Andrew Luck won’t declare – so what now?

January 7th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

I couldn’t see a scenario where Andrew Luck didn’t declare for the draft.

It was common knowledge that the Stanford quarterback was open to staying in college and completing his degree. As only a two-year starter, he continues to improve with every game.

Even so – I fully expected him to enter the league. When it became obvious that Jim Harbaugh wasn’t going to stick around, you got the feeling it was a foregone conclusion.

The Carolina Panthers even appeared to admit they’d draft Luck with the #1 overall pick.

So it was a surprise that he’s not going to be part of an event in which he’d be the main headline.

Andrew Luck staying at Stanford, won’t declare for the NFL Draft

For the updated mock draft – minus Andrew Luck – click here

A heavyweight quarterback class just became slightly lighter. So what happens now? Let’s start at the top with Carolina and the #1 pick.

You can look at this two ways:

1. Luck’s absence allows the team to concentrate on other areas of the team, possibly defense – or maybe by bringing in a talented offensive playmaker such as A.J. Green.

2. The team were prepared to move on from Jimmy Clausen after just one year to draft a vastly superior prospect at quarterback. If they rate one of the other quarterbacks highly – will that remain an option?

I can easily see the Panthers standing by their investment in Clausen. They took a chance with the 48th overall pick last April when many others passed. It was a difficult environment for the former Notre Dame quarterback – joining a team with a lame duck coach limping slowly to a 2-14 record.

However, Clausen wasn’t completely blameless for a quarterback rating of 58.4 and a touchdown/interception ratio of 3/9. In ten starts he never topped 200 yards passing and only had 61, 47 and 72 yards against Chicago, New Orleans and Pittsburgh.

When two Carolina officials touted the drafting of Luck with the ‘#1 pick on Tuesday – it was mainly due to the Stanford QB’s talents, but also partly due to Clausen’s struggles in 2010.

Almost a year to the day I wrote this report (click here) on the limitations in Clausen’s game. I projected a second-round grade and talked about his lack of physical tools and the high percentage nature of the offense he worked.

A lot of that has proven true so far.

Even so – I did say a second round grade and not ‘undrafted free agent’. When you take a quarterback in round two, there’s a certain degree of faith that needs to be shown – although perhaps starting immediately isn’t the right plan. It wasn’t really until I watched Clausen against the Seahawks recently that I realised that maybe even that second round grade was ambitious and perhaps unjustified.

That’s not the issue now, though. This is the worst team in the NFL with a 2-14 record and the #1 pick.

The Panthers need to ask themselves – “How do we recover?”

They may decide that backing Clausen is the right way to go. Give him a talented receiver such as AJ Green or rebuild the defense with a Da’Quan Bowers or a Nick Fairley.

That would be a mistake in my opinion. Go and draft the prospect that can lift this franchise. Go and get the prospect that can define the future and be the face of the revival. If that means returning to the quarterback position – so be it. Andrew Luck was going to be that man anyway, so look at the alternatives.

For many, Andre Luck was a class above both Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton. I didn’t feel that way. I think all three have amazing potential in different ways. Luck and Newton in particular have that unquestioned ability to define a franchise.

If Luck was good enough to end the Jimmy Clausen project, then so should Cam Newton.

Homework needs to be completed on the Auburn star performer. Questions need to be answered – not least about whether this hugely talented quarterback also has the burning desire to be brilliant. There’s no doubt he finds it easy in college – he’s too good for most opponents. When life is harder in the NFL – will he respond, or lose interest?

That’s for the Panthers to find out over the next few weeks and months. If Newton checks out then he has to be the pick.

Yes – he needs to get over that rookie hurdle of adapting to a much bigger playbook, making complex reads and checking down to a third or fourth option instead of working in a two-read-and-run offense.

That’s not new for college quarterbacks and he can do that. He’s making difficult throws already. Newton’s shown he can look off a target and make an accurate pass into tight coverage. The athleticism is a bonus – but he is capable of adding a different dimension to the position.

I’ve no doubt that Newton has star-potential – the kind of ceiling that Clausen will never have.

It’s unfortunate for him that Carolina have regressed this much to be in position to own the #1 pick – but that’s life. Since Peyton Manning was drafted by Indianapolis in 1998, ten of the thirteen first overall picks have been spent on a quarterback.

