Originally posted Apr 15, 2011
The spread offense is more prevalent than ever before in college football and, as a result, evaluating the quarterback position has become increasingly more difficult than in the past. Scouts must poke and prod to project how a player will acclimate to the pro game and (usually) a significant system change. It's also important to note that young signal callers are getting less time than ever to prove they are capable of leading an NFL offense (just look at Jimmy Clausen).
This year's quarterback crop features more "big names" and less pro-ready prospects, as all of the top-tier quarterbacks feature significant question marks. Still, the National Football League is as pass-happy as ever and teams with a need under center will place a high premium on top signal callers.
This year's class could see as many as seven quarterbacks selected within the top 100 picks – the most since 2006. The uncertain labor situation currently clouding the league could also factor into a team's decision on draft day. Without free agency preceding the draft, well-built franchises that would normally pursue a veteran, such as Minnesota, may be forced to invest in a young quarterback.
Even teams in the middle of the pack will take a long look at this year's passers. Take Seattle for example – the Seahawks were unable to reach a deal with Matt Hasselbeck before the CBA expired, leaving the team in Charlie Whitehurst's hands. Hasselbeck may still return, but the team must approach the draft without knowing that for sure.
While many of the 2011 prospects are less polished than those seen in past drafts, there are still plenty of players at football's most important position with enough upside to warrant early draft-choice consideration. It's well known that pro franchises will reach for quarterbacks and this year's class features five signal callers who could hear their names called in the first round, although none are without flaw.
Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Auburn's Cam Newton are regarded by most teams as the top two rated passers in the draft and have intriguing skill sets that will undoubtedly result in top 10 selections, but both are coming from spread offenses and have little experience taking snaps from under center.
Washington's Jake Locker and Florida State's Christian Ponder entered the season as the highest rated senior quarterbacks, but lackluster campaigns in 2010 left more questions than answers. Locker figures to be another first-round lock, while Ponder could sneak into the late first if the right team falls in love with him or slip to the second.
Arkansas' Ryan Mallett may be the best pure passer of the group and should be chosen late in the first, but questions surrounding his character and poor athletic ability leave many to wonder how well he will acclimate to the NFL. He could go the way of Clausen and fall into the second round.
Several teams will consider quarterbacks with their first picks, including Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Washington, Minnesota, Miami and Seattle. If not, they may wait until the second round, where a pair of well-accomplished collegiate stars can surely be had.
Nevada's Colin Kaepernick became the only player in NCAA history with over 10,000 yards passing and 4,000 yards rushing, but will have to transition from playing in Chris Ault's pistol offense. Texas Christian's Andy Dalton set a Mountain West Conference record with 42 victories in his career, but is the kind of player who is solid at everything and not outstanding in any one attribute.
The mid to later rounds will feature several passers lacking the physical talent of the previous group, but can potentially develop into reliable "game managing" backups. Iowa's Ricky Stanzi was very efficient in his final campaign and managed to turn himself into a draftable commodity after an average 2009. However, he was unable to capitalize during pre-draft events with subpar performances.
Alabama's Greg McElroy has a track record of winning and is savvy in his decision-making, but has benefitted from a stellar supporting cast and possesses only average ability. The cream of the FCS crop is Delaware's PAT DEVLIN, another quarterback who is efficient, yet lacks the physical tools of his predecessor, Joe Flacco.
POSITION REPORT CARD
Although this group lacks a clear-cut top prospect the caliber of a Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford or Matt Ryan, it's hard to ignore the sheer depth of talent at the position. These quarterbacks will face a steeper learning curve but have plenty of physical ability to develop into top signal callers. Whether they turn that potential into production at the next level remains to be seen, but this year's crop warrants a B+ in my book.
Six quarterbacks have generated the most attention by NFL teams looking for a passer in the first few rounds. Gazing into my "crystal ball," I take a look at each of these athletes based on their pro potential and not from where they will be selected on draft day.
While most of the early first-round talk has been where Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will call home next season, there are few talent evaluators that will argue with the fact that Colin Kaepernick might be the best overall athlete among this year's quarterback crop.
Ryan Mallett might possess one of the most powerful arms in the game, but it was Kaepernick that set passing velocity marks at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Nevada passer is the first player in the history of college football to throw for over 10,000 yards and rush for over 4,000 yards in a career.
