2011 NFL Draft: New Faces, Similar Results
I'm sorry, but Mel Kiper’s and Todd McShay’s draft boards fluctuating more often than stock prices on Wall Street concerns me a bit about this year's draft. Also, let’s call to attention the fact that these guys continue to present themselves as the so-called “experts” that know who will and who won’t succeed in the NFL. They even claim their expertise tells them the needs and wants of each franchise.
To be brutally honest—they flat-out do not. They wouldn't recognize talent if Marques Colston slapped them in the face. (Colston, of course, a seventh-round pick by the Saints)
For example, how is it that Jake Locker could be the consensus No. 1 pick entering last year’s draft and now he seems to be fighting to simply be drafted on the first day?
Because these analysts are machines, machines that don’t take the necessary variables into consideration. College stats and combine times do not equate to NFL success. Some guys in college are surrounded by very talented teammates who boost their stock (JaMarcus Russel). Others, like Locker, are on teams with very little talent and the pressure to win and maintain a high level of production is almost an impossible feat to achieve. So here is what I am saying:
Jake Locker (2010) = Cam Newton (2011)
Which only means one thing: Jake Locker could be an extremely valuable, talented pick in the second round for one of the dozen teams that are quarterback starved right now. Maybe teams should draft offensive lineman in the first round to help protect the guy in the red jersey (David Carr is nodding his head as he reads this). If a team with a veteran quarterback and a solid offensive system were to take Locker, he could blossom into a huge pro player in a few years. Just look at Aaron Rodgers. To me, they are virtually the same quarterback; Locker just stayed in college one year too long.
So in the spirit of comparisons, which is always fun, let's take a look at a few, shall we?
Jake Locker/Aaron Rodgers
- He needs to be drafted by a team with a veteran quarterback that can occupy the position for two or three years while Locker gets some seasoning on the bench.
- An offensive line needs to be established in place BEFORE he starts his first game in order for him to become comfortable in an NFL pocket.
- Being drafted in the late first round, early second will do wonders for taking the pressure of this kid so he can work on his game at his own rate.
- Finally, he needs an offensive coordinator that will keep his job for the duration of Locker's infant NFL years.
Transitive Property does not apply here. Just because I said Cam Newton (2011) = Jake Locker (2010) does NOT mean Cam Newton is going to be a future Super Bowl champ. I simply mean that draft hype is more up and down than a roller coaster.
When I say that Jake Locker could be the next Aaron Rodgers, a few things need to happen:
These are all the things that served Rodgers and Tom Brady well and seems to be the recipe for a championship-caliber quarterback. Locker has the arm, the feet and the knowledge; now all he needs is confidence and some solid targets to throw to, something he never had in Washington.
Mark Ingram/Frank Gore
Yes, Mark Ingram's senior year was not the same as his Heisman-winning junior year, but this guy is a game-changer with all the characteristics of a superstar.
He competed with the best throughout his college career at Alabama and showed he is humble enough to share carries with a younger runner. In a draft where so many of the top prospects have major off-the-field issues, Ingram has given the media nothing to report, despite playing for a top SEC team.
Ingram is a downhill runner who may not have the ability to consistently bust 20-plus yards, but he isn't going to lose yards trying to go east and west in the backfield. Frank Gore is the same kind of runner. The only significant difference between the two is pass-catching abilities. But the report out on Ingram says he is a tenacious worker and can only get better.
He is the only first-round caliber back and should be treated as such. Forget about the injury, this guy is legit.
A.J. Green/Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson is a dynamic receiver in the NFL today, despite inconsistent quarterback play. I see the same potential out of Green as well. Most likely, Green will be selected in the top 10, if not the first five picks of the draft.
Green's intangibles are things that simply cannot be taught. His size, speed and ball-hawk skills are a highly valued commodity in today's league.
He put up some very solid numbers at Georgia, despite losing Mathew Stafford two years ago and being on a relatively sub-par Bulldog team. He has tremendous body control that allows him to adjust to any throw that comes his way, even a bad one.
If a team has a young, inaccurate QB, which most teams figure to have this year, Green's set of skills are going to be a make-it-or-break-it factor. Just look at what Johnson did last year with Shaun Hill and Mathew Stafford playing tag team behind center.
Look for Green to be taken early and to make an impact right away.
—Patrick Peterson/Johnny Lynch: Both are hard hitting, physical defensive-backs with above average pass coverage skills.
—Ryan Mallet/Jay Cutler: Crazy strong arms, solid mechanics, but soft mental games are the common thread between these two.
—Von Miller/Lance Briggs: Fast, strong and smart. Those are the best words to linebackers.
This should be an interesting draft due to its lack of depth and talent. Coupled with numerous off-field issues, buyers beware.
Also, I'm wondering whether we are even going to be able to hear who is announced because of all the ridicule Commish Roger Goodell is going to receive. Don't be surprised if the main story by the end of the night is the crowd's reaction to Goodell more so than any of the players.
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