October 26, 2014

Decision Points: QB

The Bengals have the 4th overall pick in the NFL draft that begins this Thursday, April 28th at 8 PM. The teams have 10 minutes to make their selections, so the Bengals will pick somewhere around 8:40 or so. This week I am looking at the players the Bengals will be considering with the fourth overall pick: today I will look at the quarterback position.

Reason for interest: Carson Palmer has declared through his handlers that he will never play for the Bengals again, despite the three years remaining on his contract. He claims he will retire unless traded. Team backups are Palmer’s brother Jordan and former Bear Dan LeFevour, neither of which are likely starters.

The Prospects:

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. 6’5”, 248 lbs. Newton was as productive in his one season of starting for Auburn as any player in recent memory. He won the Heisman Trophy as well as the national championship. He accounted for an unbelieveable 50 touchdowns, 30 passing, in 2010, to go along with over 2800 passing yards and over 1400 yards rushing.

What to like: He scored 50 touchdowns, which is staggering for any conference, especially the SEC. He has elite size and speed, with a 4.56 combine 40 yard dash. He is tough and durable. He brought Auburn back from a 24-0 deficit in the Iron Bowl to beat Alabama with the Tiger’s title hopes on the line. He has an incredible smile that will look good on billboards and media guides.

What to worry about: As big as his upside is, his risks are just as big. He is the ultimate gamble. Many question how Auburn’s scheme translates to the NFL, how mature he is, how accurate his throws are, and there are major concerns about his maturity and whether he can be trusted. He also was a one year wonder in college.

Outlook: He should be somewhere between Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) and Jamarcus Russell (former #1 overall pick bust). His intangibles are the biggest concern.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. 6’4”, 234 lbs. Gabbert threw for over 3100 yards and 16 touchdown vs. 9 interceptions for the Tigers in 2010. Gabbert beat #1 Oklahoma for the first time since 1998 in a huge upset.

What to like: He has elite size and speed combination after running a 4.61 40 yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Has excellent accuracy while playing behind a questionable offensive line. Was 1st team All-Acedemic Big Ten in the fall semester.

Who to worry about: Gabbert ran a spread offense in college and doesn’t have much experience in taking snaps under center. He hasn’t been asked to make the deep throws that NFL teams need to be able to make. His nine interceptions vs. 16 touchdown passes in 2010 doesn’t seem like the profile for a top four pick.

Outlook: He should be somewhere between Sam Bradford (Rams) and Matt Leinert (Texans). Adapting to the pro game is his biggest concern.