Tag Archive: Andy Dalton


NFL Weekly Picks: Week 3

Hey guys, sorry I didn’t have time to get my weekly picks post up last week. I just moved back to Minnesota so now that I am settling in hopefully I will be able to get into a groove with all of these weekly posts that I want to do. So, without further ado, here are my NFL Weekly Picks!

Eagles over Chiefs- I think the Eagles’ offense will be too much for the Chiefs to slow down, but it may come down to whether or not the Eagles defense can stop anyone. Thus far the answer to that question is no. Still, I’m going with Chip Kelly and the home team Eagles in this match-up, especially since the Chiefs have Dunta Robinson on their roster.

Packers over Bengals- The Bengals got a solid win against the Steelers last week but the Packers offense looked borderline unstoppable last week against the Redskins. The Bengals defense is a significantly better unit, but I think the Packers will be able to put up enough points to win this one. If Andy Dalton plays well he could make things interesting though, and I’m not sold on the Packers defense yet. Still, it’s tough to bet against Aaron Rodgers in this match-up even on the road.

Rams over Cowboys- This might surprise some people, but the Rams are a good football team and they gave my Falcons a run for their money last week. The Cowboys couldn’t quite figure out the Kansas City Chiefs, and while the ‘Boys have a lot of talent on offense the Rams are a talented defensive football team that I think has a chance to match-up with the Cowboys on offense. Of course, if Dez Bryant goes off for 180 yards and a touchdown like Julio Jones did last week then I would be completely wrong on that. Still, I have a feeling the Rams will play well in this game and I think they can beat Tony Romo and the Cowboys on the road.

Chargers over Titans- I’m realizing I’m picking a lot of road teams here so far, but I think the Chargers are the better football team in this match-up and it’s tough not to go with Philip Rivers over Jake Locker here. If Locker can pass accurately and use his legs effectively they could give the Chargers defense some problems, but most of us know the likelihood of both of those things happening consistently for four quarters is not likely.

Vikings over Browns- This would have been a more interesting game prior to the Trent Richardson trade, and there is something funny about the Browns making this trade with the Colts just days before they travel up to Minnesota to play the Vikings given that the Vikings are the team that traded down with Cleveland to allow them to move up to number three overall and select Richardson in the first place. The Browns offense has been struggling even with Richardson in the lineup, and it’s hard to imagine them being better without him even with Josh Gordon returning from suspension. The Browns do have a good defense though, so I expect both teams to score less than 20 points. The Vikings have the offensive advantage in this match-up though thanks to Adrian Peterson and a solid game from Christian Ponder, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and Jerome Simpson should be enough to win this one for the purple. However, it is worth mentioning that this is the kind of game the Vikings traditionally find a way to inexplicably lose.

Patriots over Buccaneers- The Buccaneers aren’t in great shape right now and while the Patriots have barely managed to defeat two rookie quarterbacks in consecutive weeks I don’t think Tom Brady and that offense are going to stay out of synch for more than a couple weeks. That should play to the Bucs advantage this week, but I don’t think it will be enough to get them a victory.

Saints over Cardinals- Originally I had the Cardinals winning this game, but it’s tough to travel into the Superdome and get a victory, particularly since the Saints defense looks significantly better through two weeks than it ever did last season. Carson Palmer has reinvigorated the Cardinals offense, and their defense is still respectable despite the loss of defensive coordinator Ray Horton, but I don’t think it will be enough to go into the Saints’ house and beat Drew Brees on his home turf.

Redskins over Lions- The Lions have shown plenty of flashes through the first two weeks, but I think they are going to come up short against a Redskins team that will likely be very motivated and focused after starting 0-2. It remains to be seen if the ‘Skins defense can get on track, but going up against the Eagles and the Packers in the first two weeks isn’t exactly a fair barometer for a defense, especially since they were essentially the NFL’s guinea pigs against Chip Kelly and his up-tempo offensive scheme. I think the Redskins will be motivated and hungry this week, so I’m giving them the edge over the Lions.

Giants over Panthers- I definitely didn’t expect the Giants to start the season out 0-2, but if Eli Manning can’t stop throwing interceptions they may be in for a long year. However, I am well aware that not all of those turnovers are his fault and I expect he and the Giants to get back on track against the Panthers. It would be really nice if David Wilson would get his act together and stop fumbling the ball, but the addition of Brandon Jacobs back into the fold should help provide at least a little stability in the running game. Maybe Cam Newton and the Panthers will surprise me, but I think the Giants are going to be motivated after starting 0-2 just like the Redskins are. I’m not sure if I can say the same thing about the Panthers yet or not.

Texans over Ravens- The Ravens offense has been ineffective thus far this season and I don’t anticipate them getting back on track against the talented Texans defense. If Andre Johnson can play the Ravens will get to see the Texans explosive combination of Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Andre Johnson AND DeAndre Hopkins who was one of my favorite wide receivers in last year’s loaded draft class. He caught the game-winning touchdown last week against the Titans, so I think the Texans are ready to beat the Ravens on the road this week.

Dolphins over Falcons- It pains me to do this, but the Falcons got way too banged up last week to go on the road and beat the Dolphins in my opinion. I think Ryan Tannehill is about to go off, and Lamar Miller may have a big day as well. Not only that, but Brent Grimes is a sure bet to pick off Matt Ryan in this game and I just don’t think the Falcons will be able to overcome Roddy White not being at 100%, Steven Jackson being out (though Jason Snelling will hopefully get a lot of touches), Kroy Biermann being out for the year, Bradie Ewing being out for the year, AND Sean Weatherspoon being out until Week 11. That’s a lot to replace and account for in one week, and while I think they will be able to survive those set-backs long term I’m not sure they can get away with it this week, so I give the advantage to the Dolphins at home.

Bills over Jets- In the battle of rookie quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Geno Smith I’ve got to give Manuel and the Bills the edge in this one. The Jets defense is still a quality unit despite the departure of Darrelle Revis, but Geno Smith made some questionable decisions and poorly executed throws in the elements against New England last week, and I have been shocked by how well EJ Manuel has been playing thus far. The Bills coaching staff has done a great job managing him thus far, and I trust Nathaniel Hackett to gameplan well more than I trust Marty Mornhinweg to do the same, so I am going with the Bills in this one. May the best rookie QB win. I must say, I was shocked and critical of the Manuel pick at 16 overall, but defeating Geno Smith (who I expected to come off the board first of all the quarterbacks) would be a pretty big vindication for EJ Manuel and the entire Bills organization. It would also make me look stupid, so that’s probably why it will happen.

