Combine performance assessment: Quarterbacks

After hearing from the quarterbacks on Friday and Saturday, they finally got to throw on Sunday. For some that was a good thing. For others, it wasn't. See what the on-site assessments were for Sunday's quarterbacks.

Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine brought out the actual drills and throwing by the quarterbacks. Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, potentially the first quarterback off the draft board on April 28, elected not to throw, a common occurrence with top clients of agent Tom Condon.

Ryan Mallet, who left a poor impression after his media interview, was the sharpest of the quarterbacks on the field. Select reporters were allowed to watch the throwing session live and make their evaluations. Here what they came away with:

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett had the best throwing day in his group, having a slight edge over Jake Locker of Washington.

What was evident – as expected – was his strong arm, an arm that sometimes was almost too strong. Mallett's first throw on a short route was so strong and hard it caused Mallett to step back and almost hit himself with his hand as if he was mad at himself for throwing a 5-yard route with such velocity. After that, he settled down and had a great day.

Mallett elected not to run but instead to throw, emphasizing his strengths as a quarterback. On deep seam routes in the middle of the field, Mallett was flawless, arching the ball with perfect touch and hitting receivers in stride. On out routes to the sideline, Mallett delivered his best fastball and was perfectly accurate. The ball exploded into receivers' hands.

His slant-route throws were perfect, although some of the throws are so hard and fast they will challenge the hands of receivers. He was particularly impressive on his post corners on the right, going 4-for-4. If there was a weakness, it was his 17-yard turn-ins to his left. His first pass was high. His second one was a little off, but by the third throw he was perfect.

Mallett has excellent deep touch on his throws. His challenge is making sure he can be accurate on his intermediate throws.

— John Clayton, ESPN

Jake Locker, Washington
Though Sunday wasn't a perfect rebound from a sub-par Senior Bowl week, University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker bounced back with his throwing. Running was no problem. It never has been.

His initial unofficial times of 4.52 and 4.52 would have tied him for Duante Culpepper, the former Minnesota Vikings quarterback, as the fourth-best quarterback 40 time since 1999. Considered the Tim Tebow of the West Coast, Locker has always been known for having great athletic skills for his ability to move.

It's been his inconsistent throwing that has been under scrutiny. Sunday was good day overall because he was consistent in most of his throws. He opened by showing great arch and touch on seam routes down the middle of the field.
Though his throws on slant route were fine, a drop and a mis-step by a receiver led to two of three incompletions, but drops by receivers were familiar to him from his days at Washington.

Locker wasn't as sharp in two of his three "nine" routes to his left, being a little high with a couple of throws.
Locker bounced back with a strong performance of throws to his right. He completed two of three throws on short out routes. His 12-yard curls to his right were natural. He was 3-for-3 on post-corner throws.

Overall, Locker seemed to be in tone with his throws and made it easy for receivers to catch them. He's made progress since the Senior Bowl.

— John Clayton, ESPN

Cam Newton, Auburn
All the raw skills were on display Sunday when Auburn quarterback Cam Newton had his throwing session with the second group of quarterbacks.

Overall, Newton completed 11 of his 21 throws after helping out receivers in the across-the-field pass-catching drills.

Newton is a great arm thrower, not using much leg power to put velocity behind his throws. He can throw 50 to 60 yards with an easy arm motion. There is no throw he can't make.

Newton was 2-for-3 on deep post-corner routes, his best throws of the day. The post-corner routes were the last passes of the workout. He took a little off his first throw to get a completion and was a little long with throw number two. No. 3 was perfect.

His most consistent throws were the 17-yard "turn-ins" to his left and 12-yard "turn ins" to his right, completing five of six of those throws.

What's clear is he needs to work on his footwork on passes to his left. Like a lot of young quarterbacks, Newton tended to overstride and not be accurate on passes to his left. The longer the pass, the less accurate he was. He was 1-for-3 on short out passes to his left, rebounded with his left-side "turn-in" passes and missed all three of his go routes down the left sidelines.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of his performance was overthrowing receivers on three passes to his right on short out passes to the sideline.

Regardless, Newton showed all the raw talent of a top-five selection. He checked into the combine at 6-5, 248 pounds, ran a 4.59 40 and had a 10-6 broad jump, one of three quarterbacks who tied for the best broad jumps at their position.

— John Clayton, ESPN

Christian Ponder, Florida State
Ponder had the best day of the second group of the quarterbacks. He was accurate on the short and intermediate routes but struggled a little bit on the long passes. He doesn't have the strongest arm. Extremely accurate and good placement on throws.

Definitely had the most command of anyone out there.

— Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa
Another tough day for him as his throws were all over the place. Only thing he did well was a quick release. Passes were short and low.

He threw a deep ball better than he did at the Senior Bowl, but it was short most of the time. Did not improve his chances.

— Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer

Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
Suprisingly accurate and had good touch on his passes. He didn't try to zip most of his shorter throws, which helped him complete them. But he looked comfortable in his set-up.

— Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer

Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Kaepernick, considered a promising project coming out of the Nevada pistol offense, immediately displayed what he needed to work on the most – his deep throws. He opened the throwing sessions with three long overthrows on seam routes.

He was also high on two of three passes on ``out'' passes to the right. If anything, he seems to have inconsistencies with his footwork on his deep throws. His long passes tended to sail. Only once did he have a deep underthrow.

But let's move to the positive. He was flawless on his 12-yard curls, going three-for-three. His most consistent throws were the 17-yard turn-ins. In each of those three throws, the ball had the right velocity and was placed in a good spot for receivers to catch them.

Though his first post corner route to his right was a little high,
Kaepernick made two of the best post-corner throws of his group.

— John Clayton, ESPN

Andy Dalton (TCU), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Nathan Enderle (Idaho)
As with the other quarterbacks in the morning workout, Dalton, Devlin and Enderle did not stand above any of the others, as they struggled with accuracy. This group also had trouble with the deep pass, as only Dalton was consistent in getting the ball to the receivers on the deep out routes.

Dalton looked very comfortable in his drops and delivery throughout the morning. For the most part his passes were in catchable areas for the wide receivers, including the deep passes. They did not always connect, but with the exception of two or three passes, there was always a chance to make the catch.

Devlin was inconsistent in his delivery and at times he did not give his receivers a fighting chance to catch the ball. However, during the workout he probably had the best accuracy percentage, somewhere in the neighborhood of 65-70 percent.

Enderle seemed the least comfortable in his drops and delivery and several times seemed to be pushing the ball down the field rather than throwing. On 30-yard pass down the left numbers, he hooked up for a nice completion with Ricardo Lockette out of Ft. Valley State. It was Enderle's best throw of the morning.

— Bob Gretz,

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