It seems a little early to be looking toward the NFL Draft. It is Divisional Playoff weekend, but you must realize 24 teams are already in off-season mode, and a large portion of them probably want a new starting quarterback for 2011…assuming the season takes place. Some veterans will change teams, a stiff back-up or two will probably be promoted, but the majority of the new blood will come from the draft. Even someone like myself, who only loosely pays attention to college football knows that this is an interesting QB class. Even after the prize, Andrew Luck, returned to Stanford there is enough talent that a couple of GMs are going to be handing these kids the keys (and staking their reputation) in the next year or so.
I’ve heard with the new collective bargaining agreement the risk of taking a 1st round QB might be diminished. If the league gets their desired rookie pay scale, it’ll be the end of the Bradford and Stafford contracts, or maybe we should mention JaMarcus Russell’s, since he was the definitive bust. So, if you don’t have to cough up 50 million for a 1st pick, or a high percentage of that for a top-10 quarterback will we start to see rushes on college QBs since pretty much every franchise is looking for a guy to build around? It’ll be interesting. Risk reduced or not, where would you take some of these guys…
Newton is a guy who at first glance looks like he could benefit from a rookie salary structure. I don’t know if there would be many teams rushing to take this kid with one of the top-5 picks, but certainly his potential dwarfs about everyone in the draft. There is a fondness emerging for quarterbacks who can make plays in non-traditional ways, but to play in the NFL you still have to be able to make the throws. I don’t see Newton’s case as that much different from Tim Tebow’s. He may be the more refined passer, but I think some teams will like him far more than others. I could definitely see a trade up to get him like Tebow as well. How high would you go to get him? If I was guessing, he probably won’t make it past SF/TENN at 7/8.
I’d love a big 12 fan to check in with some Blaine Gabbert knowledge. I guess he spent most of the year getting overshadowed by Luck, Newton and Mallett, but now he’s the 1st name out of a lot of experts’ mouths. All of these quarterbacks (aside from Luck) have an issue, a sticking point that scouts don’t like and Gabbert’s is that he plays in the spread. From what I read, it sounds like he needs some coaching, but everyone is optimistic he will take to it well. He’s an athlete with a great throwing motion and above average arm strength. He might be the perfect fit for a team who can groom him for a year. Perhaps Mike Shanahan would like to get his hands on Gabbert? The Redskins pick 10th…
I watched a few Arkansas games this year and when I saw Mallett, I saw Joe Flacco. If you watched the Baltimore/KC game last weekend, you might have had some concerns about Flacco’s ability to get the job done in the first half. He was a stationary target back there, and Mallett is the same. Mallett has a huge arm and he’ll make a few eye-popping throws a game, but I’m not sure the total package is there. I think Flacco might be the peak for Mallett if everything goes right. I’d worry about his durability, especially if he ended up on a team that couldn’t protect him. The bottom line though is several teams would love to have a Joe Flacco, so Mallett will probably go in the 1st round.
Locker is a divisive force among scouts. He’s probably the better comparison to Tebow this year than Newton is. The issue with Locker is accuracy, or his shocking lack of it. Once a candidate to be the #1 overall pick, Locker’s senior season has some people booting him from the first round. Again, this is a case where it will only take one team to like him, and he can still be a high pick. How about hometown Seattle? But, I see accuracy problems for a QB at the college level and that is a huge red flag for me. It’s not like guys become more open in the NFL. Locker sounds like a pick machine. A great athlete, but a pick machine.
These are my Andy Reid guys. I think of Kevin Kolb when I see these names. Someone in the mid-rounds these two guys are going to get picked, and the fan base for that team will….not be that excited. It wouldn’t even surprise me if one of these guys ended up in Philly. Devlin, who is from Downingtown, left Penn State for Delaware after being fairly highly recruited. His season ended last week with a national championship game loss. We know there is no stigma attached to Delaware quarterbacks, so expect Devlin to go among the top 8-10 QBs taken. Dalton led TCU to an undefeated season. He’s another guy who gets accuracy listed as his first trait. I’ll tell you what if I needed a QB in this draft, and I didn’t see a sure thing, I’d drop down to this level of guys. The chance of hitting a starter is probably only slightly diminished and the pressure and impact on the draft as a whole is greatly diminished.
If I had a big board, which I do (it ranks types of cheese), I’d put the guys in the order you see above, though I probably wouldn’t touch Locker with a 39.5 foot pole. And there are certainly more names, Ponder, Moore, etc. It’ll be an exciting draft day. You can find a mock with Mallett going #3 to Buffalo, and you can one without him in the 1st round. Some GM is probably going to get a steal and a few others will probably seal their 4-12 fate.
**PLAYOFF PICKS COMING THIS AFTERNOON.