Week seven review & thoughts on Cam Newton

It was a contrasting weekend for quarterbacks again. Jake Locker’s performance against Oregon State further increases the likelihood he could go first overall. On the other hand, I’m not sure which team even drafts Christian Ponder after another hapless display, this time against Boston College. I also had the opportunity to watch two other ‘big name’ quarterbacks in Auburn’s 65-43 victory over Arkansas. Ryan Mallett left the game with a concussion after throwing just 15 passes for 96 yards and a score. It didn’t look serious and he shouldn’t miss any further time.

Funnily enough he was knocked out of the game by defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who’s having a productive year so far. I didn’t see enough in this game to justify a first round grade – he’s the type of solid, not spectacular interior defensive lineman you find in the 2-4 round range. He isn’t the type of player to be permanently in the opponents backfield like Brian Price last year and he’s not the most stout run defender either. Just a solid player who will carry some value after round one.

Some people asked about Cam Newton (QB, Auburn) and what he brings as a potential pro-prospect. He’s a Florida transfer who arrived at Auburn via the JUCO ranks. He has some background issues that would need to be cleared up. Personally, I wouldn’t draft him as a quarterback. Newton’s an amazing athlete with great size (6’6″, 250lbs). But he’s also a run-first QB and how many of those do we see in the NFL? It’s ok at Auburn to run 25 times like he did against Arkansas and put up 188 yards and three scores. He won’t be running endless QB draws at the next level.

He only attempted 14 passes on the day for 140 yards and a further TD. There are some technical flaws in the way he throws – mainly his tendency to almost always lean back and put his weight onto his back foot, losing a lot of potential zip and velocity on his throws. There’s talk he’ll consider entering the 2011 draft, but I don’t see the point. He isn’t going to be a first round pick at quarterback. I imagine he’ll eventually be drafted as an athlete, trained at another position whilst taking the occasional snap under center. A fun player to watch and a definite Heisman candidate, but not a high draft pick.

One big highlight in an entertaining game was Arkansas receiver Greg Childs. He had nine catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in a much more productive performance than I’ve previously seen from him. He’s legible to declare as a junior and flashed good hands, an ability to create YAC after the run and polished routes. He’s not as explosive as teammate Joe Adams for pure speed, but he’s a more rounded prospect and deserves consideration maybe even in rounds 2-3.


Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College) is probably the best of a bad bunch at tackle. He didn’t struggle with leverage as much as I thought he would against FSU despite his tall frame. He has better power than I first though. However, one of the worst attempted cut blocks I’ve seen in a long time gave up a huge sack/QB hit on Saturday – a definite area to improve.

Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin) and Cameron Heyward (DE, Ohio State) are exactly what I expected. Carimi isn’t a good fit at left tackle at the next level because he isn’t a great athlete and he’ll be susceptible to even an average speed rush. He should work out as a solid right tackle and therefore fall in the middle rounds. Heyward’s a bit over rated for me. He hasn’t got a great first step and lacks the speed to make up for it. He’s not physically dominating and only has one sack for the year.

Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson) is someone I’m much higher on. He got three more sacks this weekend against Maryland taking his total to nine in six games. He’s on pace for 18 for the year and surely has to be a contender to be the first defensive end taken. A light has switched on for Bowers and he looks like the guy he was expected to be as a #1 overall recruit. Top ten pick.

Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri) is one to watch. He’s leading an unbeaten team despite being slowed by a hip pointer in recent weeks. He showed no signs of that at Texas A&M, passing for 361 yards at 31/47 and scoring three touchdowns. Missou won 30-9 and if you’re looking for a QB that might be available outside of round one with some value, Gabbert may be the guy.

Ryan Broyles (WR, Oklahoma) hasn’t had much attention this year, but he’s one to keep an eye on. He’s a junior and could declare with many more performances like he had in Oklahoma’s mauling of Iowa State. Broyles had 15 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. He’s not got the size of Julio Jones, Michael Floyd or Jonathan Baldwin – but he’s excelling on a productive offense, has shifty seperation skills and good hands.

Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame) still worries me some. Nine catches and 157 yards against Western Michigan looks good, but his big 80-yard reception flashed a common problem – he body catches far too much. The coaching staff at ND have worked tirelessly on trying to improve Floyd this year, but he still runs sloppy routes a lot of the time and hasn’t become a dominant physical specimen. Right now, I’d be surprised if either Floyd or Jones land in round one. Baldwin might get a pass because of his team’s QB situation, but he’s borderline too.


