Future Top Drafted QBs?
Future Top NFL
The franchise quarterback. The face of an organization. Every team in the NFL craves him, but only a handful are fortunate enough to stake claim to an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees or one of the Mannings, Peyton or Eli.
A month from now, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and likely Ryan Tannehill are going to be plucked out of the first round of the draft with very direct edicts from their new bosses—flatten the learning curve quickly, secure the starting job and eventually blossom into the kind of Pro Bowler who bring a Super Bowl to Indianapolis, the nation’s capital and Miami or Seattle, respectively. Anything less would be inadequate for a buzzy player commanding such a high price tag.
Luck is going off the board first, and Griffin will be No. 2, but who will be there successors in future years, those Cam Newton-esque gems who raise the hopes of an NFL city? Who’ll be the savior of 2013? 2014? How about 2017? It’s obviously early for such an exercise, but no less fun to speculate and debate over the would-be first round hurlers who’ve yet to complete their college—or even high school—careers.
Making no assumptions about which players will leave school with eligibility still on the table, here’s a look at future franchise quarterback contenders for the next five cycles of the NFL Draft.
The Sleeper … Brice Ramsey, Camden County (Ga.) High School
Matthew Stafford, Aaron Murray, Brice Ramsey? That’s the hope for Dawg fans as the Georgia-bound Ramsey has the raw tools and the talent to quickly make a splash as a freshman next year if Murray takes off early. At 6-3 and 197 pounds he needs to add more size to his frame, but the arm strength is unquestioned, he has huge hands, and he already looks the part with nearly flawless mechanics. The pressure will be on with all the talent to be something special right away, but he has the demeanor and the calm presence of mind to handle it.
5. Shane Morris, De La Salle Collegiate (Mich.) High School
Once Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner, symbols of the Rich Rod era, exhaust their eligibility in 2012 and 2013, respectively, Michigan quarterbacks are likely to be a little less athletic and a little more polished as passers when they get to Ann Arbor. Morris, who has already committed to being a Wolverine, hopes to be the poster child of that shift in philosophy. Unleashing tight spirals with maximum RPMs, the southpaw possesses one of the strongest arms at the high school levels. He fits the ball into tight windows, and his deep balls don’t hang too long in the air. As Brady Hoke’s first mega-recruit at quarterback, Morris should play early on at a school with a rich tradition of producing NFL hurlers.
4. Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State
What do you get when you combine Mike Gundy with one of the highest rated quarterback recruits in Pokes history? A young man with a shot of playing in the pros someday. Lunt is already in Stillwater, taking part in his first spring drills, and competing for a job with junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman JW Walsh. While winning the job so soon seems unlikely, Gundy doesn’t plan to put a cap on anyone’s ceiling. Once the rookie adds some weight to a gangly 6-5 frame and gets comfortable with his surroundings, he’s destined to become Oklahoma State’s next prolific playmaker. Lunt throws a gorgeous ball, and his knowledge of the system increases the likelihood of early playing time.
3. Tyrone Swoopes, Whitewright (Tex.) High School
The long, loping strides. The lean 6-5 frame. The future in a burnt orange uni. Yup, Swoopes will be dealing with the Vince Young comparisons from the moment he descends upon Austin next year. Unfair as they may be, they’re also understandable. Swoopes fits the description of today’s athletic quarterback who has it all from a physical standpoint, much the way Robert Griffin III, Terrelle Pryor and Cam Newton did at the college level. He needs to polish up his passing skills, but time will be an ally. In Austin, where Case McCoy and David Ash are just sophomores, the seal on Swoopes may not be broken until 2015. By then, the ‘Horns hope their blue-chipper will begin taking his first big strides toward an NFL career.
2. Max Browne, Skyline (Wash.) High School
Browne has yet to even decide where he’ll play his college ball, but that won’t stop onlookers from raving about his long-term potential. He’s the prototype for a pocket passer, tall, quick on the release and flush with intangibles. If he’s not the top quarterback in the country entering his senior year of high school, he certainly is on the West Coast. The offers have been spilling into his Washington home, ranging from just about every Pac-12 school to Alabama in the SEC, Oklahoma in the Big 12 and Wisconsin in the Big Ten. Depending upon where he winds up—and the depth of his competition—Browne has the overall makeup to avoid a redshirt in 2013.
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State
While still very raw, Winston will have the luxury of time in Tallahassee. He’ll spend his first season on campus learning behind EJ Manuel, who knows a little something about handling the pressure of being a five-star recruit. After 2012, earning snaps will depend on how quickly he improves at the finer points of the game. From a physical standpoint, he had no peers in the latest recruiting class, blending good quickness and arm strength with terrific leadership and character. Think modern-day Charlie Ward, with better measurables. Might Winston be too good of an athlete for Jimbo Fisher’s liking? Major League Baseball scouts have also been eyeing him. He’s the kind of kid who’ll be a star no matter what he does.