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Sunday, February 27, 2011
How quarterback drills affect AFC West

By Bill Williamson

Several big-name quarterbacks threw Sunday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, with mixed results.

The biggest name to participate was Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. He reportedly did not perform well. He struggled with his accuracy. No AFC West team is in line to take Newton (Denver will be looking for defense at No. 2), however Newton’s status does affect Denver. There has been talk Carolina would take Newton at No. 1 if he had a good workout season.

If the Panthers take a quarterback, Denver will have the entire defensive board to choose from. Carolina could take defensive end Da’Quan Bowers or Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the top choice. So, Denver is rooting for a quarterback to go to Carolina. Newton didn’t help his or Denver’s cause Sunday. Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert is the other quarterback who potentially could go No. 1. He didn’t throw Sunday.

Oakland is the only AFC West team that could potentially take a quarterback early. The Raiders saw prospects Ryan Mallett of Arkansas and Jake Locker of Washington redeem themselves Sunday with good performances. That could keep both players above Oakland’s first pick, which is No. 48. However, other prospects, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick were not tremendous Sunday, so they could perhaps fall to the second or third round and entice the Raiders.

Sunday’s performance doesn’t put anything in concrete for any prospect, but it is a good indication of what range each player will be drafted. Each player will have a pro day in the coming weeks that will either help or hurt his draft cause.