When Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck decided that it would be a in his best interests to stay in college for his senior year, he left a whole where the best quarterback in the 2011 NFL draft should be. Since that time, two candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to try to fill the void left by Luck. Those two guys are Auburn quarterbackand Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
If Luck had decided to leave college a year early, it's likely that he would be on a quarterback tier of his own, due to the fact that he's a pro-style quarterback that he has experience in a pro-style offense. However, that's not the case. Many teams, including the Bengals, are hurting for quarterbacks, and are scrambling to figure out which one of these two is the real deal, or at least the least risky.
Well, ESPN's Pat Yasinkas, the NFC South's James Walker, decided to compare some stats that coaches and scouts will be paying attention to. He did this to try and help predict who the Panthers might select with the No. 1 overall pick, if they decide to take a chance on a quarterback. Why does this matter to the Bengals? It matters because the Bengals may select the other guy, if they decide they need to take a chance as well.
On throws of 15 yards or more in their respective conference games last season, Newton completed 49 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Gabbert completed 37.5 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Yasinkas also compared the numbers of the two quarterbacks when they were facing a blitz. He found that when a defense sent five or more players after the quarterback, it was Newton who looked better. Newton completed 73.5 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and zero interceptions while being rushed while Gabbert only completed 44.8 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and zero interceptions when they were rushed. If Newton is good under presser, it may come in handy in the blitz happy AFC North.
Yasinkas also compared their passing numbers when they were forced outside the pocket.
Newton’s got a reputation for being mobile that’s backed up by his success throwing outside the pocket. In conference games, he completed 20 of 30 throws outside the pocket with two touchdowns and averaged 9.7 yards per attempt. In similar situations, Gabbert completed six of 20 passes with one touchdown and averaged 4.5 yards per attempt.
While Newton's speed and athleticism makes some weary that he's not a typical NFL pocket passer, Yasinkas argues that his numbers tell a different story.
Newton’s mobility has some people thinking he’s not a pocket passer, but the numbers tell a different story. In conference games, Newton completed 67.7 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Gabbert completed 61.1 percent with nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
Yasinkas makes one final point: Blaine Gabbert threw 267 passes against Big-12 opponents and every single one of them were from the shotgun formation.
Who's the safer pick or are either of them safe at all in the first round?