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By the numbers: Newton vs. Gabbert

The debate about who is the best quarterback in the 2011 draft seems to be down to Auburn’s Cam Newton and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert. It's relevant in the NFC South because the Carolina Panthers hold the first overall pick and could end up going with a quarterback.

With the help of ESPN Stats & Information, let’s take a look at the two quarterbacks. We’ll start by comparing them when throwing down the field.

On throws of 15 yards or more in their respective conference games last season, Newton completed 49 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Gabbert completed 37.5 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Newton also held the edge last season when facing the blitz. We’re talking only conference games again, but here’s what happened when opponents sent five or more pass-rushers. Newton completed 73.5 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Gabbert completed 44.8 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Newton’s got a reputation for being mobile that’s backed up by his success throwing outside the pocket. In conference games, he completed 20 of 30 throws outside the pocket with two touchdowns and averaged 9.7 yards per attempt. In similar situations, Gabbert completed six of 20 passes with one touchdown and averaged 4.5 yards per attempt.

Newton’s mobility has some people thinking he’s not a pocket passer, but the numbers tell a different story. In conference games, Newton completed 67.7 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Gabbert completed 61.1 percent with nine touchdowns and four interceptions.

One final note on Gabbert: He threw all 267 of his passes against Big 12 opponents after lining up in the shotgun.