The top five quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL draft have been put through their paces by Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden. Al Dannity says the battle for positions is only set to intensify in the days to come.
Newton holds his ground
Cam Newton didn’t come across like a Zen master in his time with Gruden but the Auburn quarterback put to bed some of the doubts. The wildly misleading “entertainer and icon” line which has was spun out of context (it was used directly in relation to a sponsorship deal) seemed to hurt the Heisman winner’s stock. Newton came across much more like a man committed to being a success in the NFL. Just in case you need a reminder, here’s what Newton is capable of when he puts his mind to it. NFL scouts haven’t forgotten and the modest demeanor presented by Newton during Gruden’s grilling will have helped allay their doubts.
Gabbert could fall back Blaine Gabbert was an early front-runner for the #1 pick. The former Missouri quarterback is still in contention but his lack of significant success with the Tigers hasn’t helped his stock. Gabbert looked nervous and indecisive when being grilled by Gruden, particularly when answering questions relating to his experience under center. Without Newton’s escapability as an asset, Gabbert needed to provide better responses. Drafting a signal caller that spent most of his career in the shotgun package is a big risk and he did little to quell any doubts this week.
The other guys Jake Locker took some heat from Gruden for his failure to protect his body but the former Bucs’ coach raved about Locker’s power. Andy Dalton looked 12 years old but also came across as the kind of player that can make smart throws under pressure. Neither did anything to change existing perceptions about where they belong in the draft order. Ryan Mallett’s appearance alongside John Daly probably didn’t help tone down his reputation as a party animal.
Two notable absentees from Gruden’s interviews were Colin Kaepernick and Christian Ponder. The latter looks certain to be a bargain, having superb physical talents that should translate comfortably to the NFL. Kaepernick has also done a tremendous job in winning over admirers, proving he can play under center despite spending four years playing in the pistol offense with Nevada.