Rather than argue and debate every post that's going on about QB's right now I just figured it was a good time to publish my QB scouting reports. As usual, the most important thing for me is to separate the hype and the hoopla from the players' actual performances on the field. And I hate the broad, sweeping synopses that are often given about players which are only designed to persuade people... that's what the comments section is for.
Has nice athleticism, great size, and a great arm. Has Excellent but not elite velocity yet, but every QB's velocity inevitably improves as they turn pro and work on their strength and mechanics. Has a quick release that allows him to wait until the last moment. Unfortunately, Mizzou's offense makes it somewhat difficult to grade Gabbert's football acumen. They ran a version of the (in)famous spread offense that are one read plays. There were a lot of plays where Blaine unloaded the ball to a short route before looking downfield with plenty of time in the pocket because of play design. Mechanically, he has a habit of half-way stepping into his throws. It didn't affect his performance much, but it did affect his accuracy enough to rob his receivers of some YAC. It's directly related to a bit of a "fear" he seems to have at stepping up into the pocket, he's much more apt/comfortable to get outside the pocket than stay home. Doesn't throw a very good jumpball in the end zone, consistently overthrown. Inconsistent accuracy on his deep balls. He definitely locks onto his primary until he either decides to check it down or scramble/improvise. He didn't show in any way that he's more than a 2 read QB right now. He gets classic happy feet, a lot of scouts phrase this as bad footwork, but it's a much more serious sign/symptom of being uncomfortable in the pocket. Gabbert is most impressive when the right play is called and he knows exactly where he's going with ball... he delivers his most accurate and fastest balls this way... BUT, so does every QB. Those throws were few and far between in the Missouri offense. Comparisons to Matthew Stafford or Sam Bradford are completely spurious, those 2 players were pocket passers that took several huge hits every game because they were fearless at stepping into the pocket. Gabbert is almost incapable of hitting a secondary receiver without scrambling.
Bottom Line - I have no earthly idea why Gabbert is considered a Top 10 pick, or even a 1st rounder. Maybe for a team with a superstar QB in his twilight and they want to bring along his replacement slowly. Gabbert has a high upside because he has every tool in the tool box, but with the offense he ran in college he's almost going to be playing a different sport in the NFL. He is the prototype thrower. But mentally, I think the NFL will leave him in the dust if he's thrown into the fire. He'll need to be eased into the NFL game. He is a good candidate to groom behind Fitzpatrick, to use a cliche, but his juvenile tendency to "look and run" scares me to death if I'm a talent evaluator for an NFL team. Gabbert will look awesome at the combine... but it won't be enough to discount the film.
Cam Newton -
Well, his athleticism is is another stratosphere when it comes to QB's. Better than Vince Young and better than Michael Vick. Better than Vick because he's just as good of a ball carrier but Newton is 6'6" and +240 lbs. He was impossible to bring down and equally as elusive. Showed poise and no fear when he set up in the pocket. He did try to scramble a lot, but why wouldn't you when you don't like what you see downfield and you can run like he can? Once again, another spread QB that wasn't asked to think a lot in the pocket, which leads to the inevitable technical flaws, which are drillable. He did show the willingness/ability to scan the field when target #1 was occupied. Also showed the ability to manipulate defenders with play action and pump fakes. Very accurate thrower. Great deep ball. Velocity is top-notch due to his frame and huge hands. Not afraid to take a hit. Competitiveness and fire are evident on the field. Showed the ability to perform at his best amongst huge distractions.
Bottom Line - From an athletic standpoint, Newton is the cream of the crop. He has the same question mark that the majority of collegiate QB's do coming out: can he read NFL defenses? Newton's poise in the pocket and fearlessness lead me to believe he can. He has the frame and the size to stay healthy from NFL blows (to a certain extent, of course). There still has yet to be that "dual threat" college QB that translated his game to the NFL. Michael Vick showed signs of putting that together last season and he lit the league on fire when he was on. Can Cam "Scam" Newton do it? I have no idea, but I certainly could not fault the Bills for taking this guy No. 3 overall.
Poor poor mobility, and Mallett knows it... which is why he always keeps his eyes downfield. In Bobby Petrino's offense, Mallett had to make every throw, and he did. He has elite arm strength, and can throw the ball on a line at least 45 yards, very impressive. That said, he doesn't have a very good gain switch all the time and doesn't always temper his throws with touch when he needs to. However, he throws fades and jump balls with nice touch so he is very capable of doing it. Had superb production at the highest level of college football with a terrible running game and an average offensive line. He's easily the best play action QB in this class. Made a ton of "WOW" throws, throws 99% of QB's can't make. Overall, has excellent throwing mechanics, but could refine his footwork. Pretty good at throwing on the move. Has a little bit of swagger and moxy to him. He excels at utilizing the intermediate passing game, crucial in today's NFL. His accuracy is great. The red flags in his game have to do with maturity on the field. Gets discouraged when the defense gets a good lick on him or forces a negative play, it shows in his body language.
