After the combine, senior bowl, and game tapes, I have decided that the time is ripe to publish my first positional rankings of the year. My rankings (all positions) include 175 prospects that I strongly feel should be drafted. I have assigned each player a grade between one and ten, with ten being the highest.
10: A rare prospect that can turn around a team. Unquestionably worthy of the top overall selection.
9: A dominant college player who appears to be ready for the NFL. Worthy of a top ten selection.
8: Solid first round picks who have talent and can succeed at the next level.
7: A solid player who can be taken towards the end of the first round if he fits the system.
6: Not a dominant player, but a second round pick who should develop into a starter.
5: A second or third round selection who can blossom on the right team.
4: A third or fourth round pick that needs development, but could be a solid player down the road.
3: A day 3 selection who offers value and has a legitimate shot at a successful career.
2: Nothing more than a developmental prospect, but a player who has a lot of unlocked potential.
1: Not worthy of a roster spot. Merely a practice squad player who can perhaps play special teams.
|QB||Ryan Mallett, Arkansas||7|
|QB||Cam Newton, Auburn||6|
|QB||Jake Locker, Washington||6|
|QB||Blaine Gabbert, Missouri||5|
|QB||Christian Ponder, Florida State||5|
|QB||Andy Dalton, TCU||4|
|QB||Pat Devlin, Delaware||4|
|QB||Colin Kaepernick, Nevada||3|
|QB||Josh Portis, California (PA)||2|
|QB||Scott Tolzein, Wisconsin||2|
|QB||Ricky Stanzi, Iowa||2|
|QB||TJ Yates, North Carolina||2|
My quarterback list is probably the most controversial list of all, so allow me to explain before you rip it to shreds. I do not like Blaine Gabbert’s chances in the NFL. He plays in an offense where he never has to make any reads. Everything is a quick, short pass, whether it be a bubble screen or a slant or a hitch. So, Gabbert never has to make any tough choices like he will have to in the NFL. Also, when his first read isn’t open, he panics and gets way too antsy in the pocket. His deep ball is also pretty weak compared to all the strong arms in this class. Therefore, he’s purely a west coast guy who can succeed if he sits on the bench for a year or two and corrects the obvious flaws in his game. He has the accuracy, size, and mobility to start, but the amount of glaring weaknesses he brings to the table make me think he’s nothing more than a second round pick.
At the top of my list is Ryan Mallett. A lot of people will argue with me, but he is the best quarterback in this class in a pro-style offense. Nobody else in the draft has proven that they can take snaps from under center, throw NFL-style routes, and move their team up and down the football field like Mallett has. Arkansas plays in the top conference in college football, and nobody kept Arkansas under twenty points last season. Not Alabama, not South Carolina, and not LSU. In fact, Mallett has been able to throw for three or more touchdowns eight times in 2010, and has a TD:INT ratio of better than 3:1 over the last two seasons. You can point to so-called maturity issues, but he flat-out produces no matter who the opponent is and no matter who his receivers are.
Cam Newton is certainly supremely talented, but he has not showed me he can throw intermediate routes in tight windows, mostly because of his offense at Auburn. In the NFL, a team will not build a playbook around the quarterback sweep play, and I don’t see the unbelievable drive of Tim Tebow in Cam Newton. Don’t take this as a knock on Newton because there’s nothing wrong with his work ethic. Tebow simply had the work ethic that is rare even among professional athletes.
I believe Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton will be great backup quarterbacks in the NFL who probably aren’t franchise quarterbacks. I also like Delaware’s Pat Devlin because he has great upside, though I would not count on him to be my number two immediately. Josh Portis is my favorite developmental guy as he has a fantastic arm despite playing against lesser competition and having character concerns. I expect the Eagles to take a hard look at Pat Devlin or Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi in the fourth or fifth round if they decide to trade Kevin Kolb away, although a free agent like Seneca Wallace or Luke McCown would be a much better solution at that spot.