Archive for April, 2011

Updated two-round mock draft: 20th April

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

This is my penultimate mock draft of the season. My final projection will be a week today, the night before the draft.

I’ve mixed things up a bit in the top ten. Buffalo remain a wildcard at #3 and could go in a number of directions. I think it comes down to this – do they view Blaine Gabbert as a franchise quarterback? If they do, then he probably has to be the pick. Ryan Fitzgerald can start the 2011 season and pass on the baton. Let’s not kid ourselves here though, Buffalo do have a long term need at quarterback and addressing the position has to be an option.

Von Miller isn’t a top-five pick for me. A year ago nobody talked him up as even a first round pick after a 17-sack season. He chose not to declare after receiving a third round grade from the draft committee. Now he’s a top-five lock? Like Aaron Curry (who also received a third round grade and shot up the board later on) he probably will go early, but I wouldn’t make that move. Miller is a better prospect than Curry because he can actually rush the passer and did so in college with success. Even so, I’m not convinced he’s worthy of a high pick.

I love Cameron Jordan, he’s a top-ten talent. Yet I consistently struggle to find him a home in that range. He could go as high as #3 to Buffalo (believe it) and as low as #18 to San Diego. I want to put him at #3, maybe in next week’s final mock?

I’ve also added an ‘alternative’ pick. This is very loose – guys who are still on the board that would be a viable option.

As for the Seahawks, I’ve gone back to Jabaal Sheard. If he lasts until #25 I can see that being a possibility. He’s got the size of the LEO and the speed that will make the most of the position. Despite not being the biggest, he plays above his size and is a real physical threat who works well against the run. Probably one of the most under rated players in the draft who’s best football will come at the next level.

Having said that, I’m still really torn on what the Seahawks will do. I keep going back to the quarterbacks and how much of a void that is right now. Nobody expects a big trade up the board to target the top four, yet I wouldn’t rule it out.

Talking of quarterbacks…

More Ryan Mallett controversy today. The National Football Post is reporting he missed a meeting with the Carolina Panthers due to illness and then cites an unnamed source suggesting Mallett was ‘out on the town’ the night before.

I want to avoid being labelled the guy’s personal excuse maker – but really? This is what we’ve come to? An unnamed source who doesn’t say the guy was drunk (or even drinking) but was ‘out late’?

Really I don’t know what to make of this anymore. It really looks like another sign of awful reporting on a guy who has been hit with a sledgehammer during this off season. Maybe somebody really wants Ryan Mallett to fall down the board, or maybe he really can’t handle himself? I still don’t think this is a fair report and it’s completely lacking in detail.

EDIT – here’s the response. Carolina have also issued a statement:

“Ryan Mallett came for a visit to Charlotte two weeks ago. He had dinner with our coaches the evening he arrived and came down from his hotel room for a scheduled breakfast meeting the following morning upon which time he informed a staff member that he had been sick all night with nausea. We told Ryan that if he was ill to remain in his room as long as the nausea existed. We took him to the airport later that afternoon for his scheduled flight.”

To see the latest projection, click here or select MOCK DRAFT in the menu bar.

Jake Locker, QB, Washington

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

First round Senior quarterbacks bust at a significantly lower rate than first round Juniors. So why is it that most great prospects declare early? Because of possibilities like Locker's 2010 season.

Posted by Kip Earlywine

Foreword: If anyone believes they are unbiased, then you can assume that they are either delusional fools or petty narcissists.  I try my best to be upfront about my biases and give a good effort to work around them, but they will always exist and play a role in my thinking, and sometimes I’m not even aware of it.  So I have to be up front when I saw that I am a diehard Washington Huskies fan, and have been since 1990, just slightly before I became a Seahawks fan.  As such, its probably impossible for me to give you an 100% unbiased view of Jake Locker, so instead I will try my hardest to give you 99%.

If you follow the Huskies, then you probably remember that just the mere news of Jake Locker committing to Washington was earth-shattering.  After all, Locker was considered by some to be a top 10 quarterback prospect nationally and a guy who grew up about a 90 minute drive north of Seattle.    When Locker made this commitment, Washington was fresh off a 2-9 record, and a 1-10 record prior to that.  The Huskies had been one of the worst BCS eligible teams in the nation for several years by this point, and Locker was seen as a messianic figure to many of the Huskies faithful.  Everyone knows that great teams begin with great quarterbacks.  It was guys like Sonny Sixkiller and Warren Moon that put Washington on the map to begin with.  Warren Moon won games by himself, and with winning comes better recruiting, and a team could get back on its feet in a competition where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Coming out of high school, Locker dominated leading his team to a 14-0 state title winning season.  During that year he passed for 1603 yards and 25 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1329 yards and 24 touchdowns.  It was a season like one Ladainian Tomlinson would enjoy, if Tomlinson just threw the ball a little more.  After Redshirting in 2006, Locker made his college debut by crushing Syracuse 42-12 on the road.  Syracuse was hardly a powerhouse, but they weren’t Portland State either.  Beating a “real” team in a blowout road win, largely thanks to 83 rushing yards and two touchdowns from the quarterback position, set the tone for a season in which Locker nearly rushed for 1000 yards, which was a school rookie record (later broken by Chris Polk).  Locker led the Huskies to a convincing 24-10 win over Boise State the next week- and like a manager who sticks with the hot hand, Tyrone Willingham wasn’t in the biggest rush to develop Locker when just a raw athlete playing his game was winning and winning big.

That short-term mindset came to roost the next season, when Locker started battling injuries due to running too much and too physically, including a broken thumb that shelved him for the entire 2nd half of the year in Washington’s infamous and historic 0-11 season.  Admittedly, the Huskies played a brutal schedule and couldn’t catch a break (“unsportsmanlike” celebration against BYU anyone?), but excuses aside, the Huskies were a wretched team and even a struggling Jake Locker was clearly the best player they had.

When you hear people talk about how Locker is really a sophomore quarterback and not a senior, this is what they mean.  Locker may have been a 5th year senior last year, but he only played two years within Sarkisian’s system, and just a year and a half before that for a coach that didn’t want to mess with a successful but unrefined quarterback.  So while I dislike using the word “raw” in regards to Jake Locker, he’s still relatively new to the system we now judge him by, and further improvement in some areas of concern is reasonable to hope for.

