Tuesday, May 3, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: STOB Review

The NFL Draft ended over the weekend and so did any sort of idea it was significant at all come Sunday night. The announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US Navy Seals made me forget the Draft even took place. Now though after a few days of letting that amazingly great news set in, I am finally ready to review the NFL Draft. So let’s rank the obvious pick, the surprise pick, the best pick and the worst pick.

The Obvious Pick– Panthers took Newton

By the time the Draft started Thursday it was pretty much nailed down that the Panthers were going to pick Cam Newton, QB, from Auburn with the first pick (insert picture of Jimmy Clausen pouring a shot of Jack Daniels here). To the Panthers credit Newton gives them two things that they did not have last year:

1. An interesting player that will draw the eye of not only the casual NFL fan but at the very least the fan’s in Carolina.

2. Another QB option. Clausen looked in way over his head in his rookie outings, and Matt Moore is Matt Moore…so…yeah.

Unfortunately with both of those benefits, to me, Newton also brings with him a huge amount of “bustability”. Outside of a better release, Newton is a clone of Tim Tebow from the 2010 QB class only without the other 2 seasons of great production on College Football’s highest level. Tebow wasn’t even projected by most to go in the first round last year, but was swiped up by the Broncos who traded back into the first round and picked him at 25th overall.

This year Newton has been drafted with close to the same skill set, but again lacking equal experience, #1 overall. Tebow, to be fair, showed flashes last season but many still feel he is far from a starting QB in the NFL. Due to his Draft position I feel that Newton will be forced to play early and will be held against the standard, not of Tebow, but of the impressive #1 overall pick from 2010, Sam Bradford of the Rams. If the high expectations are not met early by Cam Newton, he will be labeled as a disappointment. Once labeled a disappointment many QB’s find it very hard to get back to their once expected greatness and quickly are labeled “busts”.

David Carr, Alex Smith, Jamarcus Russell, Tim Couch and Vince Young all struggled and with the exception of Smith and Young, will more than likely never be a starter in the NFL again. Much like the aforementioned QB busts, if Newton starts this year for the Panthers, he will have little help from the team surrounding him. This lack of talent surrounding him and his unpolished skill set makes me think the chances that Newton is a bust, better than 50%. Yet, maybe the Panthers had to make this choice, and that pressure to make a splash with the #1 overall pick is the problem with having the #1 overall pick.

The Surprise Pick – Blaine Gabbert picked after Jake Locker

In my mock draft I had Gabbert going to Cincinnati to replace the disgruntled Carson Palmer. If he got past Cincy I would’ve assumed he would’ve got plucked up quickly by either the Arizona Cardinals or the San Francisco 49’ers. Instead he got past both of them, had Locker picked by the Tennessee Titans and required being traded for by Jacksonville at 10, a spot that was held by a team also in search of a QB in the Washington Redskins.

Wait…hold up…I thought Gabbert was the highest ranked QB by most evaluators going into this thing. Now he is passed on by not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 6(!)(Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee and Washington) teams needing a QB after Newton went as expected at #1. What happened to the ex-Mizzou Tiger? Who knows, maybe the spread offense that he ran at Mizzou was a detriment to the young QB in that many thought it’d be tough to transfer into an NFL style. Whatever it was, it busted my mock draft badly and was the biggest surprise.

The Best Pick – Ryan Mallett to the Patriots

Ok, sure I am patting myself on the back for this one. Yet, in my mock I had Mallett coming off the board in the first round to the Patriots instead of the third round. Either way I just saw this as the perfect situation for the Ryan Mallett AND the Patriots. Even though Mallett’s talent maybe more NFL ready than some of the other 2011 QB class, his mental game and maturity is not. Enter the most mature and mentally elite franchise in the NFL, the New England Patriots. Mallett is now in a situation where the bright lights will not be on him, he can learn from the best in the league in Brady and Belichick and be groomed in much the same way the reigning Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers was.

The NFL Draft is all about what you think a player will do once drafted. Some come in as sure things (Patrick Peterson), others come in with huge potential (Cam Newton) and then there are those with many doubts about ability or maturity that fall (Ryan Mallett). Outside of money and expectations though, once drafted all have the same opportunity to play and make a difference and even though the Draft seems like a huge deal that day or even at the beginning of the season. At the end of a good player’s career, where they were drafted is nothing but a footnote. So even though right now Mallett probably feels slighted by being picked in the 3rd round with 1st round talent, all he will need to do is look at the locker next to him for an example of a guy who showed the Draft isn’t a career defining moment.

Mallett may not be the best player out of this draft but I believe he has the possibility of having the most value for the spot in which he was taken in the draft and with that I give this move the “Best of the Draft” status.

The Worst Pick – Atlanta’s Trade for Julio Jones

Ok here is the deal, Julio Jones may become a great WR in the league and we’re happy for him. Yet, I don’t think he will be the best WR on his own team. Roddy White has already shown that he could be the best WR in the NFL (especially in fantasy football). So you have to wonder why Atlanta traded up from the 27th pick to the 6th pick for the 2nd best WR in the Draft while giving up a 2011 first, second and fourth round pick, and their 2012 first and fourth round pick. Heck, you would have to wonder if Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald would be worth that much, especially for a team that already has Roddy White.

It wasn’t the only reach in the 2011 NFL Draft but it was the only pick/move that I can see that not only may make this year’s Draft a disappointment but also set up a team for disappointment in next year’s Draft. With the possibility of ruining two Drafts for yourself on a move that didn’t fill a huge need for your team, I think the Falcons have definitely earned “The Worst Move”.

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