The title may be a bit misleading and it will surely provoke a few debates on the number of first round QB talents. Still, what looked like a possible 1983 remake of that famed QB draft class is slowly fading and only 2 QB’s may be going in round 1. A reminder that bad press can sink millions from a draft picks pocket.
It started, so it seems, with the announcement by Andrew Luck that he was staying at Stanford. Prior to that announcement, as many as 5 and possibly six QB’s were slated to be first round can’t miss targets. In fact, many believed that as many as 4 of those QB’s could have gone in the top 8 picks alone. Now, it seems that no QB may be taken in the top 5.
The irony of this is that teams have suddenly filled their needs for QB’s. The stock of these players just continue to drop as the days go by.
Here is a quick look at the top QB’s in this years draft class and where some saw them a couple of months ago and where others see them now.
Ryan Mallett - The Arkansas QB was the number 2 QB in this years draft class. Expected to be a top 5 pick after Luck was taken off the board at number 1. Instead, he has fallen in some mock drafts out of the top 10 all together. Mallet has been plagued by off-field rumors and his stock has fallen. While some mock drafts still have Mallett in the top 10 – 15 range, his draft spot may be predicated on the two QB’s that are climbing, Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton. Mallet will almost assuredly be taken in the first round, he just has too much arm strength not to be. The question is where will that be?
Blaine Gabbert - Gabbert wasn’t even a mention two months ago in the first round. Now, it appears that he has catapulted himself to the top QB in this years draft class. All of the info on Gabbert thus far has been positive and that has improved his stock. Unfortunately it won’t improve enough to make him a Carolina Panther at number 1. Instead, Gabbert could find himself in the 5-10 range. Still not bad for a QB who wasn’t on many radars at all a short time ago. Personally, I don’t believe that a solid Combine at the end of the month will improve his stock, only solidify his range in the 5-10. I would be surprised if he went higher than that.
Cam Newton - Forget about yesterdays little workout. Mike Mayock of NFL.com said it best. ”I also thought Jamarcus Russell had the best workout I had ever seen”. That won’t stop Newton from moving up. Newton has been steady in his placement predictions. 10 to 15 range. He continues to inch his way into the top 10 and that may very well be his final landing spot. His Combine and Auburn pro-day workouts will help strengthen his placement. It has been pointed out several times before that Newton will have to prove at this level that he can read defenses. If he can prove to scouts and coaches that he can, he will keep his draft stock in that 10 to 15 range…maybe a couple of spots higher.
Jake Locker - Locker was supposed to be one of those top 4 or 5 QB’s that would come off the board in the first 10 picks. Now, it seems as though he is slipping out of round 1 all together. A poor showing at the Senior Bowl didn’t help his stock and it’s very possible that he could skip the Combine and wait out his pro-day. A bad showing at the Combine will surely knock him out of round 1. Locker is plagued with inconsistency and teams are starting to see the amount of work it will take to get him to the next level. His attitude has also been brought into question which will not help his image. Locker has been projected of late to be a possible 2-3 round QB prospect.
Ricky Stanzi – It’s been quiet in the Stanzi camp of late. He isn’t moving up and he isn’t moving down. That is a good thing. The NFL Combine serves to help prospects like Stanzi to show what they can do in a stressful environment. Coaches appreciate the kids who have a lot on the line but even more confidence to prove it or at the very least take the risk. Stanzi is projected to be a 2nd to 4th round prospect and it’s likely that his draft slot may come sometime in the late 2nd to mid-third. But Stanzi is going to have competition for those higher slots. Christian Ponder and Colin Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick – CK has been climbing the draft boards of coaches and the media that cover the draft prospects. He still has some learning to do to get ready for the next level but many are comparing him to Vince Young without the attitude. CK has a strong arm with some placement issues that lead to inconsistent throws but his legs are superb and he is one of the few running QB’s who simply doesn’t pull the ball down early to make a few yards. He has patience. Some scouts believe that he can showcase his way into one of the top 4 QB’s and possibly make his way into the latter half of round 1. Others still project him to be a late 2nd round pick or later. He will be a project but his ability to run and evade tacklers will likely allow him to get on the field sooner rather than later.
Christian Ponder - Ponder was a slotted mid-draft pick but his stock is rising fast. A solid Senior Bowl and his practices leading up to the game has really jumped out at the scouts. While still not a first round pick, many believe that by the time late April arrives, he will have solidified himself as a mid-round 2nd. The knock on Ponder at this point isn’t his ability to manage a game, but instead a lack of arm strength. Some believe him to be more of a Chad Pennington style player without the injury concern.
Keeping them in round 1:
Players like Mallett and Locker may still end up first round picks. Both players would likely do themselves better by skipping the Combine where they would be under a microscope that neither need to be under right now. Allow their pro-days to speak for themselves. On the other hand, attending the Combine would show NFL teams their commitment to improving their draft status and their images. But they need to have solid Combine workouts not to slide further.
Where these QB’s, all of them, are drafted will really come down to the teams that are in need of QB’s. Teams like the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, 49′ers, and Vikings. Those teams may deem the need for a signal caller too important to let any prospects pass them by. Or they may simply believe that they can improve other parts of their team with better available talent early and grab that caller later in the draft.
On thing is for sure, a couple of these QB’s will slide out of rounds one and two and bare the long wait of hearing their names called. What will be more interesting to see and a better indication of how teams really view these QB’s is who is invited to the Draft for day 1. It also should be mentioned that this years Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers was plagued with similar pre-draft issues that slid him out of the top 10 as well.
For the Phins:
Selecting at number 15 could put the Dolphins in a position to draft Ryan Mallett if they don’t buy into the off-field issues and drug use rumors. Similar rumors that plagued Dan Marino out of Pitt. If the Dolphins don’t buy into those rumors and Mallett does indeed fall out of the top 10, Miami could have that 6-6 big arm QB they haven’t had since Dan the Man retired. If the Dolphins don’t fall in love with Mallett or see the reward vs. the risk at that spot, they could trade down, something that Jeff Ireland has said he would like to do. Gaining a second round pick in the process. Mallett still may be on the board in round 1 depending on how far he falls but the Dolphins may look to shoring up the offensive line late in round 1 and taking a QB prospect in round 2. Perhaps a Christian Ponder or Colin Kaepernick.