Strengths:

  • Elite athleticism and bulk for the position
  • Excellent acceleration and top speed
  • Good ball security when running
  • Instinctive runner
  • Runs like a fullback, can power through tackles when he takes off
  • Outstanding execution on designed runs
  • Sells play action very well
  • Disciplined: willing to throw the ball away to avoid negative plays
  • Good throwing mechanics, ball comes out at 3/4 at worst
  • Quick release
  • A natural when running bootlegs
  • Over 70% completion rate outside the pocket
  • Elite level talent rolling to his left
  • Good evade and juke outside the pocket
  • Surprisingly good deep accuracy and touch
  • Very good arm strength
  • Smooth, quick drop back.
  • Very strong work ethic
  • Natural leader, fiery competitor
  • Has strong character
  • Not easily discouraged or demoralized, battles through every snap
  • Has a few truly dominant games each year
  • Occasionally makes “wow” plays, can fill a highlight reel
  • Good in a 2 minute offense, strong in the 4th quarter and overtime
  • Played in a pro-style offense
  • Makes pre-snap reads and audibles
  • Completion rate is better than it looks, he suffered about 3 drops a game
  • Supporting cast was more bad than good, played college football’s toughest schedule in 2010

Weaknesses:

  • An alarmingly high number of injuries
  • Hardly ever shies away from contact
  • A completely different quarterback when playing hurt or without mobility
  • His speed won’t have quite the same impact at the next level
  • Erratic ball placement when passing in the pocket
  • Alarmingly low completion rate from within the pocket
  • Surprisingly bad pocket awareness and evasiveness in the pocket
  • Unnatural footwork except when on the run
  • Highly inconsistent game to game
  • More mediocre performances than great ones
  • Rarely checks his 2nd read
  • Occasionally locks on to his receivers
  • Trusts his arm too much sometimes and throws into small windows
  • “Mechanical” quarterback who executes plays instead of creating them
  • Is probably near his ceiling mentally
  • Benefited from a pretty good running game
  • Rest of the team bailed him out at the end of 2010

Conclusion:

If every  GM was like Peter King and only watched highlight videos to form opinions on prospects, Jake Locker would be in strong consideration to go #1 overall.  I mean that somewhat as a compliment- his flaws take some digging to find but his talent and play-making ability is plainly evident.  Taken on the whole, Jake Locker is like a 3rd round prospect with moments where he looks like a guy who’d go top 5.  If you only saw Locker play one game last year, and that game was USC or Oregon State, you’d wonder how he wasn’t a top 10 lock.  Or, if you saw him play Nebraska or UCLA, you’d wonder why anyone would draft him as a quarterback at all.

In fairness, I don’t really blame Locker for the Nebraska game, his receivers were draped in coverage and out of 20 pass attempts he had a wide open receiver to throw to just once.  Perhaps Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Mallett would experience better results in a similar predicament, but neither of those quarterbacks had to deal with the talent discrepancy Locker did in games like Nebraska or Stanford so its impossible to know.  In the college game, there is a bigger gulf that separates the best from the worst compared to the NFL, so I’m not really worried about Locker facing another Nebraska situation again.  Corners will be better, but at least he’ll have NFL caliber receivers to throw to avoid facing a situation like that again.

Locker is a safe quarterback who avoids mistakes most of the time.  I respect a quarterback who throws the ball away and takes an incompletion over a sack or interception, though this is something Locker had to do a lot in 2010.  Whereas Mallett hardly ever threw the ball away because he always found a good target, Locker often makes just one or two reads to one side of the field, if he doesn’t find anything, he either tucks and runs or throws the ball away.  That’s disappointingly limited, and though I can’t say for sure, I suspect he’ll probably never become the kind of guy who checks three or four reads with regularity.  Just a hunch based on the fact that he didn’t seem to grow in this regard over the last two years.    Of course, you don’t have to scan the whole field with regularity to be a good quarterback, and in fact most NFL quarterbacks don’t, including (from my own observation), Matt Hasselbeck even in his prime.  Still, it would be nice if Locker was better at finding open wide recievers, because he throws the ball away quite a lot and by his own admission its one of the biggest contributors to his low completion rate.

Speaking of completion rate, can Locker be a 60% passer in the NFL?  I believe he can, but only in an offense that moves him out of the pocket as much as possible so that his stellar mobile accuracy can help compensate for his weak pocket accuracy.  All the talk about fixing Locker’s “shortstop” stride is neat and all, but its just impossible to tell if it will make any real difference.  Some believe it will, and that’s why Locker is being talked about as an early to mid 1st rounder right now.

My two biggest worries with Locker are his mental cieling and his health history.  If you watch Locker play closely, you will notice that every motion he makes looks choreographed.  I give Locker points for good execution, but I think its clear by now that if he was an artist, he’d be limited to tracing over someone else’s image rather than sketch his own.  As said before, he’s still relatively new to a pro-style offense and so its not completely unreasonable to hold out hope that with time he’ll become more natural in the pocket, but to me he looks like a trained animal out there when he isn’t rolling out- and I suspect that what you see is what you’ll get in this regard.

In terms of injuries, Locker does not shy from contact and this led to plenty of “ding-up” injuries like concussions, broken fingers, strained hamstrings, and so forth.  Locker may be built like a fullback, but he’s still human.  I think Locker is probably going to have a solid career if he’s picked by the right team, but unless he learns to avoid contact, he’s going to flat out suck, because when he’s hurt he isn’t mobile, and when he isn’t mobile, he isn’t the least bit accurate or effective.  One of the reasons Locker’s stats look so bad over his career is because he played with at least a minor injury in the vast majority of his games.

Still, its important to remember why we’re even talking about Locker as a 1st rounder at all.  Lets not forget that this is a guy who can turn a botched snap and broken play into a 15 yard touchdown run, as he once did against Arizona.  Cam Newton aside, Locker is the ultimate playmaker quarterback in this draft, making big plays with both his arm and his legs.  While I don’t expect Locker to be putting up huge rushing totals in the pros, he’s as fast as Dexter McCluster, and McCluster had a 94 yard punt return last year.  So I fully expect the homerun ability to remain at least somewhat intact when he takes off.

NFL comparison: Vince Young

People seem to have forgotten, but Michael Vick was once a “failed” quarterback.  As it turns out, Vick just needed to go to the right team and play in the right system to reach his amazing potential.  Right now, Vince Young is in a very similar career cross-roads where it seems everyone has given up on him and become disenchanted with his obvious physical talent.  Maybe Vince Young will get traded to the right team and save his career the same way Vick did, or maybe he won’t and he’ll go down as one of the bigger draft busts of the last decade.  Vick and Young are alike in the sense that even when they struggled, they still won more games than they lost, because stats like passer rating don’t account those 16 yard runs on 3rd and 8 in the 4th quarter.  Locker didn’t have a winning record thanks to a team around him that, aside from Chris Polk, was mostly terrible, but I think on a typical NFL team, Locker could be a kindred spirit to Vick/Young by posting sub-mediocre passing stats and still winning games.  And on the right team, a team that plays Locker to his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses, he could be a good quarterback with flashes of greatness.  He’s good enough to perhaps win a Superbowl in a magical type of season where he strings together several great performances at the right time, like Eli Manning did in 2007.

