Top 5 Quarterbacks – 2011 NFL Draft
2011 NFL Draft: Top Five Quarterbacks
The prospect of drafting a quarterback in the opening rounds of the NFL Draft brings with it many expectations from fans, front office personnel and coaching staffs. Just look at the number of rookie quarterbacks started games last year: Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, John Skelton, Rusty Smith and Joe Webb.
The 2011 quarterback class offers a mixed bag of talents. For every strength, there appears to be an accompanying weakness with every prospect. Yet, looking back at previous drafts, there a gem to be found amongst them (Bradford and McCoy in 2010 / Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman in 2009 / Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco in 2008).
1. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (JR, 6’7″, 238)
Character concerns aside, Mallett is the most complete, dynamic and talented pure passer in this draft class. Will he even be a first-round pick? It doesn’t seem that way. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t the best on this list. Will he squander his talent due to the alleged character concerns? It’s possible. But arm strength, accuracy, confidence in himself and abilities, it’s all there. A coaching staff will need to tweak his movements as he can play recklessly on plays that break down. Consider the stats he put up with a mediocre supporting cast at Arkansas in 2010 (3,869 passing yards, 32 TDs, 12 INTs, 64.7%). The numbers don’t lie and in a class full of high-potential prospects, he has the best blend of talent and upside.
2. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri – (JR, 6’5″, 235)
In his two years as the starter, University of Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert passed for 6,822 yards, 40 TDs and 18 INTs. He seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the draft’s top quarterback prospects but it’s well deserved. Gabbert possesses a natural, effortless throwing motion. Although his accuracy isn’t quite where it needs to be yet, scouts and coaches agree with some fine-tuning in his fundamentals and timing, he can continue to improve.
3. Cam Newton, Auburn – (JR, 6’6″, 250)
The prospect with the most of that coveted “upside”, Cam Newton tore through the SEC all the way to the 2011 BCS National Championship. In just one season with the Auburn Tigers, Newton passed for 2,854 yards, 30 TDs and rushed for an absurd 1,473 yards and 20 TDs. The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner can make all the throws but has a long way to go when it comes to putting more touch on his short passes and reading defenses.
4. Jake Locker, Washington – (SR, 6’3″, 228)
After the 2009 season, Locker was the anointed one being widely considered the surefire top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. My my, how things change. The expectations may have been too high for Locker who played on a very poor Huskies team. Locker regressed statistically from ’09 to ’10, seeing a drop in every important passing category. The bottom line with Locker is that the hype machine has gone full circle. He was so overrated then and later downgraded that he just may be underrated again. He possesses all the intangibles teams are looking for and if a coaching staff can harness his passion for the game, he’ll be a force.
5. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada – (SR, 6’4″, 220)
Name all the quarterbacks in NCAA Division I history to pass for 10,000+ yards and rush for 4,000 yards. I’ll wait. Naturally, the only one in history is the Wolf Pack’s Kaepernick. When all the dust settles, Kaepernick could turn out to be the best quarterback of the 2011 class. Although his passing technique is lacking, he knows how to take care of the football and be efficient with his decision-making.
6. Christian Ponder, FSU
7. Andy Dalton, TCU
8. Greg McElroy, Alabama
9. Pat Devlin, Delaware
10. Ricky Stanzi, Iowa