While Andrew Luck’s decision to stay one more year at Stanford is a tough pill to swallow for the Cardinal’s 2011 opponents, it’s music to the ears of quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft. Take a look at the latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft. Quarterbacks such as Cam Newton, Ryan Mallet and a few not listed — Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert — are all about to see a domino effect from Luck’s decision. Without Luck, a franchise quarterback and the likely top pick in the draft, quarterbacks are now at a premium.
Here’s how it broke down before.
Andrew Luck: No. 1 pick heading to the Carolina Panthers. Throw that all out the window now that Luck is staying at Stanford. The quarterback class just got much weaker without Luck.
Cam Newton: The Auburn quarterback was the No. 12 pick in the mock draft, taken by the Minnesota Vikings. In that scenario, he was the second quarterback off the board. Could he be the first taken, or will someone jump him?
Ryan Mallett: The third quarterback off the board, Mallett was projected as the No. 21 pick, taken by the Seattle Seahawks. Mallett has a cannon for an arm, but plenty of questions surrounding his play. It’s possible, however, that a team looking for a pocket passer could snatch him up in the early-mid first round.
Blaine Gabbert: The Missouri quarterback was not listed as a first round pick, but will likely end up as an early-mid first round pick. Gabbert just declared for the draft and has plenty of buzz around his name. With Luck gone, Gabbert could rise far enough that he’s the first quarterback off the board.
Jake Locker: With Luck out, Locker has less competition at the quarterback spot. Locker has the tools to make scouts’ jaws drop, but also has questions surrounding his play. He may, however, be the biggest benefactor of Luck’s decision. Look for Locker to shoot up the draft boards.
It’s clear that Luck’s decision leaves the draft class lacking in top-end quarterbacks, but these prospects should all send the Stanford returnee a gift basket and thank you card.