TT is an online writer with over seven years of experience writing about sports and pop culture.
Today, I recap the careers of the top five quarterbacks of the 2011 NFL Draft and what they are doing today.
College Career: Cam Newton spent the first two years of his college career at Florida where he backed up Tim Tebow. After spending 2009 playing for Blinn College due to being dismissed by Florida for stealing another student's laptop and three counts of cheating on tests, he transferred to Auburn for the 2010 season. He went on to win the Heisman Trophy after passing for 2,854 yards, rushing for 1,473 yards and scoring 50 total touchdowns while leading the Tigers to an undefeated National Championship.
Drafted: 1st overall by the Carolina Panthers
Pro Career: In his opening game as a rookie, Newton became the first rookie quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in his first career game. He finished his rookie season with 4,051 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, and an NFL record 14 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback while being name the NFL Rookie of the Year. By 2015, the Panthers had a well rounded team as Newton finished as the NFL MVP with the highest passer rating of his career and registered 4,473 total yards and 45 total touchdowns while leading Carolina to a 15-1 season and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. In his 12 seasons, he was a three time Pro Bowler, a 2015 All-Pro, the 2011 Rookie of the Year, and the 2015 NFL MVP while holding the NFL record with 75 career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and every major passing record in Panthers history.
Bottom line: There's no doubt "Super Cam" has been one of the most dynamic playmakers from the quarterback position we've seen in the last decade. However, that isn't to say his game doesn't have it's faults. Such as his teams never having sustained success as he never had consecutive winning seasons at any point in his pro career. He also garnered criticism for not focusing on mechanics and that got him in trouble with turnovers and bad throws. Many argue that his below average completion percentage was due to a lack of great talent at wide receiver, but I don't buy it considering he had a potential Hall of Fame tight end in Greg Olsen and some other solid role players. He also began dealing with injuries to his rotator cuff which was weakening his arm and leg injuries, making his threat as runner limited.
Where Is He Now?: Newton is currently a free agent. But given his declining level of play and injury history the last few seasons, his next destination is likely as a backup or to be used mainly in RPO packages.
College Career: After redshirting his first year, Jake Locker was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year while setting several Washington and Pac-10 records. In his four years as a starter, he passed for 7,639 yards and 53 touchdowns.
Drafted: 8th overall by the Tennessee Titans
Pro Career: Locker spent his rookie season backing up Matt Hasselbeck but registered five total touchdowns in relief duty. The following year, he beat out Hasselbeck for the starting job but missed five games with a shoulder injury. He played in just 14 games over the next two seasons due to various injuries. He
announced his retirement from the NFL n March of 2015 citing he had lost his passion for the sport. he finished his career with 4,967 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, and five rushing scores.
Bottom line: Many pegged Locker to be potential top overall pick in his final two college seasons, but slid out of consideration to due to his accuracy issues and inconsistent play. Some experts compared him Steve Young in terms of style of play and he showed glimpses of that in the pros. However due to injuries and Tennessee being and average to mediocre team in that time, his potential was never really fulfilled.
Where Is He Now?: Locker is married with three kids and is the co-owner of a fitness center in Ferndale, Washington. In 2018 he began taking college courses in theology.
College Career: After initially committing to Nebraska, Blaine Gabbert switched to Missouri as the top rated pro style quarterback. After being the third stringer as a freshman, he was named the starter in 2009 and was a second team All-Big 12 selection. In his three seasons, he passed for 6,822 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Drafted: 10th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars
Pro Career: After being the backup for the first two games, Gabbert became the Jags starter in the third game of his rookie year. He struggled mightily as he was the third most sacked quarterback in the league, had the second lowest completion percentage, and had the most fumbles with 14. The next year played well for the most part before injuring his shoulder. In 2014, he was traded to San Francisco where he started 13 games in three seasons. In 2020, he won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay as Tom Brady's backup.
Bottom line: Gabbert's pro style potential made him a hot commodity coming into the pros, but that's exactly why he failed to become a consistent starter. He was never supposed to start as a rookie but due to David Garrard being cut and Luke McCown playing so poorly, he was thrusted into the lineup. He was dealt a bad hand being drafted by a dysfunctional Jacksonville who had a different head coach in his three seasons there and dealt with multiple injuries. He's become a capable backup but never developed into the quality starter his skillset would suggest.
