http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/w ... mqb/1.html
Ten Thoughts on the Draft
1. There's a team in the draft that has a deal on the table -- I'm guessing New England
(surprise!) -- with a team trying to come back into the first round. The deal will net the team dealing the first-rounder the following: a second-round pick in 2011 and a first-round pick in 2012. The deal, I hear, is contingent on the player the trade-up team wants still being there. Could it be Tennessee trading into the bottom of the first round, at 28, to get Jake Locker or Andy Dalton? Stay tuned.
2. New England, points out ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss, has only five draft picks in 2012. (The Patriots own their first- through fifth-rounders; the six went to Philly last year as part of a deal for linebacker Tracy White, the seven to the Chiefs for safety Jarrad Page.) That makes deals for future picks eminently logical this year, bordering on certain. The Patriots could use, say, Mike Pouncey or Cameron Jordan with their 17th pick in the first round, or leverage that pick by moving down a few spots, then deal the 28th altogether.
3. I see Arizona picking Blaine Gabbert, A.J. Green or Patrick Peterson at five. For those who've asked about Larry Fitzgerald's frame of mind if Green's the guy, I don't think the Cards are worried. Fitzgerald won't be doubled as much with Green on the other side. And for those who've wondered why in the world the Cards would take another receiver with so many holes on the roster, remember this: As Dez Bryant free-falled last year, the Cardinals seriously considered trying to run up into the late-first round area to try to get him.
4. The reason not even the best personnel men can guarantee it will be a record-setting first round for the most questionable quarterback class ever is this: Arizona, Minnesota and Seattle aren't nutty about reaching for quarterbacks because of the presence of Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger and maybe Carson Palmer on the trade market or via free-agency markets. Plus, the San Francisco hierarchy thinks Alex Smith is salvageable. So who knows? While I think there's a very good chance Locker, Dalton and Christian Ponder will join Newton and Gabbert in the first round, the teams with a long-term quarterback need might get their men by sheer patience. I doubt it, but they might.
5. Hot running back, moving up: Oregon State mighty mite Jacquizz Rodgers, a 5-foot-7 durable machine of a back who averaged 26 touches a game in 36 college games, is looking like a third-rounder and the fourth or fifth back off the board.
6. Still can't find anyone I trust to tell me Ryan Mallett's going in the first round. A couple of points about the Mallett/Carolina debacle: You read the report (or heard it) by Bears beat man Brad Biggs that Mallett went out on the town in Charlotte the night of April 8 after dining with Panthers officials, and then said he was sick the next morning and couldn't meet with them. I've got some details that clarify the case, but still won't help Mallett.
After the dinner, Mallett's next scheduled appointment with the Panthers was breakfast at his hotel the next day with offensive coordinator Chudzinski. Mallett arrived for the meeting and said he'd been sick all night and still was feeling nauseous. He was told to go get some rest, and if he felt better, he could meet with coaches later in the day. But he continued to feel ill and just flew home that day instead of meeting with the Panthers.
Now, for the majority of players without a history of off-the-field red flags, this would be easy. Kid's been traveling a lot, kid got sick. With Mallett, he should have dragged himself through an uncomfortable day any way possible so that he didn't give the other 31 teams another log on the fireplace to burn his reputation. Not a smart move by the kid.
7. Dallas isn't solid about what to do at nine. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cowboys stretch for versatile Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo (wisely) or Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt.
8. And if Castonzo's on the board when the Vikes pick at No. 12, he'll be in play there, along with defensive end Aldon Smith, with Locker on the outside.
9. I know he's flawed, and I know he may never be the consistent-effort guy Mike Smith demands, but Georgia pass-rusher Justin Houston has what Atlanta is looking for, at least in some quantity: explosiveness. He's in play for the Falcons at 27.
10. Finally, this Tweet from our friend Greg Cosell of NFL Films, after examining all the quarterbacks in the draft: "Very anxious to see where QBs go. A bad draft but many teams need one. Could be lot of reaches. Not a top 20 QB in draft. It's about hope.'' That just about says it all.
