I’m going to delay this week’s mock draft until nearer Christmas. In the meantime here’s a few things on my mind at the moment…
Boise State vs Utah – Thoughts on Kellen Moore
I’ll be watching the MAACO Bowl tonight between Boise State and Utah. I suspect it’ll be a very comfortable victory for the Broncos similar to the beating TCU put on the Utes earlier this season.
One guy I’ve been asked about occasionally is Boise quarterback Kellen Moore. He’s from Washington so it’s not hard to see why there’s some interest in Seattle. He was a Heisman finalist this year and was second only to Cam Newton in quarterback rating in 2010.
That said, he’s not a NFL quarterback.
Boise State’s publicity and the productivity of their offense has driven Moore’s stock much higher than it should be. You might see words like ‘moxy’ (cringe) tweeted several times tonight as KM moves the Broncos to another solid touchdown drive. When a quarterback’s greatest quality is ‘moxy’ it’s time to ask – “why?”
Moore is listed at around 5’11”-6’0″ depending on where you look. He’s approximately 185lbs and throws left handed. That alone is not a combination geared towards success in the NFL.
His production should be admired as he’s done an excellent job to master the scheme he works in. Reports put this down to solid game intelligence, a strong work ethic and real dedication. That is all good for a solid college career and he’s reaped the rewards with wins and plaudits.
It won’t be enough on it’s own in the NFL though.
If you get a chance to watch the game tonight look at his throwing mechanics. You may notice how often he throws with a slingy side-arm release. That won’t cut it at the next level especially for a guy listed a shade under 6’0″ – he’ll have passes batted down or tipped on a regular basis. It also doesn’t help when trying to generate velocity on medium-to-deep routes – he generally has a weak arm, but the slingy action puts too much air on the ball and will encourage turnovers.
Footwork is also another problem and Moore is a decidedly awkward runner in space.
People like Tom Brady and Drew Brees often get quoted when discussing guys like Moore. They got by without the eye-catching physical attributes and had the smarts and work ethic to win Super Bowls.
Let’s not forget they are very much the exception to the rule. For every Brees, there are a hundred QB’s like Moore that didn’t make it.
It has to be said as well that Boise generally are a deep team and outclass a lot of their opponents. They have a strong defense and an under rated offensive line and receiver group. A sign of their dominance is shown by the fact Moore has only been sacked five times this year – the same number as Andrew Luck at Stanford. Greg McIlroy (30), Jake Locker (47), Cam Newton (21) and Ryan Mallett (21) have faced much greater pressure.
It’s not completely negative, after all – there’s a reason he has the excellent numbers. The scheme plays its part – there’s a lot of underneath and short distance high percentage throws. The competition Moore faces is a lot weaker in the WAC than it would be against any of the top conferences. His game intelligence and ability to make quick judgements is a big plus point and whilst not owning elite accuracy, he’s certainly not inaccurate.
However, I struggle to find any home for him in the NFL. At the moment I’d grade him as an undrafted free agent. He’s a junior and will almost certainly return for another season at Boise. He’ll complete his career a hero for his team, but his future will almost certainly not lie in the NFL.
Cam Newton voted AP’s #1
The Auburn quarterback was today voted the Associated Press’ player of the year. Newton had already won the Heisman, O’Brien and Maxwell awards.
It’s another richly deserved honour for the best player in college football by an absolute mile.
Ridiculously, the aforementioned Kellen Moore was named first-team All-American QB ahead of Newton.
Let’s bring the whole thing into focus for a moment. Newton has single handed taken a likely 6-win team to an unbeaten season, the SEC title and now a National Championship. As a passer, he has the highest QB rating in the country (188.2). He completed 67% of his passes for 2589 yards, along with a 28-6 touchdown/interception ratio. Newton added 1409 rushing yards and 20 scores on the ground – making him the 10th best rusher in yardage and #2 behind LaMichael James for touchdowns.
People wrongly assume he’s a run-first, gimmick quarterback who will struggle in the NFL. They are wrong.
He’ll need to learn a much thicker and more complex playbook and move away from his two-read and run offense at Auburn. Indeed his ability to prove to GM’s and coaches he can be the ‘last guy out of the building’ type will essentially determine how high he goes.
The sky’s the limit otherwise.
Newton has better mechanics than most think – with a nice over the top release and strong arm. He needs to adjust his footwork and throw less from his back foot (he loses a lot of velocity), but he’s capable of some big-time NFL throws and he’s not inaccurate like some want you to believe.
