COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Texas A&M Aggies throws a pass against the Texas Longhorns in the first half of a game at Kyle Field on November 24, 2011 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
It is without any form of certainty, but there is some doubt to weather or not the NFL Scouts have watched a single down of college football this season. List upon list has been compiled ranking the best possible draft picks and while each one differs a little, there is a hint of consistency. But is it really that easy? Each position has been broken down into the top 5 available for that position and each team has different needs. With that said, most teams will always be looking for a Jonathan Ogden or the next Dan Marino while hoping to find a diamond in the rough such as Tom Brady.
Who are the names being thrown around as the best possible quarterbacks assuming some of them forgo their senior season? Most of the shake up looks like this:
2 - Matt Barkley - USC Trojans
3 - Robert Griffin III - Baylor Bears
4 - Landry Jones - Oklahoma Sooners
Now, most college football fans will remember the LSU Tigers and JaMarcus Russell, who with his "rare" size and arm strength was pegged as the best prospect in the 2007 NFL Draft. There are always some things you can't measure which makes every draft pick a risk and there were none greater than this. As we all know, Russell going #1 overall to the Raiders will go down as the biggest draft bust in history as he only played 2 seasons. Is there a potential bust in the group above?
It would appear that the average quarterback hits their peak right around the 27-29 years of age mark in the NFL. How long they continue to be on top depends on how their bodies hold up and how long they are willing to push. But, there will always come a point when top players begin their descent on a downward slide. Which brings me to the question as to why Brandon Weeden of the Oklahoma St. Cowboys isn't being considered on this list. He has been listed right around the 10th best possible available quarterback of this draft, yet he is in this "peak age" which has turned off a few teams. His maturity will be key and he has the potential to be a huge steal where he is being projected to go.
But aside from this matter, most of the prospects will need some work entering the next level. Some will come in expected to have an immediate impact while others will be there to learn. Patience is the answer as their time will come before they know it. Maturity and leadership need to be built and will be instrumental to how successful each of these prospects are. However, there are two possible busts in my opinion.
The first is very obvious I think for many football fans in Ryan Tannehill. So again I will ask if NFL Scouts have watched any college football this season. Let's not forget that Tannehill is a converted receiver pretending to play quarterback on the collegiate level. While this may work out now, the NFL is an entirely different story. He simply does not have the experience at the position that players like Andrew Luck have and there is no way to make up for the lack there of. The quarterback position requires mental toughness and at this point, it is some thing this kid needs to work on. Another glaring problem is that while Tannehill may have shined in 2010...the 2011 season was a letdown. A team that started the season as a top 10 team in the nation and expected to finish at least second in their conference became a wash with Tannehill to blame. Yes, he had some monster games but overshadowing those games are the second half meltdowns.
On the flip side of the coin, Tannehill has only had two years of starting experience. In those two seasons he has shown that he has good arm strength and the legs to bail him out of trouble. The potential for his special skill set to develop has a great upside that will take some grooming under a fine comb to perfect. If a team takes a chance on him early expect him to be sidelined a few years to learn the mental aspects of the position. All-in-all Ryan Tannehill will be labeled as a risk with a potential upside.
The second possible draft bust is Landry Jones. As much as it pains me to say it, he took several steps forward in the post-season as well as the off-season this past year but then took several steps backwards after throwing a few interceptions early on in the season. From that point on, Jones threw high in an attempt to not have a repeat performance which disrupted his timing and accuracy tremendously. We all expected Jones to take a step back later in the season with the Ryan Broyles injury. That is only something natural to do. But, I doubt any of us expected him to take that big of a step backward. I am of the persuasion that Landry is not as bad as we always think he is but he has never lived up to his predecessor, Sam Bradford. That is a tall task for anyone coupled with the disappointment of a season that the Sooners have had and we have the perfect storm.
Jones has proven that he can be a pocket passer, which by the way is the same style of game the most prolific passers in the NFL play. He has a strong arm to toss the ball to any area of the field. On top of that, Jones has a ton of experience and got it earlier than anyone anticipated. Jones was thrust into the lime light as a freshman after the Bradford injury and made stride after stride that continued into his sophomore season.
The one thing Jones lacks is leadership. Time and time again, Sooner fans saw a time when Jones could have put this team on his back to spark the defense churning out another win. Yet, fans were left wanting more as Jones continued to show he didn't have the "it" factor. It all culminated in the Bedlam game as Jones had two fumbles returned for TD's. While many think he is gone...I still say there is no way, not after the season he had. He has proven to many that there are some issues to be worked out in his game. What he has in size and strength, he lacks in working his way out of pressure and leadership.
The future holds the keys to all five of these players yet some still have a decision to make. Should they enter the draft, where will they fall or should they choose to finish out their senior seasons leaving behind a legacy that will never be forgotten (looking at you RG3). There are certainly kids waiting in the shadows to show what they are made of and the time is now.