Take Your Pick: Best Quarterback Prospects


This is a multiple-part series that encourages readers to participate in the draft discussion. Don’t agree with my top prospects at a respective position? Tell me who should be or shouldn’t be included and why, I want to hear your opinions!

I decided to save the quarterback position until last for the “Take Your Pick” series as I figured most opinions would given on this discussion. It has been interesting watching the quarterback prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft rise and fall on draft boards of analysts from the end of the NFL season to the scouting combine and into the pro days. After the 2009 season, Washington quarterback Jake Locker looked to be the No. 1 overall pick before deciding to stay in school for another season. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton certainly was not on many people’s minds before the 2010 season and became one of the elite prospects in the draft after winning both the Heisman Trophy and a national championship. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was pegged early this offseason as a first round pick but has since seen his stock drop with many believing he will fall into the second round. Next week, we will finally ultimately learn these quarterbacks’ homes. So here it is, my top three quarterbacks entering this year’s draft and my final edition of “Take Your Pick.”

1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri

Gabbert, a two-year starter for the Tigers, was named an honorable mention for the All-Big 12 team in 2010. He finished last season with 3,186 yards and 16 touchdowns. While his number of yards passing dipped after putting up 3,593 yards in the 2009 season, he raised his completion percentage from 58.9% in 2009 to 63.4% in 2010. Gabbert also earned Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2010.

He has good size for a quarterback, with ideal height (6’4”) to see over the offensive line and have a clear vision of the field. As mentioned, he had a good completion percentage last season and makes good decisions for the most part. He does a good job of feeling pressure in the pocket and moving around to give himself more time to make a play. One of his biggest strengths is the quickness of his release, something that sets him apart from other quarterbacks in this draft.

2. Cam Newton, Auburn

Newton is arguably the most popular player in this draft due to both his ability and his achievements last season with the Tigers with winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship. As of this moment, it seems to be close to a lock for him to go No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers according to most analysts. In his only season as a starter at Auburn in 2010, Newton threw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns with a 66.1 completion percentage.

As far as athleticism goes, Newton is one of the most athletic players in the entire draft. He is a giant threat on the ground, rushing for 1,409 yards, an SEC single-season record for a quarterback. As far as throwing the ball, he has the ability to fit the ball into tight spaces and has above average quickness with his delivery. Newton has also shown consistency under pressure and showed in 2010 that he can win the big games when the spotlight is on him. His does need to improve some of his mechanics, including his drops backs and avoiding pressure while in the pocket.

3. Andy Dalton, TCU

The third and final spot on my quarterback rankings was tough for me when deciding between both Dalton and Florida State’s Christian Ponder. Dalton gets the nod due to his decision making and his quick release. He started all four seasons during his time at TCU, putting up 10,314 yards passing and 71 touchdowns. He was named 1st-team All-MWC in both 2009 and 2010. Last season, he threw for 2,857 yards and 27 touchdowns, leading the Horned Frogs to the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin.

Dalton’s biggest strength may be his decision making. He rarely makes a bad decision on the field, finishing his senior season with a 66.1 completion percentage. He has good size for a quarterback at 6’2”, 215 lbs. While he is not the best running quarterback, he does enough to gain yardage and pick up first downs in certain situations while protecting himself from taking the big hit. The biggest concern with Dalton is the question of whether or not he will be able to pick up the pro style offense after playing in a spread at TCU.

That’s all for the “Take Your Pick” series. Thanks to all who have commented and given their opinions on whom the top prospects are at different positions. Next week we finally will get to see how the best in the business at evaluating talent rank these prospects at the 2011 NFL Draft.