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Smith, others add talent, depth to quarterback class

Posted Apr 1, 2013

As we go down the Road to the Draft, Driven By Liberty Ford, here’s a look at the quarterbacks of the 2013 NFL Draft class.

With the 2013 NFL Draft fast approaching on April 25, ClevelandBrowns.com takes a deeper look at the prospects, position-by-position. Today’s spotlight is on the quarterbacks.

Overview:

Unlike the last two NFL Drafts, a quarterback is not expected to get taken with the No. 1 overall pick, as Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) in 2012 and Cam Newton (Carolina) in 2011 did, but many draft analysts feel the depth of the quarterback position will come in the second round, and later.

“I’ve got six quarterbacks right now that, I think, truly belong in the second round,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said in a conference call with national media. “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.”

Key Players:

*Geno Smith (West Virginia), E.J. Manuel (Florida State), Matt Barkley (USC), Mike Glennon (North Carolina State), Ryan Nassib (Syracuse) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma).

Smith, a 6-foot-3, 208-pound prospect, completed 369 of 518 attempts for 4,205 yards and 42 touchdowns against six interceptions last season. During his junior and senior years, Smith completed 715 passes for 8,590 yards and had a career day with eight touchdown passes and 656 yards passing in a 70-63 win over Baylor on Sept. 29, 2012.

“Geno Smith’s strength is the ability to throw the ball down the field,” said ESPN’s Bill Polian. “He’s got good arm strength; he has good athleticism, and can pretty much function in any system. He’ll have a little learning curve coming in from the spread offense simply because it’s different than the classic and standard NFL offense, particularly in taking the ball (under) center and handling the ball.”

At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Manuel offers NFL teams both size and speed with passing ability. He completed 600 passes for 7,736 yards and 47 touchdowns against 28 interceptions during his four seasons at Florida State.

“E.J. Manuel is a guy that I thought had a pretty solid Senior Bowl week and played really well in the game,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said. “(He’s a) big, strong, physical kid. He's got some natural physical running ability also, not he’s a running quarterback, but he’s an athletic kid and I like him. I like his attitude.”

Barkley was a four-year starter at USC, but his college career ended because of a shoulder injury in a 38-28 loss at UCLA on Nov. 17. Prior to the injury, Barkley threw for 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns against 15 interceptions in 2012.

During his career, Barkley threw for 12,327 yards and 116 touchdowns with 48 interceptions.

“There is a lack of consistency where you want to bang the table and say, ‘I love this kid,’” Mayock said. “He’s smart, I think he cares. When protection breaks down and he’s got to get to his second and third read, and the mechanics start to break down, it’s not really good. And that is the case with a lot of these kids.”

After waiting behind Russell Wilson, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Glennon got the chance to start in 2011. In his career, he threw for more than 7,000 yards and 62 touchdowns. He completed 330 passes for 4,031 yards and 31 touchdowns against 17 interceptions in 2012, and led North Carolina State to a 7-6 overall record and a 4-4 finish in the ACC.

“On the field, I think the biggest thing I bring is my arm,” Glennon said. “I feel I can throw the ball really well. Off the field, I’m an extremely driven person. I want to be the best and I’m willing to work at it. I love to learn about the game of football. It’s really interesting to me, and it’s something that I take a lot of pride in.”

In 2012, Nassib finished his college career with his best individual season. He completed 294 of 471 of his attempts (62.4 percent) for 3,749 yards and 26 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ended the year with a 143.3 quarterback rating, his best in four years with the Orange.

“Football is my passion,” Nassib said. “I enjoy learning it. It was my favorite subject in school. That’s just something that kind of stuck with me. Football language is something that I enjoy doing. When it comes to the interview process, hopefully, I can show that off quite a bit.”

After following a Heisman Trophy winner in Sam Bradford at Oklahoma, Jones took the opportunity to carve out his own legacy and did, to the tune of 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns against 52 interceptions in his four years with the Sooners.

“I just want to prove that I’m an NFL-quality quarterback,” Jones said of the Senior Bowl and other pre-draft events. “Some people might have questions. ‘Can he play under center?’ Just from the system we played at Oklahoma, ‘Can he be in the huddle? Can he control a huddle?’ For me, I think (the Senior Bowl) is about showing teams that I can do all those things and my game translates to the NFL.”

*ClevelandBrowns.com utilized the players’ list compiled by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.

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