Titans Tracker reviews the 2011 quarterback class

The 2011 NFL Draft is next week, and the Tennessee Titans are expected to draft a quarterback during the first two rounds of the draft.

I like quarterbacks — all of them. Gotta respect the toughest position in all of sports. I also trust my hunches. Last year, I was confident that Colt McCoy would overachieve in Cleveland, and that Jimmy Clausen would not be the answer for the Carolina Panthers. Here are my impressions of this year’s deep crop of signal callers.

They Will Not Be Titans

Cam Newton
The guy has superstar written all over him. He’s got a very strong arm, a large frame, charisma, and mental toughness. You don’t beat Alabama on the road, survive intense personal scrutiny, win the SEC championship and a BCS championship without being mentally tough. If he’s committed to greatness, he will be a top ten quarterback in four years.

Blaine Gabbert
I don’t get the hype. Then again, I didn’t get the hype about Matt Ryan coming out of Boston College. Gabbert enters the NFL draft after an average college career and a below-average third down completion percentage, yet he’s seen by many as being a top-ten pick.

Newton will be picked no later than number 3. I doubt Gabbert will slip to number 8 since there are so many quarterback-needy teams picking high in the draft. If Tennessee trades up to get Gabbert, I hope he, like Matt Ryan, becomes a better professional than his college performances indicate.

The Two Number 10s

Jake Locker
I had written off Locker due to his lack of accuracy and regression during his senior season. That is, until I saw him on Jon Gruden’s QB Camp. Locker strikes me as a bright, tough, effort guy.

During the program, Gruden told Locker, “I have a feeling about you.” I do, too, and I won’t be surprised if the Titans make room for Locker next week and reach for him in the first round.

Colin Kaepernick
I’ve watched Kaepernick play a number of times over the past four years. He has a lot of confidence and poise. However, because of his footwork and release, he is the dictionary definition of “project.”

Kaepernick believes he’s ready to start this season. I don’t, but I’d be more than happy if he’s starting for the Titans in 2012.

Ironically, if the Titans want either Locker or Kaepernick, they may have to draft one of them in the first round. Kaepernick in particular seems to be a hot commodity and has been invited to attend the draft.

The other irony is that Locker and Kaepernick both wore number 10 on his jersey.

The Safe Picks

To me, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder are the same guy. Dalton has the stronger arm of the two and boasts a stellar win-loss record at TCU. Ponder is highly intelligent and has experience running a pro-style offense at Florida State.

Both Dalton and Ponder fit the so-called West Coast offense I expect offensive coordinator Chris Palmer to employ. Dalton has a bit more upside and would be a great second round pick.

If He’s Drafted, I May Become a Cowboys Fan

Ryan Mallett
During Mallett’s appearance on Gruden’s QB camp, fellow Arkansas Razorback John Daly made an appearance. Yes, that John Daly, the professional golfer who has struggled with alcoholism while squandering his tremendous talent.

I’m a John Daly fan. I think he’s a good guy at heart. But golf is an individual sport. If Daly was a strong-armed quarterback, would I want him leading my favorite team?

I don’t believe in accidents. To me, Daly’s involvement with Mallett is a bad omen. I hope Mike Reinfeldt and Mike Munchak don’t test my loyalty to the Titans by drafting Mallett.

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