Deadline nearing and top underclass quarterbacks face tough decisions

There isn't a senior quarterback worth selecting in the first two to three rounds of the draft, so teams in search of a franchise signal-caller are waiting anxiously for the Jan. 15 deadline to see which of the top underclassmen will be available.

Colt McCoy of Texas has already announced that he intends to come back for his senior year, but the plot thickened for the rest of the group less than 24 hours into the new year. Georgia's Matthew Stafford kicked things off with an underwhelming showing in a 24-12 victory over Michigan State and by mid-afternoon, news broke of Kansas State QB Josh Freeman's questionable decision to throw his hat in the ring. Mark Sanchez capped off the day with a record-setting performance in USC's 38-24 Rose Bowl win over Penn State.

Stafford and Sanchez now have two weeks to mull over a potentially life-changing decision. That's one more week than Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Florida's Tim Tebow, who are preparing for the FedEx BCS National Championship Game, so stay tuned.

Additional information is needed before teams make any final decisions. More film must be studied, official measurements must be taken, background checks must be completed and medical/psychological tests must be administered. For now, though, here is my ranking of the top 15 quarterbacks, assuming all eligible underclassmen are available (underclassmen denoted by an asterisk):

1. Sam Bradford*, Oklahoma
2. Mark Sanchez*, USC
3. Matthew Stafford*, Georgia
4. Nate Davis*, Ball State
5. Josh Freeman*, Kansas State
6. Tim Tebow*, Florida
7. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
8. Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State
9. Mike Reilly, Central Washington
10. Drew Willy, Buffalo
11. Nate Brown, Central Arkansas
12. John Parker Wilson, Alabama
13. Chase Daniel, Missouri
14. Cullen Harper, Clemson
15. Curtis Painter, Purdue

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.