Monday, March 14, 2011

A 2011 Hail Mary

Well, I've finished looking at the Quarterbacks ahead of the 2011 draft (if there is one). There is always the chance I'll come back to this, especially given the potential for a work stoppage giving me more time for further review. At the very least I'm happy for now that I know enough about most of them. So let's begin. Blaine Gabbert: If I had a ten foot barge pole, I wouldn't touch Blaine Gabbert with it. In fact, if you gave me your ten foot barge pole, I wouldn't even touch him with that. And it has nothing to do with poor hygiene. It has everything to do with the fact that he looks terrible on film. I watched one game where he faced a three man rush on a regular basis, and he was bailing out of the pocket before those three were even close. In the NFL, staring down the face of a high speed blitz, I can see Gabbert collapsing like a wet house of cards. I just wouldn't go near him. Cam Newton: I hate Cam Newton already and he hasn't even entered the league yet. I've never known someone to receive so much hype, while showing such a lack of transferable talent. He runs quickly, I get that. He cuts with an insane level of agility. As a wide receiver or running back, Newton could probably have a reasonable shout providing he could learn to run routes. But as a Quarterback he looks doomed to end as a bust. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times I saw him under throw receivers who were open down the field. He just seems to lack any demonstrable consistency or skill throwing into tight windows that will transfer to the NFL. He'll either tear the league to pieces with his feet, or they'll tear him to pieces in the pocket. Ryan Mallett: I'm still undecided on Mallett. Apparently he's an asshole of the highest order. There are question marks over possible drug use. All in all, a lot of things that could seriously impact his career, and they're all things I can't really do anything to assess. On the field, he's fine. I have zero questions about his level of playing ability. But a lack of hard work and leadership, if these things are indeed true, could seriously effect his ability to blend in with a team. I'm just not sure right now. Jake Locker: Much the same as Newton, I worry about Locker as a passer. I'm not convinced. I certainly wouldn't use a first rounder on him. He can run and sometimes he can throw great, but consistency from the pocket? I'm just not happy with Locker. I can see him being a Jimmy Clausen type. Colin Kaepernick: This is a running theme, but I'm not sold on Kaepernick as a passer. A lot of this comes down to the legacy of certain spread offenses in college that encourage QB running and option plays over pocket passing. Unfortunately NFL pockets collapse much quicker and some of the linebackers can run just as quickly as guys like Kaepernick. Christian Ponder: Sold! Excellent footwork, passing and vision. I like Ponder a lot. I think he's slipped quietly under a lot of radars thanks to the Newton/Gabbert/Mallett trifecta of hype. Ponder will probably slip out of the first round, providing someone with a value pick later on. Ricky Stanzi: My favourite. He was ok at the combine, but on film Stanzi looks fantastic. The way this kid drops passes into tight windows over his receivers shoulders is something special to behold. Stanzi might drop right down, maybe even to the fifth round. I'd happily use a first on this kid (I believe in trusting your instincts) but given that he's not highly sought after at the minute, you could hold till the second at least and still pick up the best prospect in this years Qb class (in my opinion). Andy Dalton: At the combine, he barely put a foot wrong, but I'm not completely sold on Dalton. Partly that's because of a chronic shortage of film for this kid, but even the stuff I've seen throws up some question marks. In general though Dalton should do fine. He might take a little more time than some of the others, but he'll get there. Should prove to be a safe pick outside of the top 44. Jeff Van Camp: Will likely still be there when the sixth and possibly seventh round comes about. At that price he'd be a complete bargain. I could happily take Van Camp with a late first rounder, though obviously there is no need. He'll slip. But teams could be looking back on this kid in years gone by and kicking themselves for passing him up. Accuracy? Check. Arm Strength? Check. Vision? Check. Cool in the pocket? Check. Watching Van Camp, the most obvious feature was the total lack of decent protection from his O-line and running backs. Yet he stayed in the pocket, braved it out, and made some great throws under severe pressure. Can't speak highly enough of Van Camp. Kellen Moore: Nobody is talking about Kellen Moore. He'll probably still be there when the last name is called on the final day of the draft. Which is a shame. People are looking at Moore as a backup, as an undrafted rookie that might fill a roster spot for the future. Honestly? I'd take Moore over Gabbert, Newton, Kaepernick or Locker in a heartbeat. Just like that. The kid has a lot of talent as a pure passer, but it would appear being a QB at Boise State isn't enough to draw the scouts attention. Shame. Damn shame. Mike Hartline: QB for the Kentucky Wildcats in case you were wondering. An arrest for alcohol intoxication and disorderly conduct could have scuppered any chance of a career before it potentially begins. Which is unfortunate. I remember watching Hartline for the first time. I was actually looking at Randall Cobb, when Hartline caught the eye. He has great anticipation. It's almost like he's watched the game already and now he's just going back to exploit openings. I hope Hartline gets a shot because he has untapped talent. Of the quarterbacks then, who will make my rookie watchlist? Well, nothing is set in stone yet. There is still plenty of time to do more work and change my mind, but I see these guys making it at the minute: - Christian Ponder, - Ricky Stanzi, - Jeff Van Camp, - Kellen Moore, - Mike Hartline, - Ryan Mallett (for now) - Andy Dalton (for now) I'll probably be concentrating on the world of running backs next me thinks. I'll report back when I've gone through the lot. I'm probably half way through the list of players that I'm interested in. Also I'm working on a piece now, in little chunks when I have the time, about how as an outsider looking I think Football can tell us a lot about America as a whole. Stay tuned.

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