Cam Newton can have the kind of impact for the Panthers that a Bowers, Fairley, Green – or a Clausen – simply cannot match.

For that reason, I maintain that Carolina should and possibly will draft a quarterback with the first overall pick – even with Luck out of the picture.

37 Responses to “Andrew Luck won’t declare – so what now?”

  1. T-Town says:

    If anything Carolina should try and move down and pickup a 2nd rounder or more out of the deal. They need talent and LOTS of it and they currently dont even have a 2nd round pick since they traded it away.

    There is a good chance that Carolina could move down 5-8 spots and still be able to draft Newton if they wanted to (assuming a team wants to move up badly enough to trade.)

    If it turns out Carolina really likes Newton than they will probably just keep the pick and draft him. If not than I suspect that Carolina moves down.

    Sure wish the Hawks were picking #8 right now though. Newton could have easily fallen to us instead.

    • Rob says:

      It’s tough to trade down. We’re no closer to knowing what’s happening with the CBA, how much the #1 pick will cost – many questions remain unanswered. For me – the Panthers should accept the situation and try to find a prospect with that pick they can build around. Someone who can be the heart of the team. I rate Bowers and Green very highly but neither is going to walk into a two-win team and transform it. I think Newton can transform Carolina. The Panthers should look at the team accross from them in Tampa Bay who went from 3-13 to 10-wins. That should be their blue print. It needs to start with an exceptional talent at QB.

      • T-Town says:

        All valid points. As far as Carolina goes they could do a lot worse than just drafting Newton thats for sure. Newton’s talent isnt what worries me though. Its the character concerns. If he drops it will be because of that. He style and talent and hype are not all that different from Vince Young circa 2006 either.

        Will Newton be a Vince Young or a Young McNabb? Only time will tell. Personally I think it will be the latter.

        One of the things which makes this draft so interesting.There is so much uncertainty in the air. Fears of the CBA looks to be enticing a lot of these college athletes to declare early to make sure they get in while the getting is still good. At least thats what I assume. There are of course plenty of talented guys who are staying for various reasons.

        What do you think about this draft class compared to other years anyways Rob? Is this a banner year for talent or just an average class?

        • Rob says:

          I think there’s some really good top-end talent in the class but not great depth. Obviously the draft is impacted by Luck’s decision not to declare. In last year’s draft there were three high quality prospects in my opinion (Bradford, Suh, McCoy). After that there wasn’t a great deal between the other guys in the top ten and those going in the 20’s. The depth continued so you were looking at value later on too. You could find impact players in the later rounds or in UDFA as we’ve seen.

          This year – not so much. There are pehaps 6-7 really highly rated prospects… but then it decreases. There won’t be a great deal between the prospects in that 23-32 range and the second round. We may end up with some NFL stars and household names early on – but not as many hidden gems. The running back position is particularly weak and the OT class isn’t as good this year. Even without Luck there’s quality in round one at QB and I like the CB talent. There are some good receivers.

          • Alex says:

            Yeah…, the elite prospects IMO seem to be

            Bowers, Fairley, Peterson, Green. After that, there is a slew of “normal” 1st rounders with minimal difference in J Smith, Jenkins, Daereus, Nevis, Pouncey, Gabbert, Newton, etc.

            The weak positions in this draft are OT, S, RB.
            Strength of this draft is CB (#1), DT, WR, and QB (in terms of depth).

            Alex

  2. Rich says:

    Rob-

    I was hearing on espn radio that Vince Young scored a 6 on his first Wonderlick score when he came out. He took it again and scored a 16. If I’m not mistaken I think most QB’s score in the 30’s. I’m not saying the Wonderlic or any other test is the be all end all but it will be interesting to see where all these QB prospects score.

    In terms of the talent at this year’s draft I have the impression that the Hawks can get a decent player at 21 and maybe someone every bit as good as a player picked 10 picks higher. I love your choice at WR because I could not agree more that the Hawks needs some dynamic talent on offense but i sure wish there was a WR that would possibly be a deep threat and not just a posession guy. Otherwise maybe a decent corner will be available or how about a DT? Do you like Phil Taylor/Baylor by chance?