49ers over Colts- This is an interesting one and it will be worth monitoring just how involved Trent Richardson will be in this game given that he is unfamiliar with the system and has no chemistry with the team at all, but the 49ers are the better squad and are likely very pissed off after the way they lost that game to division rival and offseason Cold War opponent Seattle on Sunday Night. The 49ers should come out firing and it will take a terrific performance from Andrew Luck to leave Candlestick with a victory.

Seahawks over Jaguars- #BecauseJaguars and #AllRussellWilsonEverything

Bears over Steelers- I thought Marc Trestman might give the Bears offense a tune-up and he appears to have done just that, and it makes me happy to see Jay Cutler playing well. The Steelers offense is completely devoid of playmaking at this point and I don’t anticipate they will be able to take advantage of the Bears defense enough to come away with a victory even at home.

Broncos over Raiders- The Broncos are playing some terrific football right now and they are looking especially sharp on the offensive side of the ball so far. They simply have more talent than the Raiders do at this point, though I think Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden may give the Broncos defense a few headaches. It would be a truly fantastic upset if the Raiders were able to come away with a victory against the Broncos on the road, I just don’t see it happening.

Thanks for reading, hopefully I do better this week than I did during the openers. Enjoy the games this weekend!

–Tom

Current 2013 Pick Record: 9-6

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NFL Quick Hits: Week 2

This post will have to be more brief than my original one, partially because I missed the majority of the late afternoon games as well as the 49ers-Seahawks game (despite the delay) because of my move. Still, I want to write up my thoughts on the games I was able to see this week, so here there are.

New Message: Missing You. Sender: Tom Brady. Recipients: Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez: The Patriots are 2-0, but barely. They eeked out a win week one against a rookie quarterback and the Buffalo Bills and needed three interceptions from their defense to hang on for a 13-10 win against Geno Smith and the New York Jets this past Thursday. Shane Vereen got hurt after a very productive opening week and Stevan Ridley has started slowly in the first two weeks. On top of that, Danny Amendola was hurt against the Jets, Gronkowski is still out, Hernandez is long gone and so is Wes Welker. Julian Edelman was the only receiver Brady could trust to catch the ball and he targeted him very frequently as a result, though Aaron Dobson had three solid catches for 56 yards and the Patriots’ only touchdown. However, he caught those three passes on a whopping 10 targets from Brady and had at least a couple drops from what I saw watching the game live. Brady let his frustration show throughout the game and it’s easy to understand why. He’s used to sure-handed receivers that are on the same page as him, but it was clear that everyone on the unit outside of Edelman was still working out the kinks with Brady. This was perfectly shown on one 3rd down play in the red zone where Dobson was running a corner route and as he got to the goal line Brady fired a pass expecting him to have read the coverage, recognize the hole in the zone and sit down for an easy touchdown. Instead, Dobson continued running his route and the pass fell incomplete and led to a field goal attempt which left Brady incensed as he came off the field and on the sideline. Hopefully Amendola won’t be out for longer than a couple weeks and Gronkowski should be back either this week or next, so Brady won’t have to put up with this indefinitely. As frustrating as this is for him right now it might pay some dividends later in the season if he gets on the same page with Dobson and rookie undrafted free agent receiver Kenbrell Thompkins early on. Once Amendola and Gronkowski are back (and if they stay healthy) having Dobson, Thompkins and Edelman as reliable complementary options could provide this offense with a significant spark, not to mention if the running game gets going and Vereen returns healthy after he is activated from the injured reserve. The silver lining for the Jets is that Geno Smith flashed some upside in this game despite his three interceptions (though some of the throws he made late in the game were awful and complete head scratchers) and Chris Ivory seems poised to take over as a potential bell cow as he comes back from injury. That would be great for the Jets because they need a running game to help take some of the pressure off of Smith’s shoulders, there’s no way he should be throwing the ball 35 times in poor conditions against Tom Brady and the Patriots in his second career start. As out of synch as the Patriots offense was at times, the Jets defense has been better than a lot of people assumed it would be after losing it’s best player in Darrelle Revis, further proving that Rex Ryan may not be a media darling but he is a very good defensive football coach. We’ll see if that continues, but I don’t expect the Patriots to continue to struggle on offense like this for more than two or three weeks, and hopefully Chris Ivory will stay healthy and help keep Smith from needing to attempt 30+ passes in a game for a while.

It’s A Good Thing the Falcons Played at Home Because They Know Where All the Hospitals Are: Steven Jackson is already hurt and may be out another two to four weeks with a thigh injury. Bradie Ewing is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Kroy Biermann is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Sean Weatherspoon is on IR and is eligible to return week 11 because of a Lisfranc injury. Roddy White is playing through his injury but was clearly limited in week two as he was targeted just three times for three receptions and 21 yards. Julio Jones was on the injury report but thankfully went off for 181 yards and one touchdown against the Rams. The Falcons can survive without Steven Jackson thanks to Jason Snelling (if they ever give him the ball) and Jacquizz Rodgers as a change of pace back, they can survive while Roddy White is largely a decoy if Harry Douglas keeps catching 80% of his targets like he did against the Rams (4/5), they can survive without Ewing at fullback like they did all last season, and they can find a way to replace Biermann’s production as a pass rusher and hopefully his versatility to drop into coverage as well as his terrific motor. However, it’s going to be hard to replace ‘Spoon’s value to the linebacking corp because the Falcons were already thin there and relied on rookie linebacker Joplo Bartu from Texas State to help solidify that unit already. Now they will be scrambling to either add a veteran or will be forced to call up one of the young linebackers who didn’t make the team such as Pat Schiller. The Falcons have been hit hard by injuries already this year, but it’s not time to hit the panic button yet. However, they really need to work on establishing the run game against the Dolphins this upcoming week because running the ball 16 times for 36 yards (2.3 ypc) is embarrassing, particularly when your most effective runner (Jason Snelling) only got 2 carries and managed 19 yards and a touchdown despite the coaching staff almost deliberately trying not to give him the ball. Ryan was brilliant despite the lack of even a semblance of a running game, but expecting him to be that brilliant without a running game consistently is asking for a let down. Feed Snelling and let him take some of the heat off Ryan by getting him in more favorable 2nd and 3rd down situations. I haven’t been able to go back and rewatch the game yet, but Sam Bradford finally seems to have some weapons around him to do some damage with. Chris Givens gives him a deep threat that the Rams have been missing for years, and despite not liking him out of Boise State Austin Pettis has stuck around and remained productive despite lacking any explosiveness what so ever. The Rams, too, need to establish a running game and Daryl Richardson is the man they expect to do it. Still, he only got 10 carries and mustered 35 yards, but I still hope the Rams will give Benny Cunningham a chance to show what he can do. He is my favorite running back on the Rams roster and I really think he and Isiah Pead could do some damage splitting carries. The Rams defense is definitely talented enough to contend, it all comes down to whether Sam Bradford and the offense can take that next step this year now that he has some weapons to throw to.