Bottom Line - I have never seen more placed on 2 games of a QB's career than on Ryan Mallett's. He was considered in the Top 5 - Top 15 range at certain points of his career. He threw some late interceptions against Alabama and Ohio State and boom, he falls out of the 1st round. He threw 3 picks against a dauntless Tide defense, and the Razorbacks still only lost 24-20. He played maybe his worst game of the season against Ohio State, and he still had them in position to win at the end of the game, only to lose 31-26. Ben Roethlisberger played terribly in 2 of the 3 Super Bowls he was in and has a cumulative passer rating of 69.9. The Steelers aren't going to dump him because of that. People quickly forgot the close victories he led the Hogs to over LSU, 2 OT at Mississippi State, and his game winning drive against Georgia. Is he worthy of the 3rd overall pick, not with the talent on the board at other positions. But if he slides to the 2nd round or the top of the 1st, Mallett is a no-brainer because he most certainly has what it takes to become an extremely productive signal-caller in the NFL.
A tough guy to evaluate. Far and away the majority of the plays he made were with his legs. He has excellent athleticism as we all already know. His game suffered quite a bit from being on a pretty bad team. Didn't have a lot of clean pockets to throw from. He did play in a traditional offense and works through his receivers. He sometimes ignores defenders or misreads defenses and relies on his arm to clean that up. He got away with it in college. His arm is excellent, can really drill the ball. He doesn't overwhelm you with accuracy, though. Moves in the pocket pretty well with his eyes down the field. A little hasty to take off and run sometimes, and other times he'll straddle the LOS to allow receivers to come open. Throws the deep ball pretty well. Good at play action. Very good footwork, keeps his body in a position of strength to deliver the ball. Very good thrower on the run, probably best in the class. Great improviser, even though it gets him in trouble sometimes. When his OL gave him a pocket, he executed the offense very well. When his OL was beaten badly, he made a lot of somethings out of nothings. Trusts his arm a bit too much and will sometimes throw across his body.
Bottom Line - Overall Locker is an up-n-down prospect. He flashes immense potential, but was unable to complete the sell because of his roller coaster play. He never really dominated games through the air consistently. At the end of the day, you want something more to hang your hat on than potential. Locker has leadership, competitiveness, and will work hard on his game. I just don't know if he has the talent as a distributor to become a prolific NFL passer. He just makes too many plays in college that don't translate to the NFL (running the ball and forcing passes). I'm not sold on Locker, so I wouldn't draft him. His talent level, however, makes him a good 2nd pick for the Bills if he's there and they see something in him I don't.
So far, he and Mallett are the best pocket QB’s in the class. Stanzi shows excellent awareness to step into the creases his line gives. Steps into every throw, even when a big hit is coming. Love the fearlessness. Had to throw on the run a lot in Iowa’s offense, and excelled at it. Iowa ran a pro style with progressions on every play. Stanzi did very well scanning the field and finding the right receivers. He was very productive and efficient. He’s a very mechanically sound and smooth thrower. Great size and can make every throw. Great velocity and accuracy. Had to throw a lot of NFL type routes (comebacks, seams, back shoulders). He made a lot of close throws in one-on-one situations that he’ll have to clean up or NFL DB’s will make the play where college DB’s couldn’t. Very poised and confident in the pocket. Overall athleticism is decent, but he’s no running QB.
Bottom Line – An under the radar guy that has the tools and be a good QB in the NFL. He’s just not elite in any one category, so he’s not in the 1st round discussion. He took a quantum leap his senior year, so there’s reason to believe he can continue to improve his game and be ready to start at some point in the NFL. He carries a solid 2nd round grade, and unless there’s a player with a much better grade on the board, Stanzi is a nice selection in the 2nd round. If he slides (as QB’s tend to) to the 3rd he’s a no-brainer.
Ponder was the last QB I evaluated, and it really brought to light his short-comings. Athletically, he’s solid with excellent mobility. But after evaluating the other guys it was almost as if Ponder was throwing in slow motion. His velocity is awful. The amount of time the ball spends in the air when it travels more than 10 yards is frightening. His deep ball hangs and flutters for an eternity. He will be handcuffed in the NFL by this, without question. You want your QB to be able to make every play, Ponder cannot. He had several throws to the side-line picked off in college because there wasn’t enough on them and they were jumped by the DB/LB, and maybe a dozen more that were dropped by defenders. Ponder has good mechanics and nice size, it’s a bit of a mystery why his velocity suffers so much. Durability is a tremendous concern. Mentally he’s an interesting guy. You’ll see him drop back and move defenders with his eyes and pump fakes, and then throw a dumb ball. A little like Fitzpatrick in that regard that he’s so smart you wonder how he does some things that are so stupid sometimes.
Bottom Line – I wouldn’t draft Ponder. He carries a 4th round grade for me. I want a QB who won’t handcuff an OC. If Ponder is smart, he’ll go out there in drills and throw as many deep comebacks and outs as hard as he can. Either way, I wouldn’t take him until the latter half of the draft, as he’ll need some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL and find where his skill set fits in there. He’s best off in a West Coast/ball control type of offense. If he cleans up the dumb mistakes he could be a pretty good "game manager," but he won’t be picking any teams up on his back and taking games over with his arm. His durability is the deal-breaker here that makes him undraftable, to me.
So there are a few prospects notably left off the list including Kaepernick, Dalton, and McElroy. It didn’t take long to figure out that if Buffalo drafted these guys it wouldn’t be until late because they are all serious project players. After taking a gander at all of these prospects, the best position player of the bunch is easily Mallett. Newton and Locker are not as good of QB’s as several of the other players, they just get bumped up because of their size and athleticism. Drafting 3rd overall is a curse for QB’s. You will inevitably miss out on the "Andrew Lucks" and maybe have to pass on players with better grades to get your guy at No. 3. If I had to rank them…