Three more 2012 quarterbacks to keep an eye on

May 4th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

On Monday I highlighted eleven quarterback prospects worth monitoring during the 2011 college football season. Dave ‘rogue scout’ Razzano is touting as many as eight potential franchise QB’s from the class.

“2012 will be year of the QB. I see EIGHT potential franchise QBs for next years Draft. Will be best EVER! Great for NFL.”

Indeed Razzano tweeted today that he believes Oklahoma’s Landry Jones could realistically challenge Andrew Luck to be next year’s #1 pick:

“This Landry Jones of Okla is an absolute phenom. Don’t be surprised if he challenges Andrew Luck for #1 pick in 2012!”

I asked Razzano who he believed were the top 2012 prospects at the position and he confirmed some of the names I’d mentioned, but also added another into the mix – Houston’s Case Keenum. I was surprised to see Keenum’s name mentioned. He missed the majority of the 2010 college season through injury and has been granted a sixth year at Houston as compensation. His numbers are gaudy with over 10,000 passing yards and 88 touchdowns during 2008-09, evidence of the prolific Cougars offense. 

Can he transition to the NFL? Let’s not forget that Kevin Kolb came from the same system. Keenum is 6-2 and 210lbs. His task in 2011 will be to prove that the numbers are not a faux pas and that he can be consistently accurate. You’re not talking about top-end physical qualities either in terms of arm strength or mobility. His decision making at times can be erratic and certainly a lot of the production at Houston is similar to that witnessed in Hawaii or at Texas Tech – not exactly hot beds of NFL quarterback talent. 

Even so, I feel compelled to mention him in the discussion having warranted at least an acknowledgement from Razzano. I still think he’ll be lucky to be anything more than a late round pick. 

In writing this piece I also thought about other possible quarterback options who are maybe flying under the radar, for very different reasons. 

Let’s start at Florida, a team that has undertaken a major transformation during the off season. Urban Meyer’s resignation led to wholesale changes for the Gators coaching staff, with Will Muschamp leaving Texas to become the new head coach. One of his first acts was to enlist Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator. 

The 2010 season was a difficult one for Florida, moving on from Tim Tebow and being stuck between two offensive schemes. Meyer ‘s spread offense didn’t suit quarterback John Brantley, so they flip-flopped between the system used for Tebow and a more orthodox passing game. Freshmen Jordan Reed and Trey Burton took over a number of snaps at quarterback and it was, at times, a bit disjointed. Brantley was caught up in the middle of a transition period for the Gators and the numbers showed – a mediocre 9-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio and only 2061 passing yards. 

Employing Weis to run Muschamp’s offense could be of significant benefit to Bentley. Let’s not forget, this is a player touted by Mel Kiper at the start of the 2010 college season as a potential first round pick. Instead, it was left to the likes of Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton to surface and take their place in the top ten alongside Jake Locker. 

At 6-3 and 220lbs, Brantley looks like a pro-prospect. The Weis offense at Notre Dame was basic if nothing else and afforded the likes of Jimmy Clausen the opportunity to wrack up big-time numbers and limit turnovers. Brantley may enjoy the same kind of boost throwing a lot of passes into the flats and working around the athletes Florida always churns out to support it’s offense. Even if Weis goes with a more complex outlook after a year with the Kansas City Chiefs, he’s likely to avoid flirting too much with the spread which should offer Brantley an opportunity to develop. 

KC Joyner at ESPN had the opportunity to watch Florida’s spring practise

“It might seem a bit odd to be touting Brantley after a 4-for-14, 45-yard performance in the Orange and Blue game, but consider this: In a three-game sample review of Brantley’s 2010 season, he threw a stretch vertical pass (defined as thrown 20 or more yards downfield) only 5 percent of the time. This is a very low number and indicates the Gators were not very effective at even threatening the long pass.In the spring game, four of Brantley’s aerials fell under the “stretch vertical” designation and one would have been completed for 40 yards had it not been for a very good defensive play. Brantley also did not force any of these downfield passes into coverage, so the downside on these throws was limited. It bodes well for what the Florida vertical game will be able to do in 2011 — not just for Brantley and Charlie Weis’ new downfield passing game, but for the playmakers in the Gators’ running game as well.”

If Brantley becomes a downfield passer who can manage underneath routes and limit turnovers as you’d expect with Weis, then he has the opportunity to put his name firmly into contention as a high draft pick.

The third player I’m going to mention in this article is South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia. As things stand today, the Gamecocks may be the most talented overall team in the SEC. They have a big-time receiver in Alshon Jefferey, an excellent sophomore running back in Marcus Lattimore and a cluster of defensive talent that could turn into high draft picks next year.

Garcia himself has shown flashes of quality, throwing for 20 touchdowns in a productive 2010 season. His decision making at times is poor, but he has shown the ability and the physical qualities (6-2, 227lbs) to warrant consideration at the next level.

Unfortunately, Garcia’s decisions off the field are just as poor as they are on it. He was suspended indefinitely from the team in April and it’s a familiar story for a player who has made headlines for the wrong reasons too many times in his career. Matt Hinton at Yahoo reports:

“As salacious rumors go, coming in drunk and disorderly doesn’t quite match the tales of epic pregame partying that reportedly led to Garcia’s suspension for the start of spring practice last month (although that depends on just how “disorderly” we’re talking about), but it’s certainly enough to violate his probation. And with five boozy strikes on his record, it’s probably enough to put his college career in the past tense.”

