The 2011 NFL Draft is just days away, and teams are doing their last minute homework on all prospects, especially those at the QB position.
Cam Newton seems to be in control of the No. 1 pick, but is he the best quarterback available?
Reports have begun surfacing about Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton being first-round picks, but are they worthy of being selected that high?
Here are the top five quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL Draft, and guys that you should pencil in as late round picks for your 2011 Fantasy Leagues:
1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Blaine Gabbert became a hot topic once Andrew Luck announced he would be returning to Stanford. He is the type of prospect that has all the intangibles, but never put them all together at Missouri.
Gabbert is a mobile QB that has a strong arm and played in a spread offense. However, Gabbert appears to be much better suited for a pro-style offense. He originally committed to Nebraska to run a pro-style offense under Bill Callahan, but backed out after Callahan was fired.
Gabbert will be best suited in a west-coast offense, like the one that will be instituted in San Francisco. He has the ability to make all the throws necessary, and while he needs to work on his deep ball accuracy, he should eventually turn into a solid NFL QB.
2. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Ryan Mallett is the most pro-ready QB in the draft. He lacks the mobility of some of the other top QBs, but he has the biggest arm and is very accurate. He comes from a pro-style offense under Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, and put up better numbers than Blaine Gabbert.
His lack of mobility worries many teams, as he is like a statue behind the line, however, Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning have both been successful with limited mobility.
The biggest concern with Mallett have been off-the-field worries. Teams worry about his dedication, his leadership, and most importantly his drug use. While Petrino claims that Mallett never failed a drug test at Arkansas, many analysts question the accuracy of that report.
If Mallett does fall into the second round of this draft because of off-field concerns, do not expect him to last long, as he could soon become a member of either the Cincinnati Bengals or the Tennessee Titans.
3. Cam Newton, Auburn
Cam Newton is the most talented QB in the draft, but that does not make him the best. He has all the athletic ability in the world, but it will take more than just athletic abilities to be successful in the NFL.
Newton has an incredible arm, but it can be inaccurate at times. He will need to improve on his accuracy if he is to be successful in the NFL. He tends to overthrow his receivers on deep balls, and has issues throwing outside the hashmarks.
Newton’s best asset is his ability to keep plays alive, as he has great acceleration and is very strong. He likely will not be able to take off and run as easily as he did in college, so he will need to look for the pass when he is on the run instead.
If Newton can adapt his talents from a spread-style QB to a pro-style QB, he will likely become a star in the NFL. However, he could just as easily bust out in the NFL, if he does not put in the time or the effort to be successful.
4. Andy Dalton, TCU
Andy Dalton, like Ryan Mallett, is an NFL-ready QB. Dalton does not have the biggest arm, and he is not the fastest QB, but he is solid across the board. He has a strong enough arm, he is mobile enough, and he is very accurate.
Dalton is also the smartest QB of the top prospects. He has a very good football IQ and always seems to make the right throws. He likely won’t have much of a problem learning a pro-style offense and could come in and start from Day One.
Dalton will likely hear his name called near the end of the first round, and could see himself playing football in Seattle next season as a member of the Seahawks.
Dalton would be a perfect fit in Seattle, especially if they returned Matt Hasselbeck for a season to groom the former Horned Frog.
5. Jake Locker, Washington
Jake Locker would have been a top-five selection last year had he decided to come out early. However, Locker made the mistake of staying in school for his Senior season.
Locker is a wild-card that is rated all over the draft boards. Some teams have been rumored to have him as one of the top two QBs, while others have him rated as a third-round project.
No one is questioning the intangibles with Locker, as he has the arm strength and all the physical tools needed to be successful. With Locker, the main issue with him was his production. He had a horrendous season at Washington, and his accuracy has really come into question.
He has the arm to make the throws and the legs to extend plays, but if he cannot hit a WR in stride he will have problems adapting to the NFL game.
Locker would be a great fit for a team like Minnesota that has a great running game and solid WRs that can help him take the pressure off of him.