2011 NFL Draft Preview – Quarterbacks
When it comes to the NFL draft, easily the most talked about position is quarterback. Including the 1998 draft when Peyton Manning was selected by Indianapolis with the first overall pick, a quarterback has been selected first in 10 of the last 13 years. There are a few high profile NFL players on that list along with Manning such as his brother Eli, Michael Vick, and Carson Palmer. There are also some forgettable picks such as Tim Couch, David Carr, and JaMarcus Russell.
Taking a quarterback in even the first or second round will always remain a crap-shoot, but here is a look at a few of the top prospects in this year’s draft class.
Gabbert has gravitated to the top of most football experts mock draft board for QB’s by virtue of a solid performance in the Scouting Combines coupled with an outstanding performance at his Pro Day. He has prototypical size for the position at 6-foot-4 and 234 pounds and showed good speed with a 4.61 40 at the Combines. Gabbert’s biggest attributes are a quick-release and tremendous accuracy with his short to mid-range throws which should make him the first QB taken and possibly the first overall pick to Carolina.
Cam Newton- Auburn
As a Heisman Trophy winner on a national championship team, Newton remains the highest profile player in the entire draft. Much like Tim Tebow last year, his throwing mechanics and footwork have been analyzed ad nuaseum, but the simple fact remains that he all the tools to take his game to the pro level. Newton is listed at 6-foot-5 and 244 pounds and turned in a 4.58 time in the 40 at the Combines. He made up for a less than stellar throwing performance at the Combines with a much better effort at his Pro Day. He should be right behind Gabbert as a top five pick.
Jake Locker- Washington
The roller-coaster ride that Locker has been on over the past few months appears to be ticking upward again at just the right time. He bounced back from a poor showing at the Senior Bowl with a much better outing at the Combines. He also has NFL-size for the position at 6-foot-3 and 231 pounds, but continues to be dogged about accuracy issues and his ability to read defenses. He still may go in the first round, but will most likely end up being an early pick in the second round.
Andy Dalton- Texas Christian
There are few people out there that can deny that Dalton has the heart of a winner, but he remains a project at best according to most of his draft reports. Generously listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, his size remains a major issue for most scouts. Speed is also a concern after turning in a 4.84 40 at the Combine. One head coach that has expressed an interest in Dalton is San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh, who is in the market for a new starting QB. Dalton will most likely go in the second round, but could possibly fall into the third.
Christian Ponder- Florida State
Ponder’s stock continues to rise as he is listed as high as the third best available QB on quite a few mock draft boards. He came away from the Scouting Combine with high grades and turned in an excellent performance at his recent Pro Day. What surprised most scouts was not only his arm strength, but his overall throwing accuracy. This was not always evident in his play with the Seminoles this season. He has decent size and speed at 6-foot-2 and 229 pounds to go along with a 4.67 40. Ponder is expected to be still be on the board when the second round gets underway, but do not be surprised if some team steps up to take him in the first.
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