    • Rob says:

      Hi Rich,

      The wonderlic is a bit of a mystery as to how effective it can be. Matt Ryan scored brilliantly in it and we see that translate onto the field. Others have performed badly and it’s helped to indicate that mental barrier that can harm a prospect. Young overall is an enigma – major character concerns, generally poor mechanics throwing the ball. Yet he’s a tremendous athlete who is 30-17 as a starter in the NFL. He’s a hard guy to work out. He’ll be a free agent soon and someone will roll the dice.

      I’m contining to study Justin Blackmon and work out exactly what prospect he is. I think he could be a Roddy White type – they are similar in size and White can get downfield without being a blazer. He does a lot of things well and I’ll be honest – I could see him at #14 to St. Louis easily. A lot of deep threat receivers are one dimensional and Blackmon certainly has more to him than that. I’m still trying to shape that judgement around pick #21. I need to see what the team does in free agency (if it exists)… who they retain… who might be around that area. This is the latest Seattle has picked for a few years and they’re in a rebuild with a lot of needs. We’re also still learning about Pete Carroll’s vision and what they might do.

      There will be talent available at DT or the 5-technique. I have seen Baylor once this year and Taylor didn’t stand out – I will strive to get more information for you.

      • Alex says:

        Rob,

        The reason I’m not fond of the WR pick simply because there are greater needs. If I had to rank the state of the Seahawks respective positions, it would probably look something like this,

        LB, S, WR, RB, DL, OL ,CB,QB. I honestly think the first 5 are manageable at this point. OL is below average, but it could be worse. CB and QB are both in emergency situations.

        The issues with WR and DL has not been so much the quality of the players but rather the injuries. WR in particular has absolutely been DESTROYED by injuries. Classic example is against SF where both of our top WRs were out in Ben and Mike. I would feel relatively comfortable if BMW, Ben, Stokey, Carson are all out there. DL has also been decimated with injuries which started with Red Bryant that destroyed out running defense and consistent one and off injuries to the other 3 starters in Clemons, Mebane, and Cole. I remember there was on game where our whole DL was out. I thought to myself, I’ve NEVER seen this. Yes, this DL isn’t the greatest and there are major depth issues, but I prefer to solve an immediate need over depth. It’s not a luxury that the Seahawks have.

        That is why I’m not exactly fond of picks for the DL or WR (we were unlucky). There just are positions of greater needs and are you noted, it’s not that big of a talent gap from top 6 or 7 onward. If there’s no major talent gap (meaning BPA is relatively moot), choose the need. Obviously, if by some miracle Green drops or some player is the BPA by a significant margin to the remaining prospects, take him, but otherwise, I would use the pick on CB (a deep and good class), a QB (deep one), or at worst use it on OG (Pouncey) though you can find solid ones in the 4th round or FA.

        IMO, take a QB if the right prospect is there (may not be). If not, find a CB, which is the most realistic considering the position we’re picking in and the depth/quality of this CB class. If by some cruel punishment from the football gods and we have neither, I would seriously consider Pouncey or Nevis, which would fill in needs or depth at the next two level of needs (OL and then DL).

        As for the rest of the draft. I would be happy for my other team- the Texans- if Daereus (BPA at that point) is there. Though I must note that the GREATEST need by FAR is the secondary. The Texans had a historically bad pass defense and DL wasn’t the main issue. It was the first and second year CBs in Glover Quinn and Kareem Jackson. They were simply abused. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Texans pass on Daereus and potentially reach a bit for one of the top CBs in Smith, Jenkins, or Akumura at that point simply because the need is just THAT great.

        Beyond the Texans, I’ll note 3 other players- Newton, Fairley, and Bowers.

        I’ll start off by saying that Newton has the physical + in everything and could be drafted in the top 5 or 10 like VY was. But like VY, I have major concerns on the character side and intelligence side (the academic reports earlier in the season, not the Cecil Newton issues). As you said, the Wonderlic score isn’t that much of a measuring stick, but generally speaking, I want my QB to at least be average in intelligence. Peyton Manning certainly is smart (also Phi Betta Kappa), Matt Ryan is smart, and Bradford is smart (highest Wonderlic score in his class). VY did bad and that could be part of the reason why he is still struggling with reads despite over 4 years of experience.