Is Seattle the right team?  Possibly, yes.  Locker would have been the perfect fit for Jeremy Bates who runs a ton of play action, roll outs, and deep passes, all major strengths for Locker.  We’ve been told to expect that Bevell does not mark a dramatic shift away from the kind of scheme Bates used, and if that’s true, then Locker would still be a great fit here.  I once worried that Locker would suffer from lofty hometown expectations given his legendary status at Washington, but it seems that in the last 8 months even the locals have really cooled on him and expectations would be tempered and moderate.

Josh Freeman is a popular and flattering comp for Locker, but its one I hesitate to make because Freeman’s biggest skill, his ability to move around and make things happen from within the pocket, is actually one of Locker’s bigger weaknesses.  Still, there is some truth in the comparison in that Freeman was a late riser who’s stock was initially low because of poor stats that were influenced by a weak supporting cast.  Its impossible to statistically isolate Locker from his supporting cast, but watching the tape, you can see plenty of times he’d get a better result with more help around him, and it makes you wonder.

Win a copy of Paul Allen’s new book

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

With just over a week to go until the 2011 NFL Draft, Seahawks Draft Blog is giving you the opportunity to win a copy of Paul Allen’s new book, ‘Idea Man’.

All you need to do is email me a first round mock draft to rob@seahawksdraftblog.com. There are five copies to give away courtesy of publishers ‘Portfolio’. Mocks will be judged for accuracy, with five points awarded if you can pair a player, team and position accurately and two points if you get just the player and team.

For example, if Cam Newton is drafted by Carolina first overall and you make that projection – it’s five points.

If the Panthers traded down to #3 and still took Newton, you get two points. Simple, right? The top five highest scorers win a copy.

The book covers a lot of ground including Paul’s early days at Microsoft to more recent ventures. There’s a chapter on the Seahawks including a frank and open account as to why he bought the team and his passion for keeping the franchise in Seattle.

“Whenever you are given the opportunity to get behind the scenes with one of the greatest creative minds in the world of technology and innovation, you have to jump on it.  Paul Allen has shown a unique ability and desire to contribute to and powerfully influence a broad spectrum of interests, including technology, science, medicine, the arts, and philanthropic endeavors.”
-Pete Carroll, Seahawks Head Coach

The competition is completely free to enter and alongside the book, winners will also have the opportunity to boast considerably about your NFL Draft knowledge and projection skills.

The deadline for entries will be April 27th at 11pm. I’m taking submissions now so get to work and good luck.

Tuesday links

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Michael Lombardi has some interesting draft thoughts available via NFL.com, but they’re preempted by a warning. “As the NFL draft draws closer next week, understand that this is when we will begin hearing about teams wanting to trade up or down, or targeting a certain player or position. To which I say: Believe none of it.”

Lombardi also discusses why Ryan Mallett may be an option for Washington at #10.

I’m representing the Seahawks in a community mock for NE Patriots Draft. Take a look at the picks so far.

I also recently took part in another Q&A with Dan Kelly at Field Gulls.

Brandon Adams makes the case for the Seahawks drafting Ryan Mallett and perhaps even trading up to grab him.

Peter King has been touting in his MMQB column that Seahawks GM Jon Schneider is desperate to trade down. That maybe so – he admitted as much himself yesterday. In truth it means absolutely nothing – it could be a calculated ruse to throw teams off the scent of their actual intentions.

Evan Silva has an updated mock draft with the Seahawks taking Corey Liuget of Illinois.

Danny O’Neil makes the same pick for the Seahawks in NFL.com’s beat writers mock. I’m not convinced Liuget will make it to #25.

Blaine Gabbert takes his turn to meet Jon Gruden:

John Schneider: “I would like to move back”

Monday, April 18th, 2011

John Schneider admits he'd like to trade down, but it's easier to trade up

Seahawks GM John Schneider held the first of two pre-draft press conferences today. It’s Schneider’s second draft with the team, working in partnership with Pete Carroll. You sense this could be a defining off-season, despite the current lockout which may or may not be ended prematurely via an injunction this week. Last year the key task was to hit on two top-15 picks to launch the start of a new era. With mission accomplished in that sense, the Seahawks now face the daunting proposition of following it up despite picking in the late first round.  

The playoff game was very exciting, special stuff, but it makes the building process more challenging.”  

Eric Williams from the Tacoma News Tribune writes that Schneider ‘admitted to cringing a little’ when the Seahawks defeated St. Louis in the final game of the regular season. Defeat would’ve secured the 8th overall selection, instead they could pick no earlier than 21st. The playoff victory over New Orleans essentially earned the 25th overall selection.  

Inevitably the discussion turned to quarterbacks. The Seahawks currently have Charlie Whitehurst contracted for 2011 on a deal worth around $4 million. Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent, as is JP Losman who acted as the team’s third quarterback for most of last season. Nate Davis was released shortly after signing a deal having left the San Francisco 49ers.  

Quarterback is the hardest position to evaluate. It’s not an area you could panic for but not an area you can overlook.”  

It’s a unique year in the quarterback class because the guys available are so different.”  

ESPN’s Mike Sando asked Schneider about Pete Carroll’s ideal for the position, a question he seemingly believed to be about Ryan Mallett. Sando: 

“Schneider apparently thought I was asking whether the slow-footed Ryan Mallett would fit in Seattle’s offense, but I had no one in mind. Schneider: ‘From a pure, uh, I’m reading your mind with this, I’m going to be really careful how I answer this. Pete and (quarterbacks coach) Carl (Smith) coached Drew Bledsoe, who is not a big movement guy, and he had his best season. I don’t know if Pete has ever had a guy that is a big-time runner, huge movement guy. I wouldn’t slam any of the guys he has had. But everybody likes a guy that can move, but a lot of these guys have compensating factors. So the guy that you’re thinking about would be one of those guys that has compensating factors.’”  

Here are some other selected quotes and notes from John Schneider’s press conference:  

Personally, I would like to move back because I have confidence in our ability in the middle rounds to do good stuff and we have a coaching staff that has good teachers and they are excited to have these guys.”  

Schneider admitted it would be easier to trade up in the draft than trade down.  

On the topic of defensive backs, he stated that height was the primary criteria unless a player is versatile enough to play well in different scenarios. I wonder if this brings Brandon Harris (CB, Miami) back into contention at the end of round one. He’s shorter than Seattle would like (5-9) but he’s a better open field tackler than most cornerbacks. Struggles against the tall, physical Malcolm Floyd were slightly over-blown on second viewing.  

He suggested a good draft ultimately means bringing in impact players who keep cohesion in the locker room. Schneider also admitted the hardest part of the evaluation process is to work out how much a player respects the game.  