Aaron Rodgers Is Still A Robot: I watched almost the entirety of the Packers-Redskins game and it honestly scared me watching Rodgers play quarterback. He had 335 yards passing at HALFTIME and finished with 480 yards, tying the passing record set by Packers legend Matt Flynn. He also threw four touchdowns while completing an insane 34 of his 42 passing attempts. His “QBR” of 80.9 is proof that ESPN’s rating system for quarterbacks is a complete joke because Rodgers was nothing short of masterful against the Redskins. On top of that the Packers also got 132 yards and a touchdown out of James Starks who was forced into action after Eddie Lacy was knocked out of the game with a concussion. RGIII on the other hand had a tougher day and started much slower than Rodgers did (though Rodgers was under pressure frequently during the first couple series). He still managed to finish the game with 320 yards, three touchdowns and one interception on 26/40 passing, but only ran the ball four times for a total of one yard. The Redskins are clearly trying to limit the contact that RGIII is taking, but it’s hurting the offense’s effectiveness early on in games if you ask me. The ‘Skins are 0-2 now and RGIII and that offense will have to get things going earlier if they are going to turn things around. We’ll see when the Shanahans are comfortable turning him loose on his surgically repaired knee.

Rivers Gets Redemption, Steals Victory From Vick, Eagles: Philip Rivers bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Texans the week before by winning on a last second field goal against the Eagles this past week. Rivers completed 36/47 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to his new favorite target Eddie Royal who now has five touchdowns in just two games. Who saw that coming? Not me. I wasn’t happy to see Malcolm Floyd sustain a neck injury when he got sandwiched by two Eagles defenders over the middle, but his injury gave Keenan Allen a chance to get on the field and he caught two of his three targets for 34 yards including a BEAUTIFUL route on a deep in for his first NFL reception. Allen was my #1 ranked wide receiver in the 2013 NFL Draft class so I am excited that he might be getting more playing time even if it is because Floyd went down with an unfortunate injury. Rivers’ performance also overshadowed a terrific game from Mike Vick who threw for a career best 428 yards on 23 of 36 passing and two touchdowns. He also added six rushes for 23 yards and another score on the ground. LeSean McCoy only got 11 carries for 53 yards but he and DeSean Jackson were lethal in the passing game as McCoy totaled 114 yards on just five receptions and Jackson reeled in nine passes good for 193 yards and a touchdown. Chip Kelly’s offense is certainly fun to watch, but I am not surprised that the Eagles’ defense is struggling to stop opposing offenses from gaining a lot of yards and putting up a lot of points. They’re giving up 30 points per game through the first two weeks and that isn’t going to cut it in a division with the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys all capable of putting up a lot of points on any given Sunday.

Texans “Nuke” Titans: For years Texans fans and NFL Draft analysts alike have been waiting and wondering when the Texans would get a legitimate wide receiver to play opposite Andre Johnson and 2013 was finally the year as the Texans added DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins was my #4 ranked wide receiver in an absolutely loaded class but I am a huge fan of his and was not surprised to see him help the Texans rally despite losing Andre Johnson to a possible concussion in the 4th quarter. He finished the game with seven receptions for for 117 yards and the game winning touchdown in overtime in just his second game during his rookie season. It’s clear “Nuk” Hopkins is living up to the hype so far, and it’s great to see such a talented player blossom under the tutelage of a longtime NFL star in Andre Johnson.

Bengals, Bernard Burst Past Steelers: This wasn’t as fun of a game as I was hoping it would be largely in part because the Steelers offense is in a very bad way right now. Outside of Antonio Brown and occasionally Emmanuel Sanders there are no playmakers (Markus Wheaton has barely gotten any snaps the first two weeks) and Heath Miller was out for this game as well. Big Ben will be happy once Le’Veon Bell and Miller return because Bell should help perk up the running game even though Maurkice Pouncey will be out the entire season. Ray Lewis seemed to think that this was a devastating blow to the Steelers, and contrary to what I have read from some media members I tend to side with Ray. It’s easy to overlook how critical a center is to the offensive line sometimes, but players like Pouncey (even if he hasn’t been at his best for the last year or so) don’t come around too often. Add to that the departure of Mike Wallace and Miller’s injury and it’s not hard to see why the Steelers are struggling out of the gate this year. The defense is still strong, but they struggled to match up with the quickness of Giovani Bernard out of the backfield as well as the athleticism of Jermaine Greshman and Tyler Eifert. The Bengals continue to look like a very good team at pretty much every position except quarterback where I still have my reservations about Andy Dalton despite the fact that he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Bengals have done well to surround him with weapons to get the most out of him that they can, but I think he plateaued after his rookie season and I don’t think he will ever take the next step from being a solid quarterback to being a good or great one. He settled down in this game and helped steer the Bengals to victory, but he was missing some throws he has to make to Eifert and AJ Green, two players with massive catch radii, that he has to make if he wants to lead the Bengals to the playoffs consistently, much less on a deep playoff run. The Bengals don’t seem to be totally convinced that Dalton is “the guy” yet either or they probably would have signed him to a contract extension, so it will be interesting to see how the season plays out, if Dalton takes the next step, and what the Bengals elect to do with him prior to him becoming a free agent.

Well, it was slightly more brief than last week. Hopefully you all enjoyed my thoughts, let me know what you think and if you agree or disagree with anything I’ve written here.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

NFL Quick Hits

This is a feature I’m going to try every week where I post some hopefully brief thoughts on the past weekend of NFL games. I don’t know if I’ll have time to do the same with College Football games, but I will post them if I have time to write them all up. Hopefully you guys enjoy this segment.

1- The Falcons Are Who We Thought They Were- I’m sure most of you guys know I’m a Falcons fan by now, and that loss to the Saints was tough. The Falcons scored on their opening drives in both halves, but otherwise were very inconsistent on offense. I’m wondering why they ran the ball so infrequently despite Steven Jackson having solid success on the ground, and I’m also wondering how they managed to hold Drew Brees and the Saints to 23 points despite a lackluster pass rush. I’m not too worried about the offensive line yet, I think they will gel and become a stronger unit, but the amount of pressure in Matt Ryan’s face and the inexplicable avoidance of the run game and quick-hitting pass game to try to counter the pressure was frustrating. Brees was on point as always and I was impressed with the Saints dramatic improvement on defense. Rob Ryan has done a great job with them up to this point, and the pressure they got on Ryan and the looks they were showing him pre-snap stuck out to me. The Falcons will be fine, but I don’t think they are a 13-3 team like they were a year ago. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think they are in the 10-6/11-5 area. We shall see.

