The NFL combine has a dramatic way of picking apart former high school stars turned wildly talented college athletes now aspiring professional players in a way their local media had never dreamed to do and opposing fans could only do on Twitter. Former Arkansas Razorback quarterback Tyler Wilson parlayed a strong showing in Indianapolis in the face of grueling tests and questioning about Arkansas’ 2012 4-8 campaign into a Top 15 pick per NFL analysts.
Wilson’s 2013 NFL combine score was 83.5, tops among all former Arkansas players in attendance but more importantly tied for second best among all participating quarterbacks.
West Virginia’s Geno Smith blew away the competition with his physical abilities posting a workout score of 91.0.
Miami of Ohio QB Zac Dysert also scored an 83.5 sparking fans and insiders to ask if another Ben Roethlisberger is in the draft.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley scored a respectable 82.0 combine average up but will coaches and general managers be afraid to pull the trigger on another Trojan signal caller?
No other quarterbacks scored in the 80 percentile in the combine. Scores of quarterbacks of interest include Tyler Bray 67.8 (Tennessee), Landry Jones 67.2 (Oklahoma), E.J. Manuel 68.7 (Florida State), Ryan Nassib 78.7 (Syracuse), and Mike Glennon 79.4 (N.C. State).
Razorback Nation could have told NFL scouts that Wilson is not fleet of foot, running a slow yet still respectable 4.95 at the combine; still better than Tyler Bray’s (Tennessee) 5.05 and Landry Jones’ (Oklahoma) 5.11. In throwing drills Wilson showed the quick feet needed in the pocket to side step pass rushers and deliver the ball where needed.
Wilson faired well on all accounts from short to intermediate range passes but continues to show tweak in his touch on long-range passes. The glitch in the delivery comes from a drop in his elbow, something that can be correct through repetition at the next level.
NFL analysts have commented on Wilson’s toughness and willingness to stay in the pocket waiting for his receivers to get open. Playing under former head coach Bobby Petrino has been viewed as a positive playing in a complex offensive system from under center and in the shotgun formation. Wilson’s ability to read SEC defenses also garners favorable points for the Greenwood, Ark., native.
Several teams in need of a future starting quarterback pick in the top 15 but is Wilson worthy of being a team in need’s No. 1 overall player drafted?
Oakland at No. 3 could use Wilson but a “can’t miss” position player is more apt to go this early. Al Davis maybe gone but will the Raiders front office make a strong football decision with their high draft pick or revert to making a media splash by reaching too early for an unproven prospect?
The Cardinals pick at No. 7 could be intriguing for Wilson. The Cardinals have not had stability under center since Kurt Warner retired in 2009. John Skeleton and Kevin Kolb alternated behind center for Arizona last year but neither player looks the part for the long-term solution in the desert.
Some predictions place Wilson as high as the No. 9 overall pick heading to the New York Jets. The high-pick of Wilson at this spot is a good and a bad thing. Wilson would be signed to a big money deal forcing the franchise to work with him in the future but head coach Rex Ryan could be gone in a couple of years should fortunes not change which could cause a change under center for whomever is on the roster when the new staff arrives.
Smart money would lead one to bet the Jets will make an upgrade at quarterback in the 2013 draft if for no other reason than to find a suitable backup to Mark Sanchez. With no other true gunslinger behind Sanchez he has no one pushing him to excel which may have caused him to regress over the past two seasons.
Other high drafting NFL teams in need of a quarterback include No. 10 Tennessee Titans and No. 13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tennessee Titans General Manager Ruston Webster has made a promise to fans to upgrade talent on the field. Will the two-year Jake Locker experiment end in 2013? Locker was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 draft which many NFL scouts thought was a reach. Locker is a physically gifted athlete but has not shown the ability to be accurate at the college or NFL levels.
Should Wilson not go among these early picks he may slide to the next round of the draft.