Weekend preview & latest on Cam Newton

I’ve four games on the schedule this weekend:

Georgia vs Auburn

Nobody knows whether Cam Newton will feature in this game. Personally, I sincerely hope he does. As someone who conducts a draft blog and as a mere fan of college football, I just want to watch the best players perform. Whilst I appreciate the rules and regulations, Newton isn’t gaining any on-field advantage from allegations that money was sought for his registration.

I know penalties need to be severe to discourage this type of event reoccurring. However – I just wish there was a way of finding out the truth (not allegations) quickly and then arranging for money to be paid back with a subsequent heavy fine. I want to watch Newton, A.J. Green and Justin Houston fighting it out for their team and their draft stock. ESPN and Joe Schad have the latest (see video) but I think it’s a foregone conclusion that Newton will not participate tomorrow.

Penn State vs Ohio State

I regularly see Cameron Heyward in first round mock drafts. I also see him in the top ten picks an awful lot. I think he’s over rated. I can also appreciate why he may still be a high pick. Tyson Jackson went third overall (an obvious reach) in 2009. He had just seven sacks his last two years with LSU and one career interception. Heyward currently has eight sacks in 2009/10 and one career interception. Jackson was 290lbs and 6’5″. Heyward is 288lbs and 6’5″.

It’s another chance to watch Heyward, but I doubt my opinion will change much. I have him as a 2/3 round prospect. Who knows if he’ll go much higher.

Oklahoma State vs Texas

Justin Blackmon is intriguing. He leads the nation in receiving yards (1285) and touchdowns (15) despite recently missing a game for off the field circumstances. He reminds me a little bit of Michael Crabtree – both 6’1″ and around the 210lbs range. Both were ultra productive receivers in pass friendly offenses. The soft hands, YAC ability and body control are there. Neither is an elite deep threat.

Nobody is really talking about Blackmon (a redshirt sophomore) from a draft point of view. I’m not entirely sure what’ll happen with the QB situation at OKSU, but Brandon Weeden is a 27-year-old junior playing in college after his baseball career was cut short due to injury. Does that have any impact on his decision?

I expect the Cowboys to win this comfortably – Texas are a mess. It’s a good game to really test Blackmon though against a decent, if a little over rated secondary that misses Earl Thomas more than they thought. There’s no reason why Blackmon couldn’t be the third WR off the board next April.

South Carolina vs Florida

Speaking of talented receivers, SC have a great one in true sophomore Alshon Jeffery. He’s 230lbs, 6’3″ and likely to be a very high draft pick in 2012. He has 1034 yards and seven scores on the year so far.

Florida cornerback Jenoris Jenkins shone against Julio Jones, virtually shutting him down (which even Patrick Peterson failed to do). Jenkins also performed admirably against A.J. Green. He suffered however when inconsistent Terrance Toliver got the ball in space. His open field tackling is a big issue and takes away some of his great qualities as a cover corner.

Jeffery is another physical beast but is far more effective and a much harder worker than Toliver. Another shut down performance from Jenkins and we could be talking about top-ten range next April. Big game.


  1. Kelly

    Hey Rob,

    Your doing a fabulous job with this website. It’s always a daily read for me.

    So, like many of your readers I am a big Seahawk fans and I completely agree that NO MATTER what, the QB situation will have to be addressed in the draft. I can’t see us going after a free agent. I mean…really would we sign Matt Lienert or Kevin Kolb? I’m not sooo sure thats an option that Carroll wants to go.

    So its in my opinion that at the moment, we would be targeting one of the big three: Luck, Newton or Locker. My first question is, Do you think Newton would be a good fit in Seattle? Better then Locker?

    To be honest, if Locker fits best schematically, then I’m actually ok with him dropping down the draft boards a little bit because if we draft 12-20 which is where I believe we may fall, then he should be a REALISTIC option there. We wouldn’t need to draft up and lose picks to grab a QB.

    I also wanted your thoughts on Adrian Clayborn. When you look at the guy he looks like a total beast and physically looks the part of a future dominate pass rusher in the NFL. Every saturday I seem to catch parts of an Iowa game and the announces spend SOOOO much time calling out his name, saying how he could be an impact player ect…but to be honest the guy kinda disappoints me. He seems to get fatigued REALLY fast…evidence of the game vs. Northwestern today. A 4 minute drive…and it looked like Clayborn could barely stand up. He gets off the edge pretty well, but it seems to me that he turns off the engines a bit quick. He fights for position but as soon as a QB scrambles just a little bit…Clayborn stands there twittling his thumbs. He wasn’t even double teamed that much and the OT’s were still able to fend him off. Not so sure about him anymore…your thoughts?

    • Rob

      Hi Kelly, thanks for the kind words. Always appreciate it.