2- Peyton Manning Needs To Stop Playing On Rookie- The way Manning was playing on Thursday night it is evident to me he was just playing Madden on a rookie setting, and a veteran with his resume should be playing on All-Madden at least, and preferably with a number of the sliders raised manually beyond that. Manning was obviously masterful, and that was despite having no running backs with a yard per carry average over 3.8 and only gaining 65 total yards on the ground. Joe Flacco came down to Earth after his fantastic playoff performances and it’s clear to me that he is missing Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta right now. Torrey Smith is a stud, but he can only do so much without a significant threat to take some pressure off of him. Dallas Clark surprised me with 7 catches for 87 yards, and if he can keep that up the loss of Pitta shouldn’t be quite as significant. I am a huge Demaryius Thomas fan and had a top 20 grade on him out of Georgia Tech and he has completely lived up to my expectations for him. I definitely expected Decker to be the #2 guy and Welker to be the 3rd option, but if the first week is any indication then Welker is going to get a lot of love from Manning this year. I don’t think 2 catches for 32 yards will be a typical week for Decker by any means, but I think I definitely underrated Welker’s potential impact coming into the year. I was also blown away by how well Duke Ihenacho and Shaun Phillips played. I liked Ihenacho out of San Jose State but realized some of his athletic limitations, however he had 12 tackles (including ELEVEN solo stops), 1 tackle for loss and 3 pass deflections as well as some pretty nice hits in this game. Phillips had 2.5 sacks and 3 QB hits on the night and definitely helped make up for the absence of Von Miller for at least one night. The Broncos looked like they were in mid-season form, but I don’t think the Ravens are going to have that much trouble on offense or defense for the entire season. They have lots of new faces on their roster and they need time to gel, and Manning took full advantage. Don’t hit the panic button yet Ravens fans.

3- EJ Manuel Is Making Me Look Stupid- I was pretty clear that I was not a fan of EJ Manuel at FSU and while it is still very early in his career my analysis of him is looking quite foolish right now. I have been very impressed with how Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have managed Manuel starting from his first pre-season snaps. They haven’t asked him to go out there and be Tom Brady, but much like Cam Newton his rookie season they will likely open up the playbook and let him attack more as he becomes more comfortable. I was happy to see Robert Woods get his first NFL catch and his first NFL touchdown, but Manuel got to see first hand that there’s almost nobody better than Tom Brady when the game is on the line. He may not have had a great day statistically, but when it counted he took the Pats down the field and got them in position to win the game. Danny Amendola predictably had a good game, I loved what Shane Vereen did and I was very sad to see that he is going to miss significant time due to a broken wrist (which he apparently suffered on the first play of the game!). I am hoping that Spiller was given limited touches because of his lost fumble, and not because he is inexplicably being mismanaged again in 2013. Regardless, Bills fans should be very encouraged by the early returns on EJ Manuel.

4- “Same Old Bungles”- That is for my good friend Ryan Koons who is now an active duty marine. He is a die hard Bengals fan and whenever they manage to lose a game like this that is what he would always say. I have to say I really thought those days were behind Cincinnati because on paper I thought they were ready to win the AFC North. However, Andy Dalton continues to make me wonder about just how far the Bengals can go with him as a quarterback even in spite of the absolutely fantastic play of AJ Green. The Bengals have tons of talent on defense, they’ve got weapons on offense, but if they are going to win close games and go deep in the playoffs they need Dalton to play better and limit his turnovers. The run game deserves some ire as well as the Bengals only averaged 3 yards per touch and totaled 63 yards on the ground. On the other side I thought Jay Cutler, overall, had a good game and Brandon Marshall was fantastic. The Bears running game was sluggish as well, and hopefully that offensive line will slowly gel and improve over the course of the season. I know that probably makes Bears fans nervous because they’ve been waiting for that offensive front to improve for years, but I’m hoping this is the year for their sake.

5- Reggie Bush Is Dangerous, Christian Ponder Is Not- The Lions put up 38 points on the Vikings defense and a lot of that is due to Reggie Bush totaling 90 yards on the ground (4.3 ypc) and 101 yards and one touchdown as a receiver (with a long of 77). That’s very impressive production, and it comes despite only hauling in four of his eight targets on the day. Matt Stafford had another high attempt, high yardage day and while it wasn’t the most efficient performance it certainly got the job done. I wouldn’t expect too many four catch, 37 yard days for Calvin Johnson, but Bush, Nate Burleson and Joique Bell took the pressure off of him this week. On the other side Christian Ponder continues to prove his doubters right as he threw 3 interceptions, got sacked three times and lost a fumble on the day. He also spoiled a fantastic game for Jerome Simpson who had 7 catches and 140 yards which I certainly didn’t expect from him. Adrian Peterson had a 78 yard touchdown run on his first carry but gained only 15 additional yards on his next 17 carries, but still managed 93 yards and two touchdowns rushing as well as 18 yards and another touchdown receiving. I will be the first to admit that I liked Ponder out of FSU (clearly I’m 0/2 on scouting Florida State quarterbacks right now) but he doesn’t have the same velocity he had prior to the injuries he sustained his senior year, he isn’t making good decisions and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Cassel start at some point this season for the Vikings. That’s not a good sign, and it likely means the Vikings will be looking to draft a quarterback early in the 2014 NFL Draft. I have been patient with Ponder and he occasionally shows signs of life, but unfortunately now that he’s in his 3rd year these kinds of struggles won’t be tolerated anymore. He’s got to step up his game and quick.

6- Pryor Makes Oakland Offense Almost Competent- I really feel like I am ruining any credibility I have as a quarterback scout but I liked Tyler Wilson a lot out of Arkansas and I didn’t like Terrelle Pryor out of Ohio State, but I am glad the Raiders elected to start Pryor over Matt Flynn. Pryor’s legs gave the Raiders life in this game and while I don’t think it will get them to the playoffs it should make them more competitive than they would have been with Flynn at the helm. I didn’t get to see as much of this game as I wanted to because the feed went out for it multiple times at the bar I was watching the games at (for some reason it was streaming online, not sure why), so outside of Pryor impressing me as a runner and Andrew Luck being a stud I don’t have too many thoughts on this game. Sorry guys.

7- Nolan Nawrocki Your Crow Is Ready- I know it’s early, and I know it’s only his first start, but it was fun to see Geno Smith rally the Jets to an unlikely win against Tampa Bay week one. I’m not going to say he made some unbelievable plays on that final drive to steal victory from the jaws of defeat, but if Sanchez was the QB on that final drive I don’t think the Jets would have won that game. Smith isn’t known for his scrambling, but his athleticism was obvious at the NFL combine and he gave the Jets a chance to get lucky thanks to his skill set. He wasn’t mind-blowingly efficient by any means, but it was definitely a solid first start based on what I was able to see. Unfortunately for Bucs fans Josh Freeman struggled (though the Jets do still have a good, well-coached defense) and despite 154 yards from Vincent Jackson he only managed 210 yards on 31 attempts, was sacked three times and threw one touchdown and one interception. I wasn’t a Freeman fan coming out and his first season it really looked like he might make me eat my words, but he seemed to plateau after that rookie season and hasn’t quite been the same since.

