For the first time this year I’ve published a full first round mock projection. I’ve taken the time to try and see as many prospects as possible to try and project, even at this early stage, where certain individuals may fall. The draft order is a mix of current NFL standings and projections. Atlanta and New England pick 31st and 32nd overall purely on NFC and AFC rankings.
To view the updated 2011 NFL mock draft, click here or select ‘Mock Draft’ in the title bar.
Cam Newton (QB, Auburn) features for the first time. As you can see, he’s also amongst the top ten picks. For starters, it’s an absolute lock that Newton will declare. His stock will never be higher than it is now and the issues he’ll have in the pro’s are unlikely to be solved with another year at Auburn. If they reach/win the BCS title game, you also have to wonder what else he can achieve in the college game.
The big advantage would be extra experience starting, which is always a major bonus. However, having transferred from Florida via the JUCO ranks, he’d have to return as a fifth year senior. He will declare for the 2011 draft.
So why do I put him in the top ten, especially when I’ve voiced concerns about drafting him early?
Last night I sat down and studied every snap Newton took against LSU. Some of my concerns remain – specifically with the way he drops all weight on to his back foot when throwing, losing almost all velocity. This is a footwork issue and although he does take snaps under centre, he clearly needs to work on every aspect of drop backs, reads, getting the ball out quickly and developing almost completely as an all round passer.
The good news and an area where I have perhaps under estimated is the fact his release point is actually very good. He has an over the top release without the looping delay that Tim Tebow had or the side arm motion we see with Jimmy Clausen or Vince Young. He’ll learn to get his throws out crisply and drive through the ball. If he gets his footwork right, there’s no reason why he can’t be an orthodox passer.
It’s hard to judge accuracy when he doesn’t throw that much and with most defenses petrified of conceding the run. However, I’m yet to see anything off-putting. He isn’t wildly inconsistent and most of his passes hit the target. He’s got a range, he has a big arm. There’s something to work with.
And most of all he’s an elite athlete who will hurt teams with some specific run plays. He won’t be using the QB draw every other down ala Auburn, but you can use him in roll outs and bootlegs with success.
The point I’m trying to make with this diagnosis is that there’s enough on the tape for a team to buy in to Newton as a starting NFL quarterback. Right now he isn’t a natural pocket passer and it will take major work to get there. Is it impossible? No. Are the other benefits – the world class athlete… the dynamic playmaker… things that teams love to gamble on?
If Tim Tebow is a first round pick at all, then Cam Newton is a high first round pick. Essentially, he’s Tebow but with much greater athleticism and mechanics. He doesn’t have the ‘moxy’ (again, hate the word – especially when describing QB’s) that Tebow brought to the table, but both have a lot of developing to do as passers, yet Newton’s ceiling is outrageously higher than Tebow’s.
Would I take the risk myself? It’s a big project and I’m still not certain. Can he be that orthodox QB that is capable of beating a team by throwing? Is he just a rare athlete who can outclass college players, but will be smothered in the pro’s? Is his destiny merely as a trick play gimmick or H-Back? Or will he be the next big thing?
Somebody will have convinced themselves of the latter by next April and he will go early.
Seahawks in round two?
Some suggestions for the direction Seattle could go in round two:
– Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame) – hands, routes and effort will keep him out of R1. He has the size and speed Seattle is looking for in it’s wide outs.
– Pernell McPhee (DE/DT, Miss. St) – a five technique candidate who can move inside as well.
– Rodney Hudson (OG, Florida State) – big talent if not big size. Should Seahawks stick by ZBS, Hudson is the perfect fit at guard or center.
– Cameron Hewyard (DE, Ohio State) – over rated for me and not a first round pick, but another 5-tech candidate later on.
– Von Miller (OLB, Texas A&M) – under sized but could have value as an edge specialist.
– J.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin) – another 5-tech candidate with a growing reputation.
Agree or disagree? Let me know your thoughts on the latest 2011 Mock Draft or anything else you want to discuss. Get in touch in the comments section or email firstname.lastname@example.org