Rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton and Andy Dalton continue to impress

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up before a game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

If the NFL has been searching for the latest group of great young quarterbacks, early returns from the 2011 NFL Draft class show the league may have it.

Through two games, No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton looks the part for the Carolina Panthers. A league release said Newton's 854 yards passing are the most in the first two games of a career. Despite the three interceptions he threw Sunday against the Packers, it's been an incredible two games.

So good that it has overshadowed the play of Bengals second-round pick Andy Dalton.

Dalton is only the second quarterback since the merger to post quarterback ratings of more than 100 in his first two starts, according to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. As Reedy points out, the other one was Dan Marino in 1983, and things turned out pretty good for him.

The next quarterback of the 2012 class who could get to prove himself is Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Jack Del Rio isn't saying who his starting quarterback will be against the Newton and the Panthers. If the four-interception game against the New York Jets is any indication, it should be Gabbert.

If Newton and Dalton continue to play as they are and Gabbert does well, this could be the first great quarterback class since the 2004 edition that featured Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. That's not even considering this year's other first-rounders Jake Locker and Christian Ponders.

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