With Carolina Panthers news about to pick up next week, I wanted to take a quick look at the Quarterback Draft class of 2011. I will be analyzing what they have done so far, and what is their outlook going into the 2013 season.
Ht: 6’5 Wt: 248 lbs
Team Drafted by: Carolina Panthers in the 1st Round, 1st overall
Notes: In two years, the Carolina Panthers quarterback has passed for more yards than anybody in NFL history in their first two years. To be exact, he has passed for 7,920 yards with 40 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. In addition, he has rushed for 1,447 yards with 22 touchdowns at almost 6 yards per carry. Cam was named the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year and made it to Pro Bowl his first year.
Outlook: The Panthers quarterback has been a one man wrecking crew for the offense. The team may be reducing his carries this year. It will probably depend on game plan and opponent the number of times we will see the Read Option. Anybody who has read my opinion on Cam will already know my feelings on this. It would be run Cam run. To avoid starting a jihad between the Read Option and Traditional Offense folks on the site, I will save that one for another time.
Ht: 6’3 Wt: 231 lbs
Team Drafted by: Tennessee Titans in the 1st round, 8th overall
Notes: Locker has all the tools to be what you want in a quarterback. He has the size, the arm to make all the throws, and mobility to escape pressure. The thing he is struggles with is accuracy. Over the past two years, he has completed 55.5% of his passes for 2,718 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Outlook: In order for the Titans to make any noise in the AFC South, they are going to need some dramatic improvement in those numbers. Locker needs to stay healthy and finally show why he was drafted 8th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Titans have rebuilt his offensive line and surrounded him with weapons. They now need him to lead this team to the postseason.
Ht: 6’4 Wt: 234 lbs
Team Drafted by: Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1st Round, 10th overall
Notes: Gabbert has thrown for 3,876 yards with 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions over two years. He has only completed 53.8% of his passes. He has struggled with pretty much everything since coming into the league.
Outlook: His future is cloudy at the moment. He will be battling Chad Henne to start. Even if he wins the job, the team will probably be looking for his replacement in the spring. This is looking like a bust of a pick by the prior regime. This pick was for a player some draft analysts were pushing as the top quarterback coming out in 2011.
School: Florida State
Ht: 6’2 Wt: 229 lbs
Team Drafted by: Minnesota Vikings in the 1st Round, 12th overall
Notes: Christian Ponder has completed 59.2% of his passes for 4,788 yards with 31 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. The Vikings have not really asked much from their young quarterback. Having Adrian Petersen in the backfield will do that to you. For the Vikings to take the next step, they will need some dramatic improvement by the third year signal caller.
Outlook: The Vikings have improved the weapons on the outside bringing in Greg Jennings to replace the always unhappy Percy Harvin and drafting Cordarrelle Patterson in the 2013 draft. With a strong offensive line, and Petersen being full strength, the Vikings are looking to make some noise in the NFC North.
School: Texas Christian University
Ht: 6’2 Wt: 215 lbs
Team Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals in the 2nd Round, 35th overall
Notes: Dalton has passed for 7,067 yards with 47 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. He has completed 60.2% of his passes over two years and led the team to two playoff appearances.
Outlook: Andy Dalton has struggled throwing the ball deep, but is protected by being in a West Coast system that does not require a flamethrower at the quarterback position. He also benefits from having a rare talent in A.J. Green at wideout who bails him out by making plays down field. There was a reason this guy lasted until the 2nd Round and it was because he lacks elite arm strength. His struggles in the playoffs and the 2nd half of last season produced a lot of doubt that he has what it takes to push the Bengals over the Ravens in the AFC North.
Ht: 6’5 Wt: 233 lbs
Team Drafted by: San Francisco 49ers in the 2nd round, 36th overall
Notes: Colin Kaepernick got his first taste of starting in 2012 because Alex Smith got injured. He promptly led the team to the Super Bowl before falling to the Baltimore Ravens 34 to 31. Last year, he threw for 1,814 yards with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Outlook: The 49ers added Anquan Boldin but lost Michael Crabtree to injury. They are looking for a replacement at receiver across from Boldin. They do return Vernon Davis at Tight End. Kaepernick will need to develop some chemistry with the replacements if they are going to hold off the hard charging Seahawks this year.
The rest of the guys drafted in 2011 all look to be career backups and camp fodder. As for the guys I looked at above, they are entering their third year coming to a career crossroads. The teams they play for will need them to step up, otherwise someone else will be looked at to replace them in the near future. They all have a chance to be the future at the position. It is up to them to do it.