A Look Ahead To The 2011 QB Class

Andrew Luck didn’t win the Heisman Trophy this year, Cameron Newton did.  In fact, Newton won in a landslide.  As expected.  While the trophy may or may not be housed in Newtons family room, depending on what the NCAA does regarding his fathers breach of NCAA rules, one thing is for certain, both QB’s will be linked in the foreseeable future as they move towards their next Quarterbacking career.

The NFL draft in April will play out like this.  Andrew Luck the media proclaimed “most ready for the NFL” QB in years will go with the number 1 pick.  Whether that turns out to be Carolina…my guess…or to someone else VIA trade.  Luck goes number 1.

Somewhere after that, Cameron Newton will hear his name called by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The NFL has a few top prospects at the position and Cameron Newton and Andrew Luck are just the hot profiles.It’s hard to predict, o.k. it’s impossible to predict, the outcome of any NFL draft that is still four and a half months away.  First, some players need to declare for the draft, then there is the Combine workouts, followed by pro-day workouts, private workouts, and then finally 32 teams decisions’ on what they really need.  Add to that the secrecy of NFL General Managers and you get nothing.  You have a better shot throwing darts at a dart board in selecting who goes where.

That does not preclude one from at least assessing the players that may be available.  Here is my look at the possible QB’s available for this years draft.

Andrew Luck - No doubt in my opinion that he is the number 1 overall selection.  And he should be.  With some believing that he is the best NFL ready QB in the last few years would be an understatement.  He has been coached in an NFL style offense at Stanford by Jim Harbaugh, who may very well move to the NFL as well this off-season.  Could the Panthers take two from Sanford?  It’s possible.

Luck possess the intangiables that you look for in a QB, compared to Phillip Rivers, he has the quick release and the gunslinger mentality that teams look for.  He can run and at least at the college level can feel pressure and knows how to work around the pocket.  He won’t likely throw at the Combine, top QB’s rarely do, his draft projections likely will not change.

Cameron Newton - Hard to predict where Newton will be drafted.  Some have him heading to Miami around the 18th pick while other “mock drafts” have him going earlier and later.  His “Heisman” win will not raise or lower his stock.  In fact, there are some who believe winning the HT is bad luck.

Newton is a raw QB and has only been at this level of collegiate play for a year.  That in and of itself will hurt his stock a bit.  But there will be a team who takes a chance on him do to his pure athleticism.  Newton is compared to Michael Vick and Vince Young.  Strong arm and stronger legs.  Only, he comes across a lot more mature.  The way he handled his fathers missteps goes a long way to defining his character off the field.  I suspect that he will be a late first round pick to a team who is looking for a QB down the road.  Newton would be served well by learning the NFL behind a top veteran for a couple of years.

Jake Locker – Locker didn’t live up to the projections this year at Washington and some believe he will fall to the latter half of round 1 or even round 2.  That very well may be but all of that will come down to how well he performs at the Combine or his pro-day.  He would do well to throw at the Combine but it’s unlikely as he will want to make sure he has full control of his workout on his own turf.  Locker could be one of those Aaron Rodger types that continue to slide until someone sees that they could have a steal.  The bigger problem is that Locker isn’t a sure bet.  He doesn’t have the absolute athleticism of Newton that adds value and isn’t the pure QB prospect that Luck is.  But he should still be one of the top 4 QB’s taken in the draft.

Ryan Mallett - The Arkansas product is going to have his draft slotting predicated on his Combine and pro-day workout just like Locker.  Mallett is a strong armed QB who has a nice release but is also inconsistent.  According to some draft reports, he needs to improve on his footwork and his pocket presence and it seems from what little I have seen of him on television that he tends to get jumpy when there is pressure and often throws too early rather let the pocket move around him.  Still, when he gets on target he can be very solid.  Mallett will likely be drafted in the middle of round 1 and a lot of that will be predicated on teams needing QB’s more than Mallett warranting a higher slot.  A team that drafts Mallett won’t necessarily be reaching for him, but they will need to work with him to get him ready to go at the next level.

Christian Ponder – Ponder is projected as a top 50 draft pick.  A very gifted athlete with a strong arm and good footwork his downside is his decision making and inconsistency.  Ponder also had surgery this month (December 2010) to remove scar tissue in his throwing forearm.  The injury may not have any bearing on his NFL career but it will be something that teams will take a long look at when it comes to drafting him.  Ponder could go to a team like San Francisco or Buffalo in round 2 if they both pass on a QB in round 1.  Ponder is gifted and some good NFL coaching could make him a starter at this level down the road.

Ricky Stanzi - At least one scouting report says that Stanzi is a pro-style QB.  Others say that he needs refinement.  Stanzi is not as athletic as the most of the other QB’s at the top of this list and tends to be more cerebral in his approach.  A methodical QB who studies the game, Stanzi will be a starter at some point in the NFL but his development at the next level will be interesting.  Stanzi has shown very solid touch with his passes and is one of the more accurate QB’s in this draft.  What he lacks in athleticism he makes up with game and time management.  Some see him being drafted in the mid 2nd to early 3rd round.  I think he mid-second is where he will end up.  Stanzi is probably the one QB not named Luck or Newton that will not help or hurt his draft slotting with Combine and pro-day workouts.  I think teams will know exactly what they will be getting with him.

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Tags: Andrew Luck Cameron Newton Carolina Panthers Christian Locker Jake Locker Jim Harbaugh Ricky Stanzi Ryan Mallett Stanford

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