Senior Bowl Quarterbacks

Without Geno and Barkley, this game really takes a hit.  In the long run, only two or three quarterbacks per draft class end up panning out and I think Geno and Barkley are the 2013 class’ best chances.  Let’s see if any of the six Senior Bowl quarterbacks will make a splash in the NFL.  Here’s how I rank them heading into this week.

#1 Landry Jones, Oklahoma  (SOUTH)

Remember in 2010 when everyone was sky high on Landry Jones and thought he was a sure fire RD 1 pick?  Well, there’s good news and bad news to this statement.  The bad news is that Landry has not progressed as a player since 2010.  His growth has plateaued and he likely ‘is what he is,’ leaving little room for growth in the NFL.  On the other hand, the good news is that Landy Jones in 2012 performed almost identically to Landry Jones in 2010, meaning that he’s still a high performing quarterback, relatively speaking.  Away from his comfy Oklahoma environment, it  will be interesting to see how Landry performs this week.

#2 EJ Manuel  (SOUTH)

The good news about EJ Manuel is that he still appears to be growing as a quarterback.  In virtually every metric his numbers improved from 2011 to 2012, indicating that there’s still upside.  Perhaps with superior NFL coaching, the raw talent that everyone has loved will blossom into a star caliber player.  The frustrating part about EJ is that the production, in the form of high TD passing game performances, isn’t there.  Consider that in 2011 AND 2012 combined, he only had SIX meaningful games with 2+ TD passes.  Compare this with single season performances from guys like Drew Brees (8 in 2000), Tom Brady (7 in 1999), and Andrew Luck (7 in 2011) and it’s clear to see that something is awry.  Manuel is an interesting player, but I’d like to see more.

#3 Ryan Nassib  (NORTH)

In the same way that Landry Jones ‘plateaued’ between 2010 and 2012, the same could be said for Nassib.  He threw touchdowns at a lower rate, interceptions at a higher rate, and overall graded out as a low-ceiling prospect.  He strikes me as a serviceable backup, game-manager type, but others seem to think he’s top 50 material.  Like Ryan Tannehill, he seems to be a hot candidate for 3rd best QB contention, which could send him shooting up draft boards.  I’ll be watching him close this week to see if he ‘flashes’.

#4 Tyler Wilson  (SOUTH)

Wilson is REALLY hard to get a read on.  His performance–and the team– went from outstanding with Bobby Petrino in 2011 to an utter debacle in 2012 under John L Smith.  While his attempts/gm and completion percentage held relatively steady, he threw touchdowns 20% less often and interceptions 300% more often.  Unlike Nassib, Manuel, Jones, and Glennon, Tyler Wilson didn’t play in a bowl game.  With 7 weeks to prep for this game, he needs to impress or risk getting lost in the fray.

#5 Mike Glennon  (NORTH)

Glennon is a curious case.  He threw the ball 18 more times per game in 2012 than in 2011, completing fewer passes but completing them further down field.  This would indicate to me that he was playing catch-up a lot.  To further this theory, his interception rate was the highest of any Senior Bowl quarterback.  As an overall product, he seems to have slightly regressed from his 2011 form; not the direction you want to be heading in when the competition is only going to get tougher.

#6 Zac Dysert  (NORTH)

Dysert is my lowest graded QB in this game.  Despite entering 2012 as a buzzy mid-major prospect, Dysert failed to back up his 2011 performance.  Despite his pass attempts and pass-distance remaining steady, he completed 7 percent fewer passes.  His TD% held steady but his interception% spiked.  Given the disastrous state of the Miami University football program, it will be interesting to see how he fairs in this game.  With an improved supporting cast, will his talent shine through?  Or will the increased level of competition, compared to the MAC, cause him to struggle?

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Who to watch: Vanderbilt v. NC State (Music City Bowl)

Stay tuned for must-see prospects from every game of the bowl season.

Music City Bowl

Monday, December 31, 12:00pm EST

ESPN

The one guy I’ve been dying to watch all bowl season

Vanderbilt

Jordan Matthews, #87, Junior, WR

The best wide receiver prospect in the state of Tennessee isn’t Justin Hunter or Cordarrelle Patterson, it is Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews.  In my November WR rankings, I named Matthews the #2 receiver prospect for the 2013 draft. In fact, JM is one of the best SEC receiver prospects of the last decade.  Check out this production compared to other elite SEC performers:

  • Alshon Jeffery (2010)  6.3 receptions,  108.3 yards,  .64 touchdowns  *played one more season before entering NFL
  • Jordan Matthews  (2012)  7.3 receptions,  105.2 yards,  .58  touchdowns
  • AJ Green  (2010) 6.3 receptions,  94.2 yards,  1 touchdown
  • Julio Jones (2010)  6 receptions,  87.2 yards,  .54 touchowns

In five of Matthews’ eight SEC conference games, he hauled in at least 115 yards and one touchdown, proving his consistency and high-end ability.  #87 is also a big play threat, tallying five receptions of 50+ yards throughout the season.

