We’ve spent so much time over the past month examining the quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft and criticizing them as a whole for being one of the worst classes of quarterbacks in draft history. Now that the draft is over, let’s take one more look at them, where they were drafted, and what the future may hold for them.
E.J. Manuel, Buffalo – This pick shocked a lot of people on two fronts: first, many assumed the Bills would take Ryan Nassib, and second, most thought Manuel was more of a second or third round pick than a first rounder. Regardless, the new coaching staff in Buffalo believes they have their quarterback of the future.
Manuel appears to fit what Doug Marrone is looking for in a quarterback better than Nassib; Manuel is taller, a better runner, and has enough arm strength to cut through those stiff Buffalo winds (although Nassib has great arm strength as well). With Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson in the picture, Manuel will have to earn his spot as the starter, so he may not play right away. It may be best to give Manuel a year to develop before becoming the starter, but if the Bills are struggling midseason, Marrone could hand things over to his rookie.
Geno Smith, New York Jets – It was a surprise to see Smith fall to the second round, but he was the second quarterback taken in the draft. Smith’s presence on the Jets roster really complicates things for that franchise, as it’ll be tough to part with Mark Sanchez’s contract. However, Smith should get a fair shot to win the starting job, and if Sanchez, Greg McElroy, and David Garrard are his competitors he’ll have a realistic chance of winning that competition and starting right away. Even if Sanchez retains the starting job, he’ll have Smith breathing down his neck the whole time, which could set up quite a quarterback controversy in New York this fall.
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Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay – Glennon was drafted in the third round, which was a little earlier than expected, especially with Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib still available. The Bucs taking Glennon isn’t exactly a vote of confidence for incumbent Josh Freeman, who’s entering the final year of his contract. Freeman should begin the season as the starter, but if the team struggles they may give Glennon a look to see if he might be a better option for the future than Freeman.
Matt Barkley, Philadelphia – The Eagles moved up in order to take Barkley with the first pick of the fourth round, which is a far cry from where he would have gone last year had he come out. On the surface, this is a curious pick, as Barkley clearly isn’t the kind of runner or athlete we’re accustomed to seeing in Chip Kelly’s offense; however, Barkley is a smart quarterback that can read defenses and get the ball out quickly, which is what Kelly is looking for in a quarterback. Barkley will enter what should be one of the more intriguing quarterback battles in the NFL, as he’ll be competing for the starting job with Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Which player Kelly goes with at quarterback this year is tough to predict, but he clearly has a plan in mind for Barkley’s future in Philadelphia.
Ryan Nassib, New York Giants – The Giants got great value by being able to draft Nassib in the fourth round, after he was a potential first or second round pick. His experience with a variety of offenses in college, his proficiency running a no-huddle offense last year, and all his great intangibles make him the perfect backup quarterback for the Giants. Should any trouble arise with Eli Manning, the Giants will definitely be covered. In the meantime, Nassib has a chance to develop into a quarterback that can become a starter for someone other than the Giants, and a couple years down the road the Giants might be able to trade him and get a lot more than a fourth round pick in return.
Tyler Wilson, Oakland – Wilson is the kind of quarterback that could greatly benefit from a year or two of development, but with the Raiders he may get a chance to play right away. Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor don’t inspire a lot of confidence, which could open the door for Wilson, and if nothing else he has a chance to beat out Pryor for the backup job, which could give him a realistic chance to become the starter in a year or two, if not soon. Wilson may be the toughest quarterback in this class, and if he ends up seeing the field this year, he’s going to need that toughness playing behind Oakland’s offensive line.
Landry Jones, Pittsburgh – The Steelers really needed a young quarterback in place to back up Ben Roethlisberger, who is quite vulnerable to injury these days, and Jones is a good candidate to fulfill that role. He was a starter at Oklahoma for nearly four full seasons, so Jones has the kind of experience that NFL teams like in rookie quarterbacks, and that experience will help him if he’s pressed into service this season. Pittsburgh might have to simplify things and scale down the playbook for him if Jones has to sub in for Roethlisberger, but he has the arm strength to make all the throws, and drafting him to be a short-term backup is a good pick in the fourth round.
Brad Sorensen, San Diego – Sorensen was the first of four quarterbacks taken in the seventh round. He didn’t play major college football, but he has NFL size and a cannon of an arm, so he’s worth taking a chance with in the final round of the draft. Phillip Rivers isn’t close to the end of his career, but he may be past his prime, so it doesn’t hurt the Chargers to start acquiring some reinforcements, and Sorensen is a good sleeper pick.
Zac Dysert, Denver – John Elway made a low-risk move by taking Dysert, who received a lot of mixed reviews leading up to the draft. The Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler last year to be Peyton Manning’s backup, but it doesn’t hurt to bring in Dysert to challenge Osweiler for the backup job. If his health holds up, Manning could have a few years left in the tank, so the chance to play in Denver is limited for Dysert, but he’ll get to learn from the best in the business.
B.J. Daniels, San Francisco – This pick probably surprised Daniels as much as anybody. His skill set is fairly similar to Colin Kaepernick, although talent wise the two are obviously worlds apart. He could challenge Colt McCoy as the backup, he could move to wide receiver, or the 49ers could use him to simulate Russell Wilson in practice two weeks a year. With so many draft picks and so many different ways to use Daniels, this pick is pretty sensible on the part of the 49ers.
Sean Renfree, Atlanta – Matt Ryan isn’t going anywhere, but the Falcons aren’t exactly set at the backup quarterback spot, which is where Renfree’s future lies. Renfree has good size as well as the arm strength to make all the throws, and spending his college years with David Cutcliffe should have him well prepared for the NFL. As a backup quarterback, Renfree has some potential, and Atlanta was wise to give him a chance.