      Newton is an intriguing one. There’s no history of Green Bay drafting a player with his skill set when John Schneider was part of the front office. Pete Carroll never recruited that big athlete at QB and preferred pure pocket passers. From a pure scheme point of view though, I don’t see why he couldn’t fit. I do think the team that drafts Newton will be one that perhaps already has a lot of the parts. I’m thinking SF, Cincy. Teams like that. Maybe even a wild card like Buffalo perhaps. Maybe not so much a consideration for a pure WCO type team or a team that really needs to hang it’s hat on a rebuild around it’s QB like Seattle. It’s tough to judge right now. I wouldn’t rule it out.

      Clayborn has been disappointing this year. He hasn’t got near his production last year (think he had 11 sacks) and he hasn’t looked like the high pick most expected. I’m having a hard time placing him right now. He might be falling into the mid-late 20’s or even lower. He’s not an elite edge rusher, he was always that relentless powerful type. When that drops, he is ordinary.

  2. matt

    AJ Green looks really good. So polished. We should be very happy that the Rams are winning games this year. I want no part of Sam Bradford to AJ Green.

    He’s only a RS Freshman, but Aaron Murray needs more credit. This kid looks like the real deal. Great pocket mobility and very intelligent. He’s playing like a Senior, not a freshman. Nice arm, accuracy, athletic. Really surprised this kid isn’t talked about more.

    • Rob

      Murray was hit and miss for me. Did a good job keeping plays alive and keeping his eyes downfield. Green bailed him out on a few throws. Looking forward to seeing him without an elite safety net next year.

  3. matt

    Another note…I’m still not sure why anyone would consider Nick Foles anything but a late round QB. The guys just dinks and dunks. He’s basically QBing a Texas Tech offense. Mediocre arm strenght, complete statue in the pocket. Not to many positives outside of what the program tells about his height (6’5″) and completion %.

    And good point on Nick Fairley Rob. The guy was just bush league today with late hits. I actually think he might have got ejected today if he were in the NFL. Spearing the QB in the back, driving the QB into the ground. It was just ugly. He’s very talented, but he has personal foul machine written all over him in the NFL with the newfound protecting the players issue.

    • Rob

      Unfortunately Matt one or two of the national pundits get obsessed with the Foles type QB. It’s the main reason we see Ponder going in R1 in mocks – a ridiculous suggestion but such is the way some people judge QB’s. Foles/Ponder are career back-up types. Guys like Newton, Mallett and Locker aren’t flawless, but they at least have a shot to start and teams will buy into their potential. Ponder/Foles offer nothing.

      • Andrew

        Foles actually has a pretty good arm. He owns the velocity and timing to work safeties over the middle of the field, make stick throws, and spins the ball tight on deep passes. He runs a pro-style offense which has him read short to long. Most QBs running a similar system do the same. Go back and watch his performance against USC last year and you’ll see him make all the throws. Foles is an efficient, accurate passer, with a big enough arm to threaten every part of the field. He’s also a much moor coordinated and compact passer than Mallett is. He’ll be a better NFL QB.

        Mallett is the one who has little pro-potential. He’s an awkward, uncoordinated athlete who needs a ton of room in the pocket to set up for his throws. He also runs a shot gun spread offense where he only reads half the field. Chart his passes and you’ll see–he throws left about 80% of the time. On top of that, ask him to move his feet and he doesn’t have a chance.

        Newton will be a receiver if he’s anything at all in the NFL. He’ll be starting from square one at the QB position in the NFL when most decent prospects are a lot farther along than he’ll be. I also don’t know that he’s shown the work ethic he’ll need to become a half decent NFL QB.

        • Rob

          I think it’s a bit harsh to question Newton’s work ethic, Andrew. We’ve got no basis for a judgement there. Production wise he’s off the charts and he’s single handedly leading his team to the BCS Championship. I’m not sure what evidence there is to suggest he doesn’t have a strong work ethic. If Vince Young can win games at QB in the NFL – I wouldn’t write Newton off yet as a passer.

          As for offensive schemes – it’s harder to judge these days. Bradford came from a shotgun offense that didn’t require a cluster of reads and favoured the pass. Mallett takes snaps under center, he has play action. I disagree that he’s a liability when he has to move, he’s proven positively mobile for a guy his size. The issue I have is when he’s under pressure and has to readjust position to pass, he sets his feet poorly, using leaning back and putting weight onto the heel, taking away an edge in velocity. He’s so used to chancing his arm and fitting it into tight windows – when you take 20% of the force out of the throw it makes it so much easier to play the ball for a DB.

          I’ve only seen Foles twice. However, both times I was just left completely underwhelmed.