Charlie Whitehurst will get an opportunity to compete for the starting position. This isn’t a revelation – he’s the only contracted quarterback on the roster at the moment. Schneider: ”Did he have his struggles during the season? Sure. I mean he hasn’t played a lot of regular-season games. So, I thought one of the coolest things he did was come into that Arizona game and bring us right down the field. Now, the series didn’t end that great. He threw a ball he’d like to have back. But I’ve been around a three-time MVP that wasn’t a great decision maker early on in his career, but he became a much better decision maker.”  

To be a consistent Championship team, we have to get better.”  

We’d like to be younger. We didn’t have much depth last year. We want a young, tough, smart, fast, aggressive group.”  

On Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Mark Domenik suggesting as many as six quarterbacks could go in round one: “Mark is a good friend of mine and if he was sitting right here, I would say, ‘He’s got a quarterback, so he wants a lot of guys to be taken. He wants the offensive linemen to fall.”  

The Seahawks would like to come away from the draft with at least one defensive and offensive lineman.  

Schneider said discipline would be key and not panicking to get a quarterback. He used the example of Green Bay drafting Aaron Rodgers at #24 in 2005 and the fact they wouldn’t trade up for him. Of course, it’s easier to say things like that when you’re starting quarterback is Brett Favre, who never missed games for the Packers.  

Final thoughts  

The Seahawks were nothing but transparent before the 2010 draft. It was common knowledge they’d gone bowling with Russell Okung after a trip to Texas (presumably to see Earl Thomas among other things). You’re never going to learn that much from these press conferences because teams are not going to gift wrap their plans to the rest of the world ten days before a draft. I suspect, however, that there’s not a great deal of spin here – there merely isn’t a great deal of hard information. Seattle probably would like to trade down for a good price if the options at #25 aren’t ideal. It probably is easier to be aggressive and approach another team about moving up than it is to be on the receiving end of an acceptable deal.  

I thought the response to Mike Sando’s question was interesting if only for the caution with which it was answered. Sando: “Schneider thought long and hard, choosing his words carefully when I asked him to what extent Carroll, as a defensive head coach, has a vision for what he wants in a quarterback. I wanted to know how that vision might differ from the visions an offensive-minded head coach might have for a quarterback.”  

This may be the most interesting portion of the press conference. Clearly the Seahawks have to make the quarterback position a priority. With or without Matt Hasselbeck, this regime’s success or failure will probably be defined by it’s ability to adequately fill the position for 2011 and beyond. They can talk about offensive lineman and defensive lineman – I would wager that the most heated discussions taking place in the front office right now are about the direction at quarterback. Is there a guy in this draft we should invest our faith in? Will we need to trade up? Who among the second tier prospects, if anyone, has that starter potential? What deals can we arrange once a new CBA is complete or a court injunction ends the lockout? These are surely the kind of questions being asked. 

That slightly tentative and guarded response to Sando’s question may hint that it’s a subject that still hasn’t been fully resolved. Maybe they have come to a decision and they just don’t want to give anything away? Of course, as with the other topics, neither would be a surprise. Yet the importance of the decision cannot be underestimated.  

New look for the blog  

You may have noticed the new home page for Seahawks Draft Blog. In future when you click www.seahawksdraftblog.com this is where you’ll arrive. It’s a way to push feature articles and a few other things. Of course it also means clicking ‘Blog’ on the new menu bar to arrive at the actual articles. If you want to avoid the homepage and visit the site as you did normally, it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is type www.seahawksdraftblog.com/blog into your address bar. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that, because I would like as many people as possible to visit the homepage which will continue to develop with new features. Feedback is always appreciated.

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Considering where those 4 teams are drafting, he's being either very optimistic or very pessimistic.

Posted by Kip Earlywine

As you might have guessed, Ryan Mallett was a man among boys as a kid and a heavily recruited quarterback coming out of high school.  This is why people were talking about Mallett a year and a half ago when he’d barely even played yet, and his on field performances had yet to be that impressive.  After a breakout 2010 campaign, you’d think that Mallett would be poised to be a top 10 pick, but rumors about being a “big man on campus” type as well as allegations of drug use have dogged Mallett through much of this offseason.  Many draft experts have written Mallett off, including Todd McShay who didn’t even include Mallett in his recent top 32 list.  You have to wonder though, how could teams overlook such a promising season by talking about Mallett so little?  Is it real, or is it a smokescreen?

In what is probably the most controversial quarterback class in recent memory, Mallett stands atop the heap in terms of dividing opinion.  Doug Farrar, who’s work I respect tremendously, has all but offered his soul to the devil in exchange for Seattle avoiding Mallett- comparing him to both Dan McGwire and Derek Anderson.  On the other side of the spectrum, our own Rob Staton has publicly pleaded that Seattle spend significant draft capital and trade UP to secure the Arkansas quarterback.

As always, I encourage our readership to form its own opinions and not simply take what we say as gospel.  We’re just ordinary fans exactly like you, and all we can offer is our own opinion.  If you are so inclined, you can scout Ryan Mallett for yourself by following this link, which provides full broadcasts of several SEC games.

I scouted Mallett for 4 games:  Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and UTEP.  All of those games were from 2010, but I don’t really feel like I need to see 2009 games to be honest.  Mallett has developed so much that it makes his first season borderline irrelevant.

Strengths:

  • Big, tall, tough, durable (only one notable injury, a concussion)
  • Ridiculously strong arm/upper body
  • Excellent short accuracy and completion rate, above average deep accuracy
  • Deep passes get downfield in a hurry, his deep throws have the same low trajectory that most QBs have on 15 yard passes
  • Student of the game/Coach on the field
  • Almost always checks multiple reads
  • Good, consistent release point with impressive arm speed
  • Decent pocket awareness
  • Comfortable in the pocket
  • Quick decision maker, doesn’t hold the ball or take coverage sacks very often
  • Makes decisions that are mostly good
  • Almost always finds a target- very few throwaways
  • Good performances against very highly ranked opponents
  • Excellent overall production in an elite conference
  • Good under pressure if he stays in the pocket, can sidestep and keeps his eyes downfield
  • Very competitive, for better or worse has a few “Favre moments” every game
  • Just isn’t hit very much, figures to stay healthy
  • Makes a good effort selling play action
  • Makes big plays with impressive regularity
  • Pro-style offense
  • Has probably the best chance of any quarterback to be good right away

Weaknesses:

  • Rumors of drug use and generally less than chivalrous behavior off the field
  • Might be too tall.  The history of 6’7″ quarterbacks is brutal
  • Very nonathletic due to his size
  • Long strider who not only conspicuously lacks speed and explosiveness, but it even fouls up his mechanics sometimes
  • Attempts some throws that Mike Holmgren would crucify him for
  • Big, awkward windup- very similar in appearance to that of Eli Manning.  Could lead to many sack-fumbles
  • Struggles outside the pocket, clueless about setting his feet when rolling left
  • Almost never ran bootlegs
  • A very awkward fit for Pete Carroll’s offense
  • Throws more picks going deep than you’d like
  • Benefited from good protection, an outstanding running game, and a solid defense
  • Some lateral accuracy issues on deep passes, too often he’ll throw behind a receiver when going deep

