Eight months before the 2011 NFL Draft, Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert wasn’t considered 1st round material. Among the talking head pundits who opine on the draft all year – Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Mike Mayock, to name a few – none had Gabbert going the first round. We chronicled Gabbert’s meteoric rise in this post. Gabbert went 10th overall.
The same thing happened to Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill and Baylor QB Robert Griffin. Tannehill played receiver as a sophomore with the Aggies; Griffin battled accuracy issues as a freshman and tore an ACL as a sophomore, leading draft “gurus” to speculate maybe he’d play receiver in the NFL. Before last season began, neither was considered a 1st round pick. We talked about that a bit here. Griffin went 2nd; Tannehill 7th.
Looking ahead to the 2013 draft – who might fall into the Gabbert/Tannehill/RG3 category?
Everybody already knows USC QB Matt Barkley is a 1st round lock. And Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson will go in the 1st round. And Oklahoma’s Landry Jones might be a 1st rounder. So eliminating that trio – plus guys with major upside like Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech, Geno Smith of WVU and Tyler Bray of Tennessee (yes, we loved Bray earlier this year in our 2013 mock draft) – which lesser-known QBs could play their way into the 1st round?
Zach Mettenberger, LSU, redshirt junior. He’s thrown 11 passes in college, and he was kicked off the team at Georgia after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of battery. He was highly recruited, has a cannon arm, and stands 6-foot-5. He’s got two receivers who likely will play in the NFL in Odell Beckham Jr. and Russell Shepard. LSU might have the deepest RB group in the country. Mettenberger is considered by some as a Top 50 player in the 2013 draft, but while everyone’s heavily scrutinizing Barkley and Wilson and Jones, don’t be surprised to see Mettenberger sneak into the first round, and maybe even the top half of it, based on potential.
Casey Pachall, TCU, redshirt junior. Admitted to dabbling in drugs. Was only the 241st rated QB coming out of high school. Was Andy Dalton’s backup. In a pass-happy system, Pachall has his three top receivers from 2011 returning (Boyce, Dawson, Carter). Pachall will get plenty of chances to shine in big spots late in the season – TCU travels to Morgantown and Austin, and hosts Oklahoma in November and December.
Collin Klein, Kansas State, redshirt senior. Maybe the toughest QB in the country. He’s Tim Tebow playing in the other Manhattan. And it’d be utterly miraculous if he snuck into the first round. I just dropped his name on this list so I could mention his nickname, “Optimus Klein.”