Updated mock draft: 09/15

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.


  1. Chris Haller

    What do you think of Terrelle Pryor’s chances in the NFL if he were to declare, or where he might get drafted?

    • Rob

      Hi Chris,

      I think the issue with Pryor is consistency and being able to manage his talents. He’s a very physical QB who can run for first downs and also has sufficient arm strength to stretch a defense. Mentally though, can you trust him to play on the big arenas and play consistently at a high level? I’m not sure.

      I think if he declares for the 2011 draft on current performances, he’ll be at best a 2nd round pick on potential but more likely a mid-late rounder. If he stays for his senior year and matures then he has first round potential. But achieving that and having potential for it are two things.

      Having said that, I like Pryor. When he performs well (eg Rose Bowl) he’s an exciting prospect.

  2. tom

    is there any way to put basic height weight into the descriptions you have on your mock draft? it would help me a lot,

    • Rob

      No problem Tom. I’ll have it sorted for the next update.

  3. Patrick

    I’m not sure what to think about Ryan Mallett. I like him because unlike Luck or Ponder, he stands out a lot to me as a unique prospect. His size is uncanny and as you said, his arm strength is incredible. I could easily see him as the first QB taken…however, I could also see him fall. For one thing, his height. I read in I believe SI that no QB of his height has EVER succeeded in the NFL. I was shocked to hear that. Also, on WalterFootball, he has Mallett slipping due to “Character Concerns.” I respect Walt’s opinion, and wonder if some concerns may reveal themselves (Up until that I had never heard anything bad about Mallett’s character though).

    Now, if Buffalo is picking 1st (I’ve been predicting that since they chose Spiller over OL or QB), I think Locker would definitely be the choice assuming Chan Gailey doesn’t go 1-and-done. His offense fuels off of a mobile QB. I believe that’s why there were rumors of Buffalo’s interest in Tebow and also why several draft experts felt like Buffalo would make a run for Jason Campbell. If it’s true that Mallett isn’t very mobile, I just don’t know if they would make the call.

    Other than that though, I really like many of your other picks (A.J. Green to St. Louis makes a ton of sense). I’m not sold on Malcom Floyd to Seattle though, but after choosing Tate it certainly seems like it could be a possibility. I think at that range, I’d be hoping for Best Available RB, CB, DT, QB, or G. Of course with Locker and Mallett gone, I’d rather see us take a chance on Jerrod Johnson in a later round for QB. I know Ryan Williams is averaging less than 4 yards right now, but if he improves I think he could definitely be on Seattle’s radar.

    • Rob

      I share some concerns regarding Mallett. It’s not that he’s got a bad character, I’m just not entirely convinced he has the maturity to be the face of a franchise if he gets drafted early. Talent wise, there’s everything there. When I listen to him talk, he hasn’t got that unflappable personality that a Bradford/Locker/Luck has. It might be something he grows into and he’s been a leader on the field for Arkansas. But put him in a locker room of veterans and I’m not convinced. The height thing is true aswell.

      However, he’s capable of making throws that a lot of NFL guys can’t make. The talent is there, the full package. Talent-wise it’s a project you’d love to take on. Can he be the big man on the roster? Not sure.

      The Seahawks have made a big effort to get better at WR. It’s still a need for me, even though a lot of people point out Williams, Butler, Branch, Tate etc. We’ll see. There’s a lot to prove. I still think they want one more guy to throw into that mix and the Seahawks will only be a legitimate offense until they get better skill guys. That’s just how I see it.

      I thought about CB because there might be some depth there this year. Of course, I’d like to throw in Rodney Hudson… it might be a bit early. I’m not sure the Seahawks will draft a RB in R1 simply because Carroll loves a stable of guys, always has. It’s a big investment to be part of a committee. Keep an eye on Daniel Thomas (K-State) though, he’s a beast.

  4. akki

    I feel it’s too early to be jumping to conclusions that you can write off Luck and Ponder as game managers already. Yes, you’d want a top pick to have great physical attributes and/or great accuracy. The former is hard to pick up if you don’t have it already. The latter, you can develop. We know that Luck and Ponder were pretty wild last weekend, but at least I don’t have a discerning eye to figure out if there was a problem that’s easily corrected with some coaching and repetitions, or if it’s more complicated and the mechanics and/or release are all discombobulated. If that’s the case, I tend to defer to the scouting reports that say overall they’re good in those areas, such that there’s not much reason they can’t be accurate. Just a year ago I’d have written off Locker as nothing but hype over his 4.4 speed because he was that inaccurate, but obviously he’s improved a lot.

    Also, you can be drafted up in the top 5 without having elite arm strength, size/speed, or accuracy. Matt Ryan comes to mind, since he was picked #3 overall due to his demostrated leadership and game management more than anything else. These days, Ryan’s kind of on the border of franchise quarterback and high-functioning game manager depending on who you ask. Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez are another examples. Even if they might not have the attributes to become superstars, they can still be competent enough to start for a long time. A number of teams don’t even have a competent game manager qb and would gladly spend a top 5 pick.

    • Rob

      Some fair points Akki and I would say that I haven’t written off Ponder & Luck. However, I already had my suspicions on Luck that came over from last year. Stanford run the ball very well and I’m yet to see him lead the team to victory. I’m not saying it won’t or hasn’t happened, but for me he just doesn’t have the physical arm or the accuracy to do that against good teams. I’m happy to proven wrong and I think the best thing for him is to stay at Stanford for at least the 2011 season to continue to improve. Ponder really worried me at the weekend, because when the going got tough he got awful. He started the year as a borderline late first rounder, but more likely a 2-3 round guy. I had to temper the hype by moving him out of my top 15 mock. He has plenty of time in an average conference to repair the damage done last weekend, but scouts often look at how a guy performs against the top opposition in pressure situations – against Oklahoma he was very poor.

  5. akki

    A guess of Michael Floyd as the pick as as good as any, considering Seattle’s shown interest in Marshall and V Jackson. Maybe if they want a huge WR over a big one, Jonathan Baldwin is a good fit too. I don’t think Mike Williams precludes getting another major WR prospect either. Williams ran a 4.55 before he was drafted, and he probably runs a 4.65-4.7 now. That’s normally ok when most players make up for their decline in physical talent with the tricks of the trade they pick up over the years, but Williams has pretty much wasted those years. Williams can be Seattle’s #1 receiver now, but we can’t count on him being that in 2-3 years.

    Incidentally, regarding the need for a major playmaker (RB or WR) to transform the offense, I’m paying attention to Buffalo this year. Despite obvious deficiencies in the offensive line and quarterback, the Bills decided to ignore those positions and take the gamebreaking skill player in C.J. Spiller. It’ll be interesting to see if just having someone like that on the field can really lead to secondary improvements in the OL and QB just because the opposing defenses have to key on the playmaker. The really early returns are saying no, but it’s not like the Buffalo coaching staff has come up with very creative ways to use him yet.

    • Rob

      I think Buffalo are so bad at quarterback that it’ll hamper any success Spiller could have. Teams need to respect the passing game to force coverage and free up the space for a guy like Spiller to excel. Nobody respects the Bills passing game. My prediction is Spiller will have the odd game where he explodes and he’ll also have games where he’s annonymous.

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