As we hit the month of April and with the 2013 NFL Draft only weeks away, there has been a lot of updated news on several key players who are ranked in this year's top 5 class in their respected positions. Some players who had been falling after the Senior Bowl helped their stock at the Combine. While others who were ranked fairly low on most draft boards may have been pushed down even further due to the Combine numbers simply not being there.
The NFL is a very fickle beast. A draft prospect can sit at home, train and do all they can to prepare for their name to be called. But while they are away from the field, they will find their stock slowly rising or falling just because it can. Front offices and NFL experts alike gather as much film on every player and look for strengths and weaknesses during this down time. This film is key because it shows how a player reacts in certain situations, while also showing GMs and other front office officials certain tendencies that they may not have noticed before.
A sample of this takes us back to the 2005 draft. Between the Combine and the draft itself, Utah QB Alex Smith and Cal QB Aaron Rodgers were vying for the No. 1 spot. It was neck-and-neck for weeks. But as we got closer to the big weekend, Rodgers found his value falling as the days went by. Teams simply didn't see him as a franchise quarterback at the next level. Once the 49ers picked Smith with their No. 1 overall pick that year, Rodgers fell all the way down to No. 25 and was taken by the Packers. But as we've seen many times, teams don't always get it right. Several playoff appearances and a Super Bowl ring later, it's clear the Packers got the better end of the deal.
Below are the updated top 5 in this year's quarterback class. As you'll see, this top 5 is much different from the top 5 I posted way back in the middle of February:
1. Geno Smith - West Virginia
UPDATE: Smith ran a 4.56 at his Pro Day, which has solidified his status as the No. 1 quarterback off the board. Where Smith ends up is the bigger question. The Chiefs compare him to a younger Donovan McNabb. The Jaguars interviewed him and some had believed that the Raiders were sniffing around, but the acquisition of Matt Flynn should change that. My money is still on the Bills taking the plunge at No. 8. Even if they don't, I don't see Smith making it out of the first half of round one. I'd be very surprised if any of the players below get drafted before Smith does. Make sure to read over Phil's in-depth review on Smith HERE.
2. EJ Manuel - Florida State
(Formerly Mike Glennon - NC State)
UPDATE: Manuel's top 40 time was a 4.62, which is fast for a guy who is 6'5/237. Manuel's downfall, however, is his on-field mentality and decision making, as he was known to make some really bad decisions during games at the college level. Some label him as a "workout warrior" after he put up solid numbers across the board in the other Combine tests, but his size and physical tools are slowly starting to creep him up the draft board. ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay says he has been hearing Manuel going as high as the middle of the first round. I think that's a bit of a stretch and a lot of smokescreen, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him taken behind Smith. The Browns, Bills and Eagles are three teams I am seeing having the most interest, just not in the first round.
3.Matt Barkley - USC
(Formerly Tyler Wilson - Arkansas)
UPDATE: Barkley is one of the big wild cards in this year's class, despite being ranked as the No. 1 quarterback the last two offseasons. His Pro Day wasn't the greatest, despite going 56-of-62 passing. NFL Films' guru Greg Cosell considers Barkley nothing more than a "mid-level starter in the NFL" due to Barkley's lack of athleticism and arm-strength. This claim is backed up after two NFL scouts noticed Barkley's deep passes "fluttered" amid a "gentle breeze" at his workout. Adam Schefter reported on 3/28 that "most people around the league expect that (Matt) Barkley will be a first-round pick." Guys like Christian Ponder, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert were drafted well above their initial rankings, so Barkley could wind up being this year's surprise pick, although he hasn't done a lot to push himself up so far.
4. Ryan Nassib - Syracuse
(Formerly Matt Barkley - USC)
UPDATE: With a 4.84 in the 40, Nassib didn't help or hurt his stock. He wasn't being counted on as a speedster in the NFL. Some NFL scouts are said to be "divided" at what Nassib could be at the next level. Some still consider him the best quarterback of this year's draft. While others view him as a starter, but more along the lines of an Andy Dalton. Greg Cosell likened him to an early Drew Brees and has him ranked ahead of Geno Smith because of his accuracy on intermediate throws and his footwork in the pocket. If the Bills don't go quarterback and pass on Smith in the first round, they could very well make Nassib their franchise quarterback by taking him in the early second. Hooking him up with his old Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone would certainly help in his development. Make sure to check our George Banko's in-depth analysis on Nassib.
5. Mike Glennon - NC State
(Formerly Ryan Nassib - Syracuse)
UPDATE: Built like Joe Flacco, Nassib ran a slow 40 time of 5 seconds. But like Nassib, speed isn't Glennon's biggest strength anyway. Unlike the above prospects, Glennon hasn't been getting a ton of media hype since the Combine. One NFL GM went so far to say that Glennon should not be grouped with this year's top-rated quarterbacks. Considering every quarterback on this list has question marks, that's not as bad as it seems. Despite the Cardinals acquisition of Carson Palmer, both Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson believe the Cardinals could take a chance on Glennon in the second round. And that is why I have him ranked above Tyler Wilson.
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