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Making a List, Checking It Twice: Top Five Quarterbacks In The 2011 NFL Draft

Tanner ThomsSenior Analyst IJanuary 15, 2011

Making a List, Checking It Twice: Top Five Quarterbacks In The 2011 NFL Draft

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The 2011 NFL draft is coming right around the corner, and as usual, I am getting the itch to write about everything I possibly can that relates to the draft.

    I won't count the days, but I can safely say that there's about 14 weeks until you're hear the famous words of "with the first pick in the draft".

    The Carolina Panthers will be picking first in the draft this year. Originally. their plan was to take future franchise quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 choice.

    As we all know by now, Luck is going back to Stanford in order to fulfill his obligations with the team that made him who he is today.

    I will be starting a new trend that I hope to continue until the 2011 draft rolls around. That tradition is to make a top five list for each key position available.

    As is always the case, I will be starting with the quarterback's.

    Enjoy the list!

1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri Tigers, Junior

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 235 lbs.

    40 time: 4.72

    Stock: Top ten pick

    Blaine Gabbert, a quarterback with tremendous size, decided to forgo his senior year with the Missouri Tigers in order to declare for the 2011 draft.

    While it was a surprising move to some, Gabbert may have made the best decision he's ever made in his life. After Blaine declared, Andrew Luck decided he would stay in school, the opposite of what Gabbert chose.

    Strengths:

    Gabbert is a great pocket passer, but most of his throws come within ten yards due to Missouri's spread offense style of play.

    He has a very quick release, which enables defenders from sensing exactly where the ball is going to go. If a quarterback has a slow release, the opposing defender can read the play, forcing a likely turnover.

    Gabbert is also tremendous at reading defenses. He is able to speculate what the defense will be doing, allowing him to target a receiver.

    By reading what the defense will do, Gabbert can audible the play at the line if need be. Sensing what a defense is going to do is one of the more underrated characteristics for a quarterback.

    This is exactly why JaMarcus Russell struggled from the get-go.

    Weaknesses:

    Gabbert often struggles with consistency when it comes to throwing outside the hashes. A ball or two will often fly over the receiver's head when he attempts to make a throw to the outside.

    That said, he is able to make tremendous throws when he's on the run. Don't expect Gabbert to throw to the outside hashes very often in his NFL career.

    Gabbert is weak at sensing a pass-rusher. When there is pressure coming from behind him, Blaine can't avoid the sack most times.

    While it's still some of his fault, not all of the blame can be put on Gabbert's shoulders. A strong offensive line will be extremely important for his future.


    Likely destinations:

    Buffalo (third overall), Arizona (fifth overall), San Francisco (seventh overall), Tennessee Titans (eighth overall), Washington (tenth overall)

    Where he'll land:

    San Francisco

2. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas Razorbacks, Junior

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 238 lbs.

    40 time: 5.12

    Stock: Top 15 pick

    Ryan Mallett, a 6'6" quarterback for the Arkansas Razorbacks is one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks that the game of football has ever seen.

    Mallett possesses great arm strength, which will allow him to throw deeps balls to whichever receiver is on his team. If they're accurate, the end result will be big yards every time.

    Strengths:

    As I mentioned before, Mallett's arm strength is phenomenal. He actually even put up record-breaking numbers against some solid teams in the SEC.

    His accuracy throwing the deep ball wasn't great at Arkansas, but more times than not, a rookie has at least one issue he needs corrected.

    Mallett is also tremendous at reading defenses, like Blaine Gabbert of Missouri. His 6'6" frame allows him to see high over any defense.

    Ryan's imposing size could either be a great thing or a burden to his game. Remember, size didn't really help JaMarcus Russell.

    Weaknesses:

    Known as one of the worst at running with the ball, you'll hardly ever see Mallett leave the pocket in order to scramble for some yards.

    As you may have saw earlier, Mallett runs around a 5.1, which is pretty bad for a quarterback. He'll stick to throwing in his NFL days.

    Another weakness of Mallett's is his maturity. Many have said that Ryan has a brash personality that won't allow him to succeed in the NFL.

    Believe it or not, Mallett has even slipped into the second round in many mock drafts, simply because of his attitude. Better check it at the door, Ryan.

    Likely destinations:

    Arizona (fifth overall), San Francisco (seventh overall), Tennessee Titans (eighth overall), Washington Redskins (tenth overall), Minnesota Vikings (twelfth overall)

    Where he'll land:

    Washington

3. Cameron "Cam" Newton, Auburn Tigers, Junior

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 250 lbs.

    40 time: 4.52

    Stock: Top 20 pick

    Cameron Newton, arguably the most famous college football player in history, is nearly a lock for a pick in the top 20 of the draft.

