Pete Carroll spoke openly about his desire to improve the team’s pass rush this week, while also adding more speed to the front seven. He didn’t speak with quite as much urgency about the quarterback position. That’s not to say the Seahawks will ignore it (let’s hope not) but Carroll has been open and honest about his draft plans in the past and I’m not expecting anything different this time round. The big issue appears to be simply a lack of options. Matt Barkley has returned to USC, leaving just Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as the two likely options early in round one. A lot of people have touted Ryan Tannehill as an option, but I just can’t grade him that early. Landry Jones, who has decided to return to Oklahoma, would almost certainly not have been an option for the Seahawks (or anyone else in the first round).
Kip looked at some potential later round QB’s last month (here and here), while I highlighted Ryan Lindley and Brandon Weeden game tape. Today I’m going to feature tape from five different quarterbacks, one of which currently plays in the NFL.
Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas)
Wilson is reported to be researching his options and has requested feedback from the draft committee. It’s not surprising that he’s testing the water, given the lack of top end quarterback options in round one. While he’s a mobile and accurate passer with a lot of the technical qualities you expect from a player working underneath Bobby Petrino, he’s not a physically brilliant quarterback who will wow scouts in work-outs. He’s more developed than a lot of college quarterbacks in terms of needing to make reads, going through progressions and attempting a range of different passes. He’s not quite as sharp as Ryan Mallett from the pre-snap standpoint, but quarterbacks working under Petrino will always have a slight edge with the terminology and expectations of the next level. Seattle’s front office wants a point guard who can control the clock and make the most of their playmakers – and Wilson could easily fill that void. Is he special enough to warrant the #11 or #12 pick though if he declares?
Tape vs Auburn (2010) – JMPasq
Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
I’ve written a lot on this blog about Tannehill and I just do not see a first round level talent. Yes – he has a lot of the athletic qualities you want for a potential franchise quarterback. He’s at his most comfortable getting out of the pocket and throwing on the run, similar to Jake Locker. However, Locker had better mechanics and a great knack for making plays. It’s also important to remember Tannehill was sacked less than any other quarterback in the NCAA this season except notoriously untroubled Kellen Moore. Taking that into consideration, there’s very little excuse for some of the mistakes he made during the season. His side-arm throwing motion led to a lot of tipped passes, he made several bad decisions and he just doesn’t look like a natural for the position. His awareness in the pocket is weak and he’ll regularly linger on a target, before panicking and forcing a throw to another receiver. He’s had interceptions this season where he’s been staring right at a target and knows full well the defensive back has leverage, only to throw the pass anyway. I don’t accept a lack of playing time as an excuse, because this is all we have to work with. You don’t take gambles on players making giant steps forward on a technical level, because the risk is too severe.
Tape vs Northwestern (2012) – JMPasq
Matt Flynn (QB, Green Bay)
Here’s the most recent ‘flavor of the month’ at quarterback. Flynn set records for his display against Detroit in week 17, helping the Packers to a shoot-out victory over the Lions. The entire NFL fraternity now assumes he’ll get a major contract in free agency and be immediately snapped up Washington, Cleveland, Miami or Seattle. When I watch the tape from last week, I see the same player that warranted a 7th round pick in the 2008 draft despite leading LSU to the BCS Championship. Flynn was always a neat and tidy football player, who put the ball in the right areas but lacked any kind of physical quality. He hasn’t got a strong arm, he struggles to move around in the pocket and extend plays. In order to throw the ball downfield, he needs to exert so much back-lift and almost jumps into the throw. Green Bay’s offense is a well oiled machine, with or without Greg Jennings. Flynn deserves credit for getting to grips with it and providing solid cover for the NFL’s best quarterback. Yet as Pete Carroll referred to him this week, he’s “the backup”. It’s an unpopular opinion to have at the moment, but I don’t expect a scramble of activity to sign Flynn in free agency. It is quite possible to just be a good back-up. In fact, when all is said and done I think there’s a pretty good chance he re-signs with Green Bay on a modest deal to continue as Aaron Rodgers’ understudy.
Tape vs Detroit (2012) – Aaron Aloysius
Brock Osweiler (QB, Arizona State)
Osweiler today revealed his intentions to declare for the 2012 draft. He’s a lean quarterback who’s been measured in the 6-7/6-8 range. The 240lbs weight listed appears ambitious and he could do with adding some bulk before attempting a career in the NFL. However, he moves well for a big guy and has no trouble extending plays or running for first downs. Osweiler’s greatest strength is his arm and he’s quite capable of elite velocity on long and medium range throws. The coaching staff at ASU may actually have downplayed his talents by not using the deep ball more in 2011. He has a side-arm throwing motion which is less of an issue given his height, but it’s still not ideal given the release angle on some throws. Like Tyler Wilson, he only has one year’s experience as a starter and that will concern teams in an age where Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Robert Griffin III have all had multiple seasons in the same offense. Osweiler has some potential though and don’t be surprised if he makes a late surge up the boards. He has the arm and the mobility that teams are looking for these days and he could go higher than you expect.
Tape vs USC (2011) – JMPasq
Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
Dana Holgorsen knows how to create a pulsating passing offense and 2011 was no different in his first year at West Virginia. Geno Smith passed for 4379 yards – a significant improvement on the 2763 he managed the previous season. A 401-yard, six-touchdown performance in the Mountaineers 70-33 Orange Bowl victory was a fitting end to the year for a quarterback who took major strides forward. However, Smith is far from the finished article. His deep ball is inconsistent and he needs to improve his arm strength. He made probably my favorite pass of the season against LSU, flashing perfect accuracy and touch. This was mixed in with a lot of mental mistakes too and games where he struggled (for example, in defeat to Syracuse). Smith has potential if he continues to develop and another year at West Virginia would be just the tonic. Yet with so few exciting quarterback options, he may feel this is a good time to declare and ‘strike while the iron’s hot’. He’s unlikely to be a first round prospect in 2012, but he could easily find a home in rounds 2-3 if a team buys into the potential. There’s nothing to say he will declare, but with nine days to go until the deadline – anything can happen.
Tape vs LSU (2011) – JMPasq