Over the next couple of weeks and leading up to the draft, I will be taking a look at each position, if the Dolphins have a need to upgrade that position in the draft, and who are the top 10 prospects going in. Remember, this is only one man’s opinion. Today we will look at the quarterback position.
It’s no secret that the Miami Dolphins are searching for a quarterback. Chad Henne may or may not be the future of this team, but either way, he needs some competition. If the CBA does not get done in the next 2 months, the Dolphins will have no choice but to find their quarterback through the draft. Taking the combine into consideration, here are my current top 10 quarterback prospects:
1. Cam Newton, Auburn 6’5, 248 lbs
Personally, I thought Newton did not perform well at the combine at all, but it’s hard to ignore his 2010 season at Auburn. His size and speed combination is something never before seen at the NFL level. In a short period of time, he went from a nobody to the most talked about prospect. He has a strong arm, he can run and he is a born leader. Question marks about Cam come back to a few things though. He came from a one-read offense. If the inital option was not there, he took off and ran. It’s going to be tough for an NFL team to break him of that habit. Besides that, he has serious character concerns. Whether he knew about what his father was doing, we don’t know. But he has other concerns as well. He played only one full season of college football. He almost always ran out of the shotgun. Let’s not forget, at the combine he went a paltry 11 for 21, missing most often, high, on the 10 yard out.
I think if Blaine Gabbert goes before Cam and he is there at pick number 15, the Dolphins have to take a long look at him. Honestly though, I don’t think he’ll drop that far. There are just too many teams drafting before the Phins that need a quarterback, and his skill set and potential is just too much for all of them to pass.
2. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri 6’4, 234 lbs
Gabbert has been the main beneficiary of Stanford’s Andrew Luck returning to school. He is now a consensus top 10 pick, and some even have him going #1 to the Panthers. Do I think that is going to happen? Absolutely not. Gabbert has the ideal size you would want in an NFL quarterback. He has a strong arm and can make all the throws. He is smart, mobile, and has a quick release. So why has his stock been falling? Well first off, he is a product of the spread offense. He does not go through his progressions like you would want from a top 10 pick. He struggled his junior season, culminating in an INT that cost his team the Insight Bowl. Does he have a ton of potential? Sure. But unless the potential goes through the roof (like it does for Newton), you don’t want to draft a project quarterback so early in the draft. If there is one quarterback who I can see taking an Aaron Rodgers sized plummet in the 1st round, it’s Gabbert. (However, as we’ve established, so many teams have a need for a quarterback that I’m sure someone will pull the trigger early.)
3. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada 6’6, 233 lbs
For those of you who have taken the time to read my first couple of articles, you know how I feel about Kaepernick. Even more then Gabbert, Kaepernick’s body really is NFL ready. At 6’6, 233 lbs, you would not expect him to be fast. Except he ran the second fastest time of any QB at the combine, a 4.53. (Jake Locker ran a 4.52) He might have the best arm of any QB in the 2011 class, and he likes to use it. I like the fact that he is mobile enough to take off if necessary, but he can also sling it, and has no problem doing so. I also love that he is a student of the game. He has confidence, but certainly doesn’t overdue it. Whichever team ends up with him (hopefully the Dolphins) will have a player that constantly willing to make himself and everyone around him better. He is raw though, and will need work. He has a long release, which will need to be fixed. He also isn’t very accurate, and as a gunslinger, you’d expect that. He did not come from a NFL-style system. However, I think out of all the QB’s in this years class, he could end up being the best.
4. Jake Locker, Washington 6’3, 231 lbs
Locker very well might be the most frustrating prospect in the 2011 class to place. I’ve seen mocks having him placed in the mid-first round (Miami actually), and some mocks having him as low as a late-2nd, early 3rd rounder. What I’ve heard most is that Seattle with the 25th pick will be a match made in heaven for the Washington quarterback.
After falling and falling for weeks, Locker finally improved his draft stock with an excellent performance at the combine. If he does as well at his pro day, who knows where Locker might end up. There is no denying he has the skills. The funny thing is, Locker really doesn’t do anything great. However, he does do almost everything good. He has good accuracy, good arm strength, good speed, good timing and good height. Therefore, that makes him boring to talk about and tends to make him fly under the radar a bit. I think Locker could surprise everyone and end up being the best of the bunch. If he works hard at the next level, and commits to getting better, whatever team ends up with him will be very lucky. That could be the Dolphins, as I expect Locker to be there when the Phins pick.
