With the college season now half-way over and quarterback issues constantly on every NFL team’s mind, it’s never too early to start looking at prospective quarterbacks for the 2011 NFL Draft class. So here are five of the best senior quarterbacks in the NCAA who are looking to head to the NFL at the end of this year.
Jake Locker, Washington Huskies
Locker has made a case for himself as one of the best quarterbacks available for the 2011 NFL Draft despite having little talent to work with at Washington. He is a born leader and play-maker, using instincts and athleticism to slash and gash his way through opposing defenses. He can use his feet as well as his arm to carve up defenses and put points on the board. He sometimes struggles with field vision, but can often use his feet to keep plays alive. His ability to make the right decision and not force throws is the main reason for his success, including multiple cases of leading the Huskies to huge upset wins in the last few years. He is the school’s all-time leading quarterback rusher and is up for just about every major 2010 award that quarterbacks are eligible for. He has also been drafted twice into the MLB, giving further evidence to his insane athleticism.
Christian Ponder, Florida State
Despite some injury concerns, Ponder still stands as one of the most promising quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL Draft class. He has all of the physical tools and throwing ability to be a dominant force at the NFL level, and with some work, could become an elite quarterback. He has an arm that can make some of the most difficult passes that half of the current NFL starting quarterbacks can’t make. He has received Heisman hype since the end of the 2009 season, and is up for plenty of honors at the end of the 2010 season. Although he isn’t the most fleet-footed quarterback, he has great mobility in the pocket and does an outstanding job of eluding the oncoming pass rush. He will need to cut down on his interceptions once he gets into the NFL, but he has a knack for leading his team to victory, which will be a big upside in the NFL.
Pat Devlin, Delaware Blue Hens
In an attempt to become the next Joe Flacco, Devlin headed to Delaware after getting stuck behind Darryl Clark at Penn State. With outstanding mechanics along with a great coachability, Devlin has made his name well-known and his candidacy as a premier NFL quarterback prospect legitimate despite playing for a Division-1AA team. Possessing great touch and an ability to put passes into tight holes in the defense, Devlin is a great pocket quarterback who can make all of the throws necessary to thrive at the NFL level. He also has solid speed and mobility, giving him the ability to scramble when he needs to, evident in his multiple rushing touchdowns with the Blue Hens. Devlin appears to be a better pure passer than Flacco, and could be the next quarterback prospect out of Delaware University to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech Hokies
Following in the quarterback mold of Michael Vick, Taylor has a plethora of weapons that can make defenses quiver when the ball is in his hands. With the speed to turn a collapsed pocket into a big gain and the arm to make just about any NFL throw, he can be a difference-maker for any team. His main asset is his arm, which is able to throw deep, medium or short with the same accuracy. He can put the ball on target even on the move, which can be a nightmare for defenses when he escapes the pocket. Even in the pocket he can be a handful to bring down, using his elusiveness and footwork to keep plays alive. He has questionable size for an NFL quarterback, but makes up for it with his athleticism. If he can lead the Hokies to a bowl win and a high finish in the ACC, look for Taylor to be popular when the NFL Combine rolls around.
Andy Dalton, TCU Horned Frogs
A natural leader, Dalton has proven his abilities by being a part of TCU’s push to dominance in Division 1 NCAA football. He has shredded defenses since taking over the starting quarterback spot for the Horned Frogs in 2007. He has a cannon for an arm that allows him to make all of the necessary passes that are expected from NFL quarterbacks. He makes smart decisions with the ball, which keeps his interception totals low and his touchdown totals high. Dalton does a great job of using his legs to make plays and does a good job of putting the ball on target even on the run. After winning the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2009, he has proven his outstanding quarterback abilities in one of the up-and-coming conferences in the NCAA. He is a natural quarterback and could be a big contributor for any team that takes him in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Most of these players have the talent to go in the first four rounds, but could be bumped down if underclassmen quarterbacks such as Stanford’s Andrew Luck or Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett decide to declare themselves eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft.
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