To put it bluntly there isn’t a quarterback in the NFL right now who you could compare Newton to. He’s original and a top-five pick in the making. He’s never been out of that range in any of my mocks – and I’ve included him a lot longer than most.
Over rated or under rated?
Here’s two prospects I think need a bit more love from the ‘draft media’…
And two prospects I think are being over rated…
– Gabe Carimi (RT, Wisconsin): Came into the year a R2/3 prospect. Limited stock as a mere right tackle as not athletic enough for blind side, whiffs in space and struggles to stay low.
– Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State): Won the Biletnikoff but suddenly a top-15 pick instead of the R2-3 grade I have. Not elite speed or hands. Good but not special.
Right tackle in round one?
I mentioned Rob Rang’s latest mock for CBS Sportsline. He had the Seahawks selecting 14th overall in his projection published yesterday (Seattle would actually own the 13th overall pick if the season ended today).
Rang has the Seahawks taking Gabe Carimi with the pick, stating:
“Okung has played well when not hobbled by ankle injuries, but RT Sean Locklear has been the team’s greatest liability on the line this season. Carimi started his entire career at left tackle, but has the size (6-7, 327), strength and nastiness to handle a move to the right side.”
I wouldn’t disagree about Locklear. The Seahawks re-worked his contract to make him a free agent in 2011, so his days may be numbered after a disappointing 2011. Chris Spencer is also a free agent but should be a priority signing after a solid year. Doubts remains at both guard spots and right tackle.
Even so, the line has done better than most are willing to admit when it comes to pass protection. Run blocking has been less successful, but the Seahawks need to determine exactly what they want to do on the line. They started with Alex Gibbs, smaller lineman and the zone blocking scheme. Gibbs departed and bigger bodies were brought in. Is it a hybrid? Is it unclear and confused? Is it responsible for the issues in the run game? Has musical chairs on the line due to injury been an integral problem?
What I would argue is – the Seahawks are not 7-9 because the offensive line has been the #1 issue. The team made a substantial investment when they drafted Russell Okung 6th overall last April. A solid offensive line is not dependant on first round picks.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the #1 rushing offense in the NFL. On their roster they have one offensive lineman drafted in round one (by the previous regime) in Branden Albert. The rest are made up of four undrafted free agents, a third round pick, a fifth round pick and a selection in round six. Most of these prospects were not drafted by GM Scott Pioli in Kansas City, rather picked up in free agency or inherited.
Creating a productive running game is about more than expensie draft picks. It’s also about health, consistency, familiarity and a defined scheme.
The Seahawks have not suffered numerous blow-out defeats this year because of their right tackle.
Seattle’s two quarterbacks have passed for 13 total touchdowns, but 20 total interceptions. The starter – Matt Hasselbeck – is ranked above only Brett Favre, Jimmy Clausen and Derek Anderson statistically. Is that due to the performance of Sean Locklear?
It is obvious to me at least that investment at quarterback, the defensive line and cornerback (all premium positions) is of far more importance.
Quite frankly I would be stunned if the Seahawks spent a top-15 pick on a right tackle. As mentioned above, I also think Carimi is being over rated in that range anyway.
Nick Fairley – strictly 4-3
Not just in Rob Rang’s mock, but also many others (including this piece by ESPN’s Todd McShay) have placed Auburn defensive tacle Nick Fairley with teams using a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Whilst I think Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama) is versatile enough to play the five-technique (and make him an attractive option for Seattle), in my opinion Fairley is strictly a 4-3 three-technique.
He’s at his best lined up in the middle using his quick burst off the snap and tremendous ability to dodge blocks and collapse the pocket. Playing at 5-tech will make a number of other demands that don’t suit his frame and perhaps detract from what he does best. You want to say to Fairley – “go get the quarterback”. You’re not going to want to ask him to hold his own at the point.
It’ll limit Fairley’s stock if he is considered strictly a 4-3 prospect. Right now there are four 4-3 teams in the top-ten (Carolina, Cincinnati, Detroit and Houston). He’s unlikely to go #1 overall to the Panthers and I expect the Bengals to consider Da’Quan Bowers or – if available – Cam Newton. Detroit have Ndamukong Suh and need to invest in their secondary or with an extra edge rusher. That leaves Houston at #10 as perhaps his first likely destination.
You can see why maybe he might not be the top-5 lock some are projecting.