2011 NFL Preview: Jimmy Clausen vs. Cam Newton & 5 QB Battles to Keep an Eye On

Eli Nachmany@EliNachmanyCorrespondent IIIMay 17, 2011

2011 NFL Preview: Jimmy Clausen vs. Cam Newton & 5 QB Battles to Keep an Eye On

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on January 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst #6 of the Seattle Seahawks stands on the field during their game against the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field on January 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    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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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    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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    DENVER - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos reacts after throwing a first quarter touchdown against the Houston Texans at INVESCO Field at Mile High on December 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Texans 24-23
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Cam Newton, #1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers holds up a jersey on stage after he was picked during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    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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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback David Garrard #9 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts a pass during the game against the Washington Redskins at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Image
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    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.