2011 NFL QB Draft Class: Cam Newton and "the others"
It seems like it was just yesterday that Cam Newton came into the league and was an instant Rookie sensation. However his road to get to the NFL wasn't so glorious. Media members, GM's, scouts, and coaches alike weren't so sure about his off-field incidents or his ability to run a pro-style offense.
Nonetheless Newton wasn't the only QB scouts were "iffy" about. The entire 2011 NFL QB draft class was seen by most to be a weak one, and teams at the top of the draft weren't so thrilled that Andrew Luck choose to stay in school. But with the NFL lock-out situation and teams not being able to address their immediate needs at QB, most NFL draft experts and pundits predicted at least four or five QB's going in the first round of a "weak" QB draft class. Four QB's indeed ended up going in the first round. Only one still stands as a perennial pro-bowl starter for the team that drafted him. Another (Jake Locker) called it quits after four shorts seasons. The other two shared different situations that both led to the same conclusion; holding a clipboard for another team (Christian Ponder, and Blaine Gabbert).
I know hind-sight is "20-20" but I never understood the admiration for Blaine Gabbert being in the conversation for the number one pick. When I looked at the tape over and over again I tried to justify the hype he was receiving in one way, but I couldn't. Does this look like a first round prospect to you? It doesn't take "20-20" vision to see that this guy couldn't make NFL reads or throws, and bailed out of the pocket way too quickly, like a chicken. But scouts and so called experts like Mike Mayock forget to look at the actual tape rather than his physical tools and pro-day.
Jake Locker who surprisingly went before Gabbert to Tennessee (8th overall), had accuracy issues that he took with him to the pros, couldn't stay healthy, and is now retiring after four long years in the NFL (sarcasm). Christian Ponder the fourth and last QB taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft (12th overall), lost his starting job mid way through the 2013 season, and no longer plays for the team that drafted him either.
Lets take a look at some of the QB's taken after the first round. Andy Dalton signed a new contract before the 2014 season, from the team that drafted him, (Cincinnati 35th overall). Dalton though has received a lot of scrutiny for not yet winning a playoff game and is on the hot seat to keep his job. Mean while you can find a whole new reconstruction of the 49ers, as their 2011, 36th overall pick, Colin Kaepernick, looks to improve as a pocket passer. It will be interesting to see if he is able to improve and if the new head coach stays committed to building with Kaepernick.
Back to Newton. Considering the other options from this draft class, I guess the Panthers came to the same conclusion I am coming to now. Cam Newton was without question the best QB prospect by a land slide, and is still the best QB from this class, as successfully projected by the Carolina Panthers. So as bleak as things may look for "the others", and changes continue to transpire for Newton's draft classmates, just know one thing, Cam Newton is still number one.