Draft Breakdown: QuarterbacksApril 8th, 2011
Renowned draft guru Justin Pawlowski, aka The Commish, continues to hammer out his intense draft analysis here and on the draft page at 620wdae.com. Might the Bucs be looking for a quarterback in the late rounds? Doubtful. But if they plan to move Josh Johnson? …
By JUSTIN PAWLOWSKI
1. Cam Newton – Auburn
6’5’’ – 248 lbs – 4.59
Why The Commish would take him: Well, it’s pretty easy to take a player who might be the best athlete to ever play the quarterback position. He’s Tim Tebow with a lot more talent. Newton’s strong arm allows him to make throws all over the field. Obviously, he’s bigger and faster than most quarterbacks to ever be in the NFL. Finally, I find it extremely impressive how Newton dealt with as much adversity that was around him and still lead Auburn to a National Championship.
Why The Commish would stay away: There are plenty of issues swirling around Newton, but what he does on the field matters to me most. My biggest question is how Newton will fair in a pro-style offense and having to read NFL defenses. As for his off-the-field antics, I would look at how he handled all that adversity in college and rely on the background work my department does. I think Newton’s character concerns are not as heavy as most people think.
Commish’s Final Say: Comparisons to Vince Young or JaMarcus Russell were unfair and just flat out wrong early in the draft process. Newton has never once had his work ethic questioned. As for Vince Young, Newton has already handled 10 times more adversity than what Young couldn’t handle. Newton is a great talent that will need to put his work ethic to use mainly in the classroom and film room in the NFL.
Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Blaine Gabbert – Missouri
6’4’’ – 234 lbs – 4.62
Why The Commish would take him: What I like most about Gabbert is his quick decision making. In Missouri’s spread offense, the quarterback has to make quick decisions on every pass play and get the ball out of his hands. Gabbert is also very accurate on the short quick passes. I also think Gabbert’s athleticism is underrated due to so many athletic quarterbacks already in this class. I think Gabbert ranks right up there with the rest when it comes to athleticism.
Why The Commish would stay away: Two glaring weaknesses have me most concerned. First, Gabbert’s accuracy on throws more than five yards down the field was awful. Sure, many throws at Missouri were short and quick throws, but you got to have accuracy down the field to be considered an elite quarterback in my eyes. I also am very concerned about Gabbert’s ability to handle the rush. It seemed as though Gabbert would lose his cool whenever the pressure would get to him. Being a high draft pick means your’re probably going to a bad team with what could be a poor offensive line.
Commish’s Final Say: I’m not as high on Gabbert as others are. I also didn’t fall for his performance at his pro day. Scouts and analysts were gushing about Gabbert after his pro day, but that enthusiasm has faded as scouts go back and watch film on Gabbert. His lack of down-field accuracy is most concerning and could drop him from the top 5 on draft day.
Comparison: Kyle Orton – Denver Broncos
3. Christian Ponder – FSU
6’2’’ – 229 lbs – 4.65
Why The Commish would take him: Ponder’s intangibles are off the chart. He’s a fantastic leader, great in the huddle, and has a great work ethic. Ponder is also a very accurate quarterback who might be best suited for a west-coast offense. Ponder is also comfortable under center in a pro-style offense. That means Ponder is experienced reading defenses and making reads in the pass game.
Why The Commish would stay away: Health and arm strength are the major concerns surrounding Ponder. The last 2 seasons have been cut short for Ponder with a shoulder injury to his throwing arm in his junior season and an elbow injury to his throwing arm as a senior which required two in-season surgeries.
Commish’s Final Say: Technology is a funny thing as I remember Drew Brees going down with a catastrophic shoulder injury before signing with the Saints and becoming one of the great passers in the game today. Ponder reminds me of Brees coming out of Purdue. Ponder might not be the flashiest quarterback, but he might have the best intangibles, which NFL teams cherish in a quarterback. I’m definitely not saying that Ponder will be just like Brees, but they do have similar qualities.
Comparison: Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
4. Ryan Mallett – Arkansas
6’7’’ – 253 lbs – 5.50
Why The Commish would take him: Mallett is the best pure passer in this draft. He is also the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft. Mallett should be able to step into any offense and not have any issues throwing the football. Strictly by play on the field, Mallett is the best “quarterback” in this draft.
Why The Commish would stay away: It’s no secret that Mallett has some questionable character. I’m still not sure if I believe the drug rumors that were floating about. Mallett has still proved to be a bit of an issue when it comes to his attitude. He has been compared to Eminem, which is not a good thing. Mallett also did not handle the media well at the combine. I worry that if the going gets tough in the NFL, whether Mallett will be able to handle it.
Commish’s Final Say: It takes just one team to fall in love with a player and draft him. There have been many rumors surrounding Mallett, but the fact is Mallett is the quarterback that is most ready to step in and play right away in the NFL. I think a quarterback like Mallett is worth taking a risk on in the late 1st or early 2nd round. I wouldn’t be shocked if Mallett went much higher or much lower than most people think. His range is as big as any player’s in the draft.
