The NFL regular season comes to a close this weekend and for fans of teams missing out on the playoffs, it is time to look towards the 2012 draft and find out what players are available to help your team improve next season. Here is a look at the top 50 prospects and an especially close look at the quarterbacks who could find themselves playing on Sundays next season.
The top two players are both quarterbacks, but they have very different approaches to the game. Andrew Luck could have been the top overall pick last year, but the Stanford quarterback returned to school and had another terrific season, making him the top overall prospect in the draft for 2012. Robert Griffin is a duel-threat QB who made himself into an elite prospect with work on his accuracy and deep throws. Griffin might not have the prototypical size scouts look for, but he has turned worked hard and will become a top 10 pick in April.
Two other quarterbacks who have made the leap into top prospects are Landry Jones of Oklahoma and E.J. Manuel of Florida State, but both players have eligibility remaining at school and neither has decided on turning pro at this time. Landry has the most upside and though he has a skinny frame, he has the height and arm to become a top 20 pick. Manuel needs more experience, and a wise move would be to return for another year at Florida State and gain some much-needed playing time and experience in big games.
There are a number of excellent quarterbacks who are eligible for the NFL after this season, and it will be interesting to see who returns to school like Matt Barkley of USC, or who decides the time is right and decides a pro career needs to happen now. The NFL combine is a great place to showcase talent, and it could lead to one of these underclassmen jumping up into the first round or if a team is desperate, into a top 15 pick in the upcoming draft.