Archive for May, 2011

Three more 2012 quarterbacks to keep an eye on

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

On Monday I highlighted eleven quarterback prospects worth monitoring during the 2011 college football season. Dave ‘rogue scout’ Razzano is touting as many as eight potential franchise QB’s from the class.

“2012 will be year of the QB. I see EIGHT potential franchise QBs for next years Draft. Will be best EVER! Great for NFL.”

Indeed Razzano tweeted today that he believes Oklahoma’s Landry Jones could realistically challenge Andrew Luck to be next year’s #1 pick:

“This Landry Jones of Okla is an absolute phenom. Don’t be surprised if he challenges Andrew Luck for #1 pick in 2012!”

I asked Razzano who he believed were the top 2012 prospects at the position and he confirmed some of the names I’d mentioned, but also added another into the mix – Houston’s Case Keenum. I was surprised to see Keenum’s name mentioned. He missed the majority of the 2010 college season through injury and has been granted a sixth year at Houston as compensation. His numbers are gaudy with over 10,000 passing yards and 88 touchdowns during 2008-09, evidence of the prolific Cougars offense. 

Can he transition to the NFL? Let’s not forget that Kevin Kolb came from the same system. Keenum is 6-2 and 210lbs. His task in 2011 will be to prove that the numbers are not a faux pas and that he can be consistently accurate. You’re not talking about top-end physical qualities either in terms of arm strength or mobility. His decision making at times can be erratic and certainly a lot of the production at Houston is similar to that witnessed in Hawaii or at Texas Tech – not exactly hot beds of NFL quarterback talent. 

Even so, I feel compelled to mention him in the discussion having warranted at least an acknowledgement from Razzano. I still think he’ll be lucky to be anything more than a late round pick. 

In writing this piece I also thought about other possible quarterback options who are maybe flying under the radar, for very different reasons. 

Let’s start at Florida, a team that has undertaken a major transformation during the off season. Urban Meyer’s resignation led to wholesale changes for the Gators coaching staff, with Will Muschamp leaving Texas to become the new head coach. One of his first acts was to enlist Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator. 

The 2010 season was a difficult one for Florida, moving on from Tim Tebow and being stuck between two offensive schemes. Meyer ‘s spread offense didn’t suit quarterback John Brantley, so they flip-flopped between the system used for Tebow and a more orthodox passing game. Freshmen Jordan Reed and Trey Burton took over a number of snaps at quarterback and it was, at times, a bit disjointed. Brantley was caught up in the middle of a transition period for the Gators and the numbers showed – a mediocre 9-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio and only 2061 passing yards. 

Employing Weis to run Muschamp’s offense could be of significant benefit to Bentley. Let’s not forget, this is a player touted by Mel Kiper at the start of the 2010 college season as a potential first round pick. Instead, it was left to the likes of Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton to surface and take their place in the top ten alongside Jake Locker. 

At 6-3 and 220lbs, Brantley looks like a pro-prospect. The Weis offense at Notre Dame was basic if nothing else and afforded the likes of Jimmy Clausen the opportunity to wrack up big-time numbers and limit turnovers. Brantley may enjoy the same kind of boost throwing a lot of passes into the flats and working around the athletes Florida always churns out to support it’s offense. Even if Weis goes with a more complex outlook after a year with the Kansas City Chiefs, he’s likely to avoid flirting too much with the spread which should offer Brantley an opportunity to develop. 

KC Joyner at ESPN had the opportunity to watch Florida’s spring practise

“It might seem a bit odd to be touting Brantley after a 4-for-14, 45-yard performance in the Orange and Blue game, but consider this: In a three-game sample review of Brantley’s 2010 season, he threw a stretch vertical pass (defined as thrown 20 or more yards downfield) only 5 percent of the time. This is a very low number and indicates the Gators were not very effective at even threatening the long pass.In the spring game, four of Brantley’s aerials fell under the “stretch vertical” designation and one would have been completed for 40 yards had it not been for a very good defensive play. Brantley also did not force any of these downfield passes into coverage, so the downside on these throws was limited. It bodes well for what the Florida vertical game will be able to do in 2011 — not just for Brantley and Charlie Weis’ new downfield passing game, but for the playmakers in the Gators’ running game as well.”