Conclusion:

In every game I watched, Ryan Mallett was clearly the best and most critical player on a very good football team, with only RB Knile Davis coming even close to making an argument.  There were moments in 2010 where the lowly Washington Huskies were able overcome a shaky start by Jake Locker to taste victory, but that didn’t happen in any of the games I saw when scouting Mallett.  Arkansas is a good enough team to win with its running game and defense, but they wouldn’t have competed with the likes of Alabama, LSU, and Auburn without Mallett.  Even when Mallett’s backup came in for the 2nd half against Auburn and performed well on paper, you could just sense “that’s the game” the moment Mallett left.  Mallett scares the bejesus out of teams with his deep threat, and can score in a hurry.  It only took him 3 plays to score against Georgia at the start and only 2 plays to score against #1 Alabama to open the game.  That’s the kind of offensive firepower Mallett brings to the table, and it hints at MVP level potential in the NFL.

Let me show you what I’m talking about.  The first game I put on was against LSU.  You can find the game from the link above if you’d like.  Mallett sealed that game on a long TD pass on 4th and 3 that would make Jeremy Bates proud (117 min mark).  As halftime neared and LSU held the ball, I skipped ahead to the 3rd quarter and suddenly Arkansas had 1 more touchdown than they had with seconds left in the 2nd quarter.  Puzzled, I backtracked to the final 3 seconds of the 2nd quarter and witnessed this:

LSU almost ran out the clock before halftime, but had to punt the ball back to Arkansas with a meager 3 seconds remaining.  How many college coaches even try a pass at their own 20 yard line with 3 seconds left before halftime?  How many quarterbacks would make such an attempt even worth trying?

Of course, it wouldn’t have been a touchdown if not for the two defensive backs colliding, but it also probably wouldn’t have been a touchdown if not for perfect placement allowing the ball to be caught in stride.  Mallett does occasionally throw behind his receivers when going deep, but more often than not, his ball placement was exceptionally good.

As far as the negatives go, I have three main concerns with Mallett:

The first is how his lack of mobility and effectiveness outside the pocket could impact his fit in Seattle.  If the team decides to invest in Mallett, then its pretty much time to find a new offense.  When rolling left, Mallett has to completely stop, twist his body back, and set his feet very awkwardly before passing.  The whole thing looks like a solitary version of Twister.  Unsurprisingly, the throws he makes when doing that are horrible and dangerous.  Seattle’s current offense requires a quarterback to be a threat to scramble for extra yards and first downs, and that is something Mallett can only do in rare circumstances, because he doesn’t get very far.  You don’t want to see Mallett taking off on 3rd and 8.  Also, when Mallett leaves the pocket he loses… well.. the pocket, meaning that he’s fair game for any free defender that wants to chase him down, and Mallett’s speed won’t buy you as much time outside the pocket as we’ve been accustomed to even from an aging quarterback like Hasselbeck.  For Mallett to succeed, he needs to stay in the pocket as much as possible.

On a side-tangent, Mallett has a clunky long stride to his movement that sometimes interferes with his mechanics.  As mentioned before, it really shows itself when rolling left, but it can happen any time he’s throwing on the move.  The game sealing interception against Alabama wasn’t a poor decision- Mallett was trying to throw the ball away.  But because he was on the move and off balance, he didn’t set his feet correctly, and the ball didn’t leave with as much force as he’d like, allowing the Alabama defender to snag the interception right at the sideline.

The second concern is Mallett’s inconsistent deep accuracy.  This one is forgivable, as you don’t really expect quarterbacks to nail every deep pass as the farther you throw a ball, the more difficult it is to be pin-point accurate.  Mallett was mostly accurate going deep, and he’s outstanding at judging distance, almost never overthrowing or coming up short.  But in terms of lateral judgment, sometimes he’s off, and this frequently resulted in picks from the games I saw.  Its not a fatal flaw or anything, it just shows that Mallett is human and a deep passing attack carries risk.  I think like Eli Manning and Jay Cutler, Mallett will run higher than average interception numbers as part of the trade off for good overall production.

The 3rd concern I have for Mallett is some occasional lapses in decision making.  He only throws the ball away rarely, which while commendable, also leads him to forcing 2-3 throws a game he really shouldn’t.  Some of which he pays for, and some he gets lucky.  Still, they are throws that veteran quarterbacks not named Brett Favre avoid and for good reason.  This problem is coachable, and hopefully Mallett can learn that sometimes taking a sack or throwing the ball away a couple extra times a game isn’t so bad.

I guess a 4th concern for Mallett would be the character issues, but I simply haven’t heard anything yet that is concrete enough to judge Mallett on.  No failed drug tests.  No criminal record.  No solid evidence of almost anything.  Do I personally think Mallett did drugs in the past?  Given the way he’s handled it, probably, but it does appear to be something in his past and I think he’s handled this offseason wisely in regards to addressing that issue.  For anybody who says “but he’s the face of the franchise!”, I simply stop and point to Michael Vick.

Regarding mobility, Mallett isn’t a statue in the pocket and can avoid pressure within reason.  He is vulnerable to the blitz however, as you might have expected due to his lack of speed.  Thankfully, Mallett has a good ability to make quick decisions under reasonably comfortable circumstances.  He diagnoses coverage very quickly and with Peyton Manning like efficiency tends to get the ball out in 3 seconds or less most of the time.   He doesn’t hold the ball long and even when pressured usually has a plan for where he wants the ball to go.

Mechanically speaking, it would be nice to see Mallett put more of his legs and body into his throws.  I’m pretty sure Mallett could throw 60 yards on his knees, but that doesn’t mean he should do it on every pass.

Finally, it should be noted that while Jake Locker played in a pro-style offense, Mallett ran a pro-style offense, and that’s a very significant distinction especially for a team that is hoping for a quarterback to contribute as soon as possible.

NFL comparison: Kurt Warner

While Mallett falls far short of Warner in the living like Ned Flanders department, both are quarterbacks with limited mobility, great on the field intelligence, great deep balls, and an ability to pass for over 300 yards with regularity.  Warner of course won multiple MVP awards, and Mallett has that same potential if he pans out.  Of course, Kurt Warner himself wasn’t exactly a first round pick, and it remains to be seen how NFL franchises will weigh Mallett’s strengths against his faults.

Ryan Mallett scouting report coming soon

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Posted by Kip Earlywine

I just finished scouting my 3rd game (out of 4) for Mallett, and I’ve already got a ton of notes.  I’m hoping to have it done and posted by tonight.  As I found last year from my work scouting Russell Okung, watching tape for one player will often help you inadvertently learn a lot about other players as well.  In order to keep my Mallett scouting report on topic, I’d like to put my random comments on some other players I saw here, before I talk about Mallett himself.

