Explaining the 2012 NFL Draft QB rankings

Posted by Brad On December – 16 – 2011
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See where RGIII really ranks by the numbers

Enough of the RGIII may be taken before Luck talk.  RGIII and Barkley both had better seasons than Luck.  No doubt.  But when it comes to NFL prospects, they don’t get much better than Luck. 

The 2012 NFL Draft is loaded with top level quarterback talent.  The evaluation of quarterbacks is the toughest to judge due to the number of areas to evaluate.  I break down quarterbacks in six major categories with subcategories and score them based on those rankings.  For the purpose of this evaluation, I’m showing only the major categories.

This is my vein attempt at answering the numerous emails I receive about how I rate players and should give an elementary look at my system of rating.  Here’s a look at where each quarterback ranks in each individual category.  The QB’s I chose to rank are Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Robert Griffin III, Landry Jones, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, and Brandon Weeden. 

Arm Strength

  1. Nick Foles
  2. Landry Jones
  3. Brandon Weeden
  4. Ryan Tannehill
  5. Robert Griffin III
  6. Matt Barkley
  7. Andrew Luck

There isn’t a Ryan Mallett arm in this draft.  The closest thing to it is Nick Foles, who possesses very good arm strength.  The next four were fairly similar as I would rate them above average as a whole. Barkley and Luck were very close and slightly above-average.  Luck doesn’t possess a cannon but his arm is comparable, if not stronger, than Manning’s was coming out of Tennessee. 


  1. Andrew Luck
  2. Matt Barkley
  3. Robert Griffin III
  4. Brandon Weeden
  5. Nick Foles
  6. Ryan Tannehill
  7. Landry Jones

This was a run away category as Luck has the ability to throw receivers open.  He doesn’t possess the best deep ball accuracy (Barkley takes the cake on that one) but shows great accuracy short and mid-range.  Foles, Tannehill, and Jones all struggle with accuracy under pressure with Foles and Jones struggling on the run.  RGIII and Weeden were slightly above-average in this category.


  1. Matt Barkley
  2. Brandon Weeden
  3. Andrew Luck
  4. Landry Jones
  5. Robert Griffin III
  6. Nick Foles
  7. Ryan Tannehill

Barkley touch, particularly in the redzone, is unmatched in this class.  I think he throws one of the prettiest deep balls of any QB, including NFL QB’s.  Weeden and Luck were a toss up as both throw with nice touch and rated above-average.  RGIII throws with nice touch deep but needs to work on his intermediate touch.  His tendency to flirt with coverage in this range and rely on arm strength cost him in this category.  This is a big area that Ryan Tannehill will have to work on.  He is most raw of the prospects and it shows by watching the touch he throws with.


  1. Andrew Luck
  2. Landry Jones
  3. Brandon Weeden
  4. Matt Barkley
  5. Robert Griffin III
  6. Ryan Tannehill
  7. Nick Foles

Luck has a picture perfect release and near perfect throwing motion.  He remains compact with a  lightning quick release.  Jones, Weeden, and Barkley were also very solid in this category and remained above-average.  RGIII was in the third-tier but also slightly above-average.  Tannehill and Foles both have elongated releases and at times it takes forever for the ball to leave their hand.  For Foles, this is an area he will definitely need to work on.  Weeden surprised me a lot as I expected a “pitcher’s release” and that’s not what I got at all.  He was very compact in his delivery and the ball flies out of his hand.


  1. Robert Griffin III
  2. Ryan Tannehill
  3. Andrew Luck
  4. Matt Barkley
  5. Brandon Weeden
  6. Landry Jones
  7. Nick Foles

RGIII has few peers in this category.  He is an Olympic-level hurdler and it shows on the football field.  He will run in the 4.4’s at the Combine without breaking a sweat.  Tannehill is another athletic freak as he played WR at Texas A&M for two seasons.  He will most likely run in the high 4.5’s.  Luck is a surprisingly good athlete for his size and is reminiscent of Aaron Rodgers with his ability to move in the pocket and avoid rushers.  I almost put him ahead of Tannehill because of his pocket presence.  Jones and Foles struggle in this area to the point that it will cost them come draft time.  NFL scouts want to see guys that can just avoid the rush.  They don’t have to be Michael Vick but they have to be able to use their feet to avoid pressure.  Jones and Foles can’t and it will likely cost them.