        As for Fairley, I’m sold. I saw his video against LSU and he is just about everything you want in a 3 tech. Good burst, good penetration, good disengagement, good arsenal of moves, physically strong and fast, solid run defense. He’s not quite at the Suh level, but he is a legit top 3 pick.

        On the other hand, I was expecting great things in Bower, but came out of the FSU video a bit disappointed. He has good burst, but not elite speed (unlike DTs, DE ideally need elite since they rush the passer). Great size like Peppers or Williams. Decent set of moves though he isn’t nearly the technician like Derrick Morgan last year. He is good at stopping the run for a DE. He has trouble against double teams (somewhat expected). He played a bit of 3 tech and failed (doesn’t matter to me). Consistency is ok.

        The real problem on Bower for me is that A) he plays primarily in the LDE position when a top pass rusher should ideally be in the RDE position matched up against the opponent’s pass blocker (LT). In a sense, that may potentially inflate the sacks a bit. I would certainly want someone who is being compared to Williams or Peppers and a top 3 pick to be in the LDE position. If one plays in the LDE position and is still good at pass rushing, I would still select him in the top 15, but I’m not sure about investing the money on a LDE in a top 3 pick. B) His greatest issue by far (at least in the video I scouted) was disengagement. Suh’s greatest asset last year was A) physical strength and then B) Disengagement skills. No one could lock him up and that is why he usually reaches the QB or RB. Bowers by comparison has major issues in this front. There are way too many instances where he stays locked in with the tackle (1 on 1 instances too) for the whole play. I preferably want someone like Dwight Freeney who is extremely smooth (like water) and can reach the QB or RB quickly. This is why for me (based solely on the FSU tape), I wouldn’t draft him in the top 3 (top 10 or 15, yes) despite the production.

        Alex

        • Rob says:

          Hi Alex thanks for your thoughts,

          I think I need to qualify here that I haven’t made the Justin Blackmon pick for Seattle based completely on the importance of need. Clearly this team needs a quarterback, but one isn’t there. Cornerback has to be an option, but I have only Brandon Harris left on the board who is likely to go in that range. He had a poor Sun Bowl against Michael Floyd – and I didn’t get the feeling he fit the mould of that bigger, more physical corner I think Seattle wants now. So when I looked at what was available and tried to consider what the Seahawks could do – the pick of Blackmon seemed the most logical this week. Personally – I do think the Seahawks continue to lack X-Factor players on offense. It’s a major need that people tend to ignore. The Seahawks have some WR’s, but it’s a hugely underwhelming group. Williams has developed into a solid possession receiver – but the rest? Blackmon has the potential to be an ultra productive, all-round WR like a Roddy White. Seattle could use a player like that.

          On the Texans – agree on the need in the secondary. I’ve mocked them a corner quite a few times. However – there is good depth at CB this year. They spent a #1 pick on Kareem Jackson last year and may think they can get an Aaron Williams or Brandon Burton in round two. Wade Phillips is going to switch to a 3-4 in Houston and a guy like Dareus can fit into that scheme or a 4-3. He’s a really talented player and I just felt it was BPA and a need so a logical match for this week.

          I think it’s unfair to compare Cam Newton and Vince Young and it’s a trap we’re in danger of falling in to. Yes – both were athletic QB’s. Newton’s got some questions to answer for sure. He’s also a completely engaging, likeable character when you listen to him – which generally isn’t what VY is like. The academic side needs checking out, meetings will be important for him. But we have to wait and see what happens there. Unless someone told me otherwise, I’d expect Newton will check out OK.

          Fair points on Bowers – but I do think his strength, athleticism and repetoire serve best at the 5-tech position – which will allow some of those issues to be accepted. I’ve never projected him as a pure 4-3 DE pass rusher. The 5-tech serves him best for me.

      • Ralphy says:

        Does reviewing the tape on Blackmon have you warming up to Weeden yet?