  • I’m sure some of you won’t like reading this, but if Seattle shocked us all by drafting Mark Ingram at #25, I wouldn’t feel the slightest bit upset or really even that surprised.  Ingram’s acceleration is deceptive but excellent, and his vision/instincts are on par with Shaun Alexander’s, which is saying a lot.   And like Shaun, Ingram’s field speed is faster than it looks.  Everyone would say Shaun wasn’t a burner and then he’d torch a team for an 80 yard scamper.  Alexander and Ingram posted nearly identical 40 times coming out of college.   I like Lynch, but he’s regularly one of the worst RB in the league at yards before contact, and since Seattle’s line is in complete shambles right now outside of Okung and possibly Spencer should he return, there really isn’t a lot of reason to expect Lynch to not repeat his awful 2010 regular season performance, which was one of the worst in the league per DVOA.  Not because Lynch sucks, but because he’s a guy that needs good blocking to gain momentum and do what he does best, run over defenders.  Drafting one very very good running back with better elusiveness would be a faster route to fixing the run game than acquiring 3-4 new lineman, and as such, it makes a great value pick like Ingram surprisingly sensible.
  • I don’t know why, but Greg McElroy kind of reminds me of a less mobile Jeff Garcia.  Similar size/build, similar moxie.  Depending on who you ask though, that’s not really saying much.  Garcia had an up and down career and was generally under-valued even when he was very good.
  • I think I’d rather take Drake Nevis at #57 than Liuget at #25.  I’m not a particularly huge fan of either, but Nevis is pretty close to Liuget in my eyes and is a far better value late in the 2nd.
  • If Cam Newton learns how to properly use and set his feet in the pocket, he will fully justify being picked #1 overall.  Newton isn’t polished, but he’s only been in division football for just one year.  Its hard not to bank on Newton improving, and if he does, he will someday become one of the most feared players in the NFL.
  • Trevor Vittatoe probably won’t be drafted, but I think he’s worth a look as an undrafted free agent.  While he’s nowhere near the physical specimen of Locker or Kaepernick, he’s got the same mobility QB skillset, and unlike those guys, he actually is well trained at checking multiple reads.  His upside isn’t that great, but he has a high floor relative to his draft stock and  I think he could be a better backup than Charlie Whitehurst.  If Vittatoe adds another 10-15 lbs, he would compare very closely to David Garrard.
  • Arkansas has a heck of a running game, and that is thanks mostly to a great system implemented by Bobby Petrino.  It makes me wonder if RB Knile Davis is just a product of the system or not, because in every game I watched, he was sensational.

Johnny Patrick (CB, Louisville) game tape

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

I had one opportunity to watch Louisville in 2010, during their bowl game against Southern Miss. One player stood out for both teams, quarterback Austin Davis for the Golden Eagles and cornerback Johnny Patrick for the Cardinals. Let’s look at the tape, courtesy of Aaron Aloysius:

Patrick had five interceptions as a senior, one touchdown and a sack. He’s obviously not a great size/speed combo or the kind of player you are going to consider early on. He ran a 4.52 and a 4.46 at the combine and he’s listed at 5-11 and 188lbs, which isn’t anything special. However, it’s the ball skills that make him stand out. He’s always around the ball, appears to take good angles and the instincts are there. The five interceptions back that perception up and teams will always be interested in guys who can play the ball.

There are some concerns. It’s believed work rate hasn’t been considered a strong point until his senior year when the light appeared to switch on. Other reports suggest that mistakes get to his head and lead to further errors. Looking at the tape his sprinting speed and change of direction don’t always match and there is some stiffness in the hips.

When he’s at his best, he looks like a second round pick. Other aspects could make him a candidate for Seattle in rounds four or five.

Be pro-active Seattle… go get your quarterback

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Face of a franchise?

 

Pete Carroll and John Schneider say they aren’t locked into a position this year like they were with the left tackles in 2010. That’s just common sense really, given that the Seahawks are picking 25th overall and not 6th. It’s easier to target a specific position or player when you know that only five will be off the board before your choice. Then again, would you admit to the world if you were planning a big splash? 

In his end of season press conference, Carroll contradicted himself slightly. Initially he said improving both lines was crucial during the off season and through the draft, yet at the end he also said re-signing Matt Hasselbeck was the priority. That hasn’t happened, obviously, so does quarterback automatically become the biggest need? Personally I’ve always felt it was by far the biggest need because Hasselbeck will be 36 this September – almost certainly making him the oldest starting quarterback in the league. The team can look at stopgaps and hope solutions appear once a CBA is finally agreed (or the injunction forces free agency) but it’s high time this team invested in a quarterback for the long haul. 

I have no idea what the Seahawks are planning for April 28th. I suspect if they are leaning towards one position – such as the quarterback – they could be aggressive in acquiring the guy they want. I don’t think any of the top four quarterbacks will make it past the middle of round one, so I’d at least look to see how far up the board I could get using the team’s second round pick (#57 overall). When all is said and done, one second round pick to try and secure the quarterback position long term is small change. Yes the team has major needs across the board, but you need to be aggressive sometimes – particularly with quarterbacks. 

It doesn’t always have to be a big move either. Tampa Bay moved up two spots in 2009 – from #19 to #17 – in order to guarantee they’d draft Josh Freeman. It only cost the Buccs a 6th round pick, which in hindsight was an absolute bargain. Teams will take a chance moving down, so it makes sense to see what is out there. Let me ask you this… if the Buccs had spent a second round pick instead to get further up the board and draft Freeman, would you say that was a bad move now? 

That’s not to say any of the 2011 quarterbacks will have the impact Freeman has had in Tampa Bay and obviously if you don’t believe in Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett (the two quarterbacks I believe the team could logically target via trade) it’s not a move you’re considering at all. If you do look at these guys and see franchise quarterback potential – I would argue you should do what it takes to get them. The Seahawks can’t fully rebuild until they have their long term quarterback on the roster. Build to their strengths, limit the weaknesses. This is the time to make the investment, don’t set out a scheme today with the new offensive coordinator which may need to be modified in 12 months time. 

How easy is it to trade up these days? Let me refer you to my recent article on the subject

We can also look at last year’s draft – the best starting point for considering big trades up the board. San Diego went from #28 all the way up to #12, trading with the Dolphins. The deal included Miami receiving a second round pick (#40). The two teams also swapped fourth round picks (to the benefit of San Diego) and the Chargers also received a sixth round selection. 

Obviously Seattle’s second round pick is 17-picks lower than the one San Diego traded to Miami, but then the Chargers also received compensation in later round stock for sacrificing the #40. 

