Cam Newton

10 teams looking for a new starting quarterback

Nearly one-third of the league could have new starting quarterbacks by September. Due to a greater demand than supply, it’s likely that not all of these teams find themselves a new signal caller, but here are the top 10 teams we’ve identified as most likely to have a new quarterback in 2011.

10. Broncos
It sounds as though Josh McDaniels was the lone Tebow support in Denver, and with him gone it seems likely that the Broncos will consider other options. John Fox has indicated that he likes Tim Tebow, but he also isn’t ready to commit to a starting quarterback. They’re unlikely to address this need in the draft, but signing a veteran is a strong possibility.

9. Raiders
Jason Campbell is still under contract but their other four quarterbacks (seriously, they have four other quarterbacks on the roster) are free agents. Keeping Campbell is a definite possibility, but you just never know what Al Davis as in mind. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trading up into the 1st-round (they already traded their own 1st-round pick) in an effort to land Cam Newton or Jake Locker.

8. Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and may return, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank. They would certainly love to have Hasselbeck around to groom a young quarterback, but I don’t expect the Seahawks to commit to him as the starter. If he wants a guarantee that he’ll be a starter for the next year or two, he may need to go elsewhere.

7. Dolphins
Owner Stephen Ross has stated that he wants a creative, hurry-up offense in 2011, and that won’t be happening with Chad Henne under center. The Dolphins have grown tired of his slow development and seem ready to move on. Drafting a quarterback (possibly Newton) is a possibility, but they may prefer to bring in a veteran in an effort to turn things around quickly.

6. Bills
With the 3rd pick in the draft the Bills could have their pick of the quarterbacks, and Blaine Gabbert is a definite possibility. But the reason I don’t rank them higher is because I think they’ll strongly consider bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back for another season. He was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. The Bills may even draft Gabbert, or someone in the 2nd or 3rd round, and let them sit for a year behind Fitzpatrick.

5. Titans
Vince Young is as good as gone, and Kerry Collins is a free agent. However, I wouldn’t rule out Collins’ return. The Titans are in position to draft a quarterback (Gabbert, Newton or Mallett) and I suspect Jeff Fisher will prefer to keep Collins around to help groom their future franchise quarterback.

4. Redskins
After getting benched in favor of Rex Grossman, it’s hard to imagine Donovan McNabb returning to Washington. It’s equally difficult to image the Redskins sticking with Grossman for 2011. With the 10th pick in the draft Mike Shanahan is in position to select his quarterback of the future. Ryan Mallett and Newton are both strong possibilities.

3. Vikings
We know Favre won’t be back (and I actually believe him this time) and Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent. Joe Webb performed far better than anyone could have expected of a guy who was drafted as a wide receiver, but I can’t imagine Leslie Frazier sticking with him for 2011. The Vikings will either draft a quarterback (Newton or Mallett) or bring in a veteran (possibly Kevin Kolb).

2. Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t happy with the Cardinals quarterback situation entering last season and I’m guessing he’s even less pleased after seeing how it played out.  Drafting Blaine Gabbert is a possibility, but I suspect Whisenhunt would prefer to bring a veteran aboard, as he did last offseason. Either way, their opening day starter is definitely not on the current roster.

1. 49ers
Alex Smith and Troy Smith are both free agent and I would be very surprised if either returned.  I currently have them selecting Gabbert in my mock draft, but trading for Kevin Kolb is also possibility. Another option is signing a veteran, such as Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace, to keep the seat warm for whoever Jim Harbaugh choses to groom for the position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks, Titans, Vikings Comments Off

Who will start at QB for the 49ers in 2011?

The only quarterback under contract in San Francisco right now is David Carr.

I think it’s safe to say Carr won’t be Jim Harbaugh’s opening day starter, so how do they plan to address this situation?

If you thought Alex Smith or Troy Smith had a chance to return for 2011, new GM Trent Baalke already shot down that possibility. When asked if the quarterback of the future was already on the roster, Baalke responded by saying “I think it’s obvious that he isn’t at this point.”

The ideal scenario would be to draft someone in the 1st round. But who?