8- Kaepernick Is The Truth- I wasn’t wild about Kaepernick’s throwing motion or accuracy coming out of Nevada, but Jim Harbaugh has done a fantastic job with him and that offense is now tailor made for him. It certainly helps having weapons like Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis (even though Davis had a drop or two that he shouldn’t have) while Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham are injured, but his athleticism, pure arm strength and seemingly improving accuracy really stood out to me against the Packers. Green Bay had absolutely no answer for the Kaepernick-Boldin connection and while they managed to keep him bottled up as a runner he shredded them for 412 yards and three touchdowns as a passer. The Packers will have to go back to the drawing board now to try to figure out how to slow Kaepernick down if they meet again in the playoffs. I thought Aaron Rodgers was great as usual even if he did come up just short, I still love Randall Cobb, and I was happy Jermichael Finley bounced back from that drop that led to Rodgers only interception with some solid catches, good yards after the catch and that impressive touchdown. The Packers should be fine and I think they will be a playoff team, but I’m sure they and their fans are annoyed that another referee controversy led to a do-over for the 49ers that led to an Anquan Boldin touchdown. Maybe I’m alone here, but I think the NFL downgrading Bill Leavy for that mistake is ridiculous. Leavy is a veteran official and while he made a mistake this just reeks of an overreaction to me.

9- RGIII Was Rusty, The Eagles Offense Wasn’t- The Eagles defense made this interesting in the second half as RGIII and the Redskins started to knock some of the rust off, but in the first half RGIII had a lot of issues fading away from throws and not stepping into his passes. He still did some of that in the 2nd half, but he was definitely much more crisp and effective once his receivers stopped dropping passes and Kyle Shanahan adjusted to get him into a rhythm with quicker, easier throws. Michael Vick was impressive, though he’s still the same Michael Vick that will hold onto the ball too long and take unnecessary risks with his body at times. LeSean McCoy looks like an ideal fit for Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme and he should have a huge year. I was also happy to see that one of my favorites from a couple years ago Mychal Kendricks looked much better (based on what I saw live) and was pressuring RGIII pretty consistently. I’m not sure he’s great in coverage, but it was fun to see him rushing some of Griffin’s throws. Additionally, that interception Cary Williams made on that out route that Griffin threw was nothing short of fantastic. What a terrific play.

10- Oh Philip Rivers, You Poor Bastard- Rivers was absolutely fantastic in the 1st half and he started off the 2nd half in the same fashion. He had the Chargers up 28-7 and seemed poised for a statement victory in week one of the 2013 season. Unfortunately, much like he and the Bolts have in the past, they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Rivers and the offense began to sputter, the Texans woke up on offense, and the rally was complete once Brian Cushing read Rivers’ eyes beautifully and made a diving interception that he then returned for a game-tying touchdown. The Texans would go on to move the ball down the field and position Randy Bullock for a game winning 41 yard field goal. Andre Johnson continued to show why he is one of the best in the game with a 12 reception, 146 yard performance, Owen Daniels chipped in 67 yards and two touchdowns, and Deandre Hopkins added five receptions and 66 yards. I thought Arian Foster seemed determined to make a big play all game and didn’t seem focused on doing the little things. He was palming the ball and holding it away from his body, he dropped multiple catchable balls, and almost seemed to be showing off and looking to make someone look foolish. Maybe that’s just me over-extrapolating, but he seemed off tonight. I’d be surprised if Gary Kubiak doesn’t talk to him about how he’s holding the ball after he and the other coaches watch film.

Alright, so that was a LOT less brief than I expected it to be. I guess I had more to say than I anticipated, though I shouldn’t really be surprised since I am so long winded anyway. Sorry that was such a long post, hopefully you enjoyed it anyway!

Thanks for reading,

–Tom

From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season (and I apologize that I haven’t gotten one done in a while!). My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

Today I am previewing TCU. TCU hasn’t had the easiest of offseasons due to their drug related issues, especially pertaining to the drug bust that occurred last February. That hurt their depth and put them under the microscope when they already had plenty of eyes on them after agreeing to go to the Big-East, then changing course again when a spot in the Big-12 opened up. The step up in competition alone is intriguing enough to keep an eye on, but with the added unwanted attention from a drug scandal TCU has plenty of people watching them this year. Luckily they return plenty of talent on offense, particularly at quarterback with Casey Pachall, running back with Waymon James and Matthew Tucker, and wide receiver with Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter. Their offensive line has been gutted though, and they don’t have much returning experience outside of senior right guard Blaize Foltz. The offense should fit in pretty well with the Big-12 though, as they can run the ball effectively and air it out quite well due to their talent at the skill positions.

Contrary to what has been Patterson’s mantra at TCU, the offense is expected to be the stronger of the two units, not the defense as has been customary. The defense was gutted as well thanks to graduation and in part the drug bust, and now they have plenty of question marks throughout the defense. The lone standout remaining is defensive end Stansly Maponga, who had 9 sacks last year and is TCU’s best bet to put any pressure on Big-12 offenses that, traditionally, love to pass the ball. TCU’s defense won’t be awful, especially since Patterson is a very good coach and a bright defensive mind, but there will likely be some significant growing pains in the first 4-6 weeks of the season. That means it is all the more imperative that Pachall and the offense get off to a strong start right off the bat, so the defense can get their feet under them. There are some speculating that TCU could have a 10+ win season this year, but I think 8 or maybe 9 is more realistic. I think they will drop a couple Big-12 games thanks to their defense, and while their offense has plenty of talent at the skill positions I think Pachall will be under considerably more pressure this year than he was as a sophomore thanks to the turnover on the offensive line. With that said, here are TCU’s prospects to keep an eye on:

Pachall has plenty of arm talent, but his inconsistent mechanics (such as his release, which dips to his waist) and varying release angles can hurt his accuracy.

