I’ve updated the Prospect Tracker for this week – you can find the latest stats on all the top 2011 draft prospects by selecting the logo in the title bar. I wanted to offer a few thoughts looking at the offense today. In my latest mock draft 21 of the 32 first round picks are defensive prospects – is there a lack of offensive talent this year?
There is one certain first round quarterback (Andrew Luck), two ‘unknowns’ (Jake Locker, Cam Newton) who should go in round one and a complete mystery in Ryan Mallett. No other quarterback prospects have a shot at going in round one.
Statistically Cam Newton continues to impress. A walk over win over Chattanooga helped pad out the stats a little. However, only Kellen Moore (192.4) has a better QB rating than Newton (182.8) in the entire country. Andrew Luck is 7th (163.4) and Ryan Mallett 9th (162.9).
Looking at the Prospect Tracker, we can see only Luck has a better completion rate – beating Newton by 0.6% (67.8% vs 67.2%). However, Newton is registering 10.33 yards per attempt – considerably higher than Luck (8.58), Jake Locker (6.8) and Blaine Gabbert (6.43). Only the cannon-armed Ryan Mallett comes close at 9.52.
Newton is considered a run-first quarterback by most, but he’s actually become more of a passing force recently. He has 526 yards in his last two games including six touchdowns. In that same period he’s rushed only 19 times for 69 yards and one touchdown. He has as many touchdowns as Mallett for the year (19) with only Andrew Luck scoring more (22).
It’s also a sign of Luck’s growing role in Stanford’s offense. He’s already completed 13 more passes than he did in the whole of 2009. He’s thrown for nine more TD’s and improved his completion percentage from 56.3% to 67.8%. He’s only been sacked three times this year, however, which emphasises the positive environment with which he’s surrounded. Stanford have given up nine sacks in two years. Jake Locker has been sacked 43 times in the same time frame. Ryan Mallett has been sacked 38 times and Cam Newton 15 times this year.
You only have to look at the stats to see this is a poor year at the position. I’m a big fan of Mark Ingram, but his production has taken a big hit this year. He’s currently ranked 64th in the country for rushing – significantly down on his Heisman winning season in 2009.
LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter are #2 and #3 in the country and represent interesting change of pace options. However, both are in that 5’8″-5’9″ region and weigh under 200lbs, so their stock will be limited.
Ryan Williams – a legitimate option for round one before the season began – is reported to be ready to declare as a RS sophomore. This despite a year dogged by injury which has seen a dramatic decrease in production.
Demarco Murray will interest some teams for his ‘do-it-all’ ability, but he’s not going to be explosive or a work horse in the NFL. He’s the only RB listed who’s topped 200 receiving yards (358, 3 TD’s) and maintained production on the ground (832 yards, 13 TD’s).
Overall it’s a down year at the position with a lack of quality depth and only one legitimate first round option – Ingram.
There’s a number of big name, well known WR’s but not much elite production on the year. A.J. Green’s excuse is that he missed four games to start the year. Since then, he’s caught up quickly and his 510 receiving yards isn’t far behind Julio Jones (758), Michael Floyd (728) and Jonathan Baldwin (546).
Prospects like Baldwin will, quite fairly, point to inconsistent QB play as an excuse for a drop in production. He’s listed in round one of the latest mock, but could’ve gone higher with better numbers. He’s on pace to score two less TD’s this year and over 300 less yards.
Floyd’s production has picked up in a recent defeat to Tulsa and a victory over Western Michigan (261 yards, 5 TD’s). However, he’s still running sloppy routes and body catching far too much. He doesn’t make the most of his size/speed combo and he’s been knicked up the last two years. I can’t put him in round one at the moment – he’s a solid second round pick with potential however.
The one to watch from this list is Justin Blackmon. His production continues to grow and he’s putting up Biletnikoff type numbers. 1258 receiving yards and 15 TD’s already – Blackmon has drawn comparisons to Michael Crabtree due to his production, soft hands and YAC ability. He’s a shade smaller than Crabtree and doesn’t have the same incredible wingspan, but he’s a fast riser at the moment and could push his way into the late first round.