The 2011 NFL Draft is one that is recognized for its depth at the defensive positions. At the top of the board you have no good running backs, one good wide receiver, a handful of talented passers and a ton of defensive playmakers.
As such, anyone that was hoping to spruce up their offensive unit with the first 15 or so picks will have to seek out other options.
The one exception to this note is the quarterback spot, which features several talented passers that could surprise in the professional ranks. The players that seem to be on the tips of everyone’s tongues are: Blaine Gabbert out of Missouri, Cam Newton out of Auburn and Jake Locker out of Washington.
When you figure in the fact that there will likely be a decrease in the amount that rookies will get paid in the upcoming season, drafting a quarterback in the first round suddenly becomes a lot more appealing. Traditionally, because of their high salary demands and tendency to flop early, passers were considered risky picks at the top of the draft.
Out of the top QBs available, Locker has experienced the brunt of the criticism. A one-time surefire No. 1 pick, he’s watched his stock cool down after a disappointing final year at Washington. His poor showing this past season along with questions about his accuracy have garnered him the always unfortunate ‘risky’ tag amongst draft scouts.
Interestingly enough, Heisman winner out of Auburn, Newton, has watched his stock rise and fall based on pretty much nothing. Comparisons for the talented passer have ranged from Ben Roethlisberger to Tim Tebow to Michael Vick – yet nobody seems to really know what to expect out of him.
The one thing all scouts seem to be able to agree on is the fact that Newton is a talented, athletic beast who has the body type to play in the professional ranks. The questions, though, seem to arise when the topic of his ability to translate his passing style to the next level comes up. After all, having gotten used to playing in the spread, an NFL-style offense may cause some growing pains.
If there is one quarterback who has inexplicably seen his stock go through the roof, it’s Gabbert. Ever since Andrew Luck has opted to not take his talents to the NFL, the Missouri QB has become the new it passer for the time being.
Apparently, being 6-4 and 235 pounds with a cannon for an arm impresses scouts. Comparisons to Gabbert’s style have ranged from established champions like Roethlisberger to new guys on the block like Josh Freeman. Either way, the consensus seems to be that this guy’s athleticism coupled with his proven ability to carry an otherwise unimpressive team offensively means that he’s worthy of a high pick.
With all of that in mind, here is how the top three quarterbacks may ultimately end up going in the draft:
3. Buffalo Bills – Cam Newton, Auburn
5. Arizona Cardinals – Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
10. Washington Redskins – Jake Locker, Washington