In the Music City bowl it will be fascinating to watch Matthews face NC State CB David Amerson, who many considered to be the #1CB prospect in the country coming into the 2012 season.  Let’s hope that the poor field conditions don’t spoil this.

If he were to enter the NFL Draft and forego his senior season, he would easily grade in my top four wideouts, and possibly even grade as my #1 receiver in the draft.  Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin said: “The funny thing, and the scary thing, is I think he can get a lot better.  Probably the most powerful trait he has is he thinks he is the best wide receiver in the country. He behaves like that, he acts like that and he practices like that every day.”  I too think he might be the best wide receiver in the country.

Check the highlights vs Georgia…

North Carolina State

Mike Glennon, #8, Senior, QB

The National  Football Post’s Russ Lande just named Mike Glennon his #1 quarterback prospect for the 2013 draft.  I have some other thoughts on Glennon.

In the five games when the lights shone brightest on Glennon, there’s one word to describe him: quantity.  In relevant games, Glennon threw 49.6 passes per game, up from 32.6 in 2011, a  52% increase in attempts.  In these games, the Wolfpack went 1-4, and presumably Glennon was throwing to play catch up.  This theory is further supported by the fact that his yards/completion jumped from 11.3 (in 2011) to 14 (in 2012) while his completion percentage dropped by nearly 7%.

I’d attribute those numbers mostly to the environment in which he played… so, let’s look at what he could control.  He threw touchdowns 5% more frequently compared to 2011, but also threw interceptions 5% more often compared to 2011.  This advances my theory of quantity: he threw more, he threw more touchdowns, he threw more interceptions.

Overall, his grade in my system fell slightly from 90.4 in 2011, to 87.5 in 2012, neither of which puts him above the “potentially elite” hurdle of 95.  Watch the Music City Bowl and see what you think, but I think he’s far from the #1 quarterback prospect in the draft.

Watch him against NC State’s big rival…

What to watch- 31 August 2012

Night 2 of the 2012 season.

North Carolina State vs Tennessee (in Atlanta) ESPNU 7:30 EST

Tonight’s game will be a first look at two solid QB prospects.  Based on my 2011 passing ratings, I have them ranked similarly in my QB prospect grades for the 2013 NFL draft.  Tyler Bray, JR, (Tennessee) is ranked 8th.  Mike Glennon, SR, (NC State) is ranked 9th.  Now let’s get into the analysis.

Tyler Bray-   Bray took over the starting QB job about halfway through his freshman season in 2010.  In his first ten games after assuming the starting gig from Matt Simms, (November 2010-October 2011) Bray averaged 312 yards per game, 3 TDs, .9 INts, while completing passes at a 61.1%.  At that point–October 2011– he was injured and played in only 2 of UT’s final 7 games.  Tyler’s performance over this time earned his a score of 91.4 in my evaluation system (a score above 95 indicates an elite NFL prospect).  His numbers compare favorably to Matt Ryan’s final season at Boston College and his 6′ 4” frame will further that comparison.

The following video highlights his play from his last game prior to the 2011 injury.

Mike Glennon-  Glennon came to NCSU as a top high school recruit, but  Russell Wilson’s rise to stardom kept Glennon on the bench for two seasons.  In 2011 he started for the first time as a Junior and led the Wolfpack to an 8-5 record including a bowl win.  In my passer ratings his 2011 season grades a tick above Christian Ponder’s senior season, grading out with a 90.4 (a score above 95 indicates an elite NFL prospect).  As we look ahead to his senior season, Glennon has the potential to become a hot NFL prospect.  He has a young WR corp to work with, but behind a veteran offensive line, a quarterback of his stature should bring out the best in his receivers.  Tonight it will be interesting to see how Glennon fairs in his first game against an SEC defense.

The following video highlight is from his game against Clemson in 2011, arguably the best team he faced.

Boise St @ Michigan St, ESPN 8pm EST

Over the years there have consistently been two things that impress me about Boise.  First, is how physical they are compared to the common misconception of them being a finesse team from a weak conference.  Exhibit A: Defeated Georgia in 2011.  Exhibit B: Defeated Virginia Tech in 2010.  Second, I am always impressed by how prepared and efficient they are.  This team executes every time they take the field.  Now, the question tonight will be whether or not they can be physical and prepared with 15 new starters on the field after being hit hard by graduation.

For Michigan State, this is a program on the rise with increasing expectations and little resemblance to the mentally weak teams of the John L. Smith era.  Here’s what I am looking for tonight; how will their new QB handle the reigns he has inherited?  Can the defense, which is supposed to be a strength, overcome any mistakes or tough situations created by the offense.  MSU is a team ready to win a B1G 10 championship.  The balance of trusting their QB and relying on their defense will be interesting to watch.