Posted on: April 21, 2011 7:42 pm
Each week CBSSports.com's Lauren Shehadi and I have discussed the top prospects and a few sleepers at a different position leading up to the NFL Draft.
This week, appropriately enough given all of the hype about them right now, we talked about the quarterbacks. We discussed everyone you'd expect - including presumptive No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett and also touched upon three lower-rated quarterbacks who I believe could also find success in the NFL with some fine-tuning.
Here is how NFLDraftScout.com currently rates the quarterbacks.
Here is the link to the video.
Posted on: March 23, 2011 7:48 pm
New 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh acknowledged during his interview with the media at the Owners' Meetings that he had to be careful because he didn't want to give too much information away.
And then, he promptly gushed about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who conceivably could be on the board for the 49ers with the seventh overall pick.
Asked if there was more value in quarterbacks with mobility, Harbaugh, at first provided the more generic answer we're all used to NFL head coaches providing.
“Yeah, the ability to make people miss as a quarterback is critical. Avoid. Being able to go with your legs. We’ve got some quarterbacks in this draft like Cam Newton and (Blaine) Gabbert in particular, and Jake Locker that not only will make people miss and avoid people, but they can run and keep defenses out of certain coverages, which is quite the trait to have. And they can pick up first downs with their legs, keep the chains moving."
Nothing too flashy there, but then Harbaugh went on.
“And Cam Newton – that’s plutonium-grade raw material, you know? I haven’t seen upside like with this guy in probably the last 10 years.“
If Harbaugh is to be believed, it sounds like Newton isn't likely to slip past the 49ers should he still be on the board.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 11:31 am
Just as he did during the Combine, Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera has highlighted a group of eight prospects for the No. 1 overall pick.
He cited three quarterbacks among those prospects -- Auburn's Cam Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and, perhaps surprisingly, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett.
Though there are another five players potentially in play for the top pick -- presumably defensive linemen Marcell Dareus, Da'Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley, cornerback Patrick Peterson and wide receiver A.J. Green -- the Panthers' focus seems pretty intent on finding another quarterback to compete with (and potentially replace) incumbent starter Jimmy Clausen, at least according to a report from Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.
Person notes that the Panthers "could go after" one of the five "other" picks in the draft, but only if "If the Panthers decide to bring in a veteran quarterback through a trade or free agency, assuming the lockout is resolved early enough."
Clearly, Person believes that the Panthers are acknowleding that quarterback is the number one priority and will be addressed.
Person quotes Rivera as saying, “We have a number of positions that we've identified as needs. We're trying to get to that point where we can start filling those needs as the time is appropriate,” Rivera said. “If you can fill a need through free agency, we're going to do it. If we have to go through the draft, we'll do it. If we've got to make a trade, we'll do it.”
Should Carolina find a way to add a veteran quarterback, which is, of course, impossible until a new CBA is agreed to, the Panthers have options with the first pick.
If not, they'll be choosing between Newton and Gabbert with their first pick.
Regardless of what Rivera is saying publicly, Mallett is very much fighting just to stay in the first round, according to multiple sources inside the league, much less contend for No. 1 overall honors.
Posted on: March 17, 2011 7:24 pm
While the vast majority of the NFL (and certainly media) attention was spent on quarterback Blaine Gabbert at Missouri's Pro Day, another potential first round pick -- defensive end Aldon Smith -- was among the other former Tigers who also worked out for scouts Thursday.
Like a lot of prospects in the 2011 draft, there is a wide range of opinion regarding Smith. Two sources (who each admitted to me that they attended Thursday's workout more to watch Smith than Gabbert) demonstrated just how different those thoughts could be.
The first source, who works for a club operating out of 3-4 base defense, thought that Smith looked "fantastic." He cited Smith's "explosive burst, acceleration and potential to be a big sucker once he grows into his body." The source envisioned Smith as a 3-4 rush linebacker who "absolutely should" go off the board in the middle to late portion of the first round.
The second source, scouting for a team with a four man front, wasn't nearly as impressed with Smith's workout. He called the workout "just average" and felt that it proved his limitations as strictly a 4-3 defensive end due to the fact that he "can't bend." The source referred back to a "disappointing" Combine workout from Smith in which the Tiger pass rusher was "one of the slowest DL in the shuttle."
Smith, for the record, registered a 4.59 and 4.50 in the short shuttle, designed to test change of direction and burst. His average ranked 16th out of the 20 DL tested in this drill at the Combine.
This source thought that Smith deserved to be drafted in the second or even the third round, but acknowledged that "someone is going to take him earlier based on his upside and his 2009 tape."