  1. Andrew

    Hi Rob,

    I’m glad you brought up Blaine Gabbert, and you’re one of the first people to do so that I’ve read. I find it shocking that nobody, and I mean NOBODY is talking about Gabbert as an elite prospect in this year’s class. Even lesser prospects like Cam Newton, Jerrod Johnson, and Christian Ponder are getting far more coverage among the media.

    I think you are off on your projection for Gabbert though. He’s a first round prospect with elite measurables and very strong accuracy and intangible qualities. He’s one of the toughest, most polished, and disciplined quarterbacks in the country, and he’s over a year younger than Andrew Luck. In terms of pure physical talent, Terrelle Pryor is about the only guy in the country who has him beat. His arm is almost as strong as Mallett’s and he’s a much better thrower than Mallett–much more coordinated throughout his lower half, can actually move his feet, drive it off balance, and throw on the run. Not too mention, he’s a far more accurate passer than Mallett is.

    Listen to Gabbert interview and you can tell he’s an intelligent, focused, hard working, disciplined young kid with real media polish. And I can’t overstate how impressively tough the guy is. He played through a high ankle sprain through the rest of the season last year after getting destroyed by Ndamukong Suh in a game in October. Yesterday he put in his best game of the year despite playing with what his coaches called a “hip pointer.” They were lying about his injury. Most likely he was playing with broken ribs. The play he was injured on the week before happened in the first quarter where he was sandwiched around his middle. He didn’t tell his coaches about the injury until the pain became unbearable in the fourth quarter (when the game was well in hand) and they yanked him. Can you imagine Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford, or Mark Sanchez gutting out those injuries?

    I think Gabbert will stay in school for his senior season. If Luck stays until next year too, I think you’re looking at a very intriguing battle between them to be the first pick in the 2012 draft.

    • Rob

      Interesting comments Andrew, thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen a lot of Gabbert, but I liked what I saw in brief flashes on Saturday. Definitely one to watch.

      • Andrew

        This is a good time to start watching him. Next week is Missouri’s homecoming game and it’s against Oklahoma. The week after that he has to go on the road against Nebraska. Both should tell us a lot about him as a prospect. His coach accidentally let slip he’s got a rib injury in the post game press conference Saturday. I think Oklahoma and Nebraska will take advantage of this and try and knock him out early.

        If he’s able to tough it out and win one or both of the games, it’ll be a huge boon to his draft stock. Missouri would have a fairly clear path to the Big 12 championship and a BCS bowl bid. Put him on a national stage like that and scouts will take notice.

  2. Blake

    Gabbert plays in a gimmick offense though. The same one that made Chase Daniel a Heisman hopeful twice and now places him as a backup for the Saints. Gabbert has better physical skills than Daniel, but is not nearly as polished as you say; definitely not the same footwork, balance, and reads that Locker and Luck go through every week. All his snaps are out of the gun, and then he simply looks at one of his five wide receivers and throws usually a pretty good pass. He does not make true progression reads or understand any pro style concepts. By the way, I can imagine Stafford gutting out that injury considering he played the end of a game with a separated shoulder. I see him as a 2-4 round prospect with franchise QB upside if he ever learns how to truly drop back and make reads as he does so. Or if he gets drafted by a spread team like the Patriots he can be very successful.

    • Andrew

      The differences between Daniel and Gabbert are enormous. Really the only similarity you can draw is the fact that they both played for Pinkel. It’d be like me using Jason White to say Sam Bradford wasn’t a good prospect.

      The offensive system raises some questions, but then Sam Bradford’s didn’t? He went first overall and seems to be adjusting quickly to the NFL game. Bradford didn’t make pre-snap reads at all. He ran a no huddle and watched the sidelines for his coordinator’s hand signals to make adjustments. I’m pretty sure Blaine Gabbert gets to read the whole field and he definitely makes pre-snap reads and calls his own audibles. Gabbert isn’t any less intelligent or mature than Bradford.

      You know how you turn his lack of experience playing behind center into a non-issue? Reps. He’ll go through countless reps working on the drop, running play-action, and mastering the center-quarterback exchange. Those are minor quibbles when looking at a prospect’s pro-potential since they are easy to coach. His footwork is good on his passes and he plays balanced, compact, and strong in the pocket. Jake Locker doesn’t look any more comfortable in the pocket than Gabbert does. If anything, I would say Locker looks worse–he’s the kind of guy who works better improvising on the run.

      Also every quarterback in every system has to make reads. Gabbert distributes the ball well and runs when its appropriate to do so. He doesn’t lock on to targets any more so than Locker and Luck tend to, and I don’t think his ability to make progression reads in the NFL will be an issue.

      Having seen Sam Bradford go first overall last season, I don’t think the spread offense complaint carries the weight it used to.

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