Indeed we may be robbed of the opportunity to see if Garcia can repair his stock on a team ready to contend in the toughest division in college football. The off-field concerns grade out at UDFA, completely wasting the on-field potential. Can he recover from this? It remains to be seen and his time may well be done in South Carolina, but he’s a player who otherwise would’ve been on the NFL’s radar next season.

Game Tape

Case Keenum (QB, Houston)

John Brantley (QB, Florida)

Stephen Garcia (QB, South Carolina)

20 Responses to “Three more 2012 quarterbacks to keep an eye on”

  1. troy says:

    It’s too bad about Garcia. I was looking forward to watching him this season, and looked to me like someone who would be on Carroll’s radar.

  2. Anyone know anything about Brock Osweiler, ASU? I’m excited to see if he can develop as a passer.

  3. woofu says:

    I am seeing more “part deux” Qb pairs across the NFL. By that I mean a starter with a back-up in the mold of the starter. Brady/Mallett, Rogers/Flynn, etc.. If we assume Charlie is the guy then a Kaepernick was an obvious pairing. Obviously that was not the case. Whoever we settle on as “the guy”, it seems prudent that the back-up is very much like him and it appears Charlie is most likely the back-up so what starter in FA would we aquire to make that true or which guy next year might result in that?
    (btw Elway, if Tebow is your guy then you need to pick-up Leinart and a very good pass-pro RT)

  4. Rob says:

    Got some interesting Seahawks related ‘insider info’ for tomorrow… so stay tuned.

  5. Kip Earlywine says:

    Its just one game, but Keenum had a lot to like in that OSU footage. Showed the ability to check multiple reads. Showed the ability to misdirect with his eyes. Arm doesn’t look strong, but his throwing motion is outstanding and the ball travels amazingly fast given how little effort he appears to put into the throw.

    Given his slightly small size, great mechanics, ball speed, and gaudy stats, you can see some similarities between him and Drew Brees coming out of Purdue.

  6. Carl Shinyama says:

    I swear, Razzano must be my long lost brother. I said just last week that I think Razzano will end up being the #1 rated quarterback.

    • Carl Shinyama says:

      That Landry Jones will end up being the #1 rated quarterback*

      • Kip Earlywine says:

        I’m a huge fan of Jones as well. He made the best first impression by far, in terms of passing the eye ball test.

        • Carl Shinyama says:

          Thing is, in 2009, I thought he sucked. Then with a whole offseason under his belt, he was a far different player in 2010.

  7. Derek says:

    It seems that Brantley has the same akward throwing motion as Tebow on a lot of his throws.

  8. woofu says:

    Suggestion on format. Could you add a comment link at the top of the article in addition to the end of the article. Once one has read the article it’s the scroll from hell to get to where you want to go. Almost all of the articles are well written and in depthly interesting and thank you for that. Perhaps another consideration is to widen the text at the expense of the wallpaper to shorten the scroll as well.



    • Rob says:

      Thanks for the suggestions woofu. We’re dictated to slightly by wordpress although I’m looking at ways to improve the chat format with the web designers. I’ll look into it, but keep expecting positive changes as we approach the 2011 college season.

  9. -=cysco says:

    Hey Rob/Kip,

    Over on Fieldgulls they have a transcript of a radio interview with Schneider. In it, he says that the Seahawks have targeted a rookie free agent QB:

    “There’s probably a group of like, 6 to 8 guys that we had as draftable players that are hopefully going to be Seattle Seahawks as rookie free agents. One of those would be a quarterback as well, and then you know with our quarterback position going in, we had a plan A, a plan B, a plan C and we have a plan D.”

    Would be great for you guys to check out which QBs went undrafted and who might be a good fit.


  10. John_S says:

    I’m a lot more impressed with Landry Jones than I am of Andrew Luck. I just don’t get the impression that Luck is going to be a top flight QB in the NFL regardless of what the pundits say.

    From what I can see, he has an average arm with adequate zip on his balls. Just looking at his highlight tapes a majority of his throws were at the line of scrimmage up to 5-7 yards ala Jimmy Clausen. I’m not saying the offense was the same, but they were easy throws where the receiver has the opportunity to catch and run. Luck is a very smart and “cerebral” QB, but his arm strength or lack there of IMO will limit how good he will be in the NFL.

    Landry Jones on the other hand I see above average arm strength coupled with accuracy. He’s in a spread offense which will be seen as a detriment in evaluators eyes, but his throws compared to Luck are more down the field and to the wide side of the field which displays his arm strength and accuracy. I would venture to say that Landry Jones has equal to better athleticism compared to Luck. He has had some bad games (Missouri is one) but I think he decision making is going to get better this year. When it comes to pro days, I will say that Landry Jones will have a better showing.

    IMO Landry Jones should be considered the #1 QB prospect. Am I off base?

    • Carl Shinyama says:

      No, you’re not off base. I completely agree.

    • Carl Shinyama says:

      But as for Andrew Luck’s arm, I’d have to say yeah, you’re off-base. Did you see the Stanford vs. Oregon game?

  11. CraigPT says:

    Being a high IQ QB with an average arm hasn’t seemed to be much of a problem for Tom Brady or Matt Hasselback in his prime. I can’t count the number of guys with great arms who busted because they weren’t cerebral. Arm strength is over rated. Give me someone who can read a defense, predict how they will respond to what you are doing and understand where your personnel is and how to get the ball to the correct guy. That is the guy I want. Based on last years body of work, I’m taking Luck. That said, we have a dozen more games to over analyze this fall.