2011 NFL Draft: Will Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert Be First Quarterback Taken?

Nathaniel UyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Will Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert Be First Quarterback Taken?

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    Now that Andrew Luck has decided to hit the books and stay in school, the spot for the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL is up for grabs.

    With Andrew out, there might be a small opening for Heisman Trophy Winner and, national champion Cam Newton or, highly regarded Blaine Gabbert to sneak in as the first quarterback chosen in the draft. 

    There are obviously pros and cons to each player and it's going to be a tough decision for NFL teams to pick one over the other.

    But a decision needs to be made this April as to which quarterback goes first.

    Newton or Gabbert?  Let's break it down.

5. Cam Newton: A Gifted Athlete

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    This was the turning point of Auburn's season and the play that made Newton a frontrunner for the Heisman trophy.

    With the game on tied up 10-10 against an undefeated SEC rival, Newton used his athleticism to win the game.

    He ran up the middle, broke some tackles and found his way to the end zone. 

    Had Auburn lost, they would have never had a shot to play in the national title game.

5. Blaine Gabbert: Effective Scrambler and Accurate Passer

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    While Cam Newton is a freak athlete, Gabbert fits more of a traditional quarterback.

    Gabbert has a strong arm that's thrown for over 440 passes in his last two seasons.  But he also has a quick release and capable of finding receivers in tight spots.

    As a runner, he may not be as gifted as Newton.  However, he's racked up eight rushing touchdowns in two seasons.

4. Cam Newton: National Champion

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    Being the central part of the offense of a national champion definitely helps Newton's draft stock.

    However, NFL scouts still view him as long term project for their teams.

    If a team wants championship experience and proven success in college, Newton has all of those going in his favor.

4. Blaine Gabbert: Leadership and Intangibles

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    Gabbert, has been nothing but a solid citizen at Mizzou.

    In fact, he brings with him the leadership and intangibles that NFL teams look for in a pro quarterback.

    Despite losing the Insight Bowl to the Iowa Hawkeyes, Gabbert nearly carried his Tigers squad to a win.

    It was a remarkable performance for Gabbert. He completed 41-of-57 passes for a 71.9 percent passer rating and a career high 434 passing yards.



3. Cam Newton: Heisman Trophy Winner

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    You are looking at this year's Heisman trophy winner.  While we know the Heisman trophy is one of the most coveted awards in college football, it doesn't necessarily translate into NFL success.

    Take Matt Leinart, Troy Smith and even Reggie Bush as recent examples.

    Newton's Heisman win still gives him a slight edge over other quarterbacks in the draft.

3. Blaine Gabbert: Has No Baggage

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    Despite Newton's success, he carries with him a lot of baggage.

    For a large part of this college football season, there was an NCAA investigation into whether or not Newton was involved in a pay-for-play scueme during his recruitment.

    Before that he was involved in a cheating scandal and a stolen laptop controversy during his brief stint with the Florida Gators.

    Gabbert, since taking over the reins as quarterback during his true sophomore season, has been a standup player with no drama.

    And baggage is still a factor in evaluating draft picks.

2. Cam Newton: Versatility

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    Newton is the first college quarterback threw for 30 TD's, ran for 20 more TD's and even caught a touchdown pass this season.

    That's what you call versatile.

    Guys like Newton, especially with his size 6'6" and 250 lbs. do not grow on trees.  That's a rare commodity that may be hard to pass on come draft day.

2. Blaine Gabbert: Solid In The Pocket

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    It's obvious that Gabbert is not as gifted of a scrambler as Newton but he can do wonders standing in the pocket.

    Gabbert's footwork is solid and he can shift around as needed when pressured.  When combined with his accurate passing and good-decision making this makes him an excellent NFL prospect.

1. Cam Newton: Has More Upside

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    The talent is there, the athleticism can't be ignored.  Now Cam Newton also has the hardware to prove it.

    Although he may not be viewed as the best overall quarterback in the draft, his potential alone can elevate him in most team's draft boards.

    Tim Tebow was viewed as a risky pick late in last year's NFL draft.  This year, someone else will be willing to take the same risk on Newton and they could even make him the first quarterback chosen in the draft.

1. Blaine Gabbert: The Most NFL Ready Quarterback

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    Mobile quarterbacks such as Newton, will take a lot more time to develop in the league.  Think Tim Tebow and Vince Young.

    While more traditional pass-first quarterbacks have a much smoother transition in the league.  See Sam Bradford and Matt Ryan.

    Gabbert, now that Luck is gone, is widely viewed as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2011 draft simply because he's more likely to succeed faster in the NFL.

    For that reason, it's hard to see Newton being the first quarterback picked in the draft.

    Sorry Cam, you're going to have to wait until Blaine's name is called.