Cosell breaks down the QB prospects in the draft

Greg Cosell recently broke down the draft’s quarterback prospects on Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner podcast. Here’s his breakdown.

Q: What do you think of Geno Smith?

COSELL: There is no question he has an NFL arm. He’s an NFL talent. Now, he’s got some other issues. First of all, he’s got some footwork issues. I think that can be corrected. He plays almost exclusively from the shotgun. He’s a bit of a bouncer. He doesn’t take the snap, drop back and plant his back foot, stick it in the ground and get ready to throw. What he does is he sort of bounces. When he decides where he wants to throw the ball, then he needs to plant and deliver. Sometimes he hurries himself doing that if there are bodies closer to him. Other times he’s a beat late with throws because he has that extra half second where he then has to plant and throw. I think that can be cleaned up.

Another thing, I thought at times he was a little erratic and scattershot with his accuracy, and it could be a function of what I just said. He left some routine throws on the field, throws that were there, that had to be made, he missed. Again, that could be a function of the mechanics because he’s not very rhythmic on his drop and his plant in the pocket. You’ve got to clean it up.  If that can get cleaned up and smoothed out, he’s definitely got enough arm talent to be a quality NFL quarterback.

One other area I think you really need to work with him on is being able to move and reset. He’s not quite there yet in that regard. It’s something we talked about with Russell Wilson – the ability to avoid pressure, not run out of the pocket, but avoid pressure, move and reset, maintaining your downfield focus, and then throw the ball on balance with accuracy. You can drill that, and I think Geno Smith needs work in that area as well.

Q: What do you think of Matt Barkley?

COSELL: After watching many games, here’s what I think he is. I think a couple of things stand out. No.1, he does not have a very good arm. Arm strength would be considered average by NFL standards. He does not drive the ball down the field. Keep in mind, they run an NFL-style offense with Lane Kiffin – NFL route combinations, NFL reading progressions and NFL throws. This is not a spread offense where he’s throwing the ball four yards.

No.2, I think his feet are a little bit slow and deliberate, and I think when you’re a shorter quarterback without a big arm, you need quicker, lighter feet. I think functional mobility, because of that, is a little bit of a question. He’s not a naturally athletic kid.

Having said that, that doesn’t mean you can never roll him out. That doesn’t mean he never leaves the pocket. At the end of the day, for him to be successful he would have to be a Drew Brees kind of quarterback. He’d have to throw with tremendous timing and anticipation. He’d have to have precise and pinpoint accuracy. He’d have to command the pocket, have really good pocket movement with explosive lower body movement, which Brees has. I think Barkley would have to have all those things. He’d have to be a master of all the subtleties of the position.

Can he get there? I’ve learned over the years you never say never, but I think he has a long way to go to get there.

So now the question is where do you draft this kid? To me, he’s a third round or fourth-round type talent. Let’s put it that way. I know that he’s not going to be drafted in the third or fourth round, but at the end of the day, to me, looking at his attributes, I think he’s closer to a fourth-round talent than he is to a first or second-round talent as he’s coming out right now.

My big concern with Barkley is when it’s third-and-nine and he wobbles a throw, I don’t think his intangibles factor into that.

Now, if Matt Barkley was on the 2011 49ers, could he do the same thing as Alex Smith? Maybe he could. But, again, I’m just talking about the attributes that you look for. Alex Smith at one point was a No.1 pick in the draft. My guess is if Smith was coming out of Utah with the same skill set in today’s draft, he would not be viewed as a No.1 pick.

Q: What do you think of Mike Glennon?

COSELL: I think he has a very good arm. You could argue it’s possibly the best arm in this class, although Tyler Bray – whom we’ll get to – has a very good arm as well. They’re both excellent arm talents.

Glennon is a guy I’m struggling with, because the more I watch the more I believe there is to like, but there are concerns. I think when there is pressure he’s another guy who does not have very quick feet. When he has to move, at times he can’t quite get his feet set and his base set so that he can throw the ball properly, and he becomes scattershot. You and I both know, in the NFL you don’t get as many clean pockets with that functional space as you do in college football.

I think he’s got great confidence in his arm. I like that. I like quarterback who are willing to turn it loose. He’s a bit of a power thrower, but I’ve seen him throw it with touch as well.

What offense will he run in the league? Will people say he’s like Joe Flacco? I guess you could argue there are some similarities coming out of college.

Q: Flacco is the ultimate upside. I think the warning light is Derek Anderson.


Q: Glennon has the quickest release of these prospects.

