NFL Draft 2011: Could the First Round Turn out to Be All Quarterbacks?

Nick Sero@@thesportscannonCorrespondent IIIApril 18, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Cam Newton passes the ball during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

At this time last year we were talking about the 2011 class of incoming quarterbacks. The prospects of Jake Locker and Andrew Luck in the NFL made some question the depth in 2010. Stats will show that last year was a poor draft for quarterbacks, only Sam Bradford had any success. That is, if you don't count Tim Tebow's jersey sales.

In the beginning of draft season it looked like there could be a few quarterbacks taken in the first round, as many as five even. Then all that talk cooled off and it looked like only Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton were locks to be taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

As we inch closer and closer to the NFL Draft the landscape of Round 1 continues to change. It has changed so much now that we could once again see four or even five quarterbacks taken in the first round.

Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are almost locks for top-10 picks, but what about the rest of the class? Jake Locker has impressed so much that even the New England Patriots have brought him in for a look, despite still having Tom Brady on the roster. Ryan Mallett has had his character questioned, but teams can't ignore his skill set. Even Andy Dalton is being considered as a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.

This year's CBA drama and subsequent player lockout will affect the trade landscape of this year's draft, but the rumor mills have been heating up and it looks like it won't have too much of an effect on the draft after all.

More and more there are rumors that teams in the Top 10 will pass on quarterbacks and then move up from their picks in the early second to the middle to late first round.

The Minnesota Vikings are one of these teams rumored to be looking into a quarterback in the draft, and possibly trading up take one. NFL teams are allowed to contact colleges and gather as much information on a player as they can get. The player they have been putting the most time and effort in to: Jake Locker.

The University of Washington has been approached by the Vikings on a few occasions and it brings to mind the idea that Locker could be in their sights as early as the number 12 overall selection. Or, the Vikings could have some trade bait with later picks and could talk the Patriots in to moving one of their two first-round picks so that the Vikings can keep Locker in purple.

Then there is Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder and even Andy Dalton. All three quarterbacks have been shuffled a few times on the draft boards of many so called "experts." All three should be taken within the beginning of the second round, but could some late first-round trades end up making this quarterbacks first rounders?

There has been a lot of rumors swirling around that the Titans are very interested in Ryan Mallett and the Titans could also move up to the late first round and take a quarterback.

The Bills also represent a team that could trade down. There have been just as many rumors that the Bills will take Vin Miller with the third overall selection. In the case that Miller isn't available, however, the Bills could end up trading down in the draft to a team more in love with A.J. Green/Patrick Peterson/Cam Newton/Blaine Gabbert. If the Bills could move to the middle of the draft, they could end up picking up Jake Locker and have increased picks in the second or third round to spend on linebackers or wide receivers.

The list of QB needy teams this year seems to trump the number of solid quarterback prospects, but this is a win now league and it could force the hands of some teams to trade up into the late first round a pick for a quarterback.

Some teams that are in need of a quarterback, but could wait until the late first round or even early second round to make that selection are: Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings. That makes eight teams in need of a quarterback ASAP, and there are only six quarterbacks regarded as NFL Starter caliber (Gabbert, Newton, Locker, Dalton, Ponder and Mallett).

That means one NFL team will have to wait until 2012 to find their franchise quarterback, and the other teams scrambling to find the best in the bunch. The beginning of the 2011 NFL Draft could be less of a commotion than in recent years, but stay tuned as the back end of the NFL Draft could get a little bit crazy.