5. Christian Ponder, Florida State 6’2, 229 lbs
Ponder had the best Senior Bowl week of any quarterback, and also had an excellent combine. He is extremely accurate and may be the most complete QB of any this year. The big knock on Ponder is his arm strength. After having shoulder surgery, he lost most of his arm strength. During the Senior Bowl, his TD throw to Leonard Hankerson was severely underthrown. Ponder looks a lot like Chad Pennington, which is not what the Dolphins are looking for. Ponder can make all the short throws, and will be an excellent fit for an NFL team that needs a QB like that. I expect Ponder to go sometime in the early to mid second round.
6. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas 6’7, 233 lbs
Honestly, by the end of the season, I was absolutely in love with Ryan Mallett. I said to myself on numerous occasions, “that is who the Dolphins need to have in 2011″. However, my mind has changed since then. Mallett has a huge arm (probably the best of any of the QB’s) and he isn’t afraid to use it. That works great when he is in the pocket, but unfortunately, Mallett has no ability outside of the pocket. He cannot lead his receivers on the run and cannot make the throws he needs to outside of the pocket. That might work against college level talent, but it won’t fly in the NFL. Mallett also has serious character issues, evidenced by the frustration he showed during his combine media session, and just by word-of-mouth that have people saying he rates his ability too high. Mallett has as much upside as any of these guys, but I also think he has the best chance of being a bust.
7. Ricky Stanzi, Iowa 6’4, 221 lbs
I wish I could figure out why Stanzi has been rating so low going into the draft. He came from a pro-style offense, played under center, can run and throw, and has excellent size for an NFL quarterback. Some knocks on Stanzi have been that he forces throws where they don’t belong, and his footwork leads something to be desired. He does need some work, but I think he could surprise people in a couple years when he gets an opportunity. He probably won’t be drafted until the 4th or 5th round, but if the Dolphins pass on QB’s in the earlier rounds, Stanzi could be the man for them.
8. Pat Devlin, Delaware 6’3, 225 lbs
Devlin spent sometime learning under JoePa at Penn State before transferring to Delaware for two years. He passed for over 4,000 years during his time at Delaware. He has a nice arm and good accuracy. He also won the Walter Peyton Award (Best player in FCS). The knock on Devlin is that he tends to hold on the ball a little too long, and of course, his competition. He could be a nice little project for a team in the middle of the draft though and does have a lot of upside. He could follow in the footsteps of fellow Delaware Blue Hen, Joe Flacco.
9. Andy Dalton, TCU 6’2, 215 lbs
Dalton certainly has the track record to be an NFL quarterback. He was a four-year starter at TCU, and led the Horned Frogs to a 44-8 record during that time, including a 3-1 bowl record (including a victory in the 2010 Rose Bowl) He has good arm strength and a wealth of starting experience. He doesn’t have much experience making deep throws, but has a lot of experience throwing screen and timing patterns. He would be an excellent fit for a team like the 49ers who run a West Coast offense. I expect to see Dalton off the board in the 4th or 5th round.
10. Greg McElroy, Alabama 6’2, 220 lbs
McElroy may be the only person in the draft with better results than Dalton. He won the National Championship with the Crimson Tide in 2009, and followed that up with a trip to the Capital One Bowl in 2010. McElroy is an excellent game manager. He doesn’t have the stats to blow you away, but he is natural born leader. He had good arm strength, but what really stands out is his accuracy. His career completion percentage is 66.3 (impressive) and has an excellent 39-10 TD to INT ratio. However, his delivery certainly leaves something to be desired, and people have questioned whether it has been him, or his supporting cast that is responsible for his above-average numbers. McElroy will be a good backup in the NFL, but probably nothing more.
Out of the list, obviously I’d like to see the Phins go with Kaepernick. If they pass on him though, Locker or Devlin would be their next best options.
Agree? Disagree? Think that I’m a lunatic? Let me know what you would change. I expect to hear good reasoning behind it though.
Twitter – @notquiterosey