Casey Pachall, QB*- Pachall is entering his junior season and his second full season as a starter with pretty lofty expectations considering what he was able to accomplish as a first year starter, replacing the revered Andy Dalton no less. He threw for a TCU record 2,921 yards (and completed 67% of his passes while doing so) as well as 25 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Not bad for your first 13 games as a starter. But he will have an even bigger test this year as he returns to a team with plenty of skill position talent on offense, but a lot of question marks along his offensive line and throughout his defense. That means there will be more pressure on Pachall, both to be a leader and to be even more productive, but also literally when he drops back to pass. Pachall has the size, the arm strength and the athleticism that you want in a quarterback standing at 6’5”, 216 pounds and having the mobility to extend plays when flushed from the pocket, threaten defenses if they don’t respect him on zone-read plays, and pick up yardage if the defense gets too far upfield and doesn’t keep an eye on him in man coverage. His accuracy is good, not great, but when I’ve watched him there haven’t been many throws that have been way off target despite his inconsistent mechanics.

Pachall has plenty of raw talent, the question is will he be able to master the mental part of the game as well as the mechanical aspect. His throwing motion could use tweaking, and he doesn’t consistently throw with the same mechanics. There are times when he stands tall in the pocket and delivers a throw and takes a hit as a result, and there are other times when he fades away from the pressure, rushes his throwing motion and throws an inaccurate pass in the face of the pass rush. He definitely has a live arm and can make all the throws from an arm strength standpoint, but I haven’t been impressed with his ability to identify pressure pre-snap, or to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. This likely has a lot to do with him being a sophomore in his first season as a starter, but it’s still something I took notice of and want to see him improve now that he has a year of starting experience under his belt. Pachall has shown that he can make big throws when his team needs them, whether it’s on 3rd down or late in a game (see 2011 game against Boise State) but his gunslinger mentality also opens him up to errant throws and mistakes. He clearly trusts his arm and also his receivers (most notably Josh Boyce) and it will be interesting to see if that mentality and trust gets him in any more trouble against improved Big-12 competition this season.

Overall, Pachall impressed me with his tools, but playing quarterback is about a lot more than just having the size and arm talent to make the throws. As Trent Dilfer would say during the Elite 11 camp: “Right now, you’re a butcher, and you’re good enough to get away with just being a butcher. But I want you to be a surgeon, and that part comes from the mental aspect of the game.” That’s not a direct quote, but it’s the gist of what he told a college-bound QB from last year’s Elite 11 and it applies quite well to Pachall. Pachall is talented enough to not make great pre-snap reads, not work to improve his mechanics, not identify blitzes or his hot reads that well, and make throws without much anticipation and get away with it. But if he wants to take the next step and eventually be a NFL quarterback he needs to become a master of his offense, make checks at the line of scrimmage and make better pre-snap reads. He’s flashed the ability to come off of his primary receiver and scan the field which was encouraging, but I’d like to see more of that. Pachall and TCU will be under a microscope not only because they are moving into the Big-12, but because of all the drug issues TCU has been having recently (which resulted in Pachall admitting that he had used in marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, though Patterson noted that Pachall “has passed 24 other drug tests that had been administered, including six since the failed test in February). Pachall isn’t the clean-cut choir boy that Andy Dalton was, but that’s not something you love to hear about the face of your football program. That news created quite a buzz on Twitter, but it shouldn’t result in a suspension of any kind for Pachall unless he continues to use them and fails a drug test, which to this point he hasn’t.

Waymon James, RB*- I have to say I’m a fan of Waymon James, but not just because of his on-field talent, but because his first name really cracks me up. That said, thanks to Ed Wesley’s departure for the Supplemental Draft earlier this summer, James and Matthew Tucker figure to get a lot more carries this season. Last year the carry load was distributed remarkably evenly (James with 121 attempts, Wesley with 120 attempts, and Tucker with 123 attempts). With Wesley and the 120 carries he accounted for last year now gone, James and Tucker figure to account for the majority of those touches. James is another shorter back, listed at only 5’8” but tipping the scales at an impressive 203 pounds. He clearly has a lot of lower leg strength, he catches the ball well out of the backfield and he has plenty of burst and straight line speed as well. He runs through arm tackles easily thanks to his lower body strength and ability to churn his legs and has the shiftiness to make guys miss and break off longer runs. I really like James and I think he should be featured heavily in TCU’s offense this year. He’s a smaller back, yes, but he can run between the tackles, break tackles, get tough yards in addition to providing burst, speed, and pass catching out of the backfield.

Matthew Tucker, RB- Tucker is the relative “thunder” to James’ lightning as he stands at 6’1”, 227 pounds and runs with some authority. He doesn’t go down to arm tackles and while I doubt he has much more than 4.5 speed he can rumble for big gains once he gets past the 2nd level. He is a senior this year and perhaps due to his size as well as his experience TCU likes to use him to pass block on 3rd down situations and seems to do a solid job. I’m not sure how great Tucker’s NFL prospects are at this point, but he is no slouch out of that TCU backfield. With Wesley gone, I imagine TCU will feature James and Tucker quite frequently with a couple of younger backs mixed in as well.

I’m a big fan of Josh Boyce, and I think he is ready to have a 1,000+ yard, 12+ TD season in the Big-12.

Josh Boyce, WR*- I have to say I am a big fan of Josh Boyce and I think he is my favorite NFL Draft prospect on TCU’s entire roster. Last season as a sophomore the 5’11”, 203 pound receiver caught 61 passes for 998 yards and 9 touchdowns and was undeniably Pachall’s go-to guy when he needed a big play or a crucial conversion. Boyce has very reliable hands and they are strong enough to rip the ball away when a defender contests him for a reception. He may not be a huge receiver, but he is pretty filled out and does a good job tracking and timing his leaps on 50/50 balls. He has shown that he can high point the ball and catches the ball very well with his hands outside of his frame. I don’t think he has 4.4 flat speed, but I think he is in that 4.45-4.5 range which is more than adequate to transition into the NFL when he chooses to leave TCU (either this year after his junior year or after he graduates as a senior. It would be fun to watch him and Pachall stay for two more years). Boyce may not be the biggest or the fastest, but he is a playmaker with great hands who runs good routes and is a well-rounded receiver. Will he be a #1 WR in the NFL? Probably not, but I think he can be a good slot receiver and perhaps even a quality #2. I am really looking forward to watching him this year.

Skye Dawson, WR- Dawson may not be as good of a prospect as Boyce, but plenty of people have their eyes on him now that he is a senior. He’s only listed at 5’9, 183 pounds but he compensates for that lack of size with dynamic speed. Whether he actually has sub 4.4 speed or not, his speed and burst is clear on the field and he is certainly dangerous any time he gets the ball in his hands, particularly in space. But that is the problem with Dawson, actually getting the ball in his hands. He has very questionable hands in my opinion and I have seen a number of passes hit him right in the hands and fall to the turf, including a TERRIBLE drop vs. Louisiana Tech on a ball that, had he caught it, could have been a 90 yard touchdown. Dawson has speed to burn, but if he continues to body catch and struggle to catch passes outside of his frame it is going to limit him as a receiver and make him less attractive to NFL scouts. He has flashed some ability as a kick returner, and although he only has 7 career returns he has 182 career yards, a 26 yard average per return. Now that Greg McCoy has graduated, perhaps he will get more opportunities to show he can be a difference maker as a return man as well.

