredibly tight coverage, leading to a number of bad picks. Barkley is more limited in his ability to throw deep. He’d be a decent game manager with some short timing routes, particularly in light of his locker room leadership skills (three time team captain at USC), but I think he would struggle without a really good running back operating as a safety valve and legitimate ground threat to divert pressure. Without that, he’s just not mobile enough to avoid spending most of his NFL career on the ground. He’s looking at a Scout’s Inc. rank of 33, just missing the top 32, which is probably about right, if not later.

Ryan Nassib - Syracuse

Ryan Nassib’s draft stock has been on the rise, and for good reason. He was responsible for bringing Syracuse back to double digit wins for the first time since 2001. He got better every year, culminating in 3,749 passing yards pursuant to completing 62.4% of his passes for a total of 26 TDs and 10 interceptions. Maybe you’d want those interceptions a little lower, but those aren’t bad numbers. He clearly has good work ethic and was known for being a good student of the game. He tends to move in the pocket a lot, which sometimes helps, since he did manage to collect 2 TDs on the ground. But, more often than not, it gets him in trouble with forced passes on bad decisions, in large part due to the fact that he doesn’t plant and throw through, instead relying on just arm strength. Nassib actually played against his higher ranked compatriot, Geno Smith, three times while at Syracuse. And he won every single one. Of course, that’s not all on the QB, but it does say he’s comfortable playing big games and certainly has the fortitude to be a leader on an NFL team. He’s currently sporting a 45 rank on Scouts Inc., which could end up being a good value in the draft.

E.J. Manuel – Florida State

If you’re hoping you can find another Cam Newton or RGIII in the rough, E.J. Manuel might be your guy. He was a two-year starter who completed 68.0% of his passes for 3,392 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2012. But more importantly, Manuel rushed for eight scores over the last two seasons. He has a quick release, fast legs and is tough to bring down. Unfortunately, he’s also relatively inaccurate in tight coverage and can be flustered if his feet can’t buy him enough time to manufacture a play. Because of his skill set, he played a majority of snaps in college away from center, which also isn’t ideal for the NFL. And there’s also some concerns with durability as he had a mild head injury in 2012, separated his non-throwing shoulder in 2011 (missing two starts) and fractured his left fibula (though he played through it) during the Champs Sports Bowl. It doesn’t amount to a true injury concern yet, but for a scrambling QB, durability is a must. There’s a ton of upside here, but whatever team gets him will likely need to spend time getting him NFL ready. At 75 overall according to Scout’s Inc., that could still be a bargain for a team that has some patience.

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…”

Perhaps none of the quarterbacks in the 2013 Draft are as exciting as the options that were drafted last year. Andrew Luck? RGIII? Nope, we’ll have none of that here. Is there a chance that someone will hit the lottery with a more than apt game manager? You bet. But who will take a chance on them? And will they hit the lottery? Or will they wish that Obi Wan Kenobi had gotten to them first and told them “this isn’t the quarterback you’re looking for”? Or is it possible for me squeeze one more Star Wars quote into this article? “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Done and done.

By Ha Kung Wong
(Twitter: @Rhihan)


  1. May the force be with them all. Robert Michael Jr.

    1. Well said! At least you didn't use this quote: "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." Which would just be mean. But it IS one of my favorite lines of all time. I usually use it to describe USC and U of Michigan. Or the Packers. ;-)

  2. These are not the droids I was looking for...

    1. "Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder!" And BTW, trading Star Wars quotes is one of my favorite past times... ;-)

  3. Replies
    1. LifeStyles are WAY better. Just sayin. ;-)

  4. the geno smith stuff is the same crap we heard about cam newton, hes lazy and dumb. Hopefully his rookie year will turn out as well as cams

    1. And strangely enough, is from the same critic (Nawrocki)! So if he was wrong once, he certainly can be wrong again...

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading! You're awesome too! ;-)