If Brantley becomes a downfield passer who can manage underneath routes and limit turnovers as you’d expect with Weis, then he has the opportunity to put his name firmly into contention as a high draft pick.

The third player I’m going to mention in this article is South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia. As things stand today, the Gamecocks may be the most talented overall team in the SEC. They have a big-time receiver in Alshon Jefferey, an excellent sophomore running back in Marcus Lattimore and a cluster of defensive talent that could turn into high draft picks next year.

Garcia himself has shown flashes of quality, throwing for 20 touchdowns in a productive 2010 season. His decision making at times is poor, but he has shown the ability and the physical qualities (6-2, 227lbs) to warrant consideration at the next level.

Unfortunately, Garcia’s decisions off the field are just as poor as they are on it. He was suspended indefinitely from the team in April and it’s a familiar story for a player who has made headlines for the wrong reasons too many times in his career. Matt Hinton at Yahoo reports:

“As salacious rumors go, coming in drunk and disorderly doesn’t quite match the tales of epic pregame partying that reportedly led to Garcia’s suspension for the start of spring practice last month (although that depends on just how “disorderly” we’re talking about), but it’s certainly enough to violate his probation. And with five boozy strikes on his record, it’s probably enough to put his college career in the past tense.”

Indeed we may be robbed of the opportunity to see if Garcia can repair his stock on a team ready to contend in the toughest division in college football. The off-field concerns grade out at UDFA, completely wasting the on-field potential. Can he recover from this? It remains to be seen and his time may well be done in South Carolina, but he’s a player who otherwise would’ve been on the NFL’s radar next season.

Game Tape

Case Keenum (QB, Houston)

John Brantley (QB, Florida)

Stephen Garcia (QB, South Carolina)

My thoughts and scouting report for James Carpenter

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

If the draft were held a couple of weeks later, would James Carpenter still be considered a "reach"?

Posted by Kip Earlywine

Foreword: Much like an election, the draft has a horse-race element within itself.  A prospect’s stock isn’t a static thing.  It’s in a constant state of change and movement.  Consider for example, Jake Locker’s draft stock as it was twelve months ago, then six months ago, then last Thursday.  Where was Da’Quan Bowers’, or Justin Houston’s, or Marcus Cannon’s draft stock two weeks ago?   Where was Andy Dalton or Christian Ponder’s stock four months ago?

No one talks about players like Corey Liuget or Von Miller as reaches, and yet they were given 3rd round grades by the NFL draft committee at the beginning of this offseason.  They worked hard, impressed scouts and coaches, and front offices began to see them in a new light.  Both rose quickly and by the time the draft had rolled around they were long established first round draft prospects.  In the eyes of many, they had justified being taken as highly as they were.

James Carpenter had a similar rise.  It just happened to be in the 11th hour of the process.  We’ve heard talk that if Seattle had not chosen Carpenter, that both Baltimore and Chicago had him rated very highly.  We also know that Green Bay wanted Carpenter pretty badly and took Derek Sherrod as a fallback option.  Anyone that says Carpenter was a mid 2nd round prospect probably reads week old newspapers as they sip their morning coffee.

Its human nature to want your team to draft “big names:” guys who had been talked about frequently in the media.  But its important to remember that front offices and coaches will generally avoid hyping players they actually want to pick.  Remember that Tim Ruskell showed absolutely zero interest in Aaron Curry before ecstatically selecting him 4th overall in the 2009 draft.

Similarly, its becoming very clear that multiple front offices picking at the end of round one viewed Carpenter as a bit of a gem, but kept their evaluations to themselves for obvious reasons.  You can only keep a lid on something for so long before it boils over.  We can only speculate, but offensive line, perhaps more than any position in football, is built on reputation, and drafting a lineman is no different.  Once it gets out there that multiple front offices have a player high on their boards, it almost doesn’t matter what his actual draft stock is.  That’s how guys like Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick were almost first round picks.

