Friday, March 18, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton Among QB's With First Round Potential

The 2011 NFL Draft continues to get closer and that means those of us who eat every mock draft that comes out from ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper look forward to the analysis and reactions.

While we can break down every pick in every mock draft that is put together, it can get monotonous when you see the same things over and over again.

I, however, want to focus on the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft and which quarterbacks could be taken in the top 32 spots.
There's one familiar name who made McShay's recent mock draft but where he has this particular person projected to go could surprise some and excite others.

McShay and Kiper have very different mock drafts and each has a different name at the very top of the board. Let's take a look at the first round quarterbacks and where each ESPN analyst has them landing.

Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) - McShay (3rd overall to the Buffalo Bills)  Kiper (1st overall to the Carolina Panthers)

Analysis: This isn't surprising a lot of people after Gabbert's pro day. The Missouri quarterback shined in his pro day on Thursday, completing 44 of the 49 passes he threw. Those that were dropped, according to those who watched in person, said at least three of them were on sound passes. Impressive.

Among those in attendance to watch included New York Jets' head coach Rex Ryan, Cincinnati Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis, Carolina Panthers' head coach John Fox, and Denver Broncos' vice president and Hall of Famer John Elway. Of those four, the Bengals and Panthers could be the two teams that would be the most likely landing spots.

Carolina may not believe in either Matt Moore or former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen who they drafted just last season. The Bengals, on the other hand, have drama unfolding with Carson Palmer and may need a replacement seeing as the former USC standout does not want to play for the Bengals any longer.

Cam Newton (Auburn) - McShay (5th overall to the Arizona Cardinals)  Kiper (4th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals)

Analysis: Seems like both McShay and Kiper are almost on the same page with this pick as far as the former Auburn superstar going in the top five overall.

Newton has a ton of talent and there's no denying that. What he lacks is the inability to believe his own hype, calling himself an "entertainer" and "icon" before the NFL combine even began. Comments that his eventual veteran teammates will more than likely make him pay for.

The Cardinals, at least in my mind, make the most sense here. They need a quarterback that can begin a new era in Phoenix. They drafted former USC star, Matt Leinart, but we saw how that worked out.

I've been one of the lone rangers to stump for the Dallas Cowboys drafting him at No. 9 but if McShay or Kiper are right, he won't be available at that point anyway. I guess those who didn't want him in Dallas will get their wish after all.

Jake Locker (Washington) - McShay (25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks)  Kiper (25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks)

Analysis: They agree! Both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper are in agreement with former Washington Huskies' quarterback Jake Locker staying in Seattle and being drafted by the Seahawks.

Matt Hasselbeck is on the down side of his career and Seattle needs someone they can mold into their quarterback of the future. Locker is as good as any and would be a good pickup for them at No. 25.

His senior season couldn't have been worse especially coming off a brilliant junior season leaving some to wonder if he should have stayed for his senior year. We can throw out all the if's, and's, and but's we want but the fact remains Locker did stay and probably wishes he hadn't.

Best of the rest: Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Andy Dalton (TCU), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Ricki Stanzi (Iowa), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)

Follow Todd Kaufmann @T_Kaufmann and National Football Authority @NFAuthority on Twitter

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