Jake Locker might have been better served leaving Washington after the 2009 season, as he was projected as a top-five draft selection prior to his senior season. A less-than-inspiring 2010 campaign could see him leave a lot of money behind, as he is now targeted as a late-first-round/early-second-round choice.
Christian Ponder struggled through two injury-plagues seasons and underwent multiple surgeries that prevent him from matching the lofty figures that Kaepernick and Newton generated in 2010. Still, his solid performance throughout the week of practices prior to the Senior Bowl might have been enough to see the Seminole move into the tail end of round one.
Here are the in-depth scouting reports of the "Big Six" who should all hear their names called by the second round at the end of April.
CREAM OF THE CROP
COLIN KAEPERNICK: University of Nevada (6:04.5-233-4.53)
Kaepernick started 47 of 51 games at Nevada, completing 740 of 1,271 passes (58.22%) for 10,098 yards, 82 touchdowns and just 24 interceptions…Caught one pass for a 6-yard score and rushed 600 times for 4,112 yards (6.85 ypc) with 59 touchdowns…Responsible for 142 touchdowns, as he gained 14,210 yards in total offense on 1,871 offensive plays (278.63 ypg/7.59 ypa)…Scored 362 points…Threw for over 200 yards 19 times, including six 300-yard performances and a 400-yard effort…Had at least two touchdown passes in 25 games, registering at least three scoring strikes 11 times (including two four-touch-down and one five-touchdown performances)…Did not throw an interception in 31 of his 47 starting assignments…Ran for over 100 yards 16 times during his career, twice going over the 200-yard mark on the ground…Became just the sixth player in NCAA annals to throw for over 2,000 yards (2,849 in 2008, 2,052 in 2009 and 3,022 in 2010) and run for over 1,000 yards (1,130 in 2008, 1,183 in 2009 and 1,206 in 2010) in a campaign and is the only quarterback in college annals to accomplish that feat in three consecutive seasons…Also the 10th college quarterback to run for over 1,000 yards in consecutive campaigns, becoming just the third in Western Athletic Conference history, joining Beau Morgan of Air Force (1,285 in 1995 and 1,494 in 1996) and Dee Dowis of Air Force (1,286 in 1987 and 1,315 in 1987)…Became the 13th player in the NCAA Division I ranks to amass over 2,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards passing in a career…Became the NCAA's eighth quarter-back to tally 3,000 yards rushing and 3,000 yards passing in a career, and is one of four to throw for over 8,000 yards and rush for over 3,000 yards in a career, joining an elite group that includes Antwaan Randle El of Indiana (3,895 rushing and 7,469 passing, 1998-2001), Joshua Cribbs of Kent State (3,670 rushing and 7,169 passing, 2001-04) and Brad Smith of Missouri (4,289 rushing, 8,799 passing, 2002-05)…His 10,098 aerial yards and 4,112 yards on the ground saw him become just the second quarterback in Western Athletic Conference history to pass for more than 3,000 yards and rush for over 3,000 yards in a career (Beau Morgan-Air Force, 1994-96 is the only QB to accomplish that feat).
Good News: Displays a howitzer for an arm that rivals Mallett's and can make any NFL throw…Exceptional athletic ability and has quick feet that give him an advantage against the blitz or pressuring rushers…Good decision maker and generally doesn't force the issue…Excellent intangibles as a hard-working leader…Elite production…"Kap" is going to need some time to develop, but has a fantastic set of physical tools to work with. He enjoyed a good outing at the Senior Bowl and was impressive during the week in practice, showing improvements in his footwork and accuracy…There comes a time when talent evaluators must decide whether a player is an athlete playing quarterback, or a quarterback with athletic ability. I believe Kaepernick is the latter, and his ability/upside should result in a mid-second round selection.
Bad News: Raw prospect who will take time to acclimate after playing in a pistol offense at Nevada, where he took a large majority of his snaps out of the shotgun…Has a windup and hitch in his throwing motion that will need correcting at the next level (likely resulting from his days as a standout baseball player)…Inconsistent accuracy.
Compares To: Donovan McNabb, Washington. Kaepernick is an athletic "stallion" in the mold of McNabb during his prime. He added needed bulk to his frame to absorb punishment at the next level and has made steady progress in undergoing some mechanical refinement (wind-up and low release point). I challenge anyone to find another quarterback eligible for the 2011 draft that has his arm strength, running ability and quickness. His arm rivals that of Joe Flacco's, his ability to avoid the rush reminds me of Vince Young and his swagger is favorably compared to that of Matt Ryan's. He was just not utilized to his best assets by the Nevada coaches, as he should be in a pro-style offense, rather than be confined to a "pistol" type of scheme.
