Quarterback: Best, Sleeper, Overrated

Bray (Randy Sartin - USA Today Sports)

Scouts weigh in on the quarterbacks with the best prospect, sleeper and most overrated of the class. At the top of the rankings, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Tennessee's Tyler Bray, on the other hand, was compared to Ryan Leaf.

Here is a closer look at the quarterbacks, compiled from conversations with scouts and the NFL's longtime lead scout, Dave-Te' Thomas.

Best in class

Geno Smith, West Virginia (6-2, 218): Three-year starter who finished his career with school records of 11,658 passing yards and 98 touchdowns, including 4,356 yards and 42 touchdowns as a senior. He was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Through the first four games of the season, he had thrown 20 touchdown passes and 25 incompletions. In a 70-63 win over Baylor, he threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. "The numbers are great but what I like is how much the coaching staff put on his plate. They had a lot of faith in him to make the right decisions, before and after the snap," said a scout who had him No. 1 in the class. Echoed ESPN's Jon Gruden in a conference call: "They put a lot on the quarterback's plate, and I think it's very underestimated what this kid can do from a football standpoint. He does a lot above the neck as well as making plays with his arm and his mobility." Another scout, however, pointed to 24 fumbles in 33 games and problems handling the blitz.

Overrated

Tyler Bray, Tennessee (6-6, 232): Bray started the final five games at quarterback as a freshman in 2010 and never left the starting lineup, other than a five-game stint on the sideline with a broken thumb in 2011. Started 12 games in 2012 and completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 3,612 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His 530 yards against Troy broke Peyton Manning's school record. He was benched in a 41-18 loss at Vanderbilt. He's got a great arm and tools but also led the team to back-to-back 5-7 seasons. And it gets worse. In November, he famously told reporters that, "I'm paid to win football games." He quickly spun that into saying he's paid with his scholarship. He also refused to do a workout because the team was going to a bad bowl. There are too many off-the-field issues, too, from a vandalism charge for throwing beer bottles at parked cars (dropped) and "playing chicken" while on jet skis (plea deal). A scout compared him to Ryan Leaf.

Sleeper

Ryan Griffin, Tulane (6-4, 216): Finished career with 9,026 yards, 55 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. He missed three-and-a-half games this season but threw for 2,771 yards and 20 touchdowns, with his 308 passing yards per game ranking second in school history. What got Griffin moving on draft boards was his MVP performance at the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game, when he completed 14-of-18 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. "A sleeper quarterback — everybody and their mother has just caught on to him lately is the Tulane kid, Ryan Griffin," Thomas said. "I think somebody popping on him in the sixth or seventh may end up with a Matt Flynn on their hands. Griffin's going to be big-time."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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