Jim Harbaugh intends to install the west coast offsense, which makes me believe Cam Newton and Jake Locker aren’t options. Their athleticism is certainly intriguing, but neither has demonstrated the consistent accuracy to be a good fit.

Ryan Mallett isn’t a great fit either. He has a rocket arm and struggles with his touch on the shorter passes required in the west coast offense.

That would leave Blaine Gabbert as the only option among the 1st-round quarterbacks. The only probably with that strategy is the fact that Gabbert is the consensus top available quarterback. Both Buffalo and Arizona would need to pass on Gabbert before the 49ers would have a shot at drafting him.

If they determine this isn’t the year to draft a quarterback – at least not in the 1st round – they may turn their attention to the free agent market. Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace are both free agents with experience in the west coast system. Either one would be an upgrade and could keep the seat warm for whoever Harbaugh tabs as the quarterback of the future.

And if they can’t find a free agent to their liking, perhaps the may be interested in Kevin Kolb. Michael Vick is a free agent, but the Eagles are likely to work out a long-term deal. If that happens, Kolb has already stated that he would like to either be the starter in Philly or be sent elsewhere. With just one year left on his contract, San Francisco may be an excellent place for Kolb to prove himself before hitting the open market in 2012.

The 49ers certainly don’t have a shortage of options. This will be an interesting search to keep tabs on throughout the offseason. Harbaugh – a former quarterback himself – will be heavily involved in the process of finding the 49ers next franchise QB, and there is no doubt he would like to find one sooner rather than later.


(polls)

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers 7 Comments

A quick “what if Luck stays in school” mock draft

It seems like every day a new reporter finds “sources” to tell him that Andrew Luck is leaning toward staying in school. I’m inclined to call “BS” on anyone who says Luck is leaning towards staying at Stanford, especially since it sounds as though Jim Harbaugh is as good as gone. But I’ll humor those who think he’s staying for a moment and throw together a quick mock draft based on the scenario that he stays. Here’s the top 10 of the “what if Luck stays” mock draft…

1. Panthers – Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson
The Panthers don’t need a quarterback, so they won’t take one unless Luck is there. Their pass rush was abysmal this season, and they missed Julius Peppers even more than anyone could have anticipated. Bowers is coming off a monster year and should be an instant-impact pass rusher at the next level.

2. Broncos – Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU
With Josh McDaniels gone, the Broncos may be ready to give up on Tim Tebow after just three games. However, I don’t think they’ll reach for someone like Newton or Mallett with the second pick. The safe bet is to take Peterson, the best available player. Champ Bailiey may not return, and even if he does he’s on the downswing of his career.

3. Bengals – A.J. Green – WR – Georgia
One of the biggest decisions any team has to make this offseason is the Bengals’ looming decision about Carson Palmer. They could cut him loose and draft a new franchise quarterback here. I don’t think they’re willing to give up yet, however. A.J. Green is an elite talent and could be the young receiver Palmer needs to get the offense back on track.

4. Bills – Ryan Mallett – QB – Arkansas
The Bills need a quarterback to build around and should be able to get one in this year’s draft. But who will it be? Mallett, Locker and Newton are all worth considering. It’s pure speculation at this point, but I think Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix will lean toward the strong-armed Mallett.

5. Cardinals – Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska
The Cardinals are another team in need of a quarterback, but I expect Ken Whisenhunt to push for them to bring in a veteran.  As a result, they’ll turn their attention to the defense in the draft, landing either Amukamara, Cameron Jordan or Nick Fairley here.

6. 49ers – Cam Newton – QB – Auburn
Until a GM and a coach are in place it’s tough to predict how the 49ers will handle the draft. But one thing is certain: they need a quarterback. If they need to make a decision between Newton and Locker, expect Newton to be their guy.

7. Cowboys – Cameron Jordan – DE – California
Jordan isn’t nearly the most well-known of the top 3-4 defensive ends, but I believe he is the best of the bunch. The Cowboys will be looking to improve the defense, making Jordan a strong possibility here.

