NFL Draft: Calling all first-round QBs … hello?

Should the 49ers take a quarterback with their first-round pick in the NFL Draft?

No. And neither should any other NFL team.

At least that’s the opinion of Sporting News draft analyst Russ Lande, who spent seven years as a college scout with the Rams and Browns and now heads the GM Jr. NFL Draft scouting service.

Lande doesn’t see a potential franchise quarterback in the draft. In fact, he currently doesn’t see a quarterback worthy of a first-round pick, although he’s reserving some judgment on the top-32-worthiness of Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert.

But he wouldn’t advocate selecting the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Gabbert at No. 7 overall.

“I think (the 49ers) would be crazy to take him there,” Lande said. “He’s a tall kid with a big-league arm with very good athletic ability. He’s a great kid. Great intangibles. And I think he’s a very accurate thrower – I think he’s a gifted kid. But I don’t think he deals well with pressure. I think he’ll throw the ball up sometimes.”

Not surprisingly, Lande doesn’t see an NFL-ready signal-caller available, noting that some of the most accomplished rookie quarterbacks such as Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford endured their share of first-year growing pains.

“If the 49ers are counting on a (rookie) quarterback this year to lead them to a winning record, they’re insane,” Lande said. “If they’re counting on finding a guy they can develop, they have a chance.”

Here’s Lande’s assessment of the six quarterbacks he saw at last week’s Senior Bowl:

Jake Locker, Washington (6-2, 228): “Locker is a rare talent in terms of arm strength and athletic ability. His mechanics are tremendous, but his accuracy is horrible. And you can’t succeed in the NFL if you’re an inaccurate thrower. He’s a great kid, great intangibles, great everything. He just is not an accurate passer and I think that will be his downfall. If you have good mechanics and your accuracy is bad, it’s almost impossible to become an accurate passer.”

Colin Kaepernick, Nevada (6-4, 225): “I think he was the guy with the most potential (at the Senior Bowl). He clearly had the strongest arm all week. He’s a big, tall kid. He runs in the 4.4s. He’s a great athlete. He’s got great intangibles, he’s very intelligent and he can make all the throws. But he’s going to need some development because his mechanics are a little bit raw and he played in that Pistol Offense. But if you’re going to take a gamble on a kid in the third round, I’d rather take him than take a gamble on Gabbert, or (Arkansas’ Ryan) Mallet, or Locker or any of those guys in the second.”

Christian Ponder, Florida State (6-2, 222): “Christian Ponder is a very intriguing guy. He could possibly end up being my No. 1 quarterback. I think he’s a very athletic kid with good mechanics. He’s got a good arm, not a real good arm, just good enough. He’s super intelligent, makes good decisions and doesn’t force passes. But he’s coming off the injured elbow, the injured head when he got the concussion and the injured shoulder, which there have been concerns about. So there’s some real injury question marks with him. I think he’s a very athletic kid, but I think he’s a guy that’s probably going to be second- or third-round player.”

Andy Dalton, TCU (6-2, 213): “Andy Dalton is very physically gifted with a big arm. But I think he’s very inconsistent with his technique, which leads to his accuracy being all over the place. I don’t think he’s a starter in the NFL. I think he’s going to be a backup.”

Greg McElroy, Alabama (6-2, 222): “When you look at Greg McElroy, to me, he’s a backup. His biggest strength is above the shoulders. Very intelligent kid, but he doesn’t have a lot of physical tools. I think he’s a perfect guy to be your backup who can start games and probably start three or four a season without hurting you if there’s an injury or something. But he’s not a guy you want starting.”

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa (6-4, 221): “Stanzi is another guy who is brilliant in terms of smarts. He can do all the things you want mentally. I don’t think he’s an accurate enough passer. I think he’s going to struggle to be more than a backup in the NFL.”

• Lande views Gabbert and Ponder as the draft-eligible quarterbacks who are best suited to run a West Coast Offense.

On Ponder: “I think he would be great just because he’s so smart. He would be able to really pick it up quickly. The West Coast Offense takes a long time. It’s not just something where you step in and you’ve got it.”

On Gabbert: “I think he could be very effective. He’s a very accurate thrower, especially throwing short.”

Comments are closed.