Sunday, 4 April 2010

An early look at 2011's quarterbacks

By Rob Staton
It's far too early to be seriously discussing the 2011 NFL draft. For starters - we don't really know what will happen with the CBA. If the threat of no football in 2011 becomes reality, will a draft even take place? There might be a long overdue rookie pay scale and that could have an effect on which prospects consider leaving early. Even so, I wanted to throw this out there on a quiet Easter Sunday. A lot of these guys will be hoping to 'take the next step' in 2010 and turn potential into performance.

Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)
I think Mallett could've been a top ten pick this year. Huge cannon of an arm, very high release point and sound mechanics. Ideal size. Showed in 2009 he can make the huge play downfield, but too often lacked accuracy on basic throws. Returning for another year in Arkansas should help. Begins the 2010 season as a potential candidate to go first overall in 2011.

Jake Locker (QB, Washington)
The hot favorite to be next years #1 pick. Locker has incredible athletic qualities and showed signs of real development in 2009 under Steve Sarkisian's pro-style offense. Another year's fine tuning should further aid Locker's development. He has arm strength, the physique, footwork and a quick delivery. Extra experience should add required polish.

Jerrod Johnson (QB, Texas A&M)
I watched Johnson put in a really impressive performance against Texas' star studded defense last year. Then in his next game against Georgia, he was poor. He really struggled against Oklahoma's defense. However, he has all the tools - arm strength, size, athleticism. The stats are impressive - a 51/18 TD/Int ratio as a starter.

Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
Only a redshirt sophomore last year so no guarantee he'll declare for the 2011 draft. Received a lot of praise during Stanford's great run last year, but he was severely helped by Toby Gerhart and the teams power running game. Indeed, Luck only managed thirteen touchdowns and a 56.3% completion percentage. Will be interesting to see if he can make the team his own post-Gerhart.

Terrelle Pryor (QB, Ohio State)
The Buckeye's quarterback showed signs of promise in the Rose Bowl. He needs to take that into 2010 and find a level of consistency that's so far been missing. Another guy with everything you'd want from a franchise QB - size, arm, physique. But can he lead this team forward and become more consistent? Starts the year with potential to be a high first rounder.

Pat Devlin (QB, Delaware)
The comparisons to Joe Flacco are obvious - Devlin transferred to Delaware from Penn State and has a huge arm. He'll have similar ambitions of pushing himself into first round consideration with a good senior year in 2010. Despite facing weaker competition last year, he never really had a season defining performance.

Christian Ponder (QB, Florida State)
I liked what I saw from Ponder last year. He hasn't got the physical qualities or the arm of some of the prospects above, but he's accurate and one to watch next season. He had a superb performance against Georgia Tech in 2009. His stats would've looked a lot better but for a four interception display in his final game before injury against Clemson.


Jayce said...

From your short descriptions, the QB class of 2011 seems pretty good.

Rob Staton said...

It has the potential to be pretty good. A lot of guys here with physical talents but need to show consistency and further development.

Playstead said...

I still think Locker lacks accuracy and the ability to read coverages. One more year will really help, but I think he has a long way to go to be a solid NFL QB. Insane athlete though.

Rob Staton said...

I would tend to agree, Playstead. Will be interesting to see how Locker performs this year.

My favorite overall prospect for 2011 might be Rodney Hudson (OG, Florida State). I thought he could've been a late first rounder this year. Perfect interior fit for the Gibbs system.

Ben said...

Around this time last year, I read a lot about how the 2009 QB class was pretty lousy but that 2010 looked pretty strong, with Bradford, McCoy and Snead looking like top-10 prospects. How likely do you think it will be that we'll be complaining about the 2011 QB class?

Rob Staton said...

Ben - so much can change in a year's football. I would never make a claim like, "next year's QB class will definitely be better" because the position itself dictates that so much can change.

When we looked at the 2009 season, everyone expected Jevan Snead to develop and potentially be a #1 overall pick. He might be lucky to go in round five in reality. Bradford injured his shoulder and people were worried about his stock - but he's a lock to go #1 now. Such is the position.

Aside from expectations for Snead, I kind of always felt the 09 class of QB's would be poor. I stated clearly on this blog in 2008 that I thought Stafford/Sanchez would probably be better than anything else available the following year. I was never high on Colt McCoy and whilst Bradford has a lot to admire about him - I want to see him behind center taking snaps for the Rams.

The potential for the guys listed in this article is quite high. If Locker continues to develop in a pro-style offense, he can be a top ten pick. I like Ryan Mallett enough to believe he could be in the #1 pick discussion with a good 2010. People are high on Luck, but I want to see him post-Gerhart leading that team with his own play. Pryor looks like a potential first round pick.

But then - what if Locker has a horrible year and plummets ala Snead? What if Pryor's inconsistencies continue? What if Luck struggles without Gerhart? What if Mallett's accuracy continues to fluctuate?

The seven guys I've listed could all earn first round grades. All could just as likely sink like a stone. A decent prediction might be to expect three of them to go in round one. Someone not on the list might come forward. What I would say though, is the 2011 QB class could have a lot of potential. It could end up being the position of strength. But that will depend on turning potential into production.

Anonymous said...

One thing that really jumps out at you are the number of arms in next year's class. This year really lacks physical specimens as the only legitimate big arms belong to Skelton, Snead, and Brown. None of those guys are considered more than mid to late round developmental prospects.

Also, If you are going to consider Luck and Mallett, you should also key in on Blaine Gabbert and Nick Foles from Missouri and Arizona respectively. Gabbert looks special--6'5, 240 pounder that runs in the 4.5-4.6 range with a howitzer arm. Foles can also sling it even though he's more of the tall, statue style passer.

Overall, the group of guys who will be seniors in 2012 looks incredible: Gabbert, Mallett, Foles, Jacory Harris, Kirk Cousins, Jordan Jefferson, etc. John Brantley and Dayne Crist will be seniors that year too so the class will probably be loaded. If there is some uncertainty about the labor situation next draft, it could push a lot of those guys into declaring early for 2011.

micah said...

I agree that next year's class seems like they have QBs with the tools, it all depends on how they develop. They have the potential to be a great draft class. If Locker came out this year, he'd be as much a gamble as Taylor Mays. They are both freak athletes, but have some holes in their game. This year is a good test for Locker.

Anonymous said...

A player's career that I am closely monitoring is Garrett Gilbert from Texas. I was REALLY impressed with him when he came into the National Championship game as a freshman and did some very nice things. Moreover, I don’t remember seeing a QB that has the ball jump from his hand like it did from Gilbert’s… and I have seen Jake Locker in almost every one of his games. I am not usually impressed so easily but Gilbert had the WOW factor going for him in that game and I am anxious to see how his career develops.


PS-I know it isn’t saying a whole lot but he made Colt’s velocity look like he was passing into a strong headwind.

Anonymous said...

I Think you are right on about going for locker. hometown hero. face of franchise and good tool to build around. now get some linemen said...

Quite useful info, much thanks for the post.