Ranking the NFL's Best Rookie QBs as Season Enters 2nd Half

Adam SalazarContributor IIINovember 16, 2011

Ranking the NFL's Best Rookie QBs as Season Enters 2nd Half

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    It's been a great year for rookie quarterbacks in 2011.

    Although it was considered a strong draft class, few would have predicted such immediate production from the most difficult position for a rookie to succeed.

    As the season enters its second half, it's time to take stock of the four remarkable rookie quarterbacks who have seen playing time.

4. Blaine Gabbert

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    It's been a rough year for Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    After the surprise release of incumbent David Garrard less than a week before the start of the season, Gabbert was thrust into action perhaps a bit prematurely. One has to wonder what the Jaguars were thinking at the time, and whether they knew about Garrard's herniated disk.

    Gabbert is completing less than half of his passes (47.9 percent), is on pace for just over 2,000 passing yards and is the owner of a dismal 63.6 QBR.

    He still has a rocket for an arm and his reads haven't been terrible, but accuracy and adapting to pressure has been a big problem.

    A bad season like this could ruin a promising young arm like Gabbert.

3. Christian Ponder

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    Christian Ponder has had an up-and-down first four games after being promoted ahead of the struggling Donovan McNabb.

    To be fair, two of those games were against the defending world champion Green Bay Packers. In contests against the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers, Ponder has shown promise, managing the game and looking quite capable.

    In games not against the Pack, Ponder has posted a solid QBR of 86.6.

    His presence in the huddle and pocket, his mobility, vision and arm strength downfield have all been big pluses so far.

    Look for his production to continue to improve as the season progresses.

2. Andy Dalton

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    Andy Dalton has been perhaps the biggest surprise of all the rookies this year—not just out of the quarterbacks, but of any position.

    While many, including ESPN's Trent Dilfer, were all over this guy leading up to the draft, many around the league questioned his arm strength before the season, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals' ability to steward his entry into the NFL.

    Well, both areas have been debunked; the Bengals are 6-3 and Dalton is on pace for almost 3,400 passing yards and 25 touchdowns, while completing better than 60 percent of his passes.

    This guy looks like the steal of the draft. He could be a major player for years to come in Cincinnati.

1. Cam Newton

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    Who could have foreseen the kind of success Cam Newton would be having in the NFL?

    The Carolina Panthers, for one.

    The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft is living up to the billing and looks to be an absolute force for years to come.

    Not only has Newton been spectacular, he's also been steady. Only once has Newton failed to reach 200 yards passing (Week 3 against Jacksonville's fifth-ranked pass defense), and he has topped 250 yards five times, 300 yards three times (just barely missing a fourth in Week 8) and 400 yards twice.

    Astoundingly, he is on pace to reach almost 4,800 yards passing. As if that weren't enough, he's projected to reach about 700 yards rushing as well. Those are MVP-type numbers coming from a guy who's still a little wet behind the ears.

    Although he has been accurate (60.2 percent completions), he can show improvement by taking better care of the ball (10 interceptions) and improving his reads in the red zone.

    But if those are his only detractions halfway through his rookie season, chances are you'll be seeing a lot more from Cam Newton.

    Has there ever been a player quite like him?