BEST OF THE REST
CAM NEWTON: Auburn (6:05.0-248-4.60)
As a collegian, Newton appeared in a total of 32 games, starting all 14 contests for Auburn and all 12 clashes while attending Blinn College (played in six other games at Florida)… For his collegiate career, the quarterback completed 395 of 628 passes (62.90%) for 5,741 yards, 52 touchdowns and twelve interceptions…Added 2,241 yards with 40 more scores on 393 carries (5.70 ypc), as he also recorded one solo tackle, punted once for 22 yards and caught two passes for 42 yards, including one touchdown…Amassed 9,003 yards in total offense on 1,021 plays, an average of 281.34 yards per game and 8.82 yards per attempt…Despite playing just one season at Auburn, Newton had enough pass attempts (minimum of 150) to qualify for several career records, as his pass completion percentage of .6607 in 2010 broke the old school annual record of .646 by Jason Campbell (2001-04)…His 30 touchdown passes as a junior broke the Auburn season-record of 22, set in 2009 by Chris Todd…Completed 66.07% of his pass attempts in 2010, the third-best pass completion percentage by a Tigers hurler in a campaign, ranking behind Ben Leard (.707; 1999) and Jason Campbell (.696; 2004)…Newton's 1,473 yards rushing in 2010 shattered Jimmy Siddle's Auburn and Southeastern Conference record for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,006; 1963)…That rushing yardage ranks 12th overall on the SEC's season-record chart and third all-time at Auburn among all ball carriers, and is surpassed only by Bo Jackson (1,786; 1985) and Rudi Johnson (1,567; 2000)…His 20 rushing touch-downs in 2010 topped the school's previous annual record of 17 by Jackson in 1985 and Carnell Williams in 2003 and ranks second in SEC annals by a quarterback in a season, surpassed by Tim Tebow of Florida (23; 2007).
Good News: Fantastic physical tools…Great arm strength…Efficient, smooth delivery and quick release…Ball comes out with tons of zip…Shows good accuracy on the deeper routes and can throw with touch…Elite combination of size and athleticism…Tough to bring down…Described as a team leader…Top-notch production.
Bad News: One year as a starter at the FBS level…Played in a run-oriented spread offense and took all snaps out of the shotgun…Faces a steep learning curve…Footwork will need improvement…Questionable football IQ and has little experience making pro reads… Attempted 30 or more passes in a game just once in his FBS career and completed 20 or more just once (both in the BCS Championship)…Accuracy and timing are inconsistent on shorter routes…Clear character concerns and off-field issues.
Compares To: Daunte Culpepper, ex Minnesota. From a football athletic standpoint, Newton is strikingly similar to Culpepper, but he does not have the experience of playing in a pro-style system coming out of college like Culpepper did. He could easily be the next "JaMarcus Russell," especially with his lack of maturity and history of off-field issues. He needs to tone down his opinion of himself, as his "icon" opinion is annoying. He's strictly boom or bust, but with his coy attitude, he's more self-absorbent and could turn off coaches.
BLAINE GABBERT: Missouri (6:04.30-234-4.66)
Gabbert started 26 of 31 games at Missouri, completing 568 of 933 passes (60.88%) for 6,822 yards, 40 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, adding eight touchdowns on 221 carries for 458 yards (2.07 ypc)…Led his teams to an 18-8 record as a starter…Holds a career passer efficiency rating of 132.59…Generated 7,280 yards in total offense on 1,154 plays (6.31 avg), averaging 234.84 yards per game…Gabbert ranks third all-time at Missouri with 6,822 passing yards, as that mark is topped only by Chase Daniel (12,515; 2005-08) and Brad Smith (8,799; 2002-05)…His 3,593 passing yards in 2009 are surpassed only by Daniel (4,335 in 2008; 4,306 in 2007) on the school's season-record list…Ranks fifth in Missouri season annals with 3,186 passing yards in 2010…His 468 passing yards vs. Baylor in 2009 place second to Jeff Handy's record (480 vs. Oklahoma State in 1992) on the school's game-record list…Has three 400-yard passing performances in his career, just one shy of Chase Daniel's school record…Gabbert's pass efficiency rating of 132.59 is topped only by Daniel (148.9) in Missouri annals… Posted a passer efficiency rating of 140.45 in 2009, ranking sixth on the school's single-season record chart…Rank third all-time at Missouri with 7,280 yards in total offense behind Chase Daniel (13,485) and Brad Smith (13,088)… Generated 3,797 yards in total offense in 2009, placing fourth on the school's season-record chart behind Daniel (4,616 in 2008; 4,559 in 2007; 3,906 in 2006)…His 3,418 yards in total offense in 2010 place sixth on the school's season-record chart.
