Just a look at the previous draft class and this years draft class, comparing the quarterbacks.
I compared a 2010 QB to a 2011 QB depending on which number QB they were drafted (ex. Tebow was the 2nd QB) and where they are projected.
One on One Comparisons.
1. 2010 #1 pick Sam Bradford vs. 2011 Blaine Gabbert
Blaine Gabbert will likely the first QB off the board this year's draft. But Gabbert likely won't go in the top-5. He may not even be gone by the low teens. Bradford was the #1 pick last year for a reason. Despite missing much of his final collegiate season to injury, Bradford was still a tremendous prospect because of his size (6'5 215 lbs), and also what he had done the previous season (4,720 yards, 50 TDs, Heisman trophy winner). Blaine's collegiate performance's don't compare, but the NCAA and NFL aren't the same. Gabbert is about equal to Bradford in height, but heavier (about 15 lbs so).
Gabbert's pocket presence and ability to throw the football aren't in the same league with 2010 Sam Bradford, but Gabbert holds the crown in mobility, and even potential in my opinion. Gabbert will need some time behind a veteran, while Bradford stepped in immediately and was very good. If Gabbert recieves adequate time to develop, he will be a better version of Big Ben.
The Winner: 2010. Sam Bradford holds a big edge.
Newton might not be the next signal-caller off the board, but this comparision makes sense.
Both of these guys are dual threat QB's, they both have a heisman, they both have a BCS championship. So what's the difference between them? First of all, Cam Newton is undoubtedly a better runner than Tebow. Tebow could outrun linebackers. But Cam Newton could outrun safeties. I watched Newton stiff-arm a defensive lineman into the ground, juke a linebacker, juke another one, then outrun a defensive back to the house. Against South Carolina, a very good SEC team.
Beyond running the ball (remember they aren't halfbacks), I personally put their passing skills in the same league, but I give the slight edge to Cam because of his better mechanics and strength. Plus Newton is a good 2 inches taller, so he will easier be able to see over the line and deliver the ball with his high release (he is no Vince Young).
The bottom line is Cam Newton is a better NFL prospect than Tim Tebow was. Tebow showed some good things close to the end of the NFL season with Denver, but Newton's ceiling is much higher.
The Winner: 2011. Cam Newton with a significant edge.
3. Round 2 #16 Jimmy Clausen vs. Ryan Mallett
Both of these guys enter/entered their respective drafts carrying the tag "NFL-ready". But they both had questions about side things like leadership and maturity. Clausen's questions made him fall out of the first round and midway into the second, which I didn't agree with, but that's what happened. I personally thought Clausen was worthy of a late-1st round pick. Mallett could also see a fall similar to that, due to his character questions.
But those side questions aren't what really makes up a quarterback (Im not saying they dont matter, just that they arent the most important thing). Looking at away from that, I think Mallett is slightly a better quarterback than Clausen was coming out of Notre Dame. Mallet has a much bigger, stronger arm that allows him to make every throw. Clausen's arm was strong, but not like Mallett. The accuracy is close to even, with Clausen maybe taking the cake in the short-yardage game. Clausen is undoubtedly more mobile, but wasn't as good throwing inside the pocket as the 6'7 Razorback. So these guys are pretty even to me, but I have to select a winner.
The winner: 2010. Jimmy Clausen, but just barely.
4. Round 3 #21 Colt McCoy vs. Jake Locker.
Bill Parcells would probably take Colt McCoy out of these two prospects. Why? Because McCoy was a winner in college. Locker wasn't what you call a winner, but Locker is what you call "the better NFL quarterback". Locker has better physical abilities and is physically bigger than McCoy. Locker 6'3 230 lbs. McCoy 6'1 210 lbs.
McCoy had better accuracy coming out of college than Locker, but the Husky had the stronger arm. And unlike strength, accuracy comes with time and practice. Locker also showed improved mechanics and footwork at the Senior Bowl.
They both are mobile QB's but Locker is definitely the more mobile of the two. McCoy was a better runner coming out of college, but in the NFL, you don't run, you scramble. And Locker is the better scrambler. And I remember watching Colt in college and thinking to myself that he seemed indescisive about scrambling. Like he wasn't sure whether to stick in the pocket longer or just go. Locker doesn't heistate, he justs goes. Overall, Locker's size, arm strength, scrambling ability, and potential say what needs to be said.
The winner: 2011. Jake Locker by a significant margin.
5. Round 4 #24 Michael Kafka vs Christian Ponder.
The previous matchup between Colt and Locker created some separation between the two classes, and this matchup hoists 2011 clearly above. Michael Kafka was eally a 6th round prospect who went in the 4th. He wasn't a remarkable player in college, and didn't have anything that NFL scouts really look for. He just had the simple things like short-pass accuracy and mobility. Plus his stock was lowered when he threw 5 interceptions in his final collegiate game.
And unlike Ponder, Kafka took most of his snaps from shotgun and in a spread offense. Ponder played in an offense where he had to take the ball from center and dropback to pass, and also play some shotgun.
Neither of them has remarkable size that distinguishes one from the other, but Ponder has shown he has the "intangibles" to be a good QB in the NFL. He has shown understanding of the game, leadership and a very competetive nature that every successful QB must have. Ponder could be the 5th QB off the board in the 2nd round while Kafka went in the late 4th.
The Winner: 2011. Christian Ponder by a significant margin.
And as you go down the line from their, the 2011 prospects are better.
The Bottom Line:
2011 is surely the better QB class. And this wouldn't even be an argument had Andrew Luck decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft. Teams looking for a QB in 2011 could pull the trigger on a high-potential player like Jake Locker in the late 1st- early 2nd round. Or they could wait until the 4th round and take the accurate, mobile, and composed Andy Dalton. Heck they could snag accurate and ultra-efficient Scott Tolzien from Wisconsin in the 7th round. Teams who decided to not take a QB in last years draft made a good decision in waiting for 2011, an extremely deep quaterback draft class.
Tell me what you think.
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I want this to be clear to everyone. When I talked about the 2010 prospects, I wasnt much taking into account what they did in their rookie seasons. I'm looking back on them as prospects before the 2010 draft.