Where Is He Now?: Gabbert is currently a free agent and has a chance to sign with a team looking for backup depth.
College: Florida State
College Career: After redshirting and being a backup in his first two seasons, Christian Ponder was named the starter in 2008. The following year he was leading the ACC in passing average per game and was one of the national leaders in yards and passing efficiency before separating his shoulder. As a senior, he won the James Tatum award as the nation's top student athlete.
Drafted: 12th overall by the Minnesota Vikings
Pro Career: After initially being Donovan McNabb's backup, Ponder became the starter in mid October and had the typical rookie ups and downs. He was expected to take a big a leap the next year, but the season became defined by Adrian Peterson's MVP year coming back from injury as Ponder's play was inconsistent. He spent his final years as a backup in Denver and San Francisco before retiring after 2016. He finished his career with 6,658 passing yards, 38 touchdown passes, and seven rushing scores.
Bottom line: Ponder had the potential to be a quality starter with his intelligence and athletic ability, but couldn't sustain success in the pros. He started off fairly well as a rookie, but seemed to regress each season and failed to show toughness when he missed the Vikings 2012 playoff game because of a deep bicep bruise. The following year, he lost his starting job to Matt Cassel and was never viewed the same. Minnesota was built around Adrian Peterson and needed a quarterback to make the right decision to win games, but with a career completion percentage under 60 and a near even touchdown to interception ratio, he wasn't the guy to get Minnesota over the hump
Where Is He Now?: Ponder lives between New York and Arizona with his wife, ESPN Reporter Samantha Ponder, and their two children. He is the CEO of The Post, a professional network connecting elite professionals built by sport.
College: Texas Christian
College Career: After redshirting as a true freshman, Andy Dalton was named the starter the following year. As a senior, he led the Horned Frogs to a perfect 13-0 record and #2 finishing ranking in the AP Poll. In his four seasons as a starter, he broke nearly every major TCU school passing record with 10,314 passing yards and 71 touchdowns.
Drafted: 35th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals
Pro Career: After an early preseason battle, Dalton won the starting job as a rookie. He would go on to be the first quarterback to take the Bengals to five consecutive playoff seasons. In his 12 seasons, he been a three time Pro Bowler with over 35,000 career passing yards and 226 touchdowns while holding nine Bengals franchise passing records.
Bottom line: "The Red Rifle" may be the most accomplished passing quarterback in terms of statistics, but he has one noticeable glare on his career resume. That being his 0-4 career playoff record. Despite his impressive regular season statistics, his play regresses rapidly in the playoffs with a 55.7 completion percentage and just one touchdown to six interceptions in those four games. Since 2018 he's been plagued by injurie and regressed play and at this stage is an above average backup.
Where Is He Now?: Dalton signed with the Saints for the 2022 season. He'll have an opportunity to battle Jameis Winston for a starting job.
Other Notable Quarterbacks
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada: Drafted 36th overall by the San Francisco 49ers
- Dynamic dual threat who took San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII, blacklisted from league due to activism and protests
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas: Drafted 74th overall by the New England Patriots
- Eight career starts, never developed into the quarterback many expected
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa: Drafted 135th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs
- Never saw regular season action, later played in the CFL
TJ Yates, North Carolina: Drafted 152nd overall by the Houston Texans
- Backup who led the Texans to their first ever playoff win, now a wide receivers coach with the Atlanta Falcons
Nathan Enderle, Idaho: Drafted 160th overall by the Chicago Bears
- Career camp arm, later played in the Arena League
Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech: Drafted 180th overall by the Baltimore Ravens
- Made a Pro Bowl in 2015 and had some impressive seasons with Buffalo as a dual threat
Greg McElroy, Alabama: Drafted 208th overall by the New York Jets
- Started one game in two seasons, now a broadcaster
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State: Third round pick in supplemental draft
- Holds the NFL record for the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback, later transitioned to wide receiver and had 1,000 yards receiving in 2016
Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin: Undrafted
- Career backup, lacked the big arm for the pro game