It sounds like several front offices rated Carpenter pretty highly, and if that information slips out there two weeks ago, suddenly Carpenter is in every single first round mock.  Just like that, Carpenter is a bargain pick at #25- even though in reality nothing whatsoever has changed about the guy.  Perception is a powerful thing, and the better front offices find ways to make their best evaluations, even if it seemingly defies conventional wisdom.  That’s because sometimes, conventional wisdom can be a little behind the times.

(more…)

Seahawks picking first in 2012? Don’t bet on it

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Peter Schrager at Fox Sports has published an early look at the 2012 draft and projects that the Seahawks will be picking first overall. You can sense the level of excitement encompassing Seattle at the prospect of Stanford’s Andrew Luck being the face of the franchise. Let’s take a step back for a minute here.

The Seahawks are probably not going to be picking first overall. I cannot stress enough how difficult it is to ‘earn‘ the opportunity to have the first pick in a draft. I would argue it’s probably as difficult to be the worst team in the NFL as it is to be the best and win the Super Bowl. For starters, you’re looking at a record in the 0-2 wins category. Carolina chose Cam Newton last Thursday following a 2-14 season. The year before, St. Louis took Sam Bradford after a one-win campaign and prior to that Detroit went 0-16. Miami took Jake Long a few months after going 1-15. (more…)

Why Mike Brown won’t prevent Palmer trade

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

The Bengals want no drama to start the Andy Dalton era

Everyone knows Mike Brown is a very determined individual who won’t back down lightly. We’ve seen that many times during his ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

John Clayton dismissed a report on this blog that Carson Palmer was an option for the Seahawks on the Brock and Salk show. Yesterday during a further appearance on ESPN 710, he reiterated his view

“No way Carson Palmer is available this year. Mike (Brown) is as stubborn a guy as there can be.” 

It’s not an illogical point to make and on the sheer face value aspect of any potential trade, you’d have to side with Clayton. Michael Lombardi certainly does if his comments on the NFL Network are anything to go by. Yet it’s also a major presumption based on nothing other than form. Sometimes that’s enough to be proven right. It’s almost certainly not enough to completely avoid being proven wrong. (more…)

An early look at the 2012 quarterback class

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Everyone's heard of Andrew Luck, but what about the rest?

Every single year we hear the same thing. In 2009 Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman would pale in significance compared to next year’s quarterbacks. People talked up Sam Bradford correctly, but Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow were vaulted above their means. When reality set in, the 2011 class came into focus.   

By August people started to look at Andrew Luck, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett – and wondered if Christian Ponder could work his way into round one. When the 2011 draft arrived Luck was staying in college and Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert were now on the scene. With the Seahawks still looking for a long term answer, attentions now turn to 2012.   

Next year is a better class” is the turn of phrase rearing it’s ugly head once more.   

Let me start by saying, I’m not ruling it out. It’s still far too early to project and who knows who will join the party? Certainly nobody was talking about Cam Newton this time last year. You have a prospect in Andrew Luck who many believe to be a generational prospect capable of forming a dynasty. I’m not completely sold on that, but clearly the guy is very talented. Whoever owns the #1 overall pick in 2012 will almost certainly be taking the Stanford quarterback.   

After that, it’s a mixed bunch with some potental among the underclassmen who are never certain to actually declare (see: Andrew Luck, Sam Bradford). The 2011 class had it’s critics but four guys went in the top twelve picks. Even without Andrew Luck, there was unnatural first round depth this year and no guarantee that it’ll be repeated any time soon.   

Many tout Matt Barkley as a potential top ten pick in a years time and certainly he is a talented player. However, he still has a lot of things to work on because his footwork and decision making can be refined to max out his potential as a third-year junior starter. He’s had flashes of brilliance including a superb display against Stanford last season. He followed it up with an equally classy performance against California. Yet there were too many games that SC should’ve dominated and didn’t and Barkley’s numbers were poor. He was a non-factor in defeat to Washington, out-shone by Jake Locker. He was only OK against Washington State and patchy against UCLA.   