  3. Rich says:

    Thanks Rob. It’s nice to hear Blackmon might be more dynamic than I had been reading. I’ve never seen him play. I’ll have to watch some video soon. My interest in Taylor simply stems from the fact that second to finding some dynamic talent on offense I would really like to see the Hawks get bigger and deeper on defense. If the worst thing they do is come up with a 5 tech and another nose guard type (or two), that wouldn’t be all bad. I sure hope free agency takes place though. Otherwise, we may all be contemplating the Andrew Luck sweepstakes this time next year. :-)

    • Rob says:

      I do like the depth on the defensive line in terms of Seattle’s scheme. There are LEO prospects all the way through to the later rounds. I think Seattle can find some defensive tackle help if they don’t go that direction in round one. The 5-technique is a bit of a unique role the way it’s played here – but remains a realistic option in the first two rounds. I agree with you Rich – they need quality depth on that line.

  4. Charlie says:

    Hey rob, i have two questions. 1) With pete carrols style, liking bigger recievers, is blackmon such a greater talent than criner and baldwin, that its clear size shouldnt be factored when choosing between the three at 21? 2) and secondly, we have an interesting style of defense with the leo spot, will we stay with this? or eventually transition to a 4-3 or 3-4 base defense when we accumulate the talent at some point? it seems more like a stop-gap D as you would put it. obviously that changes how we draft and ive always felt our players would fit a 3-4 scheme well, which is essentially how our d-line is aligned at the moment. so what are your thoughts?

    • Rob says:

      Hi Charlie,

      Out of the three, Baldwin may be the better prospect. I’m going to go back and watch 2009 tape on him because Pittsburgh have been just a mess really on offense this year. He can get downfield despite his size, but he’s not a blazer. I just worry he’s too alike to Williams – which won’t necessarily be a reason not to go that direction is he’s good enough. But Baldwin has the size, he’s no slouch. Hands appear good and he makes big plays – he also switches off a bit too often. Criner is a strange one in that I think he’s a possession guy without being that bigger body. He has height, but he’s not broad. He can become quite a threat if he gets on the right team and I think KC is a good fit – but there’s talk now he won’t declare after all.

      But the reason I put Blackmon at #21 instead is really just because although he’s not as tall (6-1 compared to 6-4) he’s still a solid muscular build, competitive guy who can go up for the ball. We saw Carroll draft Golden Tate – so we know it’s not an exclusive size thing. I just look at Blackmon run routes, get deep, his fluidity and control – and I think that he’s ready to come in quickly and make an impact. He comes accross well as a personality – well spoken. He’s not flawless in terms of elite speed or perfect hands – but he’s above average in both areas. I think he can be a very good weapon in the NFL and impact quickly. However – he needs the QB of course to get him the ball. Who plays QB for Seattle next year? Does that change anything? Do they look at QB in free agency or stick with what they have to allow them to draft a WR? Still a lot of things need to be answered.

      I think the defense will stay the same for now and maybe adapt depending on personnel. The Red Bryant role appears to have been designed for him, but it worked. Can it adapt with other players? The LEO will stay as a more permanent fetaure I think. It’s a clever position which is designed for production. I’m not sure the team will ever have to draft a top, top prospect to get production there. I look at a Brooks Reed, a Jeremy Beal, Rick Elmore, Cliff Mathews or Jabal Sheard and see guys that fit it perfectly that you can maybe plug in. They still of Dexter Davis. Clemons and Brock have excelled there. But then maybe depending on how drafts fall or what is available they drop the LEO’s into OLB’s and re-draft at ILB? They just need so many pieces (ILB, OLB, DE, NT) to switch to a 3-4 that maybe they think because of the needs on offense, they’ll use whatever system they can get production from for now? That would lend itself to this being a stopgap. It could be an interesting draft in that sense to see what kind of guys they draft and if this scheme will be a permanent feature.

      • Charlie says:

        So would red not fit as a 3-4 DE and mebane the other DE? and tatupu and hawthore at inside linebacker, with curry and either davis as our olbs, or a drafting one more olb? thats the way i looked at it, so we would only need a NT, which are generally cheaper in the draft than 4-3 DT. Sorry i’m always “20 questions” with you but your very insightful and you thoughtfully answer questions. so some more questions, i go to oregon state, and love the rodgers brothers. What are your thoughts on the two, more so jacquizz(i doubt he’ll declare with his brother staying), and another guy is allen bradford from usc, he looks like a stud that sounds like a late round pick or udfa maybe? idk what year he is but why not take a chance on a guy late that carrol is familiar with and also brings that physical presence

        • Rob says:

          Bryant and Mebane are bigger than the orthodox 3-4 DE’s. Both are more likely to play the nose but it isn’t a great fit. Tatupu and Hawthorne are too small to play ILB in that scheme and both are tailor made for the 4-3. To go to a pure 3-4 you could probably ‘make do’ with certain guys to set the structure, but to be effective you’d have to invest serious draft stock in the scheme – which this team can’t afford to do right now because the offense isn’t good enough. Green Bay went to a 3-4 and spent two first rounders on a NT (Raji) and OLB (Matthews) in the same year. They can afford it – having such a productive offense.