Good News: NFL caliber size…Excellent accuracy and timing…Enough arm strength to make all the throws…Can hit tight windows and is most impressive threading the needle between the corner and safety vs. Cover 2…Generally keeps a quick release…Good athleticism and mobility…Played in a pass-oriented spread and is regarded as being more pro-ready than other spread quarterbacks.
Bad News: Footwork will need improvement after taking all of his snaps out of the shot-gun…Can make poor decisions under pressure, especially outside of the pocket…Offense rarely required him to go through lengthy progressions and will take time to transition to making complicated pro-reads…Average production despite playing in a quarterback-friendly offense.
Compares To: Jay Cutler, Chicago. Gabbert has a pro-caliber arm, but with that three-quarter release, lots of his attempts end up being deflected (45 in 2010). He is a well-built athlete, but even with his solid work ethic, a quick adjustment from the spread to a pro-style offense is not going to happen.
BOOM OR BUST
RYAN MALLETT: Arkansas (6:06.6-253-5.37)
During his collegiate career, Mallett appeared in a total of 37 games (11 at Michigan and 26 at Arkansas, Starting all 27 contests he appeared in at Arkansas and three at Michigan…
He concluded his college career with 8,385 yards, 69 touchdowns and 24 interceptions, completing 552 of 955 passes (57.80%), as he also recorded minus 141 yards with seven scores on 135 carries (-1.04 ypc)…Joined Clint Stoerner (1996-99) as the only Arkansas quarterbacks to throw for 7,000 yards in a career and became just the fourth passer in Southeastern Conference history with 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons…As a Razorback, Mallett completed 491 of 814 attempts (60.32%) for 7,493 yards, 62 touchdowns and 19 interceptions, finishing with 7,390 yards in total offense on 916 plays (8.07 avg), averaging 284.23 yards per game…301 of 491 pass completions (61.30%) went for first downs, converting 76 of 193 third-down passes (39.38%)…279 of his pass completions (56.82%) went for gains of at least 10 yards, including 114 that went for 20 yards or more (23.22%)…151 of 814 pass attempts (18.55%) resulted in either a sack, interception or pass deflection…His 7,793 aerial yards broke Stoerner's all-time Arkansas record of 7,422 and rank 20th in Southeastern Conference annals…Set a school season-record with 3,869 aerial yards in 2010, shattering Stoerner's previous mark of 2,629 in 1998, as that mark also places fourth on the SEC's record chart.
Good News: Cannon of an arm and can make throws others at any level others simply cannot… Possesses the ability to fit the ball into the tightest of windows…Maintains solid accuracy when he is allowed to stand and deliver…Demonstrates great touch on the deeper routes…Solid football IQ and field vision to quickly make the right read...Great production against SEC competition.
Bad News: Long-legged with heavy feet and struggles mightily to quickly reset and deliver under pressure, resulting in inaccurate passes…Overconfident in his arm and will throw flat-footed and off-balance under pressure…Lack of athletic ability was protected by spread offensive scheme and took all of his snaps out of the shotgun…Questionable composure and has thrown critical interceptions late in games…Has a brash personality that is often compared to Ryan Leaf, leading some to wonder if he has the leadership ability to command an NFL huddle (similar to Jimmy Clausen).
Compares To: Carson Palmer, Cincinnati. There is no question that Mallett's arm strength is on par with that of Baltimore's Joe Flacco. He towers over defenders and has great size, but he's slow-footed and with that long stride of his, he's never going to be able to escape pressure with any consistency. Whoever drafts him will need to make sure they have an outstanding offensive line to protect him, as he will never be a threat throwing on the move. While his passing ability is likened to Palmer's, some of his poor decisions and inability to keep his cool under pressure have other evaluators seeing a bit of Derek Anderson (Arizona) in his game.
