QBs of 2011 Draft: Where Will They Fall?

LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 09: Cam Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers throws a pass as he warms up before the SEC game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Quarterbacks - The bane of teams like the Vikings, the Cardinals and Jaguars who are annually one QB away from being a contender; the joy of teams like the Colts, the Patriots and the Packers, who can rest assured that as long as their star suits up, they will have a fighting chance to win any game.  In a not-so-distant world, the Bengals organization and fans believed that they had their guy, but injuries, disappointment, and threats of retirement from Carson Palmer have meant the Bengals are going to have to enter the quarterback sweepstakes again in 2011. 

But in a quarterback driven NFL world, I have to advise caution and patience in the draft.  If the Bengals step on the wrong side of the cliff, and draft the next Ryan Mallet Leaf, the next five to 10 years could look a lot like the Bengals of the '90s.  However, if the Bengals get the right guy, they might just land the future of the organization.  Here's a look at the 2011 class of QBs, and where they might fall in the 2011 draft.  If you're looking for great scouting on these QBs, I recommend checking out Joe Goodberry's breakdown, in parts one, two and three.

First, here's a quick breakdown of the number of QBs in rounds one through three that have been drafted since 2000.

        Round 1         Round 2         Round 3               Total
2000 1 0 3 4
2001 1 3 0 4
2002 3 0 1 4
2003 4 0 2 6
2004 4 0 1 5
2005 3 0 3 6
2006 3 2 2 7
2007 2 3 1 6
2008 2 2 1 5
2009 3 1 0 4
2010 2 1 1 4
28 12 15

What stands out here is that since 2000, the highest number of quarterbacks to be drafted in the first three rounds, has been seven, back in 2006.  Assuming that the Bengals are looking to draft a QB in the first three rounds, it's a pretty safe bet that the Bengals need look no further than the top seven ranked QBs.  The other thing to note, is that after the first round, QB selections tend to taper off, with the number of first round selections (28) being more than double the number of second and third round selections combined (27).

Using Joe Goodberry's list we can rank this year's top eight crop of QBs as: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, Ryan Mallet, Colin Kaepernick and Ricky Stanzi. Here's how they break down by round.

Likely first rounders: Gabbert and Newton are probably the only surefire locks for the first round, however Locker, Ponder and Mallet are probably all guys that are on the bubble.  Since 2000, the highest number of QBs taken in the first round has been four, with the average being around three.  According to Goodberry's rankings, the third guy in would be Locker.

Likely second rounders: The most QBs to ever go in the second round since 2000 was three, which leaves Ponder, Dalton and Mallet as the best candidates. Personally, if Ponder was still there, I'd take him without hesitation.  Dalton is probably on the bubble for second round, but I expect him to fall to the third.

Likely third rounders:  Again, the most QBs drafted in the third round since 2000 has been three, which leaves Dalton (questionable), Kaepernick and possibly Stanzi. If the Bengals weren't able to get the guy they wanted by the third, Dalton would be the best fit as a west coast style quarterback. 

The monkey wrench: There is one thing that might make this draft different than in previous years: no free agency.  If teams panic about their ability to get a quality veteran this off-season, then we might see an unprecedented rush on quarterbacks.

Here's hopin' the Bengals will be on the right side of history this time around.

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