KCCD Writer: Elliot Dennis
Okay… okay. I know a couple of weeks ago I came out with an argument for why USC’s Matt Barkley should be taken first overall by the Chiefs. I now retract that statement. He’s really played himself out of consideration to be even a top-10 draft choice, and unless he has a huge Senior Bowl week and pro day that might just happen.
Now I’d like to make a case for Arkansas signal caller, Tyler Wilson. He had a good season last year throwing for 3,638 yards, 24 touchdowns, and six interceptions while completing 63 percent of his passes. He kept improving as the season went on and was prepped to have a big season this year. Wilson also played a little bit in 2010 as a backup to Ryan Mallett, throwing for 453 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions.
In week two this season, Wilson suffered a concussion in an upset loss to Louisiana-Monroe and was held out of the game against then #1 Alabama. So far this year, he’s completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,387 yards, 21 touchdowns, with 13 interceptions. Some say he is having a down year, I am saying otherwise.
I believe he has played well considering the circumstances. Bobby Petrino was fired right before the season began and left a huge mess behind him. Along with that, Wilson lost his top three receivers from last season in Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, and Greg Childs. He only has one good receiver to throw to in Cobi Hamilton. The rest of the receiving corps hasn’t been able to get open and have dropped numerous passes this season. Along with all this, his offensive line has been shaky this season. He’s taken multiple hits per game and just hasn’t looked comfortable behind that offensive line all season. Arkansas is only 41st in college football in sacks allowed (1.5 sacks/game), but it’s been much worse than the numbers indicate.
Watching Wilson play this season, I’ve seen a great NFL-caliber arm from him. He has been able to make throws, such as a throw to the sideline from the opposite hash. There have been some questions about his accuracy this season, most of which are due to him not setting his feet when he throws. However, these issues can be taught by good coaching and practice.
One thing you can’t question about Wilson is his toughness. Aside from the concussion that kept him out 2 games, he has played through multiple injuries this season and has looked determined to win, despite his team having a disappointing season.
One thing I really liked about Barkley was that he came back for his senior season to try and win a National Championship, even though it killed his draft stock. The same goes for Wilson. General Managers will love Wilson’s drive for a championship.
Now if the NFL Draft were held today, I believe West Virginia’s Geno Smith would be the choice. Despite his recent struggles, he projects to be the top pick in next year’s draft. A lot can change between now and April as bowl games, Senior Bowl week, and pro games happen. So these rankings will probably change, but as of now here are my top 5 quarterbacks available:
1. Geno Smith, West Virgina
Smith started this season absolutely on fire. The West Virginia quarterback has a great skill set. He has a good arm to make all the NFL throws and shows good deep accuracy. He has good intelligence going through his progressions and reads and has shown that he can look off a safety. Along with this, he has very good mobility. The knock on Smith is that he plays in a goofy offense and has some mechanical issues with his footwork.
Projection: Top-5 pick
2. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Despite a horrible season for Arkansas football, Wilson has played very well. The real argument for Wilson is listed above.
Projection: Top-15 pick
3. Matt Barkley, USC
Last season, Barkley looked to be an elite QB prospect and a safe one. But with his play this season, his draft stock has really fallen; he may not even be a top-10 pick this year. He has great knowledge of the west coast offense and has shown very good accuracy and mechanics. His decision making and arm strength have been in question this year. He hangs the ball out there and can’t deliver into tight windows. If he has a bad Senior Bowl he may not even be a 1st round pick, that’s how much his stock is falling.
Projection: 1st round pick
4. Aaron Murray, Georgia
Murray really came on as a sophomore in 2011, completing 59 percent of his passes for 3,149 yards, 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has improved upon that this season, completing 66 percent of his passes for 3201 yards, 30 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions. He has shown great knowledge of the pro-style offense and has a good arm to make all the throws. The big knock on Murray is his height. But short QBs have started to come on lately (Brees, Russell Wilson), so he could easily sneak into the 1st round with a good pro day.
Projection: 1st to 3rd round pick
5. Mike Glennon, N.C. State
Glennon has the best arm out of the top-5 QBs. He has drawn a lot of Joe Flacco comparisons this season. This season he has completed 57 percent of his passes for 3,648 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. If he can work on his accuracy and decision making, he can be a very successful NFL quarterback with his rocket-arm and good mechanics.
Projection: 2nd round pick