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

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 11:24 p.m.
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West Virginia's Geno Smith is the top-rated quarterback in the draft class.
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Zac Dysert of the Miami (Ohio) could be a hidden gem in the NFL Draft.
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Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray could intrigue the Steelers in the mid rounds of the NFL Draft.

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 arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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