Football IQ/Mental Makeup

  1. Andrew Luck
  2. Robert Griffin III
  3. Matt Barkley
  4. Brandon Weeden
  5. Ryan Tannehill
  6. Landry Jones
  7. Nick Foles

Luck is head and shoulders above everyone in this category.  He is the most pro-ready QB in terms of football IQ that we have ever seen.  He’s way ahead of Peyton Manning coming out of college.  RGIII and Barkley were very close in the second tier but aren’t on Luck’s level.  This is the category that separates Luck from his competitors. 

Overall Evaluation

Based on rating the six major categories, not factoring in the subcategories the rankings were as follows (don’t worry about the scoring, it’s my own system that keeps me on track).

  1. Andrew Luck (26.5)
  2. Robert Griffin III (25)
  3. Matt Barkley (24.5)
  4. Brandon Weeden (22)
  5. Ryan Tannehill (21)
  6. Landry Jones (20.5)
  7. Nick Foles (17.5)

** The scoring doesn’t factor in any intangibles that the main categories don’t account for.  For    example, Brandon Weeden will be 28/29 in his rookie season. 

To offer some perspective to this year’s rankings here was my 2011 QB crop under the same ranking system, not including subcategories:

  1. Cam Newton (25)
  2. Jake Locker (24)
  3. Andy Dalton (23.5)
  4. Christian Ponder (21.5)
  5. Blaine Gabbert (21)
  6. Ryan Mallett (20.5)
  7. Colin Kaepernick (19.5)

I receive a ton of questions about how the 2012 class compares to the 2011 class, so the breakdown would look like this based on these rankings:

  1. Andrew Luck
  2. Cam Newton (tie)
  3. Robert Griffin III (tie)
  4. Matt Barkley
  5. Jake Locker
  6. Andy Dalton
  7. Brandon Weeden
  8. Christian Ponder
  9. Ryan Tannehill (tie)
  10. Blaine Gabbert (tie)
  11. Landry Jones (tie)
  12. Ryan Mallett (tie)
  13. Colin Kaepernick
  14. Nick Foles

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  • Rmccolgan

    Good list. I still would rate Barkley higher than RG3 but it is definely too close to say for sure which is better at this point so I cannt argue too much about your rankings. This year will be a strong draft year for QB. Many teams will get lucky and I believe the Jaguars are going to scrap Gabbert and get Barkley or RG3. Redskins will probably grap the other one. I am curious to see where Tannehill goes…I dont see Round 1 where some people are starting to place him. Maybe the Chiefs or Seahawks in Round 2 go for him. What do you think?

    • Anonymous

      Barkley and RGIII are really close on my overall rankings. This was a thumbnail sketch of how I rate QB’s but there are other factors that go into…injury history, size, production, look at teams (talent) they played with, etc. I have not completed my final rankings because I allow for Combine, Pro Day, and Bowls. Tannehill is a solid project…probably further along than Kaepernick was but similar. I would expect him to go in the early stages of round 2 to someone that missed out in round 1. I think he’s a great fit in Seattle under Carroll and Bevell. Bevell loves athletic QB’s, hence his affinity for T. Jackson. I have been seeing some people that I respect a lot putting the round 1 tag on Foles. That’s one I can’t wrap my head around. I think he’s a late 3, early 4 guy for me. There’s some things I really like but some that I really don’t like. In my opinion, it would be a huge mistake for a team to take him before round 3. I actually have a higher grade on Chandler Harnish right now than Foles.

      • Rmccolgan

        Nick Foles is an intruiging prospect. He has a lot of tools and I think Round 3 is a good spot for him…maybe early Round 4. Has a strong arm and seems to be pretty accurate. Do not discount him yet. Tennehill just doesnt excite me yet. I have not watched a ton of film on him yet so I do not want to be close minded.

  • Anonymous

    Foles accuracy and decision making under pressure scare the hell out of me. I love the arm strength and when he’s in a rhythm and teams don’t move him off his spot he’s as good as they come. NFL defenses won’t let him get comfortable which is what I worry about with him. Tannehill is an upside pick that needs some development. Think Colin Kaepernick on Tannehill. Round 2 looks like his sweet spot

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