The 2010 college football season will be filled with elite quarterbacks trying to make their mark, so professional teams will take notice. Whether they're from BCS conferences or not, the 2010 season could have some of the best quarterbacks college football has seen in several years.
The criteria for finding the top 10 was relatively simple: take a look at returning signal caller's quarterback ratings from the 2009 season, along with statistical and size analysis, and I found my top 10.
Keep in mind that several quarterbacks on this list will only be juniors next season, so there's obviously no guarantee that they will declare for the draft.
If you disagree with a pick or think I forgot someone, feel free to comment and give me your top 10.
Miami's Jacory Harris seems to enjoy hot starts to seasons that sizzle as the year progresses. Still, that doesn't make him a bad quarterback, just a player who needs to work on specific areas.
The area Harris needs work on: decision making.
Despite passing for 3,352 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2009, the number that jumped out the most on the stat sheet was his interceptions, a category that read “17” when 2009 came to a close.
Without a heavy improvement in his touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2010, I would expect Harris to stay for his senior season in 2011. Still, for the sake of argument, I expect that number to get somewhat better in 2010, which could make Harris a wild card for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Possibly the one quarterback flying furthest under the radar is Nathan Enderle of Idaho. In 2010, Enderle helped bring excitement to football in the state of Idaho outside the city of Boise. Up in Moscow, Enderle led the Vandals with 2,906 yards, 22 touchdowns, and nine picks, miles ahead of where he was in 2008 when his touchdown-to-interception ratio was 20 to 17.
Keep in mind, he did all of this while sitting out against both Fresno State and Boise State.
He's a quarterback that's able to win close games. Against both Colorado State and the Vandals' bowl victory over Bowling Green, Enderle's poise could easily have been the biggest factor why Idaho came out on top.
At 6'5”, 227 pounds, Enderle is a steal waiting to happen.
One of Tyrod Taylor's biggest weapons is his legs, but when he doesn't use them, he shows he can throw the ball just as well, if not better, as he can run. This became apparent last season when Taylor became more of the quarterback Virginia Tech needed.
In 2009, Taylor passed for 2,311 yards while rushing for only 370. A year prior, he threw for 1,036 yards while acquiring over 70 percent of that (738 yards) on the ground. Both years the Hokies went 10-4, including a BCS victory in 2008.
He'll do what you need him to. If you want his game to focus on his ability to run the ball, he's ok with that. If you want him to throw the ball around a little more, he'll do it. Taylor will be the most balanced quarterback in the 2011 draft.
Nevada didn't start the season on a high note. They had three consecutive losses, including a 35-20 blunder to Colorado State, who wouldn't win another game all season. But after starting 0-3, the Wolf Pack went on to win eight of their final nine regular season games, dropping the season finale at Boise State.
A big part of Nevada's turnaround was the success of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who finished the season with 2,052 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air while adding 1,183 yards and 16 scores on the ground. Kaepernick was one of three Wolf Park players to rush for over 1,000 yards on the season.
There's a lot of debate about whether or not Kaepernick will be a good fit in the NFL due to the fact Nevada runs its offense out of the pistol set, but as long as he can put on a few pounds to make his 6'6” frame less susceptible to injury, he shouldn't have an issue in the pro's as long as he's given a year or two to learn a new system.
Kellen Moore has been turning heads on a national level faster than any BSU quarterback in history. After Jared Zabransky put the Broncos in the national spotlight in 2007, there has been a lot of expectations placed on the smurf turf and Moore has lived up to every one of them. In 14 games last year, he passed for over 3,500 yards, 39 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Only a junior, we won't know whether or not he'll declare for the NFL draft until the 2010 season is said and done.
He's just at 6' tall and only weighs 187 pounds, and having to see over an NFL offensive line could be an issue if he worked within a system that forced him to throw out of the pocket.
If there was one player who was supposed to launch the Missouri Tigers to the BCS, it was Blaine Gabbert. 6'5”, 240 pounds and legs that didn't quite make him considered a dual-threat, but still could still make opposing defenses pay -- what else could a coach ask for?
Unfortunately, the Tigers didn't find the success they were hoping for in 2009, going 8-5 with a loss to Baylor and no bowl trophy.
Don't blame Gabbert for the Tiger's woes.
The true sophomore from the Show Me State threw for nearly 3,600 yards along with 24 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 59. He also was able to add 204 yards and three scores on the ground.
Assuming his stats only improve in 2010, if he chose to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft, Gabbert would easily be a first round pick.
When Ryan Mallett signed with Michigan out of high school, a lot of Razorback fans were left asking the question “why did we not go after this kid harder?” Living just south of the Arkansas state line in Texarkana, Tex., Mallett was no stranger to the turmoil surrounding the program in Fayetteville.
After Ann Arbor didn't treat him so well as a true freshman, Mallett decided to come back to the South and made the most of every down he played while wearing cardinal and white. To put it kindly, Mallett fulfilled all expectations that Hog fans had in former recruit Mitch Mustain, who never lived up to the hype.
After putting up over 3,600 yards in the air in 2009 to go along with 30 scores and seven picks, Mallett is another player who might think about heading for the NFL after his junior year, but if he does, he needs to work on his accuracy as he only completed 55 percent of his passes last year.
Case Keenum easily could have declared for the NFL Draft after three outstanding years at Houston, including a 5,632 yard, 44 touchdown campaign in 2009, but he decided to wait and will be an early Heisman hopeful in 2010.
But for as many yards Keenum throws for, you have to look at the system he works in under Kevin Sumlin. The Cougars were 80th in the country in rush offense, but first in the passing category, topping Texas Tech by nearly 50 yards per game.
Still, despite Houston's system, Keenum has all the physical tools to start in the NFL. It will also be interesting to see how former Cougar quarterback Kevin Kolb fares as a starter Philadelphia this fall.
It took him three years to finally to get his shot, but Greg McElroy hit a bulls-eye for the Alabama Crimson Tide in his first season as a starter in 2009. He had 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns in an offense that had the nation's fourth-leading rusher and Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram.
And did I mention a national championship to add to his resume?
With McElroy's success as a first-year starter, pending disaster in 2010, he should easily be a first round draft pick in 2011.
There was a lot of talk at the end of last season about TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and whether or not he might compete for the Heisman Trophy in 2010.
When the Frogs squared off against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, Dalton finally had a national stage to show off his skills.
It didn't turn out so well.
Not only did TCU lose their only game of the season, handing the MWC their only loss of the bowl season, but Dalton suffered from a 1-to-3 touchdown to interception ratio.
But his Fiesta Bowl shouldn't negate the rest of his season for the Horned Frogs as he completed nearly 62 percent of his passes for 2,756 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions and has the fifth highest QB rating of all returning gun slingers in NCAA FBS. He's not a dual-threat quarterback, but isn't afraid to take off if he has to. He's tough, has a prototypical build, and has a strong arm.
Just because he didn't throw for 3,000 yards last season shouldn't take away from the fact that he's the best active quarterback in college football. He doesn't rely on a system, he just plays football and will continue to do so during a successful NFL career.