When Todd McShay, college football and NFL Draft analyst for ESPN, studied videotape of quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft class, he did not give a first-round grade to any of the signal-callers.
He does, however, expect quarterbacks to be the focus of a busy second day of action on April 26.
“I’ve got six quarterbacks right now that, I think, truly belong in the second round,” McShay said in a conference call with national media on Friday. “I will not give a first-round grade to any of these guys. It’s not a knock; it’s just who they are. But the depth is sensational.
“It’s just going to be interesting to see where they come off the board. I don’t know anyone that has a true first-round grade on any of these guys. Once one goes, they could all come off the board in a hurry, and we could see six, maybe seven guys in the second round along with Ryan Nassib of Syracuse.”
During the past week, McShay has dedicated the bulk of his film study to the quarterback position, paying close attention to how each player handles a pass rush.
“It’s been kind of a fun challenge,” McShay said. “I’ve gone through watching the regular tape, and going through what I call the pressure drops, anytime a quarterback drops back and is under pressure and just grading them on their pressure drops. It reveals some things about different players.”
According to McShay, West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley of USC, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray, and Ryan Nassib are the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. However, McShay said all come with questions.
“Geno Smith is probably the best all-around quarterback in this class, but there’s still so many concerns,” McShay said. “He’s inconsistent with his accuracy, and I think he does not always process information fast enough. He’s as motivated and determined, as hard-working a quarterback as you will ever find. It’s not anything to do with that. It’s that information does not transfer as fast as you’d like to see. Matt Barkley, I think he’s very intelligent, has good touch and accuracy, but he doesn’t have any elite physical tools.
“Mike Glennon has phenomenal arm talent, but is inconsistent with his accuracy. He moves a little bit better than people think at 6-6 1/2, but he still doesn’t move very well. He’s a phenomenal young man with all the intangibles. Tyler Bray is probably the most talented quarterback in this draft, in terms of arm talent, passing ability and accuracy, but does he get it? Does he understand how to pick up the blitz and do all those little things? Landry Jones, I think he’s very talented as a passer.”
In 2012, the Washington Redskins drafted quarterback Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick. Once Griffin earned Washington’s starting quarterback job, he utilized a read-option offense that helped the Redskins reach the postseason.
When looking at the 2013 NFL Draft, McShay found few quarterbacks who have experience running the read-option at the collegiate level.
“The first one is probably E.J. Manuel (from Florida State),” McShay said. “It’s kind of a misperception on Geno Smith. Geno Smith’s probably going to run a 4.8 in the 40, at best. He’s quick, can move around, and he’s a good natural athlete, but he’s not a running quarterback by any stretch. He’s a pure pocket passer.
“E.J. Manuel, he absolutely can. At 6-4, 237, he’s built to last, even though he’s had some durability issues. He’s strong enough to take that punishment, and he’s athletic enough and has the speed. Zac Dysert from Miami of Ohio has some experience doing it. He’s got a good enough, strong enough build, runs a 4.65 unofficially, so I think he has a chance to do it as well.”
Former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson decided to switch to wide receiver before heading to the 2013 Senior Bowl at the end of January. After missing part of the week while recovering from an injury, Robinson was able to get on the field and run with both the offense and special teams.
“He’s obviously just a playmaker and a guy that can get things done and create with the ball in his hands,” McShay said. “He’s got to get better as a pass-catcher though. The routes will come. The concern that I have exiting the Senior Bowl week -- and it’s something he can continue to show as he goes through the Combine and Pro Day workouts, and individual workouts -- is, is he a natural pass-catcher? It did not look like he was a great, natural catcher.
“If I’m him, I’m out catching punts and passes from anyone who will throw to me every single day between now and the Draft, just trying to improve my hands. I think that will go a long way in helping his cause. There’s a place for Denard Robinson in the NFL.”
BELIEVING CLOWNEY SHOULD PLAY
South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has been considered by some as the consensus No. 1 overall pick if he was able to declare for the NFL Draft. However, due to league rules, Clowney has to wait one more year before becoming an NFL player.
In two seasons at South Carolina, Clowney has registered 21 sacks for 122 lost yards, and 33.5 tackles for 159 lost yards. He has forced seven fumbles, defended three passes and collected 86 tackles, and finished 2012 with 13 sacks.
With two successful seasons under his belt, Clowney has been the topic of recent conversation in the media about whether or not he should sit out 2013 and not risk injury ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft.
“I think the right decision is to go play and not even listen to the outside noise,” McShay said. “I would start to have a lot of questions about him if he didn’t play this year, and I also think, while he’s a great player, there’s no perfect player. He can get stronger in his lower body; he can use his hands better, take advantage of this offseason, take advantage of a maximum of 14 more games and go get better as a player.
“Players play, and everyone keeps asking, ‘What’s the advantage of him playing?’ The motivation should be just competing and just going out and trying to win every week and try to finish what you started with your teammates. You come in as a class and there’s a lot of goals that you set and that mindset of, ‘We’re going to be the best class that has ever come to South Carolina,’ and every class is like that around the country. To me, you’ve got to finish what you set out to do, and least of all, show NFL scouts that you’re a competitor and you can compartmentalize and ignore all these outside influences and just go play.”