Smith burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman, breaking Justin Smith's school record with 11.5 sacks to go along with 64 tackles and 19 tackles for loss. For his efforts, Smith was unanimously chosen as the Big 12's Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2009.
Despite being the focus of every team's blocking scheme, Smith's 2010 season began in fine form. He posted 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks in Missouri's season-opening win against Illinois. But a broken leg suffered against San Diego State sidelined him for three games and hampered his play much of the rest of the season. His statistical production dropped as a result: 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Posted on: March 17, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 6:48 pm
A strong throwing session from Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert could push him to the No. 1 overall pick.
According to a Twitter note from Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Gabbert completed 44 of 49 passes and characterized "at least three" of the incompletions to drops by the collection of D-II receivers organized for the workout. With Missouri having no draft-eligible receivers, he was left to rely on others, rather than former teammates to catch his passes.
A source on the scene characterized Gabbert's workout as a "8" when asked to score it on a scale of 1-10. The source pointed out some "little issues intermediate and deep." But also noted "good velocity and accuracy on the move."
Gabbert's "little issues" on deeper passes wasn't unexpected. This was a primary concern based off of the largely horizontal (rather than vertical) passing he was asked to do while operating Missouri's spread attack.
In demonstrating good footwork from under center and accuracy while on the run, Gabbert helped alleviate concerns about his ability to translate to a more traditional pro-style offense.
As expected, the Missouri Pro Day was well attended by NFL decision-makers, including Jets' head coach Rex Ryan, Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis, and Jaguars' head coach Jack Del Rio.
We'll have more updates from Missouri's Pro Day as the day goes on, including a report on pass rusher Aldon Smith's attempts to better a rather disappointing Combine workout.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 8:16 pm
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert faces the biggest day of his young professional career Thursday, with NFL scouts and media descending on Columbia to see his first post-season throwing session.
Posted on: March 13, 2011 7:23 pm
Cornerback Patrick Peterson will be the unquestioned star of LSU's Pro Day Monday, but the bigger story might be which NFL representatives are on hand to watch him.
Peterson isn't expected to do anything more than his positional drills. He doesn't need to. The tape shows that he's the best player in the draft and his stellar Combine performance only provided more evidence of this fact.
It will be interesting, however, to see who shows up for the workout. The Carolina Panthers, holders of the No. 1 overall pick, demonstrated their interest in the Thorpe Award winner already by meeting with him at the Senior Bowl. Head coach Ron Rivera was a prominent spectator at Auburn's Pro Day last week and will presumabely be on hand Thursday for Blaine Gabbert's throwing session at Missouri, as well. General manager Marty Hurney, who has final say on personnel matters, was not at Newton's Pro Day, however. He reportedly attended Ryan Mallett's workout at Arkansas, instead.
So, if Hurney and Rivera are each at Peterson's (or Gabbert's) Pro Day does that necessarily mean they are higher on him? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
After all, it isn't the Carolina Panthers' fault that Auburn and Arkansas scheduled their Pro Days on the same day. There are several Pro Days at other universities conflicting with LSU's tomorrow, but none that is likely to keep the Carolina decision-makers from Peterson's workout should they feel it necessary to attend.
Moving past Carolina, another interested party that isn't getting a lot of attention could be the Cincinnati Bengals. The owners of the 4th overall pick and with far greater needs than at cornerback, the Bengals raised some eyebrows with the decision to send defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle to Nebraska's workout. NFL.com's Gil Brandt thought that by sending Coyle to the workout , the Bengals might be tipping their hand that they are very interested in Prince Amukamara. While it is important to note that the Bengals could have sent Coyle to Nebraska to see Cornhuskers' safeties Eric Hagg or Dejon Gomes, Brandt's instincts are as good as anyone's in the business -- and his sources are unmatched.
So, are the Bengals are real player in the Patrick Peterson sweepstakes, as well? It will be interesting to see if Coyle is on hand for the workout.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:27 pm
The natural response to my blog post listing some potential surprise top ten picks earlier this week is to inquire who might be the highly-rated players most likely to drop into the mid-first round?
1. Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers
3. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara
4. Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
There is no doubt about Fairley's athleticism; his Combine and pro day workouts showed exceptional footwork for a man his size. But junior college prospects and "one-year wonders" are often considered risky prospects, so teams preferring Alabama's Marcell Dareus as the draft's top defensive tackle or needing a receiver or cornerback may decide to go in those directions rather than taking Fairley in the single digits.