COSELL: I would agree, but then when you watch him on film, there are times – and this is when the pressure becomes a factor – when his release becomes a little elongated. When he’s comfortable he snaps it, he looks beautiful. He’s got a quick delivery when he’s comfortable, but he’s got slower feet, he’s not always firm in the pocket when there’s bodies around him, and that’s when his delivery becomes a little elongated.

Q: Glennon also has the ability to throw to specific shoulders and throw guys open.

COSELL: Yes, I think he’s done that well. As a thrower, he may be the best in this class. The big issue in today’s NFL is it’s very hard just to be a pocket passer.

Q: What do you think of Tyler Wilson? To me, he doesn’t have confidence in his ability to make shot plays.

COSELL: He drops the ball very low on his delivery. His initial motion point is below his waist. People can take that for what it’s worth. When Phillip Rivers came out, things like that bothered a lot of people, including. He’s obviously had a very good career. Maybe that’s not a factor at all, but because he drops the ball so low, he’s a bit of a side arm slinger.

He’s another guy who needs work on his footwork in the pocket. He’s a little choppy and frenetic when the initial read was not there. There were times he needed to hitch up on intermediate and deeper throws to generate some velocity. I think his arm strength is better than average. I don’t think he has a big arm. A lot of guys if they have room in the pocket can hitch up and make throws. It’s what happens when you have to sit on your back foot and maybe there’s a little bit of pressure, and then you have to make a throw. That’s how you judge arm strength.

The thing I will say that is a positive for this kid – and I like this – there were times he was very, very patient in the pocket. I thought he had a pretty good feel for ball location, as we were discussing with Glennon. I think, for the most part, Wilson is a pocket quarterback with pretty good pocket instincts. He was definitely willing to stand there at times and make difficult throws.

Wilson has a better arm than Barkley. People point to 2011 when he had better receivers and the program seemed more stable before Petrino had his issue, and that’s all great, too. I’m just looking at the attributes, and I think this kid has some attributes that could lead to him becoming an NFL starter, and I think he’s got other things that you’d want to clean up a little bit.

Q: What do you think of Landry Jones?

COSELL: I think he’s a plus-passer. I think he’s got a good-enough arm. I’d say his arm is similar to Matt Ryan’s, which means he doesn’t have a gun but he can make NFL throws. But there are a number of unknowns, mostly regarding how he throws from a muddied pocket, which by the way he didn’t face many at Oklahoma because of that offense. He had very few throws in which he threw from a muddied pocket, but the ones you saw, he had a tendency to flinch and fall away. That was not a positive.

He’s another guy who’s not very good with pocket mobility. He’s primarily a pocket passer. It’s not that you can’t roll him out. Rolling out and running are two different things than pocket mobility. Pocket mobility is a whole different animal. I don’t think he was very good there.

He didn’t make many throws when he say on his back foot and drove the ball. I think he’s capable of that, but you didn’t see that. He was more of a settle-and-then-hitch-up kind of passer within their offense.

He’s a guy you saw a lot of throws to wide open receivers. I don’t think they were really hard throws, but I think he’s a good enough arm talent to be an NFL starter. He’s got these other issues that he’s got to get through.

Q: What do you think of Ryan Nassib? He reminds me of Mark Sanchez.

COSELL: He had a lot of motion on his drop and on his delivery. There was a lot of movements with his arms, with his legs. I think he’s a pretty athletic kid. I think he’s got pretty good functional mobility. I think he can avoid, move and make throws. I actually think when he had a clean pocket he threw with very good velocity on intermediate throws.

I thought as far as poise in the pocket, there were times he struggled with that. To me, that’s very, very important. He was very much a hitch-and-throw passer. My question is can that be coached out of him? I happen to know for a fact that they’re working with him very much on that, because he sort of has that natural tendency to do that. He doesn’t plant and throw. He plants and hitches.

When you just watch certain throws, Nassib has an NFL arm. The intermediate throws come out nicely. The arm looks a little live. But, again, that’s when he’s clean.

Q: He sailed a lot of intermediate passes at the Senior Bowl practices.

COSELL: At the end of the day, he’s not a top-10 talent. That doesn’t mean he won’t be drafted high. There are a lot of leaps of faith with these quarterbacks.

Q: What do you think of E.J. Manuel?

COSELL: There’s a lot to work with. There’s size. There’s arm strength. There’s athleticism. I think he can run read-option-type stuff.

Other things – he’s a little sloppy with his footwork. He did have a tendency to fall away from throws. I thought at times he was a bit of a pusher with a very high elbow position. There were times he leaned over his front foot when he had to reset, and that impacted his ability to make accurate throws.