The very next pick, Philadelphia traded #24 to Denver for the #13 selection. It cost the Eagles two third round picks (#70 and #87) worth approximately 415 points according to NFL Draft 101′s updated trade value chart. The chart says Philly over paid slightly, but Seattle’s #57 pick is worth around 350 points. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that teams in the 10-16 range will be willing to move down to acquire another second round pick. 

I know a lot people do not rate Locker and Mallett as highly as me (I have Mallett ranked very highly on my big board). I’m not the only one who believes Ryan Mallett can have a Philip Rivers-style impact on the league and manage an offense similar to the one we see in San Diego. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted this today

Phil Simms with Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan on QB Ryan Mallett: “If he’s not a top 10 player (in this draft), then I quit.”

NFL Films guru Greg Cosell also chipped in on the debate

Studied more Mallet. Best NFL skill set in draft. Physical pocket presence. Delivered in muddied pocket. Willing to make stick throws. Know nothing about off-field. On film, possesses more NFL traits than Gabbert or Newton, plus NFL pass concepts in college. Mallet pocket mobility a concern. But after 400 snaps saw a number of plays in which he moved, re-set and delivered accurately.

Like I said, I know people will disagree completely with the suggestion of moving up and the guys I’m touting as the motive. If I can trade up and take a shot on Ryan Mallett based purely on the tape, I’m doing it. We hear all about the character problems, yet nobody has ever gone into details and shown hard evidence. I’ve never met the guy, I can’t judge him. Maybe my opinion changes after several meetings, work outs and dinner’s? Watching the tape I’m seeing the physical tools, the pro-concepts, the ability to diagnose a defense, progress through his reads and be accurate enough to make the big arm effective. He’s not flawless, I know every argument that is critical of his game. Even so, if I can secure Mallett using the #25 and the #57 I’m doing it. 

For people wondering about scheme – I say adapt it. Mimic Norv Turner’s offense in San Diego. Task Tom Cable to create a clean pocket – why else do you make the big splash on an offensive line coach? Of course you need players too, so go get a Gallery or a Joseph to play guard, consider re-signing Chris Spencer and find the way to upgrade the right tackle position without needing to spend the top picks (it is possible, believe it or not). Kansas City turned their offensive line from a major negative into a great positive in a short space of time, it isn’t impossible if you have the right plan. 

Is this realistic? I have my doubts, not only because you’ll need to find a willing trade partner – but I also remain unconvinced Pete Carroll and John Schneider feel the way I do about Mallett. That’s just a hunch. 

When EA Sports were looking for a Seahawks star to put in the cover competition for Madden 12, they chose the fans. Such is the dearth of playmakers and star quality on the Seahawks roster. That can change very quickly with the right investment at quarterback - just ask Atlanta, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Baltimore. Sure they all have better supporting casts than the Seahawks right now (borderline re: St.Louis) but they were all bad enough at one point to draft a quarterback early. Tampa Bay are the exception, but they were 3-13 before Freeman took over as the full-time starter. Atlanta and Baltimore had four and five wins respectively before drafting Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco in 2008. St. Louis were a one-win team. 

To win in this league, you need a quarterback. If the Seahawks see a franchise quarterback available in round one, they need to be pro-active. 

***Note*** 

I’d like to draw attention to some design changes for the blog which will be in place shortly after the draft. I’m going to incorporate a new ‘home page’ which will largely be used to highlight articles that have moved off the front page and are not time sensitive. It’s also a chance to incorporate an on-going poll and some YouTube tape. It’ll also mean modifications to the menu bar. Obviously this will mean needing to click a link to get to the actual blog, so I want your feedback on that. You can see a teaser for the new look by clicking here. 

I also want to test the water for perhaps running a live chat programme on the blog during the first two days of the draft. Is this something you’d be interested in?

Breaking down the 2011 Quarterback Class

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Quite the contrast

Posted by Kip Earlywine

There have been so many rumors about Seattle and the quarterback position.  There’s been enough rumors on Palmer and Kolb alone to outpace the circus we put up with for Brandon Marshall last year.

I won’t lie, its a little hard to make sense of it all sometimes.  So when things seem the most confusing, its probably best just to revert to the basic facts.   Matthew Hasselbeck and John Schneider were miles apart in their final negotiation, so Hasselbeck has probably taken his last snap in a Seahawks uniform.  Charlie Whitehurst only played in emergency circumstances last year and did not earn a starting job for 2011.  He’s a free agent (and 30 years old) in 2012.  As such, Seattle needs a quarterback, and has by no means even attempted to hide this fact.  Every coach wants to “win now”, but this is especially true for Carroll.  This, coupled with Seattle’s low draft capital, makes the thought of pursuing Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer a very logical notion.

And yet, even on the heels of some very encouraging rumors I’ve heard on the trade-for-a-veteran front, its hard to see Seattle not drafting a quarterback in 2011.  Even if Seattle acquired a trustworthy veteran like Carson Palmer, they’d still need another quarterback in another 4 years at the latest.  You could draft a “project” quarterback with high potential hoping he’d be ready in 2014 or 2015, similar to when Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers with Brett Favre still playing with gas left in the tank.  Teams usually carry 3 quarterbacks, and there isn’t a single guy currently on the roster who I’d say is “likely” to still be here this time next year.

The draft isn’t very far away, but I thought I’d take a long look at the potential options.  Unfortunately, there is less video available this year compared to last, at least not without finding a new IP and pirating from a torrent site; something I’d really prefer to avoid.  However, there is a nice supply of freely available video on the quarterback class, so I feel pretty confident in giving quality evaluations in at least that area.

Here is my draft board, as of today, for the 2011 quarterback class.  Locker is the only QB I’ve already scouted, so don’t take this list too seriously, if anything its just where I’m starting from in this evaluation process:

#1:  Blaine Gabbert: Gabbert is the only quarterback in the entire draft to get a passing grade for all of the following: accuracy, ability to read a defense, mobility, character, “makes all the throws” arm, and mechanics.  He’s not a Matt Ryan “perfect prospect”, but he’s got what it takes in the areas that correlate to NFL stardom the most.  My only real concern, other than the 1 year wonder label,  is his lack of success on deep throws- so he might be more ideal in a short passing offense.  Grade:  Top 10 pick.

#2:  Cam Newton: Newton is a one of a kind prospect.  The closest comparisons would be Vick/Young, but Newton is bigger/less agile than Vick and figures to be a better passer than Young.  I’ve even read one comparison that called Newton (paraphrasing) “Big Ben with wheels.”  Newton has an obvious “diva” personality, but he wouldn’t be the first diva quarterback to experience NFL stardom.  Newton has some relatively small mechanical issues to work out and he needs to learn a pro style offense.  Boom or bust prospect with literally unheard of upside.  Grade:  Top 10 pick.

