Great Article: Mayock and a NFC Scouts take on "1st" Round QB in 2011

This article is on the front of CNNSI right now. And I thought it may stir up some more discussion. It is a very high level view on the QB prospects for the early part of this year's draft.

I really, really Mayock and respect his draft analysis on prospects, probably more then anyone else.

Right now he has Locker as his #1 QB prospect in 2011. Here is his take on Locker, as well as a NFL Scout:

"Last year at this time everyone wanted to say he'd be the No. 1 pick in the draft, and now he's an afterthought in most people's minds,'' Mayock said. "I don't understand that logic. He's got all the tools to be a top-level quarterback, all the physical tools. The size and the arm strength. I just question his pocket awareness. And that's where his accuracy issues come into play.

"When he moves outside the pocket, either right or left, and not just scrambling, because they did a good job with plays that moved him outside the pocket and had him throw on the run, he has good vision and is as accurate as any quarterback you'll see. But he gets into some trouble in the pocket, seeing the field, and that's where his accuracy breaks down. I'm really excited to see him at the Senior Bowl [in two weeks] and see him working with other receivers. To me he's got first-round ability. But I just need to get more comfortable with him, and his pocket awareness.''

One scout for an NFC team told me this week that Locker's accuracy on the run is much better than in the pocket, but that it's hard to overlook how hesitant he can appear when he's not rolling out.

"He's not very natural,'' the scout said. "At the end of the day, he's indecisive in the pocket, and I've got reservations about guys like that. Pop in a tape of Alex Smith. ... To me, the issues are the same with Locker. [Stuff] happens fast back there [in the pocket], and it's often not very clean. He'll cock it one time, and then re-cock it, and by that time the defenders are on you. I think there are some real similarities between the two, Locker and Smith. Mallett is natural. Cam Newton is natural. Locker's not very natural.''

Another QB that we have heard pop up, but haven't discussed that much is TCU's Andy Dalton, who really intrigues Mayock.

"The kid jumped out at me last summer,'' Mayock said. "I told friends of mine in the NFL, he's going to surprise people as a senior. He's at least a second-round quarterback. I think he's got a bigger arm than people thought, with a better physical skill set, and he's certainly won a lot of football games in college. The longer I do this, at the quarterback position, once you get past certain measurables like arm strength and size, the most important thing to me is the football work ethic and the football intelligence.

"Those are hugely important, because those are the kind of guys who end up winning games for you, and they're the type of guys who can take their game to a whole other level in the NFL. That's why I was so high on Matt Ryan three years ago, because of his football IQ and his work ethic. And it's the Aaron Rodgers type of quarterback. You know they're going to put in the work, and you know they have good football intelligence.''

The NFC scout I talked to is very high on Dalton's intangibles as well, but projects him as someone who would require development time to interject himself into a team's starting situation. And that means this team wouldn't likely grade him higher than the fourth round.

"I couldn't hang my hat on him in the second round, but I really see special traits with him, and he could develop into a quality No. 2 and then work himself into a starting job,'' the scout said. "There's a lot of things to like about him, but he'd probably take some time and some work.''

Outlook on Cam Newton:

"He's so gifted athletically and there are not many guys like him,'' the NFC scout said. "But he's going to need some time, too. You're doing a disservice to him to throw him right into the fire. He's used to playing in the spread, doing the zone-read stuff, and he's pretty much waiting for a guy to come open before he throws it. He has to see him come open before he lets it go. He doesn't see the whole field yet.

"But you know as well as I do, for a team needing a quarterback, let's say the Cardinals at No. 5, if you've got to take one in that slot, he's going to play early. That's just the way it goes. I see him going in the top 10, maybe to someone who is sitting there waiting to trade up for him. But he could use a year or so, like the way Cincinnati handled Carson Palmer.''

I couldn't get anyone to hazard a guess as to whether Newton's draft stock will be affected by the off-field controversy that has followed him and his father, Cecil, since last fall. But with the specter of the JaMarcus Russell draft bust in Oakland still very much on the minds of NFL decision-makers, the NFC scout said he expects Newton's work ethic, motivation level and character issues to be explored in depth by clubs.

"People are going to have to do their homework on him,'' the scout said. "They'll probably overlook some of that stuff, but he could maybe fall in the interview process at the combine. What I've heard from some people is that Cam doesn't like to work on some of the stuff that a quarterback has to work on. Someone who knows him told me the only difference between Cam and JaMarcus Russell is that Cam has Cecil [his father] to keep him on track. But that's potentially a big difference.''

Take on Gabbert:

"The thing that sticks out to me is that he's a lot more athletic than you think he is,'' the NFC scout said. "He's like Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Freeman, in that he's a guy who can extend the play even when he's got guys hanging off him. That's the trait that makes those guys so special. They're so big and they can shake guys off. He's not as strong as Roethlisberger and Freeman, but he has some of the same skills.''

Gabbert also gets high marks for largely carrying his team's offense, despite the lack of other great skills players. He scores well too in terms of his work ethic and football savvy.

"Missouri's spread offense isn't like Florida's,'' the scout said. "They don't have great athletes all around him and it's not a simple spread like in some places. He's doing it all on his own. You can see him scanning through his progressions, reading the field, and he has to move, extend the play, and create. And he's a mature kid and will put in the work. I could see him going near the top, in that third, fourth or fifth range.''

Mallett was not profiled in the article, and there are some blurbs on other positions.

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