          The Rodgers brothers have some spark. The kind of guys you spend a mid/late round pick on and find ways to get them involved. They aren’t going to be every down guys at either position, but you can always find a role for prospects that are capable of being a playmaker. The lack of size might be a slight concern, but you’re not spending the high picks so it’s worth the gamble. Agree on Allen Bradford – he’ll be a late rounder at best. Low cost who might be able to compete for playing time and maybe give you some physical production.

  5. Kelly says:

    One small thought on my part: The Carolina Panthers are in NEED of a HUGE facelift. They have decent RB’s and an above average receiver in Steve Smith (when he’s not whining). Personally I don’t see this team getting too much better in the off-season though due to a herrendous defense and coaching changes. Sure they can improve a little bit but I don’t see this team winning more then 2-4 games next season. I feel that although Clausen didn’t have a great rookie season, I think its unfair to close the book on him this early. Why not put him out there next season and draft a stud defensive player/WR, and see if Clausen fairs better with a little experience under his belt and perhaps more weapons to throw to. If he doesn’t pan out next season, then your still in position to draft Luck, Barkley ect…Right now I believe its fair to say that Luck could end up as a Panther next season as well if the Panthers can’t get ALOT of things fixed.

    • Rob says:

      They may well do that Kelly, but it’d be a big mistake in my opinion. They have the #1 pick now for a reason. When you have the top pick, you need to try and get the guy who can be the franchise player which is why we see so many QB’s go first overall. They could be end up being bad enough next year that they lose all faith in Clausen, but only get the #3 pick. What if Luck and Barkley are off the board? They have a chance to get a prospect who can lead them forward, be the face of that franchise and have the kind of impact Clausen will never have. Draft Cam Newton and build around him. If it’s another bad year in 2011 – take the WR/DL/OT/CB option then.

  6. Jay says:

    Hey Rob, What do you think of the CB’s from Texas, Aaron William and Curtis Brown? Which one do you think is better or have good size and speed?

    • Rob says:

      Williams is better Jay. He’s got a solid all round game – good tackler, decent in coverage. He’s not a truly elite guy in coverage or with his recovery/deep speed, but I have him solidly in round two with guys like Brandon Burton. Brown is a little further down the board but should get drafted in the middle rounds. It’s a good year for cornerbacks.

  7. Ed says:

    Cam Newton #1. No way. Clausen was surrounded by a bad team. Rb’s always hurt, Oline underchieved and wr’s were horrible. If you can’t trade down, go bowers or fairley.

    Peterson to cleveland. No way. They need dline and wr’s, both which are available at #6.

    I like jimmy smith, but you are the only one having him in 1st rd (much less #7). Reach

    Hawks need OT, OG, QB, CB and you have them picking a wr. Only two ot’s are gone (in your draft), they have to go ot. Our wr’s are good (tate when he learns the offense, williams, butler), but if we can’t protect or open holes (which we proved we can’t) it doesn’t matter what weapons we have

    • Rob says:

      Ed – thanks for your thoughts but I disagree with most of what you said.

      I’m not really concerned that I’m the only one with Jimmy Smith in the top ten. I don’t base my mocks on what somebody else has written or judged – I can only make my own assesment.. Most people have Prince Amukamara in the top ten – there’s your reach. By the time the combine is over many others will be projecting Smith amongst the top prospects. Only Patrick Peterson has the same kind of size, speed and tackling ability. He has lockdown potential.

