I’ve updated the mock draft page for this week with some big changes. You’ll find all my mock drafts via the link in the menu-bar at the top of the page or by clicking here. Last weekend was a major disappointment for me. Christian Ponder imploded in an awful FSU display at Oklahoma. He couldn’t keep up with the Sooners’ offense and as the hosts piled on the points, Ponder’s performance became more and more erratic. Andrew Luck enjoyed a comfortable victory over UCLA but he completed less than 50% of his passes and looked like a classic college game-manager. I didn’t see the kind of accuracy or physical qualities that will transfer into a top NFL quarterback.
This weekend, I’m watching Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas) against Georgia and Jake Locker (QB, Washington) taking on Nebraska. Here’s the deal… when I watch Ponder and Luck I see things that I like, but I also don’t see eye catching physical talent or brilliant accuracy. I can accept a guy who’s just accurate but doesn’t have the big arm or great playmaking talent. I’ll consider a prospect with unique abilities to make things happen even if there needs to be greater consistency. Both just seem to be lacking in Ponder and Luck. Being able to move around is fine. Keeping things ‘ticking over’ is fine. But do you draft that first overall?
Matt Stafford has a great arm, but he threw too often into double coverage and wasn’t always the most accurate. He went first overall because there was something to work with and potential due to the physical potential. Sam Bradford maybe didn’t have the cannon arm, but he was faultless in terms of accuracy and put up huge numbers. He also went first overall. I don’t see either qualities in Ponder or Luck.
What about Mallett and Locker? Mallett has an arm which is maybe better than anything you’ll ever see. I like his high release point, it’s a quick release and he’s capable of making throws that most QB’s in the NFL aren’t capable of. His consistency has been patchy which shows up in the numbers last year – he struggled against the top teams (Alabama, Florida) but destroyed the teams beyond that elite level. He made throws in 2009 that were quite simply stunning… and that’s not an over exaggeration. In the NFL, teams will have to respect his arm. If you can get him to appreciate touch and become more consistent, you could have an amazing talent. If I’m a coach, I’d love to take on project:Mallett. Whilst a lot of people are down on the Arkansas QB right now – most of it’s unfair. Let’s see if he can continue his tremendous start to 2010.
Locker is capable of being brilliant some of the time and average others. He can make a play or a drive that you just flat out applaud. The following week, he’ll struggle with accuracy and without the big play – you’re left wondering what the fuss is about. As I’ve said many times, I want Locker to be good most of the time – not great some of the time. Even still, teams will look at the complete package – this is a guy who can beat you with his legs or arm. He can be a playmaker who will frighten teams and cause game plan concerns. A lot of scouts and coaches will wonder ‘what if?’ and they’ll salivate over bringing Locker to their facility for camp knowing they have a chance to mould him into a potential star.
For those reasons alone, I wonder if they’ll be the only quarterbacks taken in round one next year. I don’t think Luck will even declare and Ponder, for me, doesn’t look worthy of a first round pick. Does Terrelle Pryor come into the mix? I think he’ll stay with Ohio State for his senior year unless they win a National title. Jerrod Johnson (QB, Texas A&M) is a guy I like a lot, but as a mid-round pick due to technical flaws.