Andrew Luck (Staford)
Current projection: 1st overall likely, a certain top-five pick
He’s pulled away as the top quarterback prospect and looks destined to be the #1 pick next April. Only the likelihood of a lockout in 2011 will stop him declaring as a redshirt sophomore. He’s eliminated some of the erratic throws he made at the start of the year and developed into the focal point of a dominating offense. He’s benefited from the best offensive line/running game combo in college football (only nine sacks in two seasons), but he’s also flashed incredible poise, mobility and mechanics. Sometimes throws off balance and still learning due to inexperience – but his development at 21-years of age is unique. If he lands in Carolina, he’ll lift that team in year one.
Cam Newton (Auburn)
Current projection: Top 10
People are starting to grade Newton with 2010 in mind, but he’s been a top-ten pick in my mock drafts for a few weeks already. His lack of experience and two-read system at Auburn offer some concern – as do a laundry list of other issues that will need to be answered at the combine and in team meetings. However – his form in the face of adversity has been nothing short of spectacular. He’s a better passer than most give him credit for – with some footwork improvements necessary but a nice release, arm strength and decent accuracy. He has made some NFL caliber throws this year. Running ability speaks for itself – he’s not Michael Vick, but he’ll make plays with his legs and tough to bring down.
Ryan Mallett (Arkansas)
Current projection: Top 20 if he can ease character concerns, but might fall if teams put off by personality and work ethic
There’s no doubt in my mind that Mallett deserves a lot more credit for major improvements made this year. He’s a more rounded, accurate passer in 2010 and that shows with improved numbers. He’s completed 63% of his passes this year, compared to 56% in 2009. He’s answered the critics both statistically and with big wins on the road (vs Georgia & South Carolina). Improved accuracy adds to supreme arm strength and ability to read the field, diagnosing plays quickly. On the field, the sky’s the limit for his stock. Character concerns are prevalent though and need to be answered. Locker’s disappointing year could keep him in round one with many teams needing a quarterback.
Jake Locker (Washington)
Current projection: Falling – can’t place him in round one at the moment
This year hasn’t gone according to plan for Locker. He’ll rescue back some of that disappointment if Washington win their last two games and become bowl eligible. His draft stock has collapsed though and he’s sinking down the board. Accuracy is a major concern, as is decision making and the regularity with which he throws blind. Upside through character and athleticism may repair some of the damage at the Senior Bowl and combine, but a completely unconvincing year with no improvements on 2009 is of most concern. He started the year as a contender to go first overall – he’s struggling to stay in round one now.