      With regards to Seattle – I do not agree that the Seahawks ‘have’ to take an OT. The Seahawks are ranked 14th I believe in pass protection this year. They have their highly drafted, expensive premium LT. How many first round picks do the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiegs, New England Patriots, New York Giants etc have on their offensive line. Have a look. It’s a classic presumption that it ‘doesnt matter’ what weapons you have if the offensive line isn’t stacked full of first round picks. The simple fact is – it doesn’t matter who you have on the line, they aren’t going to dominate every single snap. Even when Seattle had a great O-line in the past, it was helped by a MVP running back and a passing system that was mastered through Holmgren, Hasselbeck and the receivers.

      And this isn’t a great class for OT’s either. If you’re asking whether I’d suggest a reach at OT over a prospect like Blackmon, I’m not going to project that. Tate has shown nothing, Williams is a possession receiver and Butler really isn’t a difference maker. That’s a weak group of WR’s that won’t concern anyone. It’s a major area of need – amongst many areas of need. The team acknowledges this too – which is why they’ve tried to sign Marshall and Jackson and drafted Tate in the first place.

      Newton is significantly better than Clausen. Carolina need a spark that a Bowers or a Fairley just will not bring. With the #1 pick you need to find the defining piece to your franchise. Clausen is never going to be that man. We can make excuses for him this year, but it won’t change. It’ll be easier for Carolina to find a guy like Newton and build around him than upgrade the entire roster to accomodate a QB like Clausen. I’m not saying they definitely will go QB at #1 – but they could and they should.

      Cleveland – they still have a need in their secondary. I don’t have a WR outside of AJ Green worthy of the top #6. There’s depth at the position, they could easily address WR in rounds two or three. If it comes down to being able to take a guy with elite potential (Peterson) or trying to fill a need and getting a lesser guy – I think the Browns go with the talent.

      • ChavaC says:

        I agree. I think most people are forgetting that we were dangling picks at SD for almost half the year trying to get VJ, despite BMW playing well and having Obo, Tate, and Butler. Obviously it was a position Bates thought needed to be upgraded. Add in that Tate underperformed and Butler will be comming off a nasty tib fracture, and a first round WR would not surprise me at all. Especially with so much first round depth at the position.

        As for the oline, guard and RT are later round picks in my book.

      • Ralphy says:

        Ed. This wouldn’t be the first time Rob had someone as a top ten pick while the others had the player outside of the first round. Who was the first to put CJ Spiller there? Rob was.

  8. Ed says:

    Like I said, I agree about Smith, he is big, fast and can play. Just interesting to see how high you have him.

    And I agree with you about drafting talent over need, but cleveland biggest need are s/dl/wr/c. Wouldn’t you think they would go dareus or quinn instead of having two top 10 cb’s?

    I still disagree about the the line. Locklear is a big weakness, as is our entire patchwork oline, and getting Camiri/Costonzo/Solder at #22 is better than getting a wr. And our great line (during our nfc west domination) made an mvp back more so than anything. I liked alexander and don’t like how he was always dogged, but he had some huge holes. We need that.

    And your arguement that you can find oline deep in the draft goes for every position (brady, romo, marshal, etc…)

    • Matt says:

      Costanzo and Solder are finesse LTs while Carimi is strictly a RT. None of those guys would make a ton of sense. You only draft an OT (specifically RT) in this case who has the ability to play LT but also be a dominate run blocking RT. None of these guys come close to fitting the bill. Costanzo and Solder are very lean guys, while Carimi (besides being overrated), is a leadfooted RT who has not dominated at all.

      I don’t think Rob is implying that no other position can be found later in the draft, but that a vast majority of good lines are made up of non-round 1 picks (NYG, KC, etc). As in, it’s normal to build a good O-line without using all 1st rounders. Besides finding an LT (which we have) it’s absolutely irresponsible to draft other O-lineman in round 1, when you have huge holes at CB, QB, WR, and need upgrades and depth at DE and DT.

      I’m not sure when and why Seattle is determined to blame everything on the O-line. Yes, it’s not a good O-line, but it did an adequate job of pass protection. The problem is a lack of difference makers. We are lacking playmakers in the secondary and on offense. And no, Golden Tate and Justin Forsett are not weapons. Tate is undersized, not sudden, and unpolished (and underperforming), while Forsett is a great scat back who runs a 4.7 40. Mike Williams is an awesome possession WR who would greatly benefit from an all around deep threat (think Blackmon and Jones). The Seahawk offense is of no threat for anything over 12 yards (with consistency).

