This was supposed to be a "QB thin" draft. However 6 QB's were taken in within the first 36 picks. That is quite a high density on QB's for such high picks. So the question remains, who will be successful and will will become a footnote in NFL history. Well, lets breakdown all 6 and prognosticate how they will fare in their NFL careers.
1. Cam Newton. I said it a week before he was drafted and I will say it again. This is a bad decision and will keep the Panthers out of contention for the next five years. I actually think Cam Newton will be a successful NFL player, it Will just be at tightend and NOT QB. Newton may be the best athlete in this draft, however he will not be playing the SEC every weekend and his athletic ability will only get him so far in the NFL. I had a conversation with a teammate of Newton's at Auburn and he explained the simplicity of Auburn's offensive philosophy. It basically broke down to this: On passing plays Cam had ONE read. If it was not there he was told to extend the play with his legs. For a college QB who is a super athlete, this works. In the NFL, it simply does not translate into success. The best QB's in the NFL make their living in the pocket and several reads are needed every play. Coverage recognition was not as important to Newton in college and with the complexity of NFL defenses, I just do not see Newton catching on anytime soon, if ever. Newton will make some spectacular plays with his feet and will give the WOW factor to the team, but it won't translate into Wins. My prediction: He will start sometime in his rookie season and will be done playing QB in his 4th season when he will move to TE and become an All pro.
2. Jake Locker: This pick made me scratch my head the second it was announced. I think Jake is an excellent leader. An excellent athlete but he lacks the one thing that is vital to having success in the NFL as a QB, ACCURACY! I watched film of Locker over his last season and his accuracy was down right average to say the least. I saw many occasions where he had a clean pocket, saw the progression of the play and just could not connect with his open WR. Accuracy is something that can not be taught. It is a talent that you either have or you do not. This was a complete reach in my opinion and I just do not see Locker being an NFL super star. The one thing that Locker has going for him is the fact that he gets to play with Chris Johnson. So he may be able to use quite abit of play action, but he still needs to deliver a more accurate ball because the recovery speed in the NFL for defenders is too fast for any errant passes. My Prediction: A serviceable starter after his 2nd year but will never be an ELITE QB in the NFL.
3. Blaine Gabbert. I love this kid. He is accurate, big, strong and best of all, he is extremely intelligent. He has every tool you want to be a franchise QB. He also has Jones-Drew to take some pressure off of him. The knock on him coming out is that he was coming from a spread offense and rarely took snaps under center. Well, most college programs are using the spread more and more so I am in know way concerned that Gabbert can not translate his game to an NFL style offense. Gabbert was very efficient in short to intermediate routes and decent on his longer routes. However, with time his talent will shine with the Jags and he has the potential to be an ELITE QB in the NFL. My prediction: A top 10 starting QB in his 3rd year and beyond.
4. Christian Ponder: Ponder, to me, is the biggest enigma out of all of the QB's taken. He showed flashes of how good he can be. He is strong, has a great release and is accurate. However, if you go back and watch his senior film, he made so many mistakes in crunch time. He made quite a few 3rd down interceptions when it almost seemed that he was forcing plays to happen rather than letting the play come to him. To his credit he does seem like a good clubhouse leader and, again, has the benefit of playing with Adrian Peterson which will allow him to use play action to open up seams for his WR's and TE. If he can overcome the mental mistakes, and he has the brain to do it, he could be a very productive QB at the next level. My prediction: A Winning QB for years to come but not a top 10 statistical QB.
5 Andy Dalton. This is the best QB pick in the draft. Not for how good Dalton is, but how Dalton's Strengths will play into effect for the West Coast Offense that he is going into. This off season the Bengals hired Jay Gruden to install a new West Coast Offense in Cincinnati. The WCO is based on quick, precise passing plays that stress the run after the catch. Dalton's best attribute is his accuracy. He probably is the most accurate QB in the draft. It will take him some time to learn the system, but when he does, I can see him running it with complete precision. He has a decent arm, a brilliant NFL I.Q. and that will translate well in an offense that lives and dies with accurate short to intermediate passes. My Prediction: He will most likely start from Day 1 and will be a winning QB with top 10 talent.
6. Colin Kaepernick: Big (6'5), Fast with alot of "upside" . I hate using the word upsize but that is what he has. He is RAW. His talent is there but it is not ready for the NFL. Not now at least. He has a huge benefit from being coached by Harbaugh and for that fact alone, I think he has a chance to be a tremendous player. He will have to correct his throwing motion and that may take him a year or so to do. I think he sits behind Alex Smith for a year, learns the system and in year 2 we see what he has to offer. He does have decent accuracy, but he is so unpolished that everything now is just speculation: My predication : A starter in year 2, a serviceable QB but nothing too special.