2011 NFL Draft: Five Quarterbacks to Watch Past Round Two
Because of the CBA concerns as well as almost half the league needing a franchise quarterback, there could be as many as six first round quarterbacks taken on draft day.
And although I am not on the Andy Dalton bandwagon, reports and insight I've heard all leads to the thought that he won't fall out of the Top 64 picks come draft day.
However, the draft goes further than just 64 selections, and teams will be searching for a middle to late round quarterback to develop into a solid back-up or maybe even a starter. Here are the Top Five quarterbacks that a team could be surprisingly happy with that will be available in round 2.
5. TJ Yates, North Carolina
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As far as being a polished passer, Yates is far from it. His footwork, confidence in short throws, outside-the-hash accuracy, and understanding of throwing velocities are a cause for concern, and make him a work in progress when he comes into the league. He accuracy and judgements on the field have limited his production on the field.
But, as we see many times with middle to late round quarterback prospects, the ability to zip the ball across the field and being able to "make all the throws" is something that teams have a hard time not giving a chance to, and that's exactly what Yates brings. Also, Yates has the work ethic, fiery nature, and confidence to be a team leader.
He likely won't be taken before the 5th Round, but if a team hopes to keep him from being a highly coveted priority free agent, they could take a flyer on him late in the draft.
Projected Round: 6th Round - Undrafted
4. Josh Portis, California (PA)
After being forced to leave Florida and then transferring from Maryland to Division II California (PA), Josh Portis took an unexpected ride out of high school. Once a highly touted prospect, Portis is now fighting for attention to make an impact in the NFL.
Portis is an outstanding athlete for a quarterback, testing among the tops in most NFL Combine workouts and showcasing his quickness in college moving in and out of the pocket. As far as being a passer, Portis ran hot and cold over games and over his career, but the velocity, mobility, and mid-range accuracy was there.
Because of the potential character red flags, the level of competition in his final two seasons of college play, and because he's a developmental prospect, he could slip to the very late part of the draft or completely out of it. But interest is there across the league, and he could be a surprise late round quarterback that makes a team look very smart in 3-4 years. Reminds a lot of a taller Dennis Dixon.
Projected Round: 5th Round - Undrafted
3. Pat Devlin, Delaware
In the most recent news, reports are that Pat Devlin continued to drop on draft boards thanks to another lackluster performance, this time at Delaware's Pro Day.
Devlin couldn't close out a National Championship game against Eastern Washington. He couldn't find a consistent rhythm, especially down the field, at the East-West Shrine game. And now he could impress in his comfort zone at his home stadium.
The biggest knocks on Devlin are his unwillingness to throw down the field in games, and his deep fade routes when he's not in his comfort level. Overall, Devlin is a good athlete, can move out of the pocket, is very consistent and on target in short and mid range passes, and has enough velocity to get it down the field.
Comparisons to Brady Quinn, which he's received a lot of, and another bad showing could push Devlin to the bottom of the draft. I still think he's got 3rd-4th round value, especially in a West Coast system, but his stock around the league is falling.
Projected Round: 4th Round - 7th Round
2. Ricky Stanzi, Iowa
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I've heard many reports now that Stanzi is a favorite among many draft "experts" as the sexy sleeper quarterback, and after getting a 30 on his Wonderlic test, some are saying he's a Top 3 round prospect.
But on the field, Stanzi just wasn't a wowing quarterback and overall athlete. His arm strength is good, not great. His accuracy gets worse down the field, and wasn't asked to win many games with his arm down the field in college. Overall, he was little more than a game manager for many of the games he played in at Iowa.
Stanzi has the size, quick release, short area accuracy, and great football IQ to be a very good West Coast quarterback, but outside of that system, I don't see Stanzi as anything more than a capable back-up in the NFL. Still, I've heard that some teams feel otherwise, and he should be a "riser" leading up to the draft.
Projected Round: 3rd Round - 5th Round
1. Greg McElroy, Alabama
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One of my favorite players in the draft, Greg McElroy isn't a flashy quarterback prospect. He doesn't have a great arm, struggles to stretch teams vertically with much consistency, and has always needed to feel very comfortable to succeed over his career.
But McElroy was a Rhodes Scholar potential student, he has a great feel for the game when he's in his comfort zone in a certain offense, has a great understanding of technique and feels comfortable in most situations, and was an overall "winner". He shrugs off pad plays and comes back stronger and confident, an extremely important quality for a young quarterback prospect.
To be successful in the NFL, he'll need to be in the same offensive system for 2-3 years before he can be a back-up you can rely on, but if he can continue to improve his throwing ability and reach that comfort level, McElroy can eventually develop into something more than a back-up.
Projected Round: 4th Round - 6th Round
Next Five to Watch Late/Post-Draft
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-Mike Hartline, Kentucky - Suspended for end of season, great arm, size to work with
-Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin - Possible back-up in NFL, won't wow but has a good enough arm to stick
-Adam Froman, Louisville - Great athlete, injuries hampered his possible success, riser already
-Ben Chappell, Indiana - Ideal size and arm, inconsistent at times but raw talent, possible developmental guy
-Nathan Enderle, Idaho - I'm not a huge fan, but his rocket arm and confidence could impress some teams