Scout's Elite 11
At its core, the Elite 11 is a teaching camp, not a competition. The participants spend several hours in the classroom and working with college quarterbacks and former NFL quarterbacks alike in learning to refine their craft.
The 2011 Elite 11 is a little different in that more than 20 participants are on hand to be named the Elite 11 at the end of the week making this year more of a competition than in years past, but this is still a premiere quarterback camp first.
The camp gives scouts the opportunity to see the participants run through a variety of drills that showcase mechanics, arm strength, accuracy and footwork by which the quarterbacks' performance this week will ultimately be judged. But any observer of football knows that the physical traits that make up a quarterback are but a small composition of the total package.
For example, Boise State's Kellen Moore is on hand as an instructor. He runs through all the same drills as the high school players. Based on what can be gleaned from the camp itself which includes no live defense to this point, no pass rush, and no pads, Moore would rank in the bottom half of the 24 participants in size, mechanics, and arm strength.
Moore is a Heisman Trophy front runner for the 2011 Season at Boise State.
With that in mind, let's take a look at my Elite 11 of the participants after two days of action based on the traits we are able to see and judge at the event.
1a. Jameis Winston, 6'4/190, Hueytown, Ala. - Not Committed
Winston is the total package at quarterback. He has great size and an elastic arm that generates good velocity without having to put forth a lot of effort. Some players have to muscle up on a ball to try and hit the deeper routes, Winston makes it look effortless and his accuracy benefits. He throws an easy, catchable ball, even when he's got extra zip on it, because it's always hitting the receivers in stride.
1b. Gunner Kiel, 6'4/200, Columbus, Ind. - Not Committed
OK, so maybe it's a copout to choose 1A and 1B, but there's not a lot that separates the physical ability of Winston and Kiel. Kiel has a big, big arm, but he seems to be content to throttle down and work on his release. He's almost flicking his wrist now and still generating spin and velocity... and accuracy. His release has gotten quicker over the last year that we've seen him, and he still makes all the throws.
3. Bart Houston, 6'4/200, Concord, Calif. - Committed to Wisconsin
Summer quarterback camps are tailor made for a player like Houston. He labors in a highly successful, but quarterback prohibitive option offense for De La Salle. He may only throw a couple of times a game, and his team won the all classification State Championship in 2010, so it's hard to argue against the results. But at the Elite 11 camps, Houston is able to stand tall, grip it and rip it. He has a quick release and has been throwing tight consistent spirals on both days. He has the natural arm strength to hit all quadrants of the field. He'll make a good fit in any offense, because he has pro-style size and skills and option experience.
4. Chad Voytik, 6'0/190, Cleveland, Tenn. - Not Committed
Voytik lacks ideal size, but he has the quickest release of any of the participants. He has good footwork and gets back in his drops quickly. During the station to station target practice that finishes the camp, the players run to different spots on the field and hit targets. Voytik went 4/4 on the deep 15 yard out to his right, while no other quarterback hit more than two. He's got the release, the arm, and the footwork and he's big enough for the college game.
5. Tyler O'Connor, 6'3/208, Lima, Ohio - Committed to Michigan State
Steady. That's the best way to describe O'Connor, steady. He doesn't have the giant frame or the huge arm, but every time he gets a repetition, he executes it well. He makes good reads, has a nice release point, and most importantly puts the ball on target.
6. Jeff Lindquist, 6'3/225, Mercer Island, Wash. - Committed to Washington
Lindquist is one of two Washington Husky commits in attendance (the other being Cyler Miles of Denver, Co.), and he is the one who has the skill set to best fit a passing camp. he has a big frame and a strong arm. He doesn't struggle to hit some of the deeper patterns that require him to ratchet up the velocity.
7. Chad Kelly, 6'3/205, Buffalo, N.Y. - Committed to Clemson
The quarterbacks are broken up into three groups to go through each of their assignments and Kelly was the first in line to take reps for his group. It might be a small thing, but who is willing to step to the front of this much talent is worth keeping an eye on. Kelly doesn't have the strongest arm in attendance, but he almost always throws the ball in the right spot.
8. Zeke Pike, 6'5/220, Fort Mitchell, Ky. - Committed to Auburn
Every year there is a player who struggles early only to bounce back and have a better day on day two. Pike was that player today. Battling accuracy issues on Monday night, Pike settled in and had a better showing on Tuesday afternoon. He looks considerably leaner than when I saw him last spring.
9. Tanner Mangum, 6'3/185, Eagle, Idaho - Committed to BYU
Mangum, unlike Pike, got off to a hot start on Monday night but cooled off Tuesday morning. He was throwing tight crisp spirals on the first day, but he lost some velocity and accuracy as well as his spiral on a lot of his throws on Tuesday. He looked a little gassed by the end of the day. He doesn't have the big arm that some of the other players in attendance have, and it's likely he started wearing out, and he should be expected to have a strong bounce back day on Wednesday with a full day of rest after a short turn around from Monday to Tuesday. Mangum wore the yellow Golden Gun Accuracy jersey on Tuesday, having won the target practice competition on Monday night.
10. Zach Kline, 6'2/195, Danville, Calif. - Committed to Cal
Kline is just a notch below the arm strength of guys like Winston and Kiel. For him, it's a matter of trusting his arm. Scout's No. 1 quarterback of 2010, Jeff Driskel, had a similar transition through the Elite 11 week as he over threw the ball early, only to settle in and put on a show the rest of the week. Kline has the arm strength, but he needs to relax more and not try to over throw everything.
11. Shane Dillon, 6'5/185, El Cajon, Calif. - Committed to Colorado
Dillon is one of the taller participants and he has a good upside as he continues to fill out. He's similar to another 2010 Elite 11 member Tyler Bray who signed with Tennessee in 2010 and was pressed into action as a freshman. Dillon has such a long frame that he would get roughly two yards deeper than anyone in his group during his five and seven step drops. He looked extremely comfortable throwing the ball over the middle on slants, posts, and dig routes.
Later in the week the counselors of the Elite 11 camp will pair down the roster of 24 quarterbacks to name the Elite 11 for the Class of 2011 using various criteria including leadership, class work, and on the field ability.