I’m not convinced he’ll declare after the 2011 season, but there’s no way of knowing as we sit here today. Sanctions preventing USC from featuring in a BCS Bowl game will be lifted for Barkley’s senior year, which will be tempting. The potential to go first overall may also sway his final decision, a prize almost certainly out of the question with Luck taking center stage.   

Landry Jones is in a similar situation having started unexpectedly as a freshman due to Sam Bradford’s unfortunate injury in 2009. He developed as a sophomore into a much more accomplished passer and has a chance in year three to cement his credentials to be a first round pick. He has the size (6-4, 220lbs) and major production in Oklahoma’s pass-friendly offense (64 touchdowns already).   

I like his arm and he’s efficient, but I’ve seen two sides of him. One, the inch perfect four touchdown display against Florida State last year where he recorded 380 yards and completed 30 of 40 passes. Then there was the frustrating game against Missouri, where Blaine Gabbert out performed Jones on the big stage with the Sooners ranked #1. Such is the issue I have, that when he’s at his best he’s ultra efficient and when he’s bad it’s because he becomes sloppy. Can he shine past the stat-padding offense and become the focal point that Sam Bradford became? Or does the offense mask a guy who’s got all the tools you look for but simply isn’t special?   

Alongside Luck, those are the three names you’ll read about the most, but what about some of the others?   

Kirk Cousins may end up being the second best prospect available if he keeps going. He’s mobile, he’s generally accurate and he appears to have the arm. He needs to add some weight to a 6-3 frame which scraped above 200lbs as a junior. You’re looking at a guy who has shown he can make a range of throws and does a good job switching between targets. He completed 67% of his passes last year in a tough three-way divisional battle in the Big Ten.   

The problem with Cousins in 2010 was consistency and the occasional flash of bad decision making. There were some excellent games and performances mixed in with some pretty rancid displays. 9/20 for 131 yards and an interception against Minnesota isn’t good enough when you’ve shown capable of 69% and three scores in a win against Wisconsin.   

If he can become more consistent and add weight, he’s one to watch.   

Another player to keep an eye on is Ryan Lindley at San Diego State. Again, you’re talking about ideal size (6-4, 215lbs). He has a nice quick release, but has a tendency to stare down his targets. The arm is strong enough as you’ll see on the video below and certainly there’s some potential. You’re also looking at a guy who in three years starting has never completed more than 58% of his passes. He’s also thrown 39 interceptions in that time, alongside 67 touchdowns.   

A final mention for another quarterback I recommend keeping in your thoughts when we eventually get closer to the 2011 college football season is Austin Davis of Southern Mississippi. He’s a more modest physical talent and admittedly I’ve only seen him once – in last season’s ‘Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl’ loss to Louisville where he threw two touchdowns and registered 205 yards. He showed an athleticism and mobility, a zip to his passes if not the big-time arm and this was a controlled performance. His task is to take things to the next level as a senior.   

They are the names I recommend. Now for those that I think are slightly over rated.   

Kellen Moore (QB, Boise State) is not a NFL quarterback in my view and I wrote about that in greater detail here. Great college achiever, potentially a good coach down the line, but not a player I expect to see on a Sunday. Nick Foles (QB, Arizona) will be labelled with the classic ‘west coast offense’ tag that is given to so many players with physical limitations. He puts up the big yardage, but he’s not a clinical player who stands out and certainly his offense encourages production. When I watched him in 2010 I saw a later round pick, but he has every chance to be over drafted in the same way Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton saw their stock rise.   

Terrelle Pryor (QB, Ohio State) is a fantastic athlete and sometimes you watch him and want to believe it’s possible that he could develop into a prospect. It won’t happen though and nobody is going to touch him in the early rounds, if at all (at least as a quarterback). Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State) had a 4277 yard season in 2010 and looked the part of a pro-prospect, but how can you seriously consider a guy who will be 28-years-old in October and hit 29 as a NFL rookie?   

