NFL Draft 2011: Time Winds Down on the Worst Quarterback Class Ever

JW NixSenior Writer IIApril 28, 2011

As the 2011 NFL Draft is hours away, all of the experts' final mock drafts are in. Mocks that are impossible to mock for many reasons.

With the lockout "over," no one knows what free agency will mean in the NFL anymore. Theories are abound, but the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could add significant changes to what defines free agency.

Basically, teams will begin filling theoretical holes on their rosters today. They will have to gamble on either overall player rating or positional need, while pretending everything will work out fine when the owners and players come to an agreement some day.

The biggest strength of this draft is the defensive tackle who specializes in stopping the run. While just a few appear to excite teams somewhat, none have generated the buzz Ndamukong Suh did in 2010.

Yet this could be the best draft for the defensive tackle position since 1975, something I once talked about here

But the NFL and most of the media loves to push the quarterback position first and foremost. Some say it is the most important position in the game, while others are drawn to the "Golden Boy" image the position has been handed. 

There has been no time in NFL history where playing quarterback is as easy as it is today. Not only do most quarterbacks have their plays called for them by coaches, but you are basically not allowed to touch them without fear of monetary fine or suspension from play.

The position was handed a golden road of luxury in 1978, when the league decided to allow blockers to extend their arms and hands to clutch defenders, while shortening the ten-yard chuck rule for receivers to just five.

The rules have gotten more and more slanted towards quarterbacks over the years since then, jumping the shark into ludicrous proportions. Yet the money keeps rolling in, so the defenders pleas to be allowed to just play football grow more faint to the NFL front offices each season.

Looking at the 2011 quarterback class, there is a mix of questions for teams to ask from several angles. While there are many very athletic quarterbacks available, most do not appear to have the arm strength to be more than West Coast dinkers and dunkers.

The best quarterbacks come from spread offenses in colleges and have little on their resumes to show they are going to be good pros. One won the 2010 Heisman, but it was basically his lone productive season in Division IA football.

One quarterback who might be drafted early has never shown much accuracy when throwing the ball. Yet another comes from a "Pistol Offense," a scheme that has given college football loads of successful quarterbacks, but none on the professional level.

Cam Newton has the combination of size and athleticism never seen from a quarterback before. It is possible his NFL success will define the 2011 draft for the position.

While winning the Heisman last year, it was in a season full of distractions and controversy. People were asking if Newton received special stipends to attend his college, and even brought his family into the equation.

Newton showed tremendous focus as he won the Heisman after winning a National Championship. The angle seems to excite some, giving hope to their theories that Newton is destined for further football greatness.

Yet there seems to be another side that has reared it's head lately. Newton ran a very simple offensive system in college, giving some skeptics thought that he will have issues running a complex pro offense.

He seems aware of this. Newton was recently interviewed by ESPN and ignored analyst Jon Gruden's questions for an example of a play Newton would call in college.

Blaine Gabbert has been called the top quarterback prospect this year by some. Another product of the spread offense, he might need time learning how to take a direct snap from center.

Gabbert is one of the quarterbacks whose character hasn't been questioned yet, much like Jake Locker. While the leadership qualities of Locker entices teams to draft him possibly in the first round, his passing accuracy has been ridiculed on national television this week.

The history of the game is full of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who were passed over by every team several times before being selected in either the draft or free agency. There are prospects that are expected to go late in the 2011 draft that might one day fall into that category.

Names like Greg McElroy or Pat Devlin often get mentioned, but this is an issue that will not be decided for many more years ahead. Still, there will be many quarterbacks who are expected to still be available when the final round of the 2011 draft commences.

There is no John Elway type of quarterback that has everyone drooling as a "can't miss" prospect. There are murmurs this draft most resembles a JaMarcus Russell kind of draft, full of uncertainties that seem more destined for failure.

Either way will be determined through time, but appears the only reliable aspect is that at least one quarterback will be amongst the first ten selected and possibly four will go in the first round.