Two years ago I spent most of my Saturdays during the fall watching the top quarterbacks in college. Having seen Trent Edwards be… well…Trent Edwards in the first two games of the season leading to the reins being handed over to Ryan Fitzpatrick, I figured it was a lock the Bills would spend a first or second round pick on a quarterback.
After watching Fitzpatrick look terrible in the season opening loss to the Jets, I got the feeling we’ll be talking about who the best signal callers are in college this season and who the Bills should draft next April.
I culled a list of guys to follow from a number of different areas including: Mel Kiper’s Big Board, Scouts Inc Top 32 at ESPN.com, Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly, Rob Rang’s qb rankings at NFLdraftscout.com and WGR’s own draft guru, Joe Buscaglia.
The general feeling is there is no Andrew Luck in this year’s group(and maybe we should add no RG3) but there is agreement on the top qb available and that would be Matt Barkley from USC. In fact, he may end up being the number one pick overall which is why we have already heard the Bills should either “Barf for Barkley”, “Blow for Barkley”, or “play flat for Matt.”
The 6-2, 230 pound Barkley has size, experience, great stats and has played in a pro style offense for the Trojans. The senior from Newport Beach, California has been a starter since winning the job as a true freshman in 2009.
He has a 64% career completion rate and has thrown for more than 9000 yards to go along with 80 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. His passing TD total has increased every season from 15 to 26 to 39 and his interceptions have decreased every season from 14 to 12 to 7.
One note may make some of you Bills fans nervous. He is a native of California and the last 3 Californians who played that position for the Bills are:Trent Edwards, JP Losman and Rob Johnson.
While Barkley is the consensus number one among qb’s, there is no clear 2nd best prospect but Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas is high on many of the lists.
Some are suggesting he is a Cam Newton type of player. He’s big(6-6, 260), has a strong arm and is a dual threat who can beat you passing or running. His main drawback is a thin resume. Thomas became the starter last season so the redshirt junior had just 14 starts coming into the season.
But in his first season as the Hokies starter, the Lynchburg, Virginia native threw for over 3000 yards, had 19 touchowns and 10 picks. He ran for 469 yards and added 11 TD’s on the ground.
Other names of interest include Oklahoma’s Landry Jones. Like Barkley, Jones has a ton of experience. He became the starter three games into his freshman season when Sam Bradford went down with an injury.
Jones went on to break Bradford’s record for most passing yards by a freshman and Jones will leave Oklahoma as the school’s career passing leader. The 6-4, 218 pound native of New Mexico has completed 62% of passes in his career for nearly 13,000 yards with 97 TD’s and 42 INT’s.
Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson became the first Razorback qb ever to be named first team All-SEC when he earned that honor last season. The redshirt senior who stands 6-3 and weighs 220 pounds took over the job when Ryan Mallett left following the 2010 season.
He threw for more than 3600 yards with 24 TD’s and only 6 INT’s while leading the Hogs to a school record tying 11 wins. Wilson actually began to make a name for himself in Mallett’s last season. He came on for an injured Mallett in a game against 7th ranked Auburn(Cam Newton) and in less than three full quarters, he rolled up 323 yards passing with 4 touchdowns.
West Virginia’s Geno Smith put up some eye popping numbers last season. He set school and Big East records for passing yards in a season with 4,385. He tied a school record with 31 TD tosses and was picked just 7 times.
In a game against an LSU Tigers team that had one of the nation’s best defenses, the 6-3, 220 pound senior from Miami, Florida threw for a school single game record 463 yards on a record 38 completions.
Other names to keep in mind are: Tyler Bray from Tennessee, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and EJ Manuel from Florida State.
If you’d like to see some of these players in action on Saturday, here’s the rundown:
USC(Barkley) at Stanford 7:30 FOX
Va Tech(Thomas) at Pitt 12:00 ESPNU
Arkansas(Wilson) vs Alabama 3:30 CBS(Wilson was hurt last week so check his status)
Tennessee(Bray) vs Florida 6:00 ESPN
While there isn’t an Andrew Luck in the group, it is said to be a deep field but if the Bills are in the market for a quarterback next April, they should probably use their first pick on the position. In the last 5 drafts, 15 quarterbacks were selected in round one and 14 are currently starting, the lone exception being Tim Tebow. There were 7 qb’s taken in round 2 and only one(Andy Dalton) has earned a starting job to this point.