    While he has his issues to work out on the football field, Cam Newton is a born winner. I think his Heisman trophy and BCS Championship victory speak for themselves.

    Strengths:

    Everybody knows that Newton is great at running the ball. There were a ton of plays in Auburn's playbook that called for Cam to take the ball and just run.

    His ability to scramble will be key in the NFL. He just needs to be able to hit his target if he decides to throw it.

    As I just said, Newton is tremendous at throwing the ball on the move. His size and speed enable him to free defenders, and get an eye on the receiver.

    While throwing on the run is not always advised in the NFL, Newton should succeed with it. Still, his interceptions will come.

    Weaknesses:

    I would have to say that Newton's biggest weakness is his release. At Auburn, Cameron took almost all of his snaps from the shotgun.

    If you want to succeed in the NFL, you must know how to take a snap from the center, drop back, find a receiver and complete the pass. Newton may struggle here.

    Another weakness that could be exploited is his ability to read a defense. Newton often only looked at one receiver on a pass play before deciding to take off and run.

    In the NFL, Newton will not be able to have career days by just taking off and running. If that's all he can do, Cam would just be a running back.

    Likely destinations:

    Cincinnati (fourth overall), Arizona (fifth overall), San Francisco (seventh overall), Tennessee (eighth overall), Washington (tenth overall), Minnesota (twelfth overall), Jacksonville (sixteenth overall)

    Where he'll land:

    Minnesota or Jacksonville

4. Jake Locker, Washington Huskies, Senior

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 230 lbs.

    40 time: 4.53

    Stock: Top 20 pick

    Jake Locker is known as being the man that went back to college after being labeled as the soon-to-be number one overall pick in the draft.

    When many thought that this event would never be repeated. Andrew Luck thought it would be best to finish his career at Stanford.

    Now that he's a senior, Locker has no choice but to be done at Washington.

    Strengths:

    Although you may not think it by looking at him, but Jake Locker is one of the best quarterbacks at running with the ball.

    When he wasn't able to find an open receiver on the field, Locker was able to tuck the ball and scramble for a chunk of yards.

    Locker is likely only behind Ryan Mallett when it comes to arm strength. Jake is able to stretch the field by throwing the ball deep, around 60 yards.

    Many teams will be impressed with his strength, and how he's able to complete passes when receiver's go deep. He'll look to show off this skill at the Senior Bowl and combine.

    Weaknesses:

    Locker is not the best at being able to read defenses. He often stares down the receiver he intends on throwing to.

    If Jake isn't able to shed off receiver's and still complete the pass to his intended receiver, his playing days will be very limited. This can be fixed pretty easily in the pros.

    While you may not be that familiar with the word, Locker struggles with durability. This could be trouble for him, seeing as there's an 18 game season looming.

    He needs to be able to take hits. If Locker crumbles to pieces every time he takes a shot, he'll see a lot more bench time than playing time.

    Likely destinations:

    Washington (tenth overall), Minnesota (twelfth overall), Miami (15th overall), Jacksonville (16th overall), Seattle (25th overall)

    Where he'll land:

    Miami


5. Pat Devlin, Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens, Senior

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    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 222 lbs.

    40 time: 4.82

    Stock: Mid second to early third

    Not many are familiar with Pat Devlin, and not many should be. When you play for the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens, chances are that you won't be a star in the NFL.

    Pat Devlin, a senior quarterback for Delaware, may be one of the rare stars to come from this university. His tremendous playoff games against Eastern Washington and New Hampshire.

    I can nearly guarantee that a team in the second round will take a chance on Devlin.

    Strengths:

    Devlin is a very accurate thrower, but this is largely because of the fact that Delaware plays in a spread offense style of play.

    Still, he is able to anticipate what a defense will do, where his receiver is going, and he can put the ball right between their numbers.

    Pat is very good at throwing the deep ball. While many quarterback's often overthrow the receiver, Devlin is able to get the ball right on his target.

    When he throws deep, the football does not float in the air. If the ball floats, it leaves more time for a defender to break up the pass.

    Weaknesses:

    Easily, Devlin's biggest weakness is his arm strength. He didn't often have to throw the ball deep into tight windows, which is a good thing.

    He likely won't be throwing many long passes in his NFL days. However, he'll still be able to nail 20-30 yard pass plays.

    Another weakness for Devlin is sensing pressure. More times than not, Devlin will take a sack rather than stepping out of the pocket to make a throw.

    He'll have to adjust to the speed of NFL linebacker's when he eventually receives playing time. If he can't elude a pressing blitzer, he'll have turnovers.

    Likely destinations:

    Arizona (38th overall), Tennessee (39th overall), Minnesota (43rd overall), San Francisco (45th overall), Jacksonville (49th overall)

    Where he'll land:

    Minnesota

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