Comparison: Phillips Rivers – San Diego Chargers
5. Jake Locker – Washington
6’2’’ – 231 lbs – 4.59
Why The Commish would take him: Locker has a ton of experience against top competition. I also like the fact that Locker played in a pro-style offense at Washington. Locker is an incredible athlete with a strong arm. Locker also has great intangibles. He’s a great leader, has a great work ethic, has lead his teams to wins late in games, and has played in horrible weather.
Why The Commish would stay away: Accuracy. Locker had seven or fewer completions in theree separate games last season. He struggled with accuracy in games, at the senior bowl, and at the combine. I’m the type that does not want my NFL quarterback without accuracy.
Commish’s Final Say: I still think Locker could get drafted high, but I have major concerns about him ever developing his accuracy. He does remind me a lot of Jeff Garcia. Garcia was a fiery quarterback who had control of the huddle and was a great athlete. I laugh, though, when people call Garcia accurate. If you saw how many open receivers he missed as quarterback for the Bucs and how off target his throws were, you’d be sick. With that said, Garcia had a successful career, and Locker could have the same.
Comparison: Jeff Garcia – San Francisco 49ers
6. Colin Kaepernick – Nevada
6’5’’ – 233 lbs – 4.53
Why The Commish would take him: There is a lot to like about Kaepernick. First, he’s a humble kid without any glaring or major concerns. That is really good for this QB class. Kaepernick is an unbelievable athlete with an incredibly strong arm. He was a four-year starter at Nevada, so he has a ton of good experience, including some in big games. Kaepernick is a great leader and has fantastic work ethic.
Why The Commish would stay away: Kaepernick did not play in a pro-style offense, so there are questions about him taking snaps from under center, reading a defense, and being able to go through a progression.
Commish’s Final Say: I am concerned that Kaepernick is more of an athlete with a strong arm than a quarterback. He does possess some unique physical skills that are very intriguing. With proper coaching and development, I think Kaepernick could be special.
Comparison: Randall Cunningham – Philadelphia Eagles
7. Andy Daulton – TCU
6’2’’ – 215 lbs – 4.87
Why The Commish would take him: Intangibles are strong with Daulton. He won MVP in three separate Bowl games. Daulton is an outstanding leader with great work ethic. He is also very tough and durable. Daulton is also a very confident player with great mobility inside the pocket.
Why The Commish would stay away: There’s nothing real flashy about Daulton. In a QB class with so many questions, I’m thinking a majority of these prospects, including Daulton, will be over-drafted. Daulton doesn’t have elite arm strength and could be limited to a west-coast offense.
Commish’s Final Say: I think Daulton is a solid quarterback with great leadership skills. It’s tough to say whether he’ll become an elite quarterback, but he has potential to become a very solid starter and leader on a football team.
Comparison: Matt Hasselbeck – Seattle Seahawks
8. Ricky Stanzi – Iowa
6’4’’ – 223 lbs – 4.93
Why The Commish would take him: The first thing that should stand out is Stanzi’s success in the Big Ten while running a pro-style offense. He has good size, very good technique, and a great work ethic. Stanzi was also a captain and leader for Iowa.
Why The Commish would stay away: Accuracy downfield is my first concern. I also worry about how Stanzi will handle an NFL pass rush. He seemed to get rattled at times. Stanzi also did not show up well in clutch situations.
Commish’s Final Say: I think Stanzi might be one of the underrated quarterback prospects in this draft. If Andy Daulton is getting as much run as he is, I’m surprised that Stanzi isn’t getting much at all. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Stanzi went much higher than most people think.
Comparison: Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys
9. Greg McElroy – Alabama
6’2’’ – 220 lbs – 4.91
Why The Commish would take him: McElroy is smart and a game manager. He is very calm in the pocket and makes good decisions. McElroy has only lost 3 games as a starting quarterback since the 8th grade. McElroy is a great leader, great in the community,
Why The Commish would stay away: I think McElroy is destined to be the next Josh Johnson. Yep, a career backup. McElroy does not have a strong arm and does not have the traits of a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL.
Commish’s Final Say: If I’m a team in need of a backup quarterback, I would definitely target McElroy in the middle of the draft. He could end up challenging for a starting job down the line, but will immediately bring a solid leader and stability to a team’s quarterback position.
Comparison: Mike Kafka – Philadelphia Eagles
10. Tyrod Taylor – Va. Tech
6’1’’ – 217 lbs – 4.51
Why The Commish would take him: Tyrod’s speed and athleticism is the most intriguing part about him. He is a great athlete with a very strong arm.
Why The Commish would stay away: I have questions whether Taylor can be a true quarterback in the NFL. I worry about his accuracy and reading defenses.
Commish’s Final Say: Taylor is a hell of an athlete, but I’m not so sure I’d want him as a quarterback. He seems certain he’s staying as a quarterback. I view him as a Josh Johnson-type backup quarterback that can run the “Wildcat” offense.
Comparison: Seneca Wallace – Cleveland Browns