CHRISTIAN PONDER: Florida State (6:02.0-229-4.72)
Ponder started 24 of 37 games at Florida State, completing 596 of 965 passes (61.76%) for 6,872 yards, 49 touchdowns ands 30 interceptions…Carried 296 times for 833 yards (2.81 ypc) and 10 scores…Generated 7,705 yards in total offense on 1,261 plays, an average of 208.24 yards per game…Also recorded a pair of solo tackles…His pass completion percentage of .6176 ranked third in school history behind Charlie Ward (62.32%, 473 of 759, 1989-93) and Danny Kanell (62.16%, 529 of 851, 1992-95)…Became just the fourth player in school history to throw for over 6,500 yards in a career, joining Chris Weinke (9,839; 1997-2000), Chris Rix (8,390; 2001-04) and Drew Weatherford (7,567; 2005-08)…Only Chris Weinke (650) and Drew Weatherford (644) completed more passes for the Seminoles than Ponder's 596…His 49 touchdown passes tied Charlie Ward for fifth in FSU annals, topped by Chris Weinke (79), Chris Rix (63), Danny Kanell (57) and Gary Huff (52; 1970-72)…His 227 pass completions in 2009 tied Danny Kanell (1994) for seventh on the school season-record list…Ponder's 20 touchdown passes in 2010 tied Peter Tom Willis (1989) for 13th place on the FSU annual record chart.
Injury report: 2009 Season: Missed the final four games vs. Wake Forest, Maryland, Florida and West Virginia after Ponder suffered a grade-three separated right shoulder during the Seminoles' 40-24 loss at Clemson. The quarterback suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter when he attempted to make a tackle after throwing his fourth interception. He underwent surgery to repair his shoulder two weeks later. It was not until March 29, 2010, that Ponder would begin throwing again, taking part in spring camp.
2010 Season: Suffered a right elbow strain vs. Oklahoma that forced the quarterback to wear a protective sleeve over the length of his arm during the Brigham Young clash. Ponder's throwing was affected vs. the Cougars, as he was also dealing with a triceps bruise on his throwing arm vs. BYU. In the clash vs. Boston College, the issue with Ponder's health, specifically his arm strength, was causing alterations in the playbook. He described the latest ailment as a bursa sac injury to his right elbow. It happened on a scrambling run, the quarterback said. "I hit the ground and I must have just hit it right," Ponder noted. "There's that little sac in your elbow and I came right down on my elbow on the ground and it swelled up." On Nov. 6, Ponder was still troubled with an elbow injury on his throwing arm. He missed his weekly media session leading up to the North Carolina game to visit with doctors about soreness and swelling in the elbow. The ruptured bursa sac created a large amount of swelling and discomfort. After the North Carolina clash, Ponder's right elbow was so swollen that doctors removed 500 cc's of built-up fluid. To put that in perspective, that's the equivalent of two cups – or one-fourth of a 2-liter bottle of soda.
Good News: Great accuracy, especially on the shorter routes…Good timing and ball placement…Quick release and delivery...Solid mobility to escape pressure or pick up yards on the ground…Good footwork and has an abundance of experience playing in a pro-style system.
Bad News: Solid, not spectacular, arm strength…Deeper passes can float on him… Questionable ability to read the defense…Has a tendency to stare down receivers and tip off defenders…Has undergone multiple surgeries on throwing arm, including shoulder and elbow…Missed time in each of the past two seasons.
Compares To: Tony Romo-Dallas…Like Romo, Ponder is not blessed with ideal football size. Like Romo, injuries have played a major part in his inconsistent performances the last two years. He looks like he will capitalize on his Senior Bowl and pre-draft performances to go earlier in the draft than where he was rated in December, but while he can be a playoff-caliber passer, there is not enough in his total package to feel that he will ever lead his team to the "promised land."
