2011 NFL Draft QB Class: Who's Ready for the Next Level?

Devin BrackenContributor ISeptember 29, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 25: Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal passes the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 25, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

A quarterback is the leader of a football team.  It's the hardest position in all of sports.  There are so many variables that factor in to whether or not a QB will be good.  Even more so if he aspires to be great. 

There have been many great college QBs whose skills have not translated to a lasting NFL career.  Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Andre Ware, Cade McCown, and Ryan Leaf all were amazing college QBs in their day, yet none of them could produce what it took to be the man on the field. 

This year's QB draft class looks to have some amazing specimens, who look to be sure-fire starters in the future.  There are also some sleepers lying in wait for the opportunity to jump up the draft boards.  Let's take a look at the top 5.


1. Andrew Luck, Stanford University (So)

Projected Round:  First, top 5 pick

Luck has been the talk of the nation thus far in the 2010 season.  He leads a smash-mouth style of offense, which draft scouts will love.  He has a prototypical frame at 6'4" and weighing close to 235 lbs.  His 40 time is around a 4.79, which is fairly good for a QB. 

His speed is deceptive though.  While being a pro style passer, he will not hesitate to pull it down and take off if the play breaks down.  He has cool head and makes good decisions with the football.  If he continues the trend this season, he could be the No. 1 overall pick next April.


2.  Jake Locker, University of Washington (Sr)

Projected Round:  First, top 10 pick

The 2010 season has not been kind to Locker.  His 51.1 completion percentage will not impress scouts.  But his size and mobility will.  Locker stands at 6'3" and weighs in at close to 225, while running a 4.57 40.  That stands out to the draft scouts.  Every team in the league would love to have a QB with Locker's abilities. 

Many believed he was a top 10 pick during the 2010 draft, but he decided to return for his senior season.  That may hurt his chances of being a top 5 pick next April, but for now, he might supplant Andrew Luck as the No. 1 pick.


3. Ryan Mallett, University of Arkansas (Jr)

Projected Round: First

Who wouldn't want a QB who is close to 6'7" and can bomb the ball almost 90 yards?  Mallett is a pure passer among dual-threat QBs, but his skills have the scouts drooling.  The last time a QB of this size and stature came into the draft, his name was Peyton Manning.  I am not comparing the two in terms of skills, just size and strength. 

But, Mallett does understand the offense and could make a lot of teams envious once he is off the boards next year.  He has absolutely no mobility, but for a team with a budding offensive line, he would be heaven.



4. Terrelle Pryor, The Ohio State University (Jr)

Projected Round: First to second

A physical freak.  That's how Ohio State's junior QB is often described.  Pryor stands at 6'6" and weighs in at 235 lbs.  His 40 time is what blows scouts' minds.  For a guy his size, he runs a 4.42.  That's even faster than the great Vince Young during his heyday at Texas. 

There are a few knocks on his skillset, though.  Scouts wonder if he will transition to the NFL, due to running a spread offense.  But as we all know, there are teams who won't care if he can start right away.  His upside is too great.  He's a proven winner and he has a great attitude.  He could be a first-round pick if he keeps improving.


5.  Pat Devlin, University of Delaware (Jr)

Projected Round: Second to third

A former Penn State recruit, Devlin transferred to Delaware to get playing time after sitting behind Daryl Clark.  Delaware isn't a big name school, but as most of us remember, Joe Flacco came from Delaware and he's worked pretty well for the Ravens. 

Devlin isn't fast, posting a 40 time at 4.84 during this past season's camp.  But, he has intelligence and possesses a rocket arm.  As a junior, he completed 64.15 percent of his passes, which has the scouts paying more attention to him.  With another solid season and a great combine, he could climb the boards into the first round.