      • Matt says:

        Cleveland is a nice example of having a brilliant on paper O-line, with no QB, no consistent WRs. Yes, Peyton Hillis had a nice year, and the Browns are still picking in the top 10.

    • Rob says:

      Cleveland may well go in that direction – I just think Peterson has elite potential and in that situation, you weigh up the need vs BPA. I’m not tied to the pick, it’s just how things fell this time round.

      With regard the line – let me start by saying Carimi isn’t worth the #21 pick. That would be a major reach for a limited talent. Seattle can find a Carimi-type prospect later on or in free agency. As I said before – Seattle ranked 14th for pass proteciton. The top lines in the NFL are not filled with first round picks. Do they have to keep improving the line? Yes. Do they need to keep spending R1 picks? No. They can upgrade Locklear and the guard positions without that top level investment and without reaching on marginal prospects like Solder or Carimi over a better prospect at a different position. Carimi/Solder/Castonzo – these guys don’t compare to Blackmon IMO. They don’t compare to Brandon Harris. Pouncey is better but I think he works at center – one of the positions Seattle is fine at. The line in 2005 and Alexander helped each other, as did the passing game. The solution is never just an offensive line – it won’t stop teams stacking eight in the box and daring you to pass. There’s more to it than that. Seattle are not tied to first round picks on the offensive line and as I said before – Kansas City (best running team in the NFL) have a line made up of mainly UDFA’s and late rounders.

      Simply put – RT is not a premium position compared to QB, LT, WR, CB, DL. They get TE help, they protect the QB’s viewing lane and not the blind side, they don’t have to be great athletes. You can find that prospect at any stage in the draft or FA. Nobody can deny when it comes to the premium positions – you’re more likely to find big time prospects early.

  9. Ed says:

    And maybe we can fill some needs with fa (ot/og). And I agree about playmakers. It just seems our line has been horrible the last few years because all of our drafts (outside of last year) has not put a focus on it. Pitts/Andrews/Polumbus/Gibson are all players we got out of the trash pile of other teams.

    And Matt, I think we have alot of depth at dline (balmer, mebane, clemons, cole, brock, terrill, bryant). We just got some bad breaks with injuries early. And our corners aren’t bad. Jennings gets picked on, but he is never really out of the play. He is right there. Trufant is on the downside, but Thurmond can play and Babs in a good nickel back. Also, no qb’s make it to 20+ and with no 3rd rd pick, we need oline help if not in 1st, then in 2nd.

    I will go with your 1st rd, but then:

    1st wr
    2nd ot
    4th cb/og

    would be what i would look for. with this, we give charlie a year to prove it, if he can’t, we go qb 1st rd next year. Luck/Barkley/Weeden/Foles

    • Matt says:

      I definitely agree we had bad luck with injuries. I just think the D line talent in this draft is so much better than O line talent that it just makes sense to add to the depth at the D line.

      I must say though, in my eyes, outside of QB, I think WR and CB are the biggest needs (in round 1) barring any big free agency moves (ie Jonathan Joseph or Vincent Jackson). Altough, even if we did sign Jonathan Joseph, and somehow Jimmy Smith was available at 21, i think you still pull the trigger on Smith (assuming no QBs are available).

    • Matt says:

      Foles and Weeden will never go in the first round. Weeden is talented but old and Foles is just not a good prospect (think Jimmy Clausen).

    • Alex says:

      while it’s fair to say that we don’t have enough playmakers, it’s far from the most important need. Both OL and DL are greater needs, and I definitely feel like you’re underestimating the issues with CB.

      I was at first a proponent of getting OL over DL, but as Matt said, the talent in this draft is just far superior for the DL. There are essentially no elite tackle prospects this year and OG could usually be found later. By comparison, the DT in this class have decent depth with Drake Nevis as a very solid run stopper who could be in the 20s.

      Like Matt, I would agree. If no QB, select CB. If no CB, then I would suggest DL. If no OL prospect (unlikely with Pouncey likely to be there), then whatever the BPA at this point.

      Alex

  10. Ed says:

    Was just throwing out some big names, not really studied next years qb’s.

    Could you imagine if we got vjack and joseph and maybe an ot or og (colledge) in fa.

    Think we should go fa for a qb too, mcnabb etc… Or give clipboard jesus a year?

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