Top QB prospects state their case

The top four quarterbacks in the draft each tried to accentuate their positives and downplay the negatives with their public interviews. It's resume-building time in the eyes of the public. Some passed, others failed.

Interesting decisions are ahead for the Vikings as they examine every element of the draft-eligible quarterbacks. On Sunday, the physical elements of most of those quarterbacks take to the field as they throw and undergo a series of drills.

The previous two days were all about the psychological and medical exams, and their meetings with the press.

Cam Newton was drilled regarding his recent comments about wanting to be an "icon" and entertainer, and he was asked to address his past with allegations of stealing a laptop and his father wanting to collect money for sending him to Mississippi State.

Newton defended his father, saying he just wanted the best for Cam, but the quarterback owned up to the "icon" quote that sent the media on its ear.

"For me, seeing how it did happen, I felt it was somewhat misunderstood. It was partly my mistake in not making myself clear and that was my fault," he said about his comments earlier in the week that had some questioning his attention to football.

Sunday is a chance for the quarterbacks to set themselves apart on the field, but Friday and Saturday were opportunities for them to state their case in front of hundreds of NFL reporters.

Blaine Gabbert is considered the top pick among the quarterbacks and Cam Newton the most athletic (and possibly raw) quarterback. Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett are also in the first-round discussion for some.

Many consider it to be a competition between Gabbert and Newton at the top.

"I think that's what you guys are making it out to be, kind of me vs. Cam," Gabbert said. "But it's just an opportunity for us to get drafted as high as
possible. I know Cam, Ryan and Jake are all working to be the No. 1 guy. And it's going to be a fun next few months.

"Cam's an explosive athlete. You've seen what he has done at the college level. He's won a JUCO national championship, won the national championship at Division I level. He's been extremely successful, so he has all the talent in the world, but we're going to compete and fight it out and may the best man win."

Newton seems to have the confidence that he is the most talented man, but too much confidence can rub some the wrong way.

"I'm a confident person. It was instilled in me at a young age to believe in myself first and foremost," Newton said. "Because if I don't believe in myself, who do I expect to believe in myself?"

For Locker, the main questions surround his accuracy throwing the ball and he expected those questions to crop up at the Combine, but he also said he is up to the challenge and ready for it.

"I understand that it's a great opportunity to come showcase what you can do, but you also open yourself up to criticism. But I think that that's part of this process," Locker said. "It's something you have to get comfortable with – playing under a microscope – because it's going to be the same way when you end wherever team you end up with or whatever city you end up in.

"Expectations are going to be high, and you've got to find a way to keep yourself grounded and block that stuff out and have confidence in who you are and in the player you are."

While Locker can throw on the run, Mallett answered questions about his accuracy by citing his career statistics at Arkansas, including throwing for more than 7,000 yards. There didn't appear to be a lack of confidence from him either.

"I don't know about a swagger. I feel like I have confidence in myself and teams see that," Mallett said. "Some people don't like my confidence.
But I can't do nothing about it."

Mallett may have hurt his image the most with his media session, part of that due to the rumors of drug use earlier this week emanating out of St. Louis, allegations his didn't deny but said he laughed at. Gabbert, on the other hand, sounded like a quarterback that appreciated the position he's in as the potential first quarterback taken in the draft.

"I'm ecstatic," he said. "This opportunity doesn't come around very often. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I'm going to make the most of it and just have fun doing it."

Several of the top four quarterback prospects praised the work ethic of pros like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and some of them even complimented the other quarterbacks in the draft.

Each tried to accentuate his strengths and downplay his potential weaknesses and perceived character issues. But after the draft competition is over, they are all looking for that next starting job.

"As soon as I'm drafted, I'm going to be working to be a starting quarterback," Gabbert said.

Whether that will be with the Vikings or another team will depend much more on his interviews with NFL personnel rather than his public appearance Saturday.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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