          • Andrew

            Maybe it’s unfair to question Newton’s work ethic if all of the allegations surrounding him are untrue. But there is soooo much smoke here that I doubt that’s the case, plus both he and his father refuse to deny them. If they were untrue, they would have simply denied them. I’ve noticed a lot of draftniks tip toeing around the issue of Newton’s scummy behavior. It absolutely needs to be considered in his evaluation.

            The allegations of cheating paint a very poor picture of his character and commitment to working hard. His response to them was even worse, giving the impression that he believes he’s above the law as a “blessed individual” who’s transgressions can’t affect him any more.

            Plus the lap top incident and now allegations that he got paid quite a bit of money to play for Auburn look bad and make him seem very immature. We should always be a bit skeptical of JUCO transfers when they come out early (Newton will probably have to when his eligibility gets revoked). The rub with Newton is that he’s a JUCO transfer because he was going to be expelled from college the first go around. That doesn’t speak well of his potential as an NFL QB. He only got a second chance at success because of his athletic gifts. Everyone else would have been damned by what he did.

            Also, I’d hesitate to compare Newton’s collegiate background to Vince Young’s. When Young came out, he had almost 600 throws on his resume. Newton will have just over 200. Scouts usually like to see at least 700 from a prospect before they feel comfortable.

            • Rob

              Even so Andew – I’m not sure the allegations can be linked to work ethic. The allegation is that they sought money from Miss. State. The laptop incident is often mistaken (I made the same mistake myself originally). He accidentally set off a shower head in his room and destroyed his laptop. He was told via a teammate that someone had one for sale. He bought it. The police spoke to him about the laptop… so he foolishly threw it away. A mistake – but this is a young guy who panicked not a thief. The cheating aspect is the most concerning because we need to know why he had to resort to that. Can he learn a complex playbook? Is it a work ethic thing or is it a learning problem? Was it just that he’s not into school as much as football? All questions that need to be answered by teams and will be.

              Point taken on Young, Newton is much less experienced. However, I like Newton’s technique a lot more. His throwing motion is superior to Young’s. There are things you need to fix, things he needs to learn. There’s also a lot of positive things to work with.

        • matt

          Huh? Foles does not run a pro style offense, as evidenced by life in the shotgun and a ton of bubble screens. A vast majority of his passes are screens, crossing routes, and to the flats. Perhaps he had a nice game against USC last year, but that’s one game compared to 2 years off dump offs and bubble screens.

          The fact he has a 70% completion rate really does attest to the fact that he does not attempt difficult/intermediate throws very often. Not to mention, he has little to no pocket mobility and he does have one of the better O-lines in the Pac 10.

  4. Kelly

    Marcus Lattimore has a very bright future ahead of him. So young and WAY ahead of his freshman status.

    • Rob

      Lattimore and Jefferey at South Carolina will be first round picks – both very exciting prospects, very talented. Lattimore’s been banged up a bit this year. If they stay healthy, they’ll keep getting better.

  5. matt

    Surprise, surprise. Justin Blackmon is tearing iit up again today. I actually think he’s physically more impressive than Crabtree. Both don’t have great deep speed by any means, but Blackmon looks more quick twitch and powerful than Crabtree, although not as long and smooth. In all honesty, he looks very similar to Dez Bryant. Big, strong, uber-competitive. Very intriguing guy who could get lost in the WR shuffle this year. Might be a guy to consider trading up higher into the 2nd round to get if he slips out of round 1 due to the presence of Green, Jones, Baldwin, Broyles.

    • Rob

      Blackmon’s done OK today. Some big plays – he did a great job on the long TD tracking the ball. However, for me he’s a clear step away from being Crabtree-quality. He’s had some bad drops tonight and he’s not all hands like Crabtree. MC was basically automatic for two years, Blackmon isn’t that reliable. He isn’t the same kind of YAC producer like Crabtree. He’s not as athletic as Bryant either. Hard to pin him down right now – he’s not an elite speed guy, he’s powerful but not huge. Capable of making plays but not a safety net per se.

    • Andrew

      Blackmon reminds me of Reggie Wayne. His short area quicks are superb and a big reason why he separates so easily no matter his opponent. Super instinctive receiver who knows how to separate, is strong enough to consistently beat even the best press corners like Amukamara, and excels in all the tangible aspects of the position–tracking the ball in the air, adjusting, plucking, capable controlling his feet and working the sidelines, excellent concentration in traffic, strong frame that can box out defenders, strong hands to come down with contested throws, etc. He’s a brilliant and subtle route runner that does a great job selling good defensive backs. He’s abused two extremely good future first round corners in Williams and Amukamara and had Amukamara stumbling around the field trying to contain him. He’s also a steady blocker that does a good job sealing defenders on all of those outside runs his team calls.

      If his character checks out, he’ll be a high first round pick whenever he comes out.

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