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2011 Draft Positional Series: Quarterbacks

No greater event causes as much anticipation and speculation as the NFL draft. While other sports have drafts, none of them are as touted as the NFL’s draft. And while there is concern brewing that there may not be football next year, that story continues to take a back seat to the speculation and anticipation for who will go first overall come April 28th.

Starting today, we here at Cowboysgab.com are going to take a look at the personnel the Cowboys have at each position and the top prospects available at those positions in the draft. Today’s position:

Quaterbacks

Starter – Tony Romo:
In the last two days there has been a lot of news coverage about the Cowboys starter. In the wake of stupid comments made by Cowboys backup TE Martellus Bennett, people have been questioning the Cowboys starting quarterback. After missing more than half of last season with a broken clavicle, Romo is anxious to get back to playing again. The Cowboys will not be looking to replace Romo anytime soon. Nor, should they. Romo has what it takes to be an elite quarterback he just needs to put it together. After all, it took Peyton Manning 9 seasons to finally earn that label.

Backup – Jon Kitna:
Kitna established himself as the ideal backup last season. After Romo went down, Kitna came in and led the team in a dramatic midseason turnaround. While the coaching change was the biggest influence on the turnaround, Kitna’s play in his third game started many people believing that the Cowboys were turning the corner. Kitna will be back to take his familiar role as 2nd string and mentor to Romo, and the younger quarterbacks on the roster. If you are hoping for an open competition in training camp, don’t hold your breath.

Backup – Stephen McGee:
While the Cowboys used a fourth round pick on McGee in the 2009 draft, don’t automatically assume he will be on the roster next season. McGee showed some potential in his opportunities last season, but he is still raw and a project. If the Cowboys find someone with a little more talent, they may switch gears next season.

2011 Draft Prospects:

1. Blaine Gabbert – Missouri – 6’4, 234 lbs.
Gabbert is the top ranked quarterback in this year’s draft. That does not mean he’ll be the first overall selection or that he will be the first quarterback taken. Gabbert has some great tools. He is strong, good arm and mobile. He is a smart player who has good accuracy deep the field. The knocks on him are that he came from a “gimmick” offense in Missouri that was spread out and quarterback friendly. Many scouts question his accuracy on the intermediate throws and the outs that NFL quarterbacks need to be able to throw. Gabbert has drawn comparisons to Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford, however. Projected: Top 2

2. Cam Newton – Auburn – 6’5, 244 lbs.
Newton is a physical specimen. He has all the tools, a great arm, great feet and very tough to bring down. Newton also possess some good leadership skills and led his Tigers to a national championship last season. There are questions about Newton’s maturity and character which have begone to soften, especially after his pro day. He has not played in a “pro style”, under center offense and there is some concern as if he can succeed in such. Newton has awful mechanics and often relies too much on his athleticism instead of solid fundamentals. All that being said, he is a beast and reminds many of Donovan McNabb. Projected: Top 3

3. Chris Ponder – Florida – 6’2, 222 lbs.
Ponder might be the most NFL ready quarterback in this year’s draft. He has great accuracy on short and intermediate routes. His mechanics and footwork are solid. He has great leadership ability and character and has been starting for 3 years which is fantastic experience. Ponder also has the ability to scramble and throw on the run. He has lots of experience in an under center offense. He does have some weaknesses. Ponder doesn’t possess great arm strength and he forces a lot of bad decisions. He also has some injury concerns. Projected: Late First Round/Early Second Round.

Other Prospects:
1. Colin Kaepernick – Nevada – 6’5, 233 lbs. – Projected: 2nd Round
2. Jake Locker – Washington – 6’3, 227 lbs. – Projected: 2nd Round
3. Andy Dalton – TCU – 6’2, 210 lbs. – Projected: Late 2nd Round/Early Third Round
4. Ryan Mallet – Arkansas – 6’6, 247 lbs. – Projected: Late 2nd Round/Early Third Round

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