Matt Barkley’s decision to stay at USC could drastically change the structure of the first round of April’s draft. With his stock falling as a result of poor play during the final stretch of the season including an Insight Bowl performance in which his play was less than inspiring, Landry Jones could also decide to stay at school for another year.
The top two quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, will most likely be off the board in the first 5-6 picks of the first round. This would leave teams like the Miami Dolphins or Seattle Seahawks without the opportunity to draft a top tier quarterback. In a case like this, a team could decide to roll the dice on a free agent quarterback like Matt Flynn or Brian Hoyer instead of relying on the quarterbacks in later rounds of the draft.
Matt Flynn, the backup to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, filled in nicely last year when Rodgers went out for a week with a concussion. At 6’2” Flynn has decent size. He does not have elite arm strength, but has the ability to fit balls into tight spots. Flynn is very accurate on short and intermediate routes. He has good accuracy on deep balls and the touch to place the ball between a safety and corner. While not much of an open field runner, Flynn shows good mobility. He can feel pressure and slide in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Flynn reads defenses well and makes smart decisions. He has a quick and efficient over the top throwing motion that allows him to avoid tipped or batted balls at the line.
Brian Hoyer, 26, is Tom Brady’s backup for the Patriots. He has shown some flashes of good play during his time in New England and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He could be traded if the Patriots decide to match free agent offers for him..At 6’2”, Hoyer has decent size and good arm strength. While not very mobile in the open field, he can move well and slide in the pocket to avoid pressure. Hoyer has good accuracy on short and intermediate routes. He also shows good touch on his long passes. His vision and decision making, inconsistencies in college that caused him to go undrafted, have improved after studying under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Hoyer is one of the best backups in the league and could get his shot at a starting job next season.
Where do they fit in among the top quarterbacks in the draft?
Flynn and Hoyer should not be considered above either Luck or Griffin III in the upcoming offseason. Clearly Luck ranks above all of the quarterbacks in this discussion. Robert Griffin III, most likely the second quarterback off the board, is also a better option than Flynn or Hoyer. His ability to change a game with his feet in addition to his accuracy within the pocket makes him a very exciting prospect.
Teams like Miami, Seattle, and Denver who are not in position to take one of the top QBs should look at Hoyer and Flynn. Both are young, 26 years old, and have studied under two elite quarterbacks. They both have good upside and will be cheap options. Flynn’s new contract should be relatively cheap for a starting quarterback, and Hoyer could require only a fourth round pick to the Patriots. Flynn and Hoyer would both be good options to bring in to provide competition for Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Moore, and Tim Tebow.