With the NFL draft so close we can taste it, the biggest question mark from the 2013 selection process will be the landing spots of college football's top quarterbacks.
Unlike the 2012 draft, there aren't four first-rounders destined to take over starting jobs when training camp opens.
There might be one or two, but the movement from the NFL offseason has severely limited job openings throughout the league. Additionally, there's no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III at the top of this draft to bail out a struggling franchise.
There is, however, a solid group of QBs waiting to make an impact with their new team.
As the draft kicks off on Thursday night, here are a few last-minute predictions on where this year's top QB prospects will land when the night is over.
Top QBs in the 2013 NFL Draft
|Geno Smith||West Virginia||1-2|
|EJ Manuel||Florida State||1-2|
|Mike Glennon||North Carolina State||2-3|
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia: No. 13 pick, New York Jets
The Jets have two picks to work with after making the trade to send Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, meaning they can attack two different areas of need in the first round.
While some feel taking a QB might be a stretch at this point, the Jets are unsettled at the position after the disaster that was the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow-Greg McElroy rotation in 2012. New York wasn't able to trade any of those QBs this offseason, but that does not mean a cut or later trade isn't coming.
In taking Smith, the Jets would get a dual-threat guy who knows how to operate out of the spread. They also get a QB with a live arm and a proven winner at West Virginia, who had Dana Holgorsen as a head coach.
While the Jets are likely looking to move back to their run-happy ways, having a guy who could line up in the shotgun on any given play and stretch the defense would add a dimension to the team that it just hasn't had the past couple of seasons.
If the Jets do pass on Smith at No. 13, expect a free fall of sorts to happen, and teams to start calling at the bottom of the first round to try and find a trade partner to move up and select the one-time Heisman candidate.
As it is, Smith is still a high-level prospect, and his athleticism is off the charts. If the Jets can add an impact player on defense at No. 9 (or vice versa), expect Smith to be the new competitor for the Jets' QB job by night's end—a move that sends Tebow to the streets.
QB Matt Barkley, USC: No. 33 pick, Jacksonville Jaguars
If the Jaguars can add an offensive or defensive lineman with their first pick, grabbing Barkley with the No. 33 pick would be an absolute steal.
Say what you want about his final season—it wasn't as good as we billed it up to be after a breakout campaign in 2011.
However, Barkley still threw for over 12,000 yards and found ways to make USC's offense one of the best in the country during his time as the starting QB in Southern California.
Taking him with this pick could signal the end of the Blaine Gabbert era, but after two seasons of futility with Jacksonville's former first-round QB selection, adding a QB in Round 2 capable of supplanting Gabbert would be a great move for management.
Like the Jets will have to contend with a late first-round fight for Smith, there's no guarantee Barkley will be around at the start of the second round. Jacksonville might have to move late in the first to get him, but in doing so would have to consider its first round a success.
QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse: No. 8 pick, Buffalo Bills
The connection between Nassib and new Bills head coach Doug Marrone makes this an easy pick for management if they want Marrone to have a clear path to creating his offense.
Marrone was Nassib's college coach at Syracuse, and he now takes over in Buffalo amid expectations to turn the offense around after a lackluster season watching Ryan Fitzpatrick underperform.
After a solid season in Syracuse's West Coast offense under Marrone, the learning curve would be small and the offense would come easy to Nassib—even though he would contend with the normal learning curves (speed of the game, strength, timing) that other rookies do.
Who would have thought when this process began that Nassib would be the first QB taken?
That is a real possibility, and it has nothing to do with the other guys on the board not being as suited as he to take over the job in Buffalo.
Sometimes things just work out differently, and the connection to his college coach and how the board looks at No. 8 (three OTs probably gone, high for OGs) will factor in to Buffalo's decision at this slot.
It's an exciting, yet frustrating, time to be an NFL fan these days. If you're a QB heading into the NFL draft tonight, my heart goes out to you—there's no telling which city you might be playing for at the end of the weekend.
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