And while we're on the subject of quarterbacks...
Mel Kiper wrote this about a quarterback several years ago in the weeks before the draft (I have replaced the name of the player with "he''): "Did a great job directing a sophisticated pass offense, but in the NFL he will be looking to overcome his lack of ideal size and top arm strength. A major plus is the fact that he has all the necessary intangibles you look for. He's a tremendous competitor, always maintains his poise and has the resiliency to forget about the bad plays and move on. He's also a winner who responds to challenges in close games that could go either way. Directed his team to their first Rose Bowl since 1966. In the end ... he'll have to silence skeptics who question how effective he will be when it comes to cutting through the wind late in the season. ... He lacks big-time arm strength and has to prove to the skeptics that he's not just a system QB.''
Kiper was talking about Drew Brees. But Kiper wasn't alone. That's what the league thought of Brees a decade ago, before he was the first pick of the second round in the 2001 draft. Kiper was echoing what the decision-makers were saying.
I'm no tape-bandit, and better football minds than I have watched TCU's Dalton -- who, like Brees, is shorter than teams would like (though two inches taller than Brees) -- and come away thinking his arm isn't strong enough to be a classic NFL quarterback. I watched TCU's Rose Bowl victory on tape. There was one throw, about a 15-yard out to the far sideline, that Dalton really worked to put on enough zing. But he made the other throws comfortably.
This is not a league anymore that requires five passes a game 40 yards downfield. There might be one such throw. Maybe none. Can you read defenses? Can you run a sophisticated offense? Can you take the pressure? Can you take the hits? Can you think quickly, and have the "fast eyes'' you need to play winning football? I think Dalton can.
Many of you, loudly, have chided me for my Dalton enthusiasm. I might be wrong. It won't be the first time. I'm not saying he'll be Brees; remember, for his first five years, Brees wasn't the Brees you see today. But I would ask all of you quarterbackologists this: A decade ago, what'd you think of that short quarterback with arm-strength questions and a good football brain and a winning résumé at a place that hadn't won much recently before he got there?
Other draft nuggets:
Parcells back to TV. Again. Bill Parcells and Mike Tirico met in Orlando earlier this month and taped 10 segments for a "Draft Confidential'' show that will air Tuesday night on ESPN from 9:30-11 p.m. Eastern. I spoke to Parcells Friday, before the Brandon Marshall stabbing, so I don't have his take on the risk of that deal, but I thought he was interesting on the risk of taking a quarterback very high in the draft, and the lesser risk of taking a franchise tackle.
I'm referring to the pick of Jake Long in the 2008 draft, when Parcells was the authority figure in the Miami draft room, and the Dolphins picked Long, the Michigan tackle, over Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan. "One of the reasons we took Jake Long is that he was a surer bet,'' Parcells said. "Quarterbacks, you just don't know. They're so hard to predict. It's easier to project how good a tackle is going to be, and a left tackle plays a pretty important position.''
Parcells said the reach for option quarterback Pat White in the second round of 2009 "was my mistake. It was a deviation from your principles; he was not prototypical. At the time, we're thinking we could expand the Wildcat, you know. But it turns out he wasn't accurate enough and didn't throw it well enough. We learned from that.''
Parcells will try to focus some attention on the money risk of high picks, and why, even though a player like Long is tremendously paid, he thinks it's smarter to pay a player who very likely won't bust than to pay a player who might. He'll also talk about the vanishing fullback, the rising importance of third and fourth corners, and the attributes he looks for in great quarterbacks.
Phil Taylor's foot is OK. I'm writing about Taylor, the most interesting nose tackle prospect in the draft (interesting because he can play the three-technique too, not just the burlier nose job), in tomorrow's column, but I wanted to give you these two tidbits: He wasn't asked to return to Indianapolis for the medical re-check on his foot, as many players are when they have lingering health issues before the draft. He had his foot X-rayed again by the 49ers on a recent visit, and he told me the 49ers team doctor told him there was nothing wrong with his foot long-term. More about Taylor, and his prognosis at the bottom of round one, in Tuesday's column.
