NFL Draft 2011: Top 5 Quarterback Prospects

Guest Article BY: Ruffles

Quarterbacks (Notes:  My draft grade is my personal opinion of the player, not where I project them to go.)

1)     Ryan Mallet 6’7   253

Strengths:  Probably the strongest arm in the draft.  One of the most accurate arms in the draft.  Can make every throw, and has done it consistently for two years in the SEC.  Played in a pro style offense.  Quick release.  Can put more velocity on the ball than any other quarterback in the draft.

Weaknesses:  Very slow.  Character Issues.  Past Drug use.  Like most quarterbacks at the college level, Mallett should improve the speed with which he goes through his reads.

Comparison:  No Idea.

Analysis:  Mallett has without a doubt the best arm of the quarterbacks.  However, his exceptionally bad feet and annoying attitude has dropped his stock to mid-second round level.  Mallett shows proper footwork on most of his throws, and can make accurate throws even without good footwork.  I think worries of lack of leadership are misplaced.  Personality doesn’t decide a good leader, good quarterbacking does.

Ryan Mallett has less questions about it than any other quarterback’s.  At 6’7, Mallett is expected to become much better at going through his reads.  There are no reports about him being stupid.  Unlike most people, I don’t think Mallett needs an especially talented offensive line to get the job done.    He has the height to throw over blitzers and the arm strength to let go of the ball without his feet set.  Ryan Mallett is the best quarterback in this draft.

Draft grade:  Top 5

2)     Cam Newton 6’5 248

Strengths:  Great build, similar to Roethlistberger’s (6’5, 241).  Exceptional athleticism.  Great straight line speed, great strength.  Patient in the pocket, doesn’t make many ill-advised throws (only 7 interceptions). Keeps his head up while under pressure.  Shows good accuracy and good arm strength.  Very accurate on throws that require touch.  Has shown the ability to zip the football into tight windows.  Unlike most running quarterbacks, Cam is very effective in the pocket.  Solid release.

Weaknesses:  Has not shown the ability to read defenses.  The patience Cam demonstrated in the pocket in 2010 probably has a lot to do with his inability to locate open receivers quickly.  While he keeps head downfield while under pressure, he rushes his throws.  A little inconsistent on throws that require velocity.  Has a reputation for being selfish and may not be willing to fix his potentially fatal flaws.  Even if he does have the work ethic, it’s been suggested he might not have the football IQ to learn to go through his reads more quickly.

Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger

Analysis:  Cam certainly has all the physical tools to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.  His success might hinge on getting picked by the right team, one with a good pass-blocking offensive line.  His 6’5 frame should help him learn go through his reads more quickly, and his strength and weight should let him get away with holding onto the ball too long (see Roethlisberger).  He should be very good in short yardage.  His athleticism will require defenses to sacrifice something from coverage or pass rush in order to keep him from running.  Opposing defenses will not be able to sit back and let Cam try to beat them from the pocket, as Cam is an accurate passer from the pocket.  That said, if Cam doesn’t work on going through his reads faster, teams with good pass rushers/blitz schemes will have an easy time against him.

Draft grade:  Mid First.

3)     Christian Ponder    6’2   229

Strengths:  Good accuracy, solid arm strength.  Despite his height, is able to get velocity on passes over the middle.  Puts the ball where only his receiver can catch it. Very good at moving within the pocket.  A threat to run out of the pocket.

Weaknesses:  Could use a couple of inches.  A little too antsy in the pocket.  Makes too many questionable decisions; Too quick to check down.  Injury concerns.

Comparison:  Drew Brees

Analysis:    Chstistian Ponder looks like an NFL quarterback, and has the tools needed to become one.  Ponder had a great performance at the Senior Bowl.  Criticisms of his decision making are a little exaggerated; Ponder only has 15 interceptions in his past 600 attempts.  But if Ponder felt hurried in the pocket against the ACC, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be overwhelmed by the speed of the NFL.    That said, it’s hard to see him not succeeding at the next level.

Draft Grade:  Late First

4)     Blaine Gabbert      6’4    234

Strengths:  Has all the tools.  His height is above average, has very good straight line speed (ran a 4.62 40 yard dash).  Quick release, strong arm, good accuracy, very fluid in his reads.  Great against the blitz.  Great in the pocket, great out of the pocket.  Great pre-snap reads.  Feels pressure well, handles pressure well.

Weaknesses:  Really only has one weakness.  He played at Missouri.  Apparently, one doesn’t have to be good enough to start in the NFL to have a successful season at Missouri.

Brad Smith, who started for Missouri in 2004 and 2005, is a wide receiver in the NFL.  Chase Daniel, who started for Missouri from 2006-2008, signed with the Redskins after going undrafted.  He was then cut.  Now he’s the 3rd string quarterback for the Saints.  Blaine’s stats are the 2009 and 2010 ones.    Chase Daniel looked very similar on tape to, if not more impressive than, Blaine.

Comparison:  Alex Smith, maybe less clumsy.

Analysis:  Except for arm strength and athleticism, I had the same pro and con list with Chase Daniel as I do with Blaine Gabbert.  The fact of the matter is that Missouri just doesn’t ask its quarterbacks to do a whole lot.  Blaine is asked to look at half the field and usually within a second and a half, a guy always seems to be open.  Blaine looks like he has all the tools to be a good quarterback at the next level, but Missouri’s offense/competition seems to do a good job of making the game easy for the quarterback.  Gabbert should be looked at as a potential guy who has all the tools.

Draft Grade: Early 2nd

5)     Jake Locker  6’3  236

Strengths:  As athletic as we’ve seen at the quarterback position.  Good speed, great quickness, Shows arm strength necessary to make all the throws.  Nice natural throwing motion.  Very impressive 2009 season.

Weaknesses:  Inconsistent accuracy, especially over the middle.  Plays shorter than 6’3. Seems to have trouble getting over the ball while trying to hit intermediate routes down the middle.  Never goes through his reads. While good at avoiding the rush in the pocket, Locker is unable to stand tall and keep his head up to locate open receivers when pressured.

Comparison:  Chad Henne, but much more athletic.

Analysis:  The most exciting quarterback in the draft.  Potential to become one of the best quarterbacks in the league.  Although he’s shown the ability to make all the throws, he hasn’t given any indication that he has the ability to make all the throws consistently.  To Locker’s defense, he hasn’t had much talent around him, and the inconsistency might be due to that.  That said, Locker’s inconsistency will likely continue into the NFL.  If Locker does improve within the pocket, he could carry an offense on his back.  I can’t think of many quarterbacks that were picked on potential who actually panned out, but I could think of a lot that failed.

Draft Grade:  Late 2nd




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