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2011 NFL Draft: Five Potential Sleepers at the Quarterback Position

Jake CoxCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Five Potential Sleepers at the Quarterback Position

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The quarterback position is the most important position in all of professional sports.  NFL teams simply cannot win a championship without a quality starting quarterback to lead their team. 

    Many teams that don’t currently have quality starting quarterbacks will look at the upcoming NFL Draft as a potential source for a quarterback of the future. 

    The majority of today’s top quarterbacks were early round draft picks, such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.  Yet just because a quarterback isn’t a early round pick doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a future in the NFL.

    Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Matt Cassell are just a few examples of quarterbacks who weren’t high draft picks but have become pretty successful starting quarterbacks in the NFL.  So I decided to take a look at some potential mid-to-late round quarterbacks who may make a future impact in the NFL, despite the lack of interest in them on draft day.

    Here are my top five potential sleepers at the quarterback position for the 2011 NFL Draft:

QB Ricky Stanzi, Iowa

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Stanzi has all of the intangibles that you look for in a starting quarterback.  He’s a smart player who has led his team to some fourth quarter victories in his career.  He is an accurate passer who has played in a pro-style offense while at Iowa.  He has good height and weight for a quarterback.

    Stanzi doesn’t have great arm strength and he must become more consistent in his footwork before he takes over as a starter.

    Stanzi really improved his draft stock with a very impressive senior season.  I believe that Stanzi will be competing for a starting job in his second season.  He needs a year to work on his footwork, but he has everything else you look for in a starting quarterback.

    2010 Stats: 3,004 Passing yards, 25 TD, 6 INT, 64.1 Completion Percentage

    Draft Projection: Third Round—Fifth Round

QB Andy Dalton, TCU

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Dalton is a four-year starter at TCU who has only lost three games in his college career.  He has great intangibles and he was a team leader for the Horned Frogs.  He has good arm strength and he’s been pretty accurate throughout his career.  He can make plays with his feet too, as evidenced by his 1600 rushing yards in four years at TCU.

    He played in a spread offense, so he may need a few years to get used to taking snaps from under center.

    There are a lot of mixed opinions about Dalton, as I’ve seen him ranked anywhere from a second round prospect to an undrafted free agent.  I think he’ll go somewhere in between there, but his intangibles and strong work ethic are the reasons why I believe Dalton will develop into a solid starting quarterback somewhere down the line.

    2010 Stats: 2,857 Passing yards, 27 TD, 6 INT, 66.1 Completion Percentage

    Draft Projection: Fourth Round—Sixth Round

QB Nathan Enderle, Idaho

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Enderle is a quarterback who may not be an early round pick, but I think he could compete for a starting quarterback position in his rookie season if he’s given the chance.  He played in a pro-style offense as a four-year starter, which should make it much easier for him to learn his NFL team’s system.  He’s smart and he knows how to read defenses, as he’s the type of player who likes to change the play at the line of scrimmage.

    Enderle doesn’t have great arm strength, and he does end up throwing a lot of interceptions by trying to throw the ball into very tight windows.

    As I said earlier, I think that Enderle could start in his rookie season due to his extensive experience in a pro-style offense.  One thing that could hold him back from doing that is the fact that he didn’t face a lot of top competition while at Idaho.

    2010 Stats: 3,314 Passing yards, 22 TD, 16 INT, 56.7 Completion Percentage

    Draft Projection: Third Round—Fifth Round

QB Greg McElroy, Alabama

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    McElroy was very successful as a two-year starter in Alabama’s pro-style offense, even leading his team to the 2010 National Championship.  He’s a smart player who isn’t afraid to make the throw knowing that he’s going to get hit.  He has solid arm strength and he’s an accurate passer. 

    He isn’t the best athlete in the world and he must learn to get rid of the ball so he doesn’t take so many big hits.

    McElroy is very intriguing to me because he reminds me a lot of current Green Bay Packer Matt Flynn.  They both led their college teams to national championships, each in their first seasons as the starting quarterback.  They’ve both been knocked for having less than ideal athleticism and height.  I think McElroy will be a backup for a few seasons, but if he gets the opportunity to start, I think he has what it takes to get the job done.

    2010 Stats: 2,987 Passing yards, 20 TD, 5 INT, 70.9 Completion Percentage

    Draft Projection: Sixth Round- Undrafted Free Agent

QB Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    One thing that I really liked about Tolzien was his accuracy, as he led the nation in completion percentage.  Tolzien has very nice arm strength and he has the ability to do some damage with his legs if he’s forced out of the pocket.

    He needs to work on his footwork, especially when throwing the ball while on the run.  He isn’t a great athlete and he doesn’t have the ideal frame.

    Tolzien will most likely go undrafted, but I think he will catch on as an undrafted free agent.  He’ll probably start off as a No. 3 quarterback, but with his basic skills and work ethic I expect him to work his way into the No. 2 quarterback spot in a year or two. 

    2010 Stats: 2,459 Passing yards, 16 TD, 6 INT, 72.9 Completion Percentage

    Draft Projection: Seventh Round—Undrafted Free Agent

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