Spags helps tornado victims. Some 24 hours after a tornado raked the area around the St. Louis airport Friday night, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo took part in a telephone fundraiser held by a St. Louis TV station and the Salvation Army. They're still taking donations in St. Louis for tornado victims here. "I drove by the devastation Saturday morning on my way to work,'' Spagnuolo said Sunday night. "Holy cow. This area of the country, how quickly things get destroyed. The amazing thing, no one got killed or seriously hurt. Incredible.
"We knew the storm was coming. You pray you don't get hit, and when you don't, you're praying for the people who got whacked. Aeneas Williams came to help, and La'Roi Glover. Channel 2 in St. Louis put on a telethon, and we went in and manned the phones from about 9 to 10:30 Saturday night. The frustrating thing is, I couldn't call the players because of the current labor situation. It's a little bit contrary to the ... well, that's not the story.
"The story is the Salvation Army and Ch. 2 in St. Louis putting this telethon together. I got a couple suggestions on who to draft ... One gal, I was writing down info, getting credit card number, and she said: 'Let's make sure we get [Illinois running back] Mikel Leshoure.' I asked her if she had any more draft advice for me ... But it was fun. The whole thing was good, because in an event like that, you just want to be able to do something for the community.''
Thoughts about the schedule, with a very big "if," obviously ... meaning if the full 17-week schedule is played:
• Division games in the first 58 days of the season for St. Louis: zero. Division games in the last 58 days of the season for St. Louis: six.
• St. Louis plays Arizona twice in November. Carolina plays Tampa Bay twice in December.
• This is the seventh year in a row that the Colts and Patriots -- who are not in the same division, as you know -- play a regular-season game between Nov. 2 and Dec. 4. When they play this year, it'll be the 12th time, including playoffs, in a nine-season period that New England and Indianapolis have met.
• Fifteen Days From Heck Tour Across America: The Jets are in the Black Hole Sept. 25, at Baltimore the following Sunday night, and at New England the following Sunday afternoon.
• The Browns would like to thank 280 Park Avenue, sort of. The first three months of the season contain only one game against a team than won 10 or more games last year (at Indy, Sept. 18). But the Browns finish the season with this 29-day march of madness: Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at Arizona, at Baltimore, Pittsburgh.
• First five NBC games: Last two Super Bowl champs at Lambeau ... the RexRob Ryan Bowl at the Meadowlands ... Vick returns to Atlanta ... Big Ben and Peyton at Indy ... Rex Ryan goes back to Baltimore, and Ray Lewis tries to rub his face in it. Not bad.
• Life Goes On In The AFC East Dept.: The Patriots don't play a 1 p.m. Sunday home game until Christmas Eve. The Bills play 14 games that start at 1 p.m.
• Jimmer Fredette Stuck In New Orleans Dept.: Carolina will be playing out the string, staying in a French Quarter hotel on New Year's Eve. Now, that's unfair, curfew in the French Quarter on New Year's Eve.
• I've got a perfect road trip for the extended Harbaugh family: On Oct. 2, Jim Harbaugh's 49ers play at Philadelphia at 1 p.m. The family will have time to hug Jim, commiserate with him on (presumably) a tough loss for 20 minutes, then hop in cars, stop at Geno's or Pat's for cheesesteaks for the road, and drive 70 minutes south to watch John's Ravens host the Jets in the Sunday-nighter at 8:20 in Baltimore. Of course, the Thanksgiving night Niners-Ravens game in Baltimore will be fun for the family too. Or torture.
• Franchise quarterback prime-time games (scheduled; keep in mind that Weeks 11-17 NBC can change with flex scheduling): Peyton Manning, Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Vick and Joe Flacco 5 ... Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Brees, Ryan and Eli Manning 4.
(Fun Gus note, does anyone think Andy Dalton looks like Spock and Carrot Tops bastard baby boy?:)