Ryan Mallett – Derek Anderson
With the dismal quarterback play in Arizona of late, this comparison will really hit home with the Cardinal faithful. If Mallett winds up in the desert, one can only hope the Cardinals’ front office doesn’t make that selection until at earliest the second round or possibly later. After further evaluation, Mallett appears to be the second coming of Anderson. Fans in Arizona saw enough of that during the 2010 season to last a lifetime and know that’s not the short-term or long-term answer.
Mallett shows flashes of his ability but is also prone to erratic throws and bad decision making (sound familiar, Cards fans?). Mallett’s draft projection seems to be all over the place by the so-called experts. Some predict him going as a top 15 pick while others have slapped a third-round grade on the former Michigan turned Arkansas signal caller. Here’s to hoping the Cardinals’ are in that third-round group or a ‘DA’ like player might resurface next year.
Jake Locker – Jake Plummer
Plummer is probably considered one of the more popular players ever to wear a Cardinals uniform. Yes, Plummer’s career flamed out in Arizona but he helped bring mediocrity to a historically losing franchise. Both the good and bad come with this comparison as Locker is similar to ‘Jake the snake’ due to his elusiveness and ability to make plays with his feet. That’s the good, but the bad includes inconsistent throws and turnovers that can limit the upside of his potential.
Arizona could certainly do a lot worse than Locker, especially considering the quartet of quarterbacks it ran onto the field this season. Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall or Richard Bartel probably aren't part of the answer. There’s a good chance Locker would be an upgrade over any four of these names (Skelton might give him a challenge) but the Cards’ draft position will likely stunt their interest in the once beloved Washington star. Locker isn’t worthy of the No. 5 overall pick , meaning GM Rod Graves would have to jockey to make the selection happen.
For sake of this article, we open up the comparisons to the rest of the NFL.
Cam Newton – Randall Cunningham
This could be considered wishful thinking out of Newton's camp but the reigning Heisman Trophy winner draws comparisons to a blast from the past like Cunningham, who changed the philosophy at quarterback. There’s a chance Newton could develop into that type of player or he could be a flop (see Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell). Only time will tell and a lot of it will depend who gets their hands on Newton and what they attempt to do with him.
There are plenty of uncertainties and question marks with Newton but his physical attributes can't be ignored. Newton could be the newest style of a dual-threat quarterback, providing his ability as a pocket passer progresses enough in the professional ranks. His latest workout in front of the media was the first step towards demonstrating those abilities, but Newton will have to continue along that path to find long-term success in the NFL.
Blaine Gabbert – Alex Smith
Gabbert might be the most difficult prospect to gauge at this point, even more difficult than Newton. Very few ‘system’ quarterbacks from a spread offense in college have come to the NFL and had success. While it may be unfair to group Gabbert in the same category as Smith, it’s the closest thing out there. Yes, Newton comes from a similar offensive style but he possesses better physical attributes than Gabbert.
After Stanford’s Andrew Luck withdrew from this year’s draft, Gabbert’s value skyrocketed after being a ho-hum pro prospect for most of his college career. Potential is the key word thrown around with Gabbert’s name but his size (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) seems to have NFL scouts reaching a bit. Gabbert might develop into a better quarterback than Smith but that could prove to be a difficult task.
Ricky Stanzi – Tom Brady
OK … Yes, this is a bit of a stretch and Stanzi is probably considered out of place on this list but we've seen a Brady-like player ever since Stanzi replaced Jake Christensen in the starting lineup at Iowa. Stanzi looks like a Brady clone standing tall in the pocket and the similarities of the two coming out of college are there. Stanzi is a bit slow with his decision making, footwork and release – just as Brady was. In fact, that was by far the biggest knock on Brady, even during his early tenure with the New England Patriots.
Stanzi was extremely efficient up until the Hawkeyes three-game slide at the conclusion of his senior season. While Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is known for producing NFL-ready players on both sides of the ball, quarterback is one area where he hasn’t had much success at guiding prospects to the next level. If you ask Hawkeye fans part of this would be due to offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe’s lack of communication with his quarterbacks. If Stanzi is teamed with a solid QB coach in the NFL, he could blossom down the road.
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at firstname.lastname@example.org
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