By request I’ve added a Robert Griffin (QB, Baylor) video below. I’ve not had the opportunity to sit down and really look at Griffin, so feel uncomfortable passing judgement. I like the guy having seen a few interviews over the last 12 months and he’s someone I look forward to watching in 2011. You’re talking about a very mature, humble individual who completed 67% of his passes last year. What I can determine is that he’s the focal point of the Baylor offense, he’s incredibly elusive and capable of making plays with his legs. The offensive scheme at Baylor may never truly test him as a pro-prospect, but he starts the season against TCU’s defense on September 2nd which should be interesting.    

Here’s the tape:   

Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)   

   

Matt Barkley (QB, USC)   

   

Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma)   

   

Ryan Lindley (QB, San Diego State)   

   

Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State)   

   

Austin Davis (QB, Southern Miss)   

   

Nick Foles (QB, Arizona)   

   

Terrelle Pryor (QB, Ohio State)   

   

Kellen Moore (QB, Boise State)   

   

Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State)   

  

Robert Griffin (QB, Baylor)  

Q13 Fox report on Seahawks’ quarterback situation

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

For the articles referred to in this commentary, click here and here.

Live chat: Reaction to the 2011 draft (2pm)

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Seahawks 2011 draft class: the tape

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

James Carpenter (OT, Alabama)

Combine work out

Seahawks take Carpenter with the 25th overall pick

 

John Moffitt (OG, Wisconsin)

Combine work out

First draft feature

Vignette

Mike Mayock on Moffitt and the OL class

K.J. Wright (OLB, Miss. State)

Combine work out

Vignette

Kris Durham (WR, Georgia)

Richard Sherman (CB, Stanford)

Combine work out

Mark Legree (FS, Appalachian State)

Combine work out

Byron Maxwell (CB, Clemson)

Combine work out

Lazarius Levingston (DT, LSU)

Malcolm Smith (OLB, USC)

James Carpenter on Seahawks Draft Blog

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

I’ve just had a quick scan of the blog trying to find comments about James Carpenter. I’ve listed a collection below. This is a player who jumped off the screen for Alabama in 2010 and flew under the radar in a big way during draft season. Originally I viewed him as a superior alternative to Gabe Carimi in a later round. He had starting left tackle potential and due to a lack of hype, I thought he’d be available in the mid rounds. In the end he was drafted exactly where his talent deserved.

8th November
“Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin) is a mauler limited strictly to the RT position therefore limiting his value. Derek Sherrod (OT, Miss. State) is a fast riser at the moment. Joseph Barksdale (OT, LSU) and James Carpenter (OT, Alabama) are two prospects who are worth monitoring too, Carpenter in particular is a big-time sleeper who could be a steal later on.”

24th January
“One of my favorite under rated prospects in the draft is Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter. He’s a JUCO transfer who performed well at left tackle in 2010. He’s been working out at left guard today for scouts. He’s a mid round steal waiting to happen and really flexible.”

30th January
“One prospect I’ve spoken a lot about on this blog is James Carpenter (LT, Alabama). When people have often suggested the limited Gabe Carimi (RT, Wisconsin) as a Seahawks option in round one – I’ve been quick to point to Carpenter as a superior (cheaper) alternative later in the draft. He stood out for the Crimson Tide this year and flew under the radar. Clearly he’s raw but he’s got a great frame that’s capable of adding size. He did a good job in Mobile and that will help his stock. I honestly would have no qualms drafting him in the round 3-4 range. In a few years time that might look like a steal.”

10th February
“I rate James Carpenter higher than most. Danny Watkins and Rodney Hudson will also give teams an instant impact at guard (or center in Hudson’s case).”

25th February
“Two prospects I’m particularly high on – Rodney Hudson and James Carpenter – benched 27 and 23 reps respectively. Mike Pouncey didn’t participate.”

27th April
(On projecting Carpenter at #23 to Philadelphia in my final mock draft) “I’m a huge fan of this guy, he stood out during the season blocking for Ingram, McElroy and co. Why not?”

27th April
“I believe in this guy. Philly will consider adding a lineman who can play right tackle or kick inside. Under rated, talented.”