8. Texans – Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn
The Texans need to address their secondary, but with Peterson and Amukamara off the board they must turn their attention to the defensive line. Fairley is an elite pass-rushing interior lineman who reminds me of Ndamukong Suh.

9. Lions – Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina
The Lions offense is progressing, but the defense still has some holes. Kyle Vanden Bosch hasn’t worked out and the Lions will likely look to upgrade their pass rush this offseason. Quinn may be the best pass-rushing end available in this draft class.

10. Browns – Julio Jones – WR – Alabama
The Browns are now committed to Colt McCoy, but now they need to supply him with some weapons. Jones, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Jon Baldwin and Torrey Smith could all be options depending on who leaves early for the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Cowboys, Lions, Panthers, Texans 1 Comment

Why I wouldn’t draft Cam Newton

Cam Newton is going to turn pro after the National Championship Game. Anyone who says otherwise is dilusional or a liar. And when he does, speculation will begin that maybe maybe he – not Andrew Luck – should be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.

If I were running a team, not only wouldn’t I draft Newton No. 1 overall, I wouldn’t draft him at all.

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04: Quarterback Cam Newton  of the Auburn Tigers looks to pass against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2010 SEC Championship at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Cam Newton has bust written all over him

No matter what you believe about Newton’s involvement in his recruiting process, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s demonstrated a pattern of behavior which leads me to believe the game of football isn’t his top priority.

To play quarterback in the NFL there is one thing you need above all else: commitment.

How many times have we seen extremely talented quarterbacks come and go without so much as making a mark league? Just look at the 2006 NFL Draft as an example. Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Jay Cutler were all supposed to be franchise quarterbacks for years to come. Well, two of the three are already on their second team and the third may be joining them soon.

All three have the ability to be great quarterbacks. Yet all three have significant character flaws, most notably a lack of effort on the practice field.

Compare Tom Brady to Vince Young. Strip the names off their jersey and just throw them out on a practice field together. Which one do you think NFL scouts will drool over? Here’s a hint: it’s not the three-time Super Bowl champ.

Raw skill gets you noticed, but it doesn’t win games.

Some of the hardest working quarterbacks in the league are Brady, Petyon Manning and Drew Brees. So do you think it’s a coincidence that they’ve won a combined five Super Bowls in the past decade?

Numerous others with limited natural ability have risen to among the best in the game in recent years due to an exceptional work ethic and a willingness to put in the time and effort on the practice field. Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Delhomme are two great examples.

So while Cam Newton may have all the ability in the world, I question his desire to turn that ability into greatness. He may prove me wrong, but chances are he won’t until years down the road after he’s already blown an opportunity with the team that drafted him – much like Michael Vick.

Players such as Vick – and Newton – can get by with their abilities. As a result it stunts their desire to take their game to the next level. Why spend hours studying when they could just be mediocre and enjoy the social life that comes with being a NFL quarterback?

That attitude plagues too many young quarterbacks these days. If teams do their homework, however, they can avoid making a $50M mistake. If a player acts a certain why in college, he’s unlikely to change after receiving his multi-million dollar signing bonus.

So buyer beware, Cam Newton is a bust waiting to happen.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 2 Comments

Some quick thoughts on Friday’s games

- Cam Newton secured himself the Heisman today, but he was exposed by Alabama’s defense. In the first half they forced him to throw and he struggled. There’s no denying his talent, but he has a lot of work to do before he’s ready to be an effective NFL quarterback. His fundamentals are solid when he takes the time to set his feet, but too often he rushes to get the pass off and it results in diminished accuracy. Passes that miss by a 6-12 inches don’t hurt him often in college, but they will at the next level. And if he’s struggling with Alabama’s defense, these issues will only be magnified in the NFL.

- I’ve soured on Mark Ingram. I think he’s the next Ron Dayne. He can be a very effective running back in the right role, but I don’t think he can carry the load. He simply doesn’t have the athleticism to make people miss and I don’t think he is as powerful as someone like Jamal Lewis, who made a living running people over. I could justify taking him in the 2nd round, but I think he would be a reach in the 1st.

LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 02: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick  of the Nevada Reno Wolf Pack runs for a touchdown against the UNLV Rebels in the first quarter of their game at Sam Boyd Stadium October 2, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada Reno won 44-26. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick may have a future at wide receiver

- Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick reminds me of Seneca Wallace. Physically, the differences are obvious (Kaepernick is about seven inches taller) but they play a very similar style of football. Both are elusive, but don’t have the bulk to be effective runners in the NFL – at least over the long haul. Like Wallace did in Seattle, Kaepernick may get a look at receiver, but I think he could develop into a decent backup – also like Wallace.

- Boise State WR Titus Young reminds me of Percy Harvin. He isn’t as fast as Harvin and isn’t as elusive, mostly because he’s slightly larger. But they can play similar roles in a NFL offense. He should be a 3rd or 4th-round selection, and could make an immediate contribution if he lands in the right system.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Assessing Cam Newton’s pro potential

Cam Newton seems to have found himself in a bit of hot water. A report on ESPN.com is claiming that a man “representing” Newton demanded a six-figure payment for Newton’s services this season. The NCAA is currently investigating the report.

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It's becoming increasingly likely that Newton will take his talents to the NFL this year

No matter what happens to Newton and Auburn, rumors had already swirled around the internet that he intended to enter the 2011 NFL Draft as a junior. The early entry would make sense given Newton’s age – he’ll turn 22 in May – but he is far from a polished quarterback.

Newton reminds me of Vince Young in 2005, who also left a year of eligibility on the table at Texas. That’s quiet a compliment, but should also serve as a warning.

Young was not ready for NFL in 2006. But the Titans played him anyway and his pure athleticism led him to NFL Rookie of the Year honors. Unfortunately that has been the highlight of Young’s five-year career, although he is starting to turn things around this season.

Young’s issues stemmed from his reliance on his feet. Given time to move around, he can make plays, but you don’t always get that time in the NFL. Newton is playing a similar style of football at Auburn.

While Newton is an elite college quarterback, muchof his success has come from running with the football. That simply won’t be an option for him in the NFL. Michael Vick is the only quarterback to consistently have success with that style of football in the NFL. But Vick is six inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than Newton, making him significantly more elusive.

The point I’m trying to make is that teams need to be cautious when evaluating Cam Newton this offseason. It will be easy to fall in love with his physical attributes and his potential and give him a top-10 grade. However, whoever drafts Newton should be prepared to wait two or three years before they see that potential turn into consistent performance on the field.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

NFL Draft Stock Report

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23: Nick Fairley  of the Auburn Tigers sacks quarterback Jordan Jefferson  of the LSU Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Fairley has been arguably the nation's most dominant defensive player this season

Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn
What Cameron Newton is to Auburn’s offense, Fairley is to their defense. He was barely on the radar screen entering the season, and suddenly he looks like a top-10 pick.The junior is a dominant penetrating defensive tackle who compares favorably to Gerald McCoy. I’ve moved him up to No. 5 on my Big Board, and I fully expect him to leave after his junior year.

Cameron Newton – QB – Auburn
Like Fairley, Newton wasn’t even an afterthought in the preseason draft projections. Now it looks like he may be a 1st-round pick and rumors are swirling that he’s likely to leave after this season. He’s far from a polished quarterback, but he is every bit as athletic as Vince Young and definitely has a bright future.

Derrell Johnson-Koulianos – WR – Iowa
The more I see DJK, the more I like him. There’s really nothing remarkable about him, but he is too consistent not to like. He reminds me of Jordan Shipley – not very tall, not real fast, but just knows how to play the position. He looks like a 2nd or 3rd round pick and his stock will definitely get a boost from his kick-return skills.

Adrian Clayborn – DE – Iowa
Clayborn may still be a top-10 pick, but his senior year has been a disappointment. After a dominant junior campaign, which he capped off with a great showing in the Orange Bowl, expectations were high. He’s been good, but hasn’t quite reached level of dominance that we hoped to see. There’s still plenty of time for him to turn things around, but the first two months could have gone better.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off