2011 NFL Preview: Jimmy Clausen vs. Cam Newton & 5 QB Battles to Keep an Eye On
In every positional group, battles to be the starting player arise frequently.
When the incumbent starter posts iffy numbers, when a bench player does well in limited time, or when the team drafts a new young player, battle ensues.
Unlike every other positional group, however, the battle to be the starting quarterback holds a certain air of mystery.
I've compiled five interesting quarterback battles in the NFL this year to keep an eye on for 2011.
Matt Hasselbeck vs. Charlie Whitehurst
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Winner: Charlie Whitehurst
Pete Carroll is no stranger to having a successful quarterback at the helm, and after all the Seahawks invested in Whitehurst, it makes sense that the former Clemson Tiger would take the reins in 2011.
Matt Hasselbeck is aging and declining, while Whitehurst is fresh off of a decisive victory against the St. Louis Rams to send the Seahawks to an improbable playoff berth.
Look for the Seahawks to rally around Whitehurst, who has been the heir apparent ever since the Seahawks traded for him.
Hasselbeck may not even be around to stage this battle, as he may well bolt for free agency, but either way, look for Whitehurst to be taking snaps in Seattle in 2011.
Jason Campbell vs. Bruce Gradkowski
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Winner: Jason Campbell
Simply put, if the Raiders didn't envision Campbell as the eventual starter and leader of this franchise, the team never would have traded for him.
Bruce Gradkowski is good, but he's no messiah, and the Raiders need Campbell under center.
In a franchise with no stability in the draft or on the sidelines, there needs to be some measure of continuity.
That continuity is Campbell, who will be given every chance to win the starting job.
Kyle Orton vs. Tim Tebow
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Winner: Tim Tebow
This is one of the most hotly-debated quarterback battles, and when the smoke clears, Tim Tebow will be the starting quarterback in Denver.
Tebow doesn't have Orton's arm accuracy or pro-style experience, but he has superior athleticism and arm strength.
John Elway will push for Tebow to carry the torch and bring the Broncos back to the top.
When it comes down to it, there's more franchise-quarterback potential with Tim Tebow than with Kyle Orton, and for a team coming off of a 4-12 record, there needs to be a player at quarterback to rally around.
Jimmy Clausen vs. Cam Newton
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Winner: Cam Newton
Cam Newton won a National Championship not long ago, and now he's going to win a starting job in the NFL.
It won't be easy, as Jimmy Clausen doesn't want to give up his number or spot on the team, but Carolina didn't spend the first pick on a quarterback because the team thinks Jimmy Clausen is the franchise.
Newton offers more possibilities than does Clausen, and after one year, it seems that the Notre Dame product Clausen has lost his team's trust.
Newton is the new golden boy in Carolina, and he will be the starter come opening day.
David Garrard vs. Blaine Gabbert
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Winner: David Garrard
Blaine Gabbert has still not shown me any reason why he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
He has terrible footwork, poor mechanics, bad accuracy down-the-field, and horrendous pocket presence.
Garrard, on the other hand, is cool in the pocket, can deliver a deep throw, and has an extensive knowledge of the Jaguars playbook.
Gabbert is lightyears away from being a quarterback of even David Garrard's caliber, and Jack Del Rio will realize this in training camp.