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Senior Bowl Report: Quarterbacks looking to set themselves apart in tightly contested draft class

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Ryan Nassib is one of six quarterbacks looking to gain leverage this week. (AP)

MOBILE, Ala. — While at least one quarterback will be taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, there are those who would argue quite convincingly that there really isn't a first-round talent at the position this year -- that it's more the nature of and need at position that will dictate where the quarterbacks will go in this draft. It's a bit of a hodge-podge, and this QB class isn't nearly as defined and dominant as the 2012 class that brought us so many signal-callers who starred and started right away.

However, for teams with patience as it applies to developmental prospects, there is some legitimate talent this season -- it's just that there are no Andrew Lucks or Robert Griffin IIIs, and the guys who came up out of the middle rounds last season, like Russell Wilson and Nick Foles, may have been more ready for the pros than this year's first-rounders.

We'll have a lot more about the entire quarterback class throughout the pre-draft process, but let's start with a quick look at the six Senior Bowl quarterbacks and where they stand in the grand scheme of things.

NORTH TEAM

Mike Glennon, North Carolina State: It took a while for Glennon to get his chance in the spotlight -- he had to wait for Russell Wilson to transfer to Wisconsin before the 2011 season. The results through two full seasons have been inconclusive, especially given Glennon's decrease from 2011 to 2012 in completion percentage (62.5 to 58.5) and increase in interceptions (12 to 17). From a mechanical standpoint, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Glennon has some mechanical issues to overcome -- he has a bit of a windup at times, he doesn't always read disguised coverages well, and he has a tendency to overthrow wide-open receivers. Glennon will need to show this week that he can link up with new receivers and be consistent in a series of offensive concepts that were just handed to him.

Ryan Nassib, Syracuse: Nassib has decent athleticism and a great feel for play fakes, but he also struggles with accuracy on sideline throws and fades, and he'll occasionally throw under pressure when he shouldn't, leading to some negative results. This is a big week for Nassib, however -- many believe that he's the best of a challenging lot of quarterbacks at this year's game, and the recent hire of former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone by the Buffalo Bills put Nassib in the spotlight as a potential NFL prospect in says he hadn't been before, and it was the general consensus that he had the best practice performance on Monday.

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Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio): Dysert passed Ben Roethlisberger as the school's career passing leader despite working with three different head coaches, and the fact that he did so in different systems has some wondering if he isn't a hidden gem. The tape shows a productive player who tends to arm-throw at times instead of using his whole body to drive the ball. Dysert throws well on the run and will make the play downfield under pressure -- what he needs to work on is a tendency to hold onto the ball too long. He needs to work on his touch when it comes to intermediate passes, and he wasn't asked to drive the ball downfield too often, but he can make the occasional tough throw into tight windows. NFL teams will obviously want to get a sense of whether Dysert's mechanical issues are merely the product of a coaching turnover, and how easily he can adapt to new things. Right now, he's a mid-round prospect who could benefit a lot from a good week here.

SOUTH TEAM

Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: Wilson replaced Ryan Mallett as the captain of Bobby Petrino's offense and impressed right away, setting several school records in a season in which he completed 277 of 438 passes for 3,638 yards, 24 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He threw fewer touchdowns (21) and more interceptions (13) in 2012, through some will want to know if this was tied to Petrino's typically embarrassing departure from the organization. Wilson is probably the most polished quarterback here this week in terms of pocket presence, mechanics, and overall throwing consistency, and all of these attributes were on display early in Senior Bowl week. If Nassib didn't have the best Monday practice, many said, Wilson did.

"I had heard a lot about him," South team offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told Dave Richard of CBS Sports. "His college coordinator and I worked together, so we talked a little bit prior to [the Senior Bowl] and all the things he told me you can see here. He comes from a very good system that translates to the pro game because he basically ran a real pro-style offense. I think he'll make the transition rather quickly to whatever team he ends up with."

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Landry Jones, Oklahoma: The man who replaced Sam Bradford at Oklahoma does not possess Bradford's pure arm talent, but he certainly put up some serious numbers in school -- 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns for the Sooners in four seasons. Now, the question will be how his specific skills transition to the NFL. Throws a lot of bubble screens from the shotgun and Pistol, but Jones -- when he's on -- can make good and consistent throws upfield.

"They called pretty much everything as a no-huddle offense from the sideline, but that's not unusual now in the pro game," Linehan said of Jones. "As pro offenses evolve, that will help him because everybody's trying to do that up-tempo system. I told him, 'I want to see how you call our offense and our offensive plays,' and he worked extremely hard in the last 48 hours to do so. I see no issues there."

EJ Manuel, Florida State: A move thrower with efficiency on single reads, Manuel may be the biggest "wild card" here this week. NFL teams will want to see him throw from the pocket, but those with a predisposition to heavy boot action calls and designed runs from their quarterbacks will find Manuel's skill set very attractive. Could he become a legitimate first-round prospect with the right pre-draft process? The more you look at his overall game, and match it to what NFL teams what from their quarterbacks these days, it's not out of the question. What teams will want to know is how well he can see the entire field after cutting it in half with designed roll-outs, how easily he can process multiple reads, and what his decision-making process looks like on a play-to-play basis.

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