BEST OF THE REST
JAKE LOCKER: Washington (6:02.4-231-4.58)
Locker started all 40 games at Washington, completing 619 of 1,148 passes (53.92%) for 7,639 yards, 53 touchdowns and 35 interceptions, holding a career passer rating of 118.95…Scored 29 times on 454 carries for 1,939 yards (4.27 ypc)…Amassed 9,578 yards in total offense on 1,602 plays (5.98 avg), averaging 239.45 yards per game…Among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision active players, Locker ranks 12th for pass attempts, 17th for pass completions, 16th for yards passing, tied for 18th for touchdown tosses, tenth for interceptions, seventh for total plays participated in, ninth for total offensive yardage and tied for eighth for touchdowns responsible for (82)…His 1,148 pass attempts rank second only to Cody Pickett (1,429; 1999-2003) on Washington's career-record list…His 619 completions are also topped only by Pickett (821) in school annals…His 7,639 passing yards place second all-time at Washington behind Pickett's 10,220 and 26th in Pac-10 Conference history…Passed for 200 yards or more 20 times, the second most in school history to Pickett's 29…Tied Brock Huard (1996-98) for second in school annals with 53 touchdown passes, as that mark is just shy of Pickett's school record (55) and ranks 26th in Pac-10 Conference history…Accumulated 9,578 yards in total offense, ranking second on the school's record list behind only Pickett (10,103) and 11th in Pac-10 Conference history…His 1,602 total offensive attempts are also the second most in school history behind Pickett (1,685)…His .0305 interception percentage is the third-lowest in school annals, topped only by Isaiah Stanback (.0229; 2003-06) and Mark Brunell (.0302; 1989-92).
Good News: Great physical tools…Good size and elite athletic ability…Terrific arm strength and can make any NFL throw…Shows great accuracy on the move, throwing to either side…Experienced in a pro-style system…Efficient delivery…Solid intangibles and gritty leadership to command the huddle…Extremely tough and plays through injury.
Bad News: Accuracy in the pocket is erratic and forces receivers to adjust to the ball too often…Footwork still needs improvement despite experience in a pro-style offense and needs to do a better job of stepping up into the pocket…Questionable football IQ and ability to read the defense…Suspect field vision and needed reads simplified to have success...Has a tendency to force the ball into coverage…Playing style leaves him susceptible to injury…Signed a six-year baseball deal with the Los Angeles Angels and hasn't exactly shot down the idea of pursuing the sport.
Compares To: J.P. Losman, Oakland. Locker can also be compared to the Bears' Jay Cutler and the 49ers' David Carr, as he is blessed with tremendous athleticism, but there seems to be that one missing ingredient – putting it all together. He is the type of athlete that can buy time with his feet, and he has more than enough strength and the quick release to get the ball out much quicker than he showed in 2010. He played behind a terrible line, and as a result, he rarely stepped into his throws and often unleashed the ball off his back foot. I'm just not sold on Locker even getting to Cutler's rank, feeling he's more Losman/Carr than teams realize.
OTHERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
ANDY DALTON: Texas Christian (6:02.0-215-4.93)
Good News: Good accuracy, especially on the shorter routes…Consistent and very efficient as a passer…Savvy player and usually makes sound decisions…Enough athletic ability to avoid the rush or gain yards on the ground in a pinch…Terrific intangibles, a proven winner and a team leader.
Bad News: Solid in most areas, but not outstanding in any one attribute…Came from a spread offense where he took all his snaps out of the shotgun…Scheme usually required quick throws and will need to learn to read a defense while dropping back…Arm strength is very average and deep ball can float on him…Lacks great size.
2010 Statistics: Chosen as the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year, joining Bradlee Van Pelt as the only players in league history to win the award in consecutive seasons…Completed 209-of-316 pass attempts (66.14%) for 2,857 yards, 27 touchdowns and six interceptions…Added 435 yards and six more scores on 86 carries (5.06 ypc).
Prediction: The model of consistency, Dalton set a Mountain West Conference record with 42 victories in his career. Scouts will love his intangibles, but he lacks a great set of tools. He's the type of player who is solid in most areas and could develop into a decent starter or solid backup. He will likely hear his name called in the mid-to-later portion of the second round due to the emphasis on the position.
RICKY STANZI: Iowa (6:04.3-223-4.96)
Good News: Made substantial improvements in efficiency during his final season…Good size…Experienced in a pro-style system and has seen a lot of situations in his career, good and bad…Quick, snappy release…Good intangibles and a gutsy team leader… Doesn't seem to dwell on mistakes.
Bad News: Average arm strength…Struggles with accuracy on intermediate-to-deep routes…Limited mobility…Decision making improved as a senior, but has been questionable throughout his career (56:31 TD to INT ratio)…Lacks great upside due to an average set of tools.
