Coming into Senior Bowl Week, Washington quarterback Jake Locker was the most highly touted quarterback in the game. None of the other signal-callers — Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU) and Christian Ponder (Florida St.) — were looked at as any higher than a third-round pick.
Locker had a chance to shine and look like the top fifteen pick that some expected him to be, however, Locker struggled and was horrible with his accuracy. Locker has the mechanics, but you never know where the ball is going to do and accuracy is one of the hardest things to teach a quarterback — if not impossible. There was no excuse for Locker to not completely outshine the rest of the quarterbacks in this game if he was that top caliber pick and he failed to take advantage of the opportunity. I see him now graded as a second or third-round pick
A quarterback who did exceed expectations was Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. It was going to be interesting to see how he adapted from the Pistol Offense to a pro-style offense, but he seemed to handle the change well. According to Kaepernick, the biggest difference between the two offensive styles was not taking snaps from under center, but the terminology. Kaepernick showed off a strong arm and was the only quarterback on Wednesday not to throw an interception. He had moments where his long, awkward delivery stood out, but he continued to make the throws you want to see.
Kaepernick impressed some scouts so much that they are now talking about him as a fringe first-round prospect. Honestly, that talk is a little absurd. He had a good week and did everything you could have asked him to do, but he remains a developmental guy who should go in the third or fourth round range. I will not be surprised if someone reaches on him in the second, but it would be stunning if he goes in the first.
The best quarterback on the South roster this week, and quite possibly the best of the QB group, was Greg McElroy. The former Alabama star was the most consistent guy all week. He is a very reliable quarterback with a great head on his shoulders. You can never underestimate intangibles, and McElroy seems to have all of them. McElroy reminds you a little bit of a Colt McCoy — minus the athleticism. He makes very similar reads and relies on his arm in the same way. McElroy is a quarterback that knows his limitations and plays within himself, so that will make for less mistakes at the next level if he is given a chance.
Christian Ponder of Florida State really improved as the week went on, as well. He had a rough start with some accuracy issues, but Ponder became less erratic and seemed to get into more of a rhythm. Ponder is another one of those guys who has it all put together upstairs and he’s got the arm to make the jump to the pros. Perhaps what was most important to Ponder this week was him being able to show that he is fully healthy. The Senior Bowl will be the last time we see Ponder throw until his Pro Day. He announced at the Senior Bowl that he will not be throwing at the NFL Scouting Combine. Hopefully Ponder puts up a good showing on Saturday.
TCU’s Andy Dalton didn’t have a horrible week, but he came off as terribly average. Dalton doesn’t have a spectacular arm and he has limited upside. Todd McShay was raving about Dalton’s performance throughout the week, but we had to have been watching different players. Dalton will be the third-string quarterback for the South on Saturday.
Finally, Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi may have had the ugliest week out of any quarterback. Stanzi has a cannon for an arm, but was missing high on nearly every pass attempt. Like Locker, Stanzi had trouble finding the target. He does have more potential than a guy like Dalton and he has bigger size, but he really needs to work on where he spins the ball. Stanzi is a solid quarterback when he is looking right, however, once he looks left you better duck and all hell breaks loose.