2011 NFL Draft: First Round Quarterback Options

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If you look at the list of teams in need of a quarterback this offseason, your first thought would probably be, "a lot" (by my count, there are 11 teams who could look to draft a quarterback in the first round).

Let's start with two quarterbacks who are almost guaranteed to go in the first round. Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert appear to be shoo-ins to be taken on April 28. Of course, where exactly they'll end up remains a mystery.

In our latest mock draft, NFL Scout Jayson Braddock and I send Newton to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 16th pick and Gabbert to the Seattle Seahawks with the 25th pick. We note in our introduction, however, that our mock is not necessarily an indication of what we believe will happen on April 28, but rather what we believe teams should do with their first round pick. All indications at this point are that both Newton and Gabbert will be taken in the top ten, although there's a possibility that either could slide a little further than many expect and that wouldn't surprise us too much.

So if Newton and Gabbert both go in the top ten, what options will other teams be faced with? In no particular order, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Colin Kaepernick and Christian Ponder are the next four quarterbacks most likely to be taken. Last year, of course, most would have predicted that Sam Bradford would be the first quarterback taken, followed by Jimmy Clausen, followed by Tim Tebow. As we now know, Tebow ended up being drafted in the first round ahead of Clausen, who was taken in the second. Bottom line, nothing is set in stone.

NP.Setting aside the order in which the quarterbacks will be taken, what is a realistic number of signal callers that we can expect to go in the first round? Let's say Newton and Gabbert are givens and go to teams in the top 10 of this year's draft. After that, does Minnesota, Miami or Jacksonville spend a mid-round pick on one of the other passers? My guess is probably not.

For one, there are plenty of quarterbacks that should be available in the second round. In addition to the four mentioned, Ricky Stanzi, Andy Dalton and Nathan Enderle should also be available. What's more, if either Gabbert or Newton fall out of the top ten, teams would likely be itching to move up to grab them. That would allow a team in the middle of the round to add extra draft picks if they are willing to pass on either Newton or Gabbert, and/or if they decide they like another of this year's quarterbacks better than either of the consensus top two and believe they can snatch them up later in the round or in the second.

When it comes down to it, I expect Newton and Gabbert to go in the first, and I expect Seattle to grab a quarterback with the 25th selection. There's been speculation that the Seahawks could trade for Kevin Kolb, if trades are even allowed at some point before the draft, but for now we're going by what we know. I also expect another team to trade down (the Miami Dolphins are a good candidate to do this being as though they have no second round pick) or to move into the first round similar to how Denver moved up to take Tebow last year. That makes four quarterbacks taken in the first round (Newton and Gabbert in the first half of the round, Seattle at #25 and another team maneuvering to take a quarterback later in the round). Who those quarterbacks are is up for debate.

DannyHobrockHeadShotDanny Hobrock, is a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB. An NCAA Football On-Air Personality, Danny is the editor of our college football content. Danny's college football work has garnered national attention and has been critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock - Best Sports Blogs, Sports Blogger Rankings

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