2010 Statistics: Completed 221-of-345 pass attempts (64.06%) for 3,004 yards, 25 touch-downs and six interceptions…Added minus six yards and two scores on 48 carries (-0.13 ypc).
Prediction: Stanzi was very efficient in his final season at Iowa, completing 64.06 percent of his pass attempts while throwing 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions – a remarkable improvement from the 17 scores and 15 picks he tossed as a junior with a completion percentage of only 56.25. Yet Stanzi has been underwhelming during the pre-draft process and failed to capitalize on an opportunity to boost his stock at the Senior Bowl. His size and experience could entice a team with a need to select him in the third round, but chances are he will be selected in the fourth.
PAT DEVLIN: Delaware (6:03.3-225-4.87)
Good News: Solid accuracy, especially on the short routes…Quick, over-the-top delivery…Surveys the field and goes through his progressions…Doesn't lock on to his primary target…Very efficient and doesn't force the issue…Led Delaware to the FCS title game as a senior.
Bad News: Played against lesser competition and will need time to acclimate to the speed of the NFL…Only adequate arm strength…Spread offense product who took a majority of his snaps out of the shotgun…Limited athletic ability.
2010 Statistics: Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year…Completed 261-of-384 pass attempts (67.97%) for 3,032 yards, 22 touchdowns and three interceptions…Added 130 yards and another score on 75 carries (1.73 ypc).
Prediction…Devlin has constantly heard comparisons to Joe Flacco but make no mistake about it: the two are very different players. Devlin's arm strength isn't near what Flacco's was coming out of Delaware, nor is his size. He is another player who projects better to a west coast offense, but lackluster performances in pre-draft events have likely knocked him out of the first four rounds. Devlin should earn a fifth- or sixth-round selection as a developmental player.
GREG McELROY: Alabama (6:01.7-220-4.99)
Good News: Proven winner with a lengthy track record of success…Savvy in his decision making and doesn't force the issue…Generally maintains good accuracy…Adequate arm strength…Solid in reading coverage…Good intangibles…Very smart both on and off the field.
Bad News: Solid, but not outstanding skill set…Benefitted from a fantastic supporting cast…Has a hitch in his throwing motion that will need correcting at the next level…Has limited mobility…Lacks size.
2010 Statistics: Set Alabama season-records for passing yards and touchdowns… Completed 222-fo-313 pass attempts (70.93%) for 2,987 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions…Added minus-12 yards and another score on 60 carries (-0.2 ypc).
Prediction: Over his final two seasons as a starter, McElroy threw 37 touchdown passes to just nine interceptions. Of those nine picks, just one came in the team's three losses with McElroy as a starter, and it occurred early in the first quarter vs. LSU. He has been limited in pre-draft events due to a broken bone in his throwing hand suffered in the Senior Bowl. Still, McElroy should warrant a fifth or sixth round selection and is the kind of player that can develop into a solid backup while also contributing to your team in the film room thanks to his work ethic.
Tyrod Taylor: Virginia Tech (6:00.6-217-4.52)
Notes: Fantastic athlete who would be better served converting to wide receiver, but could warrant some consideration due to his ability to contribute as a Wildcat quarterback.
Scott Tolzien: Wisconsin (6:02.0-212-5.06)
Notes: Gritty leader was incredibly efficient running a ball-control offense, but lacks ideal size and arm strength.
Nathan Enderle: Idaho (6:04.1-240-5.22)
Notes: Entered the season as a highly-touted prospect and looks like an NFL passer, but produced a very uninspiring senior campaign.
Josh Portis: California (PA) (6:02.7-211-4.69)
Notes: An exceptional athlete with very intriguing physical ability, but is very raw and no more than a developmental prospect.
Jeff Van Kamp: Florida Atlantic (6:05.2-218-4.86)
Notes: Looks the part at his size and possesses decent accuracy, but has limited mobility and a wicked side-arm release.
T.J. Yates: North Carolina (6:03.3-219-5.07)
Notes: Led a resilient Tar Heels squad while enjoying a breakout season as a senior, but likely doesn't possess the physical tools to stick.
Taylor Potts: Texas Tech (6:04.1-218-5.01)
Notes: Taller quarterback was highly-touted as a prep recruit and put up big numbers as a senior, but is a product of Texas Tech's famed spread offense and lacks great tools.