2011 Senior Bowl: Watching Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick And Others

Two days ago Matt Barrows put together a quick look at the six quarterbacks taking part in today's 2011 Senior Bowl. While the 49ers have a variety of non-quarterbacks they'll be considering in today's game, we all know how important scouting quarterbacks will be for the 49ers. The Senior Bowl doesn't include all the quarterbacks prospects, but there's enough of them that will make for some must-see TV at 1pm today. Here's a brief look at the six quarterbacks in action today. Drew K will have players to watch as well in his game thread coming at noon today, but in the meantime let's just focus on QBs:

Jake Locker: Although there are six quarterbacks in play today, this week has really been Jake Locker's prime opportunity to boost his draft stock and remove some of the stigma attached to him. He's had his moments but this week, but from what I've read he's shown some of the same inconsistencies that have plagued him throughout his career. One of the big knocks has been on his accuracy and it sounds like he didn't do enough this week to really dispel this issue.

The folks at Draft Insider were probably the harshest in regards to Locker:

We've read a lot where some have said Locker pulled it together and lo0ked good late in the week.   We think its garbage- he flashed some skill but for the most part was wildly inaccurate in the pocket.  One scout we spoke with claimed Locker would have been better not coming to the Senior Bowl ala Taylor Mays.

Even if they're exaggerating in their comments, an adjustment would still leave Locker not having a particularly good week. It's safe to say that at best Locker's draft grade really won't change and worst case he takes a hit and drops in the first round. Locker will reportedly be starting today's game so he's got one last chance to leave a solid lasting impression heading into the downtime between now and the NFL Combine.

Greg McElroy: The Alabama quarterback will reportedly be starting today's game. The reports seem fairly positive for McElroy in that he had a solid week and boosted his draft stock. He reportedly struggled a bit on Thursday with his accuracy, but otherwise has had a strong week. Draft Insider referred to him as a solid West Coast offense option. A few days ago Scouts Inc ran a piece on the various Senior Bowl QBs (linked below) and had this to say about McElroy:

McElroy showed very good footwork and might be the most mechanically sound quarterback here. He doesn't need a lot of coaching and doesn't need a lot of work in terms of understanding progressions and the passing game. He can be accurate with the throws he can make, but arm strength is an even bigger problem for McElroy than it is for Stanzi. As a result, there's a chance a team drafts McElroy in the sixth or seventh round, but there's also a chance he goes undrafted.

A west coast offense QB needs to hit the shorter passes, but if he's going to have serious struggles with his deep throws it just invites the DBs to play up closer to the line and not respect the deep pass. The 49ers next QB doesn't need to be dropping bombs 50 and 60 yards down the field every play, but having the ability to do it when needed is huge for developing the rest of the offense.

Andy Dalton: One of your other two South quarterbacks who will get his playing time after McElroy. He's a guy that didn't get a lot of love this week with a few instances of him sounding a bit like a project QB to start at the next level. A lot of folks seem to be bringing the hype back to reality a bit. My reading of the week of practice shows a guy who can hit short passes, but struggles beyond ten yards at this point. It's also possible he's just struggling in these practices and will step it up at the Combine and/or a campus workout at TCU.

Of course, Scouts Inc described him as a guy who makes his best plays in game situations. It's nice to have guys who step up in games, but if you can't get a good enough sense of them in practice, doesn't that create some concerns? A guy needs to bring more than just practice field sizzle, but if he can't perform in practice how much can you trust him in game time. It's one thing when you've got older veteran QBs getting practice breaks, but when it's a rookie it's just a tough call.

Christian Ponder: We had some discussion yesterday morning about Ponder. Nothing has changed since yesterday so it's just a matter of seeing what he can do on the field today when he comes on in relief. In that link SB Nation's FSU blogger weighed in on Ponder and had a few interesting comments. He described Ponder as a smart guy who won't be spectacular, but can be very efficient. I'd be very curious to see what he can do in a west coast offense with a QB coach who has done excellent work developing young college QBs.

Colin Kaepernick: This is a guy who has apparently done as much as anybody to impress scouts this week in practice. The folks at Draft Countdown (linked below) weren't seeing it the first three days but even they came around by the fourth day. One of the primary issues for Kaepernick is that he is making the transition from Nevada's pistol offense to pro-style offenses in the NFL. Can he make that transition? There is a lot to be done but I'd hope we get the chance to see what he can do in some basic pro-style offensive play-calling today. He's reportedly improved over the course of the week but the folks at Scouts Inc still see him as a long term developmental project QB.

Ricky Stanzi: While Stanzi had his moments this week, he seemed to struggle quite a bit with establishing any sort of consistency. It's been a fairly common refrain from the various sources I've checked out. Most view him as a middle round QB that will be a project over time. Could Coach Harbaugh view guys like Stanzi and other projects as QBs he could develop? Coach Harbaugh has done a great job molding guys like Andrew Luck and Josh Johnson and you have to wonder if he'll have his Seinfeld-esque "I'm Keith Hernandez" moment thinking he can develop any young gun. I'd imagine he's not quite so brazen, but it's an interesting thought to consider as the 49ers look for their QB of the future.

We have six quarterbacks to watch today but it's hard to tell how much interest the 49ers have in some of them. A guy like Locker gets a ton of press, but is he a guy the 49ers will go after? Or will they look at a guy like Christian Ponder and think he can fit into their offense? So many decisions to be made.

Links
Scouts Inc Matchups/Players To Watch
Scouts Inc Look at Senior Bowl QBs
Draft Countdown Senior Bowl Coverage
Draft Insider

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