Blaize Foltz, OG- Foltz is arguably TCU’s top returning offensive lineman, and boy will they need him since they lost so much experience up front. Foltz is a big, strong offensive guard who is listed at 6’4”, 310 pounds and is well known for his absurd weight room strength. Foltz does a pretty good job of translating this to the field, as he has impressive phone-booth strength and can drive opponents off the ball when he gets his hands on them and keeps his pads low. His downfall is when he is asked to be mobile, such as pulling or getting out on screens. He looks slow and struggles to quickly change direction when a fast defender closes nearby him and may struggle to mirror faster defensive linemen that can keep him off balance. Oftentimes when he gets his hands on a defender the play is over for him, but it will be interesting to see how he does against bigger and faster defensive linemen in the Big-12. He’s a good drive blocker, but I have questions about him as a puller and as a pass blocker right now.

Maponga may not be well known thus far, but he had 9 sacks last season and may be ready for another break-out campaign as a member of the Big-12 conference this season.

Stansly Maponga, DE*- Maponga has been on my radar for a long time now, I noticed him as a freshman and he is coming into his junior season this year. He’s a little undersized at 6’2” but is listed at 265 pounds which is impressive. He’s got some burst off the ball and fairly long arms for his size, but I am very interested to see if he can replicate his production (55 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 9 sacks and an impressive 5 forced fumbles) at a higher level of competition in the Big-12. He has some speed and burst, but right now he is still a mid-round guy for me. I like him, but he isn’t an elite pass rusher yet in my eyes. If TCU is going to hang with the Big-12’s best, they are going to need Maponga to terrorize opposing backfields. The defensive end opposite him, senior Ross Forrest, isn’t a special pass rusher by any means and mostly accumulates stats as a result of his motor. The Big-12 traditionally has a lot of high-flying passing attacks, so if TCU is going to compete for a 9+ win season their defense is going to have to step up. That means Maponga will have to replicate his production from a year ago.

Kenny Cain, OLB/S- Cain isn’t an elite NFL Draft prospect, but he is TCU’s leading returning tackler as a senior with 72 tackles (he actually led the team in tackles last year, totaling 2 more than Tekerrein Cuba and Tank Carder) while also adding 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 pass break-ups and an interception. He’s undersized at 6’1, 210 pounds and is a bit of a linebacker/safety hybrid, but if he continues to be a productive tackler and if he can demonstrate competency on special teams he will have a shot as an undrafted free agent if nothing else.

Jason Verrett, CB*- Verrett is a 5’10”, 180 pound corner whose first season with TCU after transferring from a junior college school was pretty productive. He had 58 tackles (the most of any corner for TCU since 2001 according to Phil Steele), 1.5 TFL, 4 pass break-ups and an interception. I haven’t seen him play much, but coming into his junior season he will definitely be on my radar.

Carson Palmer to Raiders

The Raiders are on the verge of making a bold move to acquire Carson Palmer, potentially giving up two 1st round picks.

If what is currently being reported is indeed true, then Carson Palmer will be an Oakland Raider by the end of the day. The Raiders would send a 2012 1st round pick as well as a conditional 1st round pick in 2013. That is a very steep price for a player who has not been the same since his serious knee injury versus Pittsburgh in the playoffs in the 2005-2006 season. He’s definitely a quality quarterback, but in my opinion he is a pretty significant risk considering how he has played since his injury and because of how long it has been since he played a snap in a NFL game. How long will it be until he is ready to play? Will the Raiders still be in position to compete for a playoff spot? Will Palmer be able to mesh with the Raiders’ current personnel in time to lead them to the playoffs?

These are all questions that I find myself asking and honestly I have my doubts. Stranger things have happened, but it’s tough for a new quarterback to acclimate himself to a new roster when he is signed as a free agent and has an entire offseason, much less being traded to them mid-season when he has been previously out of football for the entire season. He has to mesh with the roster, learn and then master the playbook, and then go out there and make plays on Sundays. That’s a lot to ask of anyone, but it will be interesting to see if Palmer is up to the task. I have to say I am pretty skeptical just because it is a very tall order, but if he can pick up the playbook quickly and is embraced by the locker room then he has a chance to lead the Raiders to the playoffs. I have to say, as a fan I am excited about the potential of this move and I am very interested to see if Palmer can make this worthwhile for the Raiders. The early winner of this trade is clearly the Bengals in my opinion. Potentially getting two first round picks for a player who was never going to start for you again thanks to Dalton’s emergence as a quality leader? Yeah, that’s a pretty nice trade. Plus they are off the hook for his salary of which there was nearly $20 million remaining over the next two years.

I love the boldness of this move, I just question whether or not I would have done the same. That’s an awfully high asking price, and this potential batch of quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft class figures to be significantly better than any of the recent QB draft classes as far as overall talent and depth. But you have to think that if Al Davis was still running things this would be the kind of move he would make: It may seem crazy to some people, but he trusted his evaluation of the move as well as the rest of his staff and he believed that his coaches could make the most out of the acquisition. So in a way, this is kind of like Al’s last bold move as a Raider. I for one am rooting for them, and hopefully Palmer can find a way to make an immediate and lasting impact in Oakland.

Here’s a quick breakdown of a view games that I think will be interesting over the next few days. Part two will be coming soon, but I didn’t want it to be too long of a post considering they are just previews for the games. This covers Thursday, Friday and some of Saturday. Saturday through Monday will be covered in Part Two. Obviously there aren’t a lot of competitive match-ups in week one of the season since most teams are essentially buying wins to start off the season instead of scheduling potentially challening out of conference opponents, but that’s out of my control. So enjoy some of the match-ups that might just end up being interesting!

Thursday:

-Wisconsin-UNLV:

There are plenty of prospects to look at in this game. Russell Wilson (QB), Montee Ball and James White (RB), Nick Toon (WR), Ricky Wagner (LT), Kevin Zeitler (OG), Peter Konz (OC), Louis Nzegwu (DE), Antonio Fenelus (CB), Aaron Henry (FS) and their former nickel corner Devin Smith. On the UNLV side they have a young QB in Caleb Herring who will be trying to improve on an average season as a freshman where he saw action in 8 games but didn’t do anything spectacular. He has an ok running game and a solid receiver in Phillip Payne who has 127 career receptions coming into his senior year as well as 1,786 total receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. He should be the main target for Herring in this game, and I imagine Fenelus will be up to the challenge of defending him. That could be the most intriguing match-up in the game outside of Wilson playing his first game on the Badgers, which certainly will get lots of media attention throughout the season as he becomes acclimated to the team, the coaching staff and obviously his teammates on offense. I’m excited to see how they all do in this game, but Ricky Wagner is the best prospect in this game in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how he holds up as a starter at Left Tackle. I have high expectations for him.

