The last two drafts have given us Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford, quarterbacks who were clear No. 1 overall choices. This year, there is no clear-cut No. 1, but there are so many teams desperate for a franchise-saving QB that some team -- or a handful of them -- is going to wind up reaching and hoping to strike gold.
Given the importance of the position, those teams considering a quarterback in the early rounds are going to have to get comfortable with investing a pick -- and lots of money -- in a guy with a visible red flag. Each of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft has at least one, many with multiple deficiencies.
Below are this year's top seven quarterbacks, and their flaws, many of which were hidden in college but will surely be exposed in the NFL. Be sure to click on the Interactive Scouting Report above to view the red flags in more detail.
Cam Newton, Auburn
Newton is the most electrifying player at the position, but scouts are split on his pro potential. He has all of the physical tools to be an elite quarterback. His combination of size, arm strength and athleticism makes him a unique prospect. However, his inexperience running a conventional offense and looming character concerns could impact his ability to turn his potential into production.
Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Gabbert has all of the talent to become an upper-echelon quarterback. While he offers a nice blend of athleticism, arm strength and intelligence, scouts worry about his ability to transition into a pro-style system. He operated extensively out of a wide-open, shotgun offense and will need time to adjust to the mechanics of playing from under center. He has shown all indications of being able to make the transition in workouts, but the jury is still out on whether he can execute within a pro-style system in games.
Jake Locker, Washington
Locker was regarded as the top quarterback prospect heading into the 2010 season but regressed over the course of his senior campaign. His struggles with accuracy and pocket awareness have led to concerns about his ability to thrive as a pro. Even though he shows some promise as a passer on the perimeter due to his superior athleticism, his inability to function in the pocket makes it difficult for some teams to envision him as a franchise quarterback.
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Mallett is regarded as the most pro-ready of all the quarterback prospects thanks to his natural talent and experience running Bobby Petrino's offense at Arkansas. He is one of the few QBs to run an offense primarily from the line of scrimmage, and his ability to thrive in the pocket leads many to believe that his collegiate production will translate to pro success. However, there are many questions regarding his character and leadership skills, and he's not a top athlete. He ran a slow 5.37-second 40-yard dash at his pro day and registered just a 26-inch vertical. Those numbers indicate he will struggle escaping the pocket and that he isn't a threat to run.
Christian Ponder, Florida State
Ponder has piqued the interest of scouts and coaches looking for an ideal quarterback for a West Coast system. As a quick decision-maker with a good grasp of where to deliver the ball, he routinely hits his playmakers and allows them to make things happen in the open field. That's when he's actually on the field; he's been prone to injury throughout his college career. He also doesn't possess the strongest arm, which will limit his new team's play-calling.
Andy Dalton, TCU
Dalton brings extensive starting experience to the table. He compiled a 42-7 record as a starter, and his football intelligence has intrigued scouts and coaches looking for a franchise quarterback prospect not as highly touted. He lacks superior arm strength and is probably not a good fit for a vertical-passing team. He'll need to focus on his footwork at the next level operating out of a conventional system.
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
He finished his career as one of the most productive quarterbacks in WAC history following three straight seasons with 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards. As a dual threat, he puts a tremendous amount of pressure on defenses with his athleticism. His transition from a "Pistol" offense is a concern, as is a quirky delivery that could prove problematic against much-quicker defenses in the NFL.