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The Redzone NFL Draft special: Quarterbacks

Draft day is here and the best quarterbacks in a generation will be picked first.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Image: PAUL CONNORS/AP/Press Association Images

THE 2012 NFL Draft starts this evening and, in any other year, Robert Griffin III would be a sure-fire number one pick.

However, players like Andrew Luck don’t come along all that often.

Quarterback
As an Oakland Raiders fans, I know a thing or two about quarterbacks being selected first overall and letting everyone – except their local fast food joint owner – down.

I still have nightmares about JaMarcus Russell. Though, in fairness to the Raiders, they had a need at QB and it wasn’t a great draft class at the position (Brady Quinn and Kevin Kolb were the next best).

However, they did leave Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis and Dwayne Bowe on the board that day.

But that’s the risk you take with selecting a quarterback as the number one overall pick. They can either be the face of your franchise for a generation or they can cost your team for years to come.

Top three
1. Andrew Luck – Stanford
While I’m not stupid enough to say that Andrew Luck is a sure thing, he’s as close to being the perfect NFL quarterback as you can get so if he doesn’t make it, there’s very little hope for anyone else.

He’s tough, smart and can make all the line calls, formation shifts and throws that offensive co-ordinators look for in a quarterback. In fact, if you’re looking for one weakness in Luck it’s that he has too much potential and so, when he inevitably fails to win a Super Bowl every year, hacks like Skip Bayless will delight in calling him a failure.

I’ll be shocked if Luck doesn’t finish his career with multiple Super Bowl wins, pro-bowl appearances and a visit to the Hall of Fame. Forget the hype, he really is that good.

2. Ryan Tannehill - Texas A & M
The Miami Dolphins are crying out for a quarterback and will use the eight overall pick to select the 6’4″ Tannehill.

A former wide receiver, Tannehill shares a lot of qualities with former NFL QB Brett Favre. He’s got a big arm, good accuracy and is incredibly competitive.

There’s a risk in taking a player with so little experience so high in the draft but the ‘fins have a positional need and there’s simply not another QB on the board with Tannehill’s potential.

3. Brandon Weeden - Oklahoma State
Much has been made of Brandon Weeden’s age. If you were to read some of the reports you’d imagine he was in his early fifties. He’s not, but at 28 the former minor league baseball pitcher has taken an unusual path to the NFL Draft.

However, there is no disputing the fact that if Weeden were 22, he’d definitely be the third quarterback off the board.

For me, the one concern around Weeden is not his age, more his ability to adapt to an NFL offence. In college, Oklahoma State ran a no-huddle, up-tempo offence and I’d just question his ability to take on board the amount of information required to marshal an NFL team.

He’s likely to be picked up early in the second round by the Cleveland Browns.

Sleeper pick
Kellen Moore - Boise State
Forget about the supposed weaknesses in his game for a moment, Boise State’s Kellen Moore has more wins than any quarterback in college history with 50, a record unlikely to ever be beaten.

However, all you hear from NFL scouts is that Moore is too small or that he doesn’t have the arm strength to throw 70 yard bombs. Well, these are the same scouts that predicted JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf and Tim Couch were the future of the league.

They’re also the same scouts that didn’t think much of Drew Brees (second round), Tom Brady (sixth round) or Kurt Warner  (undrafted). How did those guys turn out?

The simple fact is Moore knows how to win and has enough football intelligence to make up for any perceived weaknesses.

Kellen Moore may go as low as round seven in this year’s draft – he could even be undrafted – which is incredible for quarterback who has only lost six competitive games since starting high school. Whoever picks him up is getting a bargain.

Biggest risk
Robert Griffin III - Baylor
I’m committing sacrilege I know but hear me out. I do not doubt that RGIII is one of the most gifted quarterbacks to enter the draft in many years. I was delighted to see him pick up the Heisman Trophy and he has proven that he can run, pass and extend plays unlike any other QB in the draft.

However, he’s just a little too keen to hold onto the ball an extra second to allow his receivers to get free or take off out of the pocket when a pass play has broken down.

Ask Michael Vick; that kind of behaviour doesn’t go hand in hand with playing 16 games every season.

I really hope RGIII proves me wrong and has a long and healthy career with lots of Super Bowls and I imagine Redskins fans feel the same.

However, the potential for him to be a bust is just as likely.

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