As most quarterbacks are in college, he was very over-reactive to bodies around him. I thought he was a little scattershot with his accuracy. I’m giving you a whole bunch of concerns here, but then when you look at some of the positives – stronger arm, the movement – other times he was very composed.

I’m very anxious to see where he gets drafted because he gives you that read option factor. It’s not that he’s an unbelievable runner, but you don’t have to be an unbelievable runner to run the read option. You have to be good enough so that the defense has to defend it. That’s all you have to be.

I know that when Manuel came out of high school, Chip Kelly recruited him because he thought he was a great fit in his offense. I don’t know how they feel about him now that four or five years have gone by, but I think he has that kind of skill set to be able to run those option elements for you.

Q: To me he runs like Cam Newton. He will break tackles. He will run inside and he’s big enough to get away with that.


Q: What do you think of Tyler Bray?

COSELL: Your favorite, right?

Q: I don’t want to be profoundly negative, so I’m going to leave this up to you. Let me put it this way – when I watched Ryan Mallett come out of Arkansas, I said if I was a GM I would take this guy off my board because there were so many issues, and I kind of feel the same way about Bray.

COSELL: I don’t know the kid. People have told me he has some other issues that are not football related. I’m not even going to go there. I don’t know anything about that.

I think based on film, he’ll be all over people’s boards, and the reason I say that is this: He can throw the ball extremely well. I’ve watched a lot of games of Tyler Bray, maybe more than anyone, and there are throws and there are situations where it just comes out absolutely beautifully. Velocity. Gets the ball down the field. Accuracy. Hitting guys in stride. Pulling the trigger on difficult NFL-type throws. You see those throws and they happen in every game, some games more than others. You say wow, these are big time throws.

And you keep watching and you see other issues. He’s very scattershot with his accuracy. He’s not real comfortable in the pocket when the bodies get close. In fact, he really breaks down and tends to throw very much off balance. That’s a big concern for me.

I would say that he’s not a quick-twitch guy. Does he have some functional mobility? Yeah, but on the low end. He doesn’t move really well, and when he’s forced to move, it’s clear that he loses clarity.

There’s a lot to like just because of the pure arm talent, and that’s where you have to start. You have to start with arm talent, you’re a quarterback. But there will be those concerns.

Q: Arm talent is great, but he slings it. The other thing is he really, really telegraphs his stuff.

COSELL: That probably can be coached to a certain extent. I still think there are questions about his ability to move and reset and his functional mobility. That’s an issue. He’s a bit of a slow-footed guy. He’s a tall guy with a live arm that can drive the ball. Because of that, he’ll be all over people’s boards.

Q: What do you think of Zac Dysert?

COSELL: If you watch enough tape of Zac Dysert you see him make NFL throws. Not a gun, but I think he arm is strong enough. I think that it’s probably stronger than he showed over all due to the nature of his pass game.

The biggest issue that I had with him was inconsistent accuracy.  Some people believe you can clean that up, others don’t. I liked this kid more than I didn’t. He’s got a tighter delivery. He’s got a stronger arm than Barkley. You could argue he’s a better NFL prospect. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with that. I think the scattershot accuracy is a big concern for me.

He’s got excellent movement ability on boot action and moving out of the pocket. He also played under center a little more than people may think. I watched him do the play-action pass game from under center and execute it effectively.

You’re just always concerned when you see routine throws missed. Routine throws you can’t miss, and I thought he missed a little too many of those.

Q: What do you think of Matt Scott?

COSELL: This kid has been in a number of different offenses. He ran the one-back, four-wide offense, which is essentially an option offense. He is schooled in the option offense.

I know he’s working with George Whitfield. I know from speaking with George that Scott is up to 215 pounds. This year I think he played at about 195.

He’s got very quick feet. He can move and reset. There’s obviously that playmaker element to his game because of his athleticism. He’s got a very quick arm. I wouldn’t say he has a gun, but he has a quick arm at the short and intermediate levels. He snaps throws, and I saw him make some NFL throws. He throws the deep ball well. I saw him throw the back-shoulder fade numerous times, and he threw it very effectively. That’s not an easy throw to make. He was willing to look down the gun barrel. He was a tough kid. Sometimes I thought he was too tough, given his size, but he’s a naturally tough kid and you can’t teach that.

To me, he’s an extremely interesting prospect given that multidimensional skill set. I’m not going to sit here and tell you he’s going to be Russell Wilson, because Wilson I think in many ways is just different and special. I don’t know Matt Scott, but I think this kid is the most intriguing prospect of the quarterbacks.

My guess is he’s gone before the fifth round, but what do I know?

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