#3:  Ryan Mallett: I try to be upfront about my biases, and evaluating Mallett has really challenged my greatest bias with quarterbacks: mobility.  I love mobile quarterbacks, probably more than I should.  Its often forgotten that Mallett was only in his 2nd season of football with Petrino at Arkansas, and yet playing in the toughest division in college football, amassed some very good numbers and had some terrific performances.  Its not like his 5.37 speed prevented him from doing it either.  Mallett’s often talked about arm (which is one of the best arms of the last several years) is actually less important that his intelligence and accuracy on the field.  Mallett has the makings of a big time pocket passer and its hard for me to put him behind Newton.  Grade:  Top 15 pick.

#4:  Jake Locker: I’ve seen all but 2 of Jake Locker’s games since he signed with the University of Washington, so he’s the one guy I could write a book on right now.  I think the 2nd round grade he’s often given is fair, and I think both his potential and risk are over-stated.  To me he’s not a boom or bust prospect, but more of a safe bet with a modest ceiling.  His accuracy is far better than his completion rate shows (thanks to a ton of drops, mediocre pass pro and college football’s toughest schedule), and there is potential for improvement with his pass location if he continues to improve his footwork in the pocket.  The reason I see Locker as being closer to the “good version” of Jake Plummer rather than John Elway is because of the simple fact that Jake Locker is a “mechanical” quarterback who follows orders and executes plays but isn’t fluid or instinctive like the greats of the league always are.  In a very controlled atmosphere, like what Mike Shanahan runs, Locker could be a good quarterback with flashes of greatness, but probably not a great quarterback overall.  Still, a quality, dependable quarterback is a good value in the early 2nd round, and worth the price at #25.   Grade:  Late 1st/early 2nd.

#5:  Colin Kaepernick: An excellent athlete with potential that probably exceeds Locker’s despite being less gifted physically.    Kaepernick’s pocket presence is special and I can’t help but be reminded of Josh Freeman watching Kaepernick dodge bullets in there and buy extra time to make plays.  Kaepernick didn’t face great competition and didn’t play in a pro-style system.  He has mechanical issues that must be improved or fixed.  He has an elongated and funky throwing motion which is somewhat made up for by some very impressive arm speed (he was a star pitcher in high school).  However, on shorter passes Kaepernick slows his arm down a lot to add touch, and this results in a fatally slow overall release time.  So improvement is not optional here- he has to either learn how to throw short passes faster without losing accuracy or learn proper mechanics- and either one will take time.  Still, I really like Kaepernick as a long term “project” and he’d make a lot of sense backing up a veteran like Carson Palmer or whoever.  I’d gladly take him at #57 should he last that long.  Grade:  2nd round.

#6:  Christian Ponder: There is quite a lot to say about this young man, so it will be hard to condense it into a single paragraph.  First, the positive stuff.  Ponder had a good season statistically in 2009, and this time last year was thought to be a future 1st round prospect.  Ponder has a warm, funny, charming and friendly persona much like Matt Hasselbeck- so he’s the perfect type of guy to be a face of the franchise in that respect.  Ponder has decent accuracy, at least on paper.  But there are some very big reasons I’m not a fan of Ponder despite these positives.  First and foremost is Ponder’s tendency to lock onto receivers and telegraph plays- something we saw a lot of with Charlie Whitehurst last year and we know how that’s going for him.  I’m struggling to think of a single prolific quarterback who overcame this tendency.  From this alone, I’d scratch Ponder off my board until the later rounds.  But Ponder also has arm issues.  He’s had several arm injuries/surgeries in recent months and he was floating deep balls even before that.  This isn’t a perfect analogy, but Ponder is a lot like old Matt Hasselbeck if old Matt Hasselbeck locked onto receivers like Charlie Whitehurst does.  In a pure west coast system where deep throws are rarely made, Ponder could make sense in the mid rounds for a coach who believes that with time he can beat the concept of multiple reads into Ponder’s thick skull.  Ponder has recieved a lot of hype lately and according to some he has a shot to be a 1st rounder despite his actual talent.  Grade:  5th rounder.

#7:  Andy Dalton: On tape, Dalton looks like this year’s Graham Harrell- a great college quarterback who is just that and nothing more.  Still, I like taking chances on guys like these ultra late in the draft, as rarely they become Tony Romos and Matt Hasselbecks.  I still need to take a deeper look into this guy, but I think anyone who says Dalton is a first two rounds player is overlooking too much.  Grade:  6th rounder.

#8:  Ricky Stanzi: Stanzi is a hero in the eyes of the 26/27/60 rule, as were many hopelessly under-talented quarterbacks in previous years.  I’d be worried if my GM drafted quarterbacks based on things like games started and wonderlic scores.  That said, I think Stanzi is a very good investment in the late rounds if Seattle wants to go the late round route at quarterback while trading for a veteran starter later.  Stanzi is strikingly similar to Matt Hasselbeck circa 1997, but with a better arm.  Both have great intangibles and leadership, and a camera friendly persona (as well as similar political leanings).  Both are 6’4″.  Stanzi is 223 lbs; Hasselbeck 225.  Both had solid mobility despite NFL average speed.  Even the way Stanzi throws the football looks pretty similar.  And most similar of all (and this is why both will be late rounders), Stanzi like Hasselbeck has way too many brainfarts on the field.  Inconsistency and bouts of poor decision making is a big problem for Stanzi.  This is no knock on Hasselbeck, but would he have been a pro-bowl quarterback without Mike Holmgren’s guidance?  I really doubt it.  Similarly, I think it would probably take a quarterback guru on par with Holmgren to get similar results with Stanzi.  Grade:  6th rounder.

#9:  Mitch Mustain: Mustain was one of the most highly pursued quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school.  He initially played for Arkansas when Houston Nutt coached there, and after a flawed yet promising start in which Mustain put up mediocre stats but won all 8 games he played in, he transferred to USC to play for Pete Carroll.  Mustain wasn’t able to beat out top 5 pick Mark Sanchez nor likely future top 5 pick Matt Barkley for a job, but that shouldn’t be held against him.  Until very recently, USC was college football’s most talent rich team every year, placing capable NFL talents on the bench, as Matt Cassel can attest.  This isn’t to say that Mustain will be a repeat of Matt Cassel, but its not like the things that once made Mustain a top prospect have changed.  The biggest knock on Mustain is the unknown, but its a late round pick with relatively outstanding upside- and the head coach of the Seahawks would know better than anyone else if he’s a gamble worth taking.

Over the next several days, I’ll release full scouting reports for Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker, followed by less thorough player previews for Kaepernick, Ponder, Dalton, and Stanzi.  I’m going to avoid writing about Newton and Gabbert for now, because I think the odds of Seattle drafting either is exceedingly low, but if it happens, I’ll do a report as soon as I’m done partying like its 1999.  For the rest, be sure to stay tuned!