Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Quarterback

Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Quarterback
April 26, 2011, 3:53 am
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Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 10:39 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
Third in a series

The marquee position in the NFL will be exactly that when the 2011 draft opens. But the Bears do not project as players on the first or even the second day.

The Bears

The Bears used their last two No. 1 picks on quarterbacks, both of them named Jay Cutler. With a contract extension in place, the Bears believe they are as set at this franchise position as the Packers (Aaron Rodgers) and Lions (Matthew Stafford) think they are.

The depth chart consists of Caleb Hanie, a restricted free agent and someone who has not had anything approaching unqualified endorsement from coordinator Mike Martz. The Bears used a late-round pick last year on Dan LeFevour, who wasnt able to play well enough in preseason to win a roster spot outright, and the Cincinnati Bengals grabbed him and pre-empted signing him to the practice squad.

Need: Not a priority in the early rounds but Todd Collins wasnt an answer and the Bears need someone in the pipeline.

The 2011 draft

More than any position in any draft, quarterback is influenced by qualitative as well as any quantitative components of prospects. Leadership is more important at the position than time in the 40-yard dash. Its why one team chooses Peyton Manning instead of Ryan Leaf or perhaps Tim Couch over Donovan McNabb.

That is where the 2011 draft becomes the equal of many for intrigue. Draft analysts project as few as two quarterbacks being selected in the first round or as many as four. Two could go in the top 10.

Its all in what you like in a quarterback. The Carolina Panthers at No.1 overall, the Buffalo Bills at No. 3, any team less than satisfied with its situation at quarterback, all need a quarterback. If you believe theres a franchise QB at No. 3, that need trumps everything else, ESPN analyst Todd McShay said of the Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick is OK but you need a franchise quarterback.

But when they all look at the available talent, will they see Manning? Or Leaf?

Alex Smith, Jamarcus Russell and David Carr were No. 1-overalls in the past 10 years, and quarterbacks went No. 1 overall in 10 of the last 13 drafts. A miss at the top at this spot can be catastrophic.

The Best Bets:

1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri He may be the best of class, and at nearly 6-5, 234 pounds, he possesses arm strength and physical stature. A consensus top-10 pick but a franchise-grade leader?

2. Cam Newton, Auburn As many questions as answers perhaps, with doubts ranging from character to fit in an NFL offense. A one-year star with as much upside as anyone in the draft. Carolina has done major background work.

3. Jake Locker, Washington A fall-off from the first two, according to most observers. Projected to go late in the first round, Locker is another very mobile quarterback who needs the right system and mentor.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.