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This year's crop of QBs has NFL scouts less than impressed

Getty Images - West Virginia's Geno Smith is the top-rated quarterback in the draft class.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>West Virginia's Geno Smith is the top-rated quarterback in the draft class.
Getty Images - Zac Dysert of the Miami (Ohio) could be a hidden gem in the NFL Draft.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Zac Dysert of the Miami (Ohio) could be a hidden gem in the NFL Draft.
Getty Images - Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray could intrigue the Steelers in the mid rounds of the NFL Draft.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray could intrigue the Steelers in the mid rounds of the NFL Draft.

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Scouting the quarterbacks

Geno Smith of West Virginia seems likely be the first quarterback chosen. After that, it's a dice roll, with no consensus No. 2, 3 or 4. Some scouts say there's not a single elite quarterback in this class. The Steelers, more active than usual in assessing quarterbacks, could go for one in a later round — which means he almost certainly won't be Ben Roethlisberger's replacement-in-waiting.

Top 5

1. Geno Smith

6-3, 215, West Virginia 2012: 4,205 yds, 42 TDs, 6 INTs.

• Amazing stats, yet inconsistent during five-game Mountaineers losing streak. He's got the arm; some scouts question his overall skill set. Projected to go anywhere from No. 5 to No. 20.

2. Matt Barkley

6-2, 230, Southern Cal

2012: 3,273 yds, 36 TDs, 15 INTs.

• Shoulder injury kept him out of final two games, and his pro day throwing drew some criticism. Once the consensus No. 1 QB in this class, he must prove himself all over again.

3. Ryan Nassib

6-2, 230, Syracuse

2012: 3,749 yds, 26 TDs, 10 INTs.

• Excelled in new Bills coach Doug Marrone's West Coast offense. Not a franchise QB but probably not a bad investment.

4. Mike Glennon

6-6, 218, N.C. St.

2012: 4,031 yds, 31 TDs, 17 INTs.

• Forty-six more passing attempts than Smith and 11 more INTs. Arm strength fine, but probably needs to beef up a bit to absorb NFL punishment.

5. E.J. Manuel

6-5, 237, Florida St.

2012: 3,397 yds., 23 TDs, 10 INTs

Has moved up the charts since the NFL Scouting Combine; some scouts say there has been too much upward movement.

steelers' dream pick

Is there one? Steelers have so many needs — even if Kevin Colbert dislikes that word — it's hard to envision them using an early-round pick on a QB. But maybe they pick one later — perhaps Tyler Bray of Tennessee? Sean Renfree of Duke?

hidden gem

Zac Dysert, 6-3, 231, Miami (Ohio). Might the Steelers add a second Miami QB to their roster? Fast and decisive with the ball in his hands but doesn't appear to have Ben Roethlisberger's competitiveness. And Tyler Wilson of Arkansas might not go until the third round, but could be a great value pick.

best of the rest

Trent Edwards, Eagles; Byron Leftwich, Steelers; Charlie Batch, Steelers.

Related Stories
By Alan Robinson
Friday, April 19, 2013, 11:24 p.m.

There hadn't been a year for quarterbacks like this since the Elway-Marino draft of 1983 — Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, all of them stars or near-stars in 2012.

There's never been a year for quarterbacks quite like 2013, either, but for all the opposite reasons.

Only one, Geno Smith of West Virginia, is seen as a certain first-round NFL Draft pick, unless Matt Barkley — the Southern Cal QB who once was the top-rated prospect — somehow sneaks in.

“There's a whole lot of holes in the quarterbacking class,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.

Perhaps never before has the NFL house been so divided about a single player as it is with Smith.

Some scouts call him a top-5 talent with tremendous upside; others point to glaring flaws such as a perceived inability to rapidly go through his receiver progression. They question whether he's a first-rounder at all.

Smith has the look of an NFL quarterback physically, but it seems unlikely he will start as a rookie — not exactly a ringing endorsement for the top quarterback in the draft.

“I see flashes of everything you want to see in a top-10 quarterback,” Mayock said. “I see a lot more inconsistency, though, than I see those flashes. There is a real risk-reward scenario there.”

The rest of the class? Just as unpredictable, just as unsettled. There might be gems in the bunch, and a few diamonds in the rough, but there could be cubic zirconium, too.

For every superlative, each quarterback in this class seems to have a glaring negative. E.J. Manuel of Florida State? Makes some curious decisions. Mike Glennon of North Carolina State? Too thin. Barkley? Struggles when pressured. Smith? Ran a gimmick offense.

“This year's quarterbacks, there is no consistency,” Mayock said. “There is a lack of consistency where you want to bang the table and say, ‘I love this kid.' ”

Barkley, hindered a bit last season by some conservative play-calling, has heard all that talk about this year's class being a decidedly mediocre group.

“There's been a lot of comparisons recently to last year's rookie class. Those guys came right away and played and made their marks, won playoff games,” Barkley said. “There's always going to be that comparison, whether it's just or unjust.”

Some of the criticism of Smith is that he's not a good film-room student, and he plays with a nonchalance that can't possibly carry over into the NFL. That he isn't committed to the sport and fumbles too much.

“I can't expect to prove any of these people wrong without even playing a down in the NFL,” Smith said. “My only expectation is to become as polished as I possibly can when I enter the NFL and compete and be a competitor. That's all I know how to do.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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