Friday:

-TCU-Baylor:

This is an intriguing matchup at the QB position with Casey Pachall replacing Andy Dalton at QB and with Robert Griffin III returning as the starter for Baylor. TCU is overrated as the #14 overall team in my opinion, but they are returning a strong defense led by Tank Carder who terrorized Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. I also think Stansly Maponga has some upside as a defensive end for TCU. Griffin is very athletically talented, but needs significant improvement with his mechanics and accuracy to be a serious or even dominant threat at QB. It will be interesting to see what Pachall has to offer, but Ed Wesley and a strong stable of RB’s are returning to help support him while he adjusts to the starting role. Kendall Wright is going to get a lot of looks from Griffin especially because of the loss of Josh Gordon, a receiver who had legitimate 1st round ability. TCU is obviously the favorite in this one, but Baylor has enough firepower to potentially hang around with them.

Saturday:

-Northwestern-Boston College:

This game could go either way, and has a couple intriguing prospects at QB. The superior prospect is obviously Dan Persa, the QB for Northwestern. He should give the Wildcats a serious boost on offense, and they’ve got a lot of talent on that offense for him to utilize. Boston College has a younger QB in Chase Rettig who should be a sophomore this year. He showed some ability as a freshman last year, so it will be interesting to see how he deals with the Northwestern defense. Montel Harris should help keep some pressure off of him even if he is an average NFL prospect. I think Northwestern is the favorite, but Boston College has a legitimate shot in this one.

-Notre Dame-South Florida:

Notre Dame is a heavy favorite in this game but I don’t buy the hype of them being a potential top 15 team. South Florida doesn’t have a great shot at winning this game but they have a QB in B.J. Daniels who can be very streaky, and can be dangerous when he’s hot thanks to his strong arm and legitimate athleticism so he can threaten with his legs as well as his arm. I’m not sold on Notre Dame’s defense at this point, but their offense shouldn’t have much trouble scoring on South Florida’s defense. Dayne Crist will be starting a game for the first time in a very long time so expect some significant rust, but they’ll make it easy for him to get into a rhythm, especially with Michael Floyd still intact.

-BYU-Ole Miss:

I actually think this could be an interesting game. I know nothing about either QB that Ole Miss was considering starting (except that the original starter Randall Mackey was arrested for disorderly conduct after a fight at a bar) so now Barry Brunetti is starting. I know a significant bit more about Jake Heaps, BYU’s QB, and I am excited to see how he progresses. He was incredibly impressive for a true freshman QB last year, and was quite impressive in their bowl win to cap off their season last year. This will be a huge test for him going against a SEC caliber defense, but I think he might be up to it. Ole Miss will rely a lot on Brandon Bolden, their quality RB, who put up 976 rushing yards (14 TD’s and 6.0 ypc) plus 344 receiving yards and 3 more TD’s on 32 receptions. It’ll be interesting to see how well they move the ball because I have no expectations for their QB. They have some talent on defense, but it will be interesting to see how they match up with BYU. Cody Hoffman, BYU’s very large WR, might create some match-up problems because of his size.

It’ll be interesting to see how these match-ups play out, but regardless I am excited to see some college football finally. Enjoy it, I know I will!

–Tom

Final 1st Round Mock Draft

Hey everyone, here is my final 1st round mock draft of the year. It’s a little different than some you might have seen, but I refrained from guessing trades because it makes things so complicated. We’ll see how many picks I get right and how many players I correctly project in round one. Hopefully I do better than last year. Thanks for reading all season and shortly after the draft is done I will have a list of players to watch out for next season as I think they are likely to emerge. Thanks again!

1st– Carolina- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn-

2nd– Denver- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU-

3rd– Buffalo- Marcel Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama-

4th– Cincinnati- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia-

5th– Arizona- Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M- 

6th– Cleveland- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama- 

7th– San Francisco- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska- 

8th– Tennessee- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri- 

9th– Dallas- Tyron Smith, OT, Southern Cal-  

10th– Washington- Jake Locker, QB, Washington-

11th– Houston- Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri- 

12th– Minnesota- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn-

13th– Detroit- Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College-  

14th– St. Louis- Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois- 

15th– Miami- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas-

16th– Jacksonville- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue- 

17th– New England- Cameron Jordan, DE, California-

18th– San Diego- J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin- 

19th– New York Giants- Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida-

20th– Tampa Bay- Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina-

21st– Kansas City- Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin-

22nd– Indianapolis- Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State-

23rd– Philadelphia- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami- 

24th– New Orleans- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson- 

25th– Seattle- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU-

26th– Baltimore- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado-

27th– Atlanta- Justin Houston, DE, Georgia-

28th– New England- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama-

29th– Chicago- Nate Solder, OT, Colorado-

30th– New York Jets- Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple-

31st– Pittsburgh- Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor-

32nd– Green Bay- Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona-

As always, thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Dalton's accuracy on downfield throws really underwhelmed me.

Positives: Dalton has solid size for a QB, he has average arm strength, good accuracy inside of fifteen yards and solid zip on throws within that same range. He has some experience dropping back from center and executing play action fakes which I like to see, and he is good at quickly making reads after executing the fake. He also has a very good play fake, plus he has pretty good mobility. His footwork is solid, and he has a smooth throwing motion and pretty consistent mechanics. He was extremely productive at TCU, he won a lot of games there and really helped put their program back on the map.

Negatives: Dalton looks a little skinny to me on film, he rarely has great zip on his throws unless they are under ten yards, and he is very inconsistent with his accuracy outside of fifteen yards. The offense that he operated in was largely shotgun based, though he did drop from center occasionally and run play action, but the reads were not usually very complicated and frequently he would seem to know where he was going with the ball when he snapped it. His arm strength really does leave a lot to be desired in my opinion, especially on deep passes where not only does his lack of arm strength become apparent but his problems with ball placement when challenging defenses downfield become apparent also. He also makes very questionable decisions when he forces the ball downfield, and really is only accurate when he can throw the ball over the top of man coverage where he can float it and let his receiver run under it. Really outside of fifteen yards his ball placement just isn’t nearly as consistent and that is really alarming for a QB who is going to have to make throws like that in the NFL. I have also not seen him show a lot of anticipation on his throws, nor have I seen him throw guys open as much as I would like.

Overall: Dalton is a decent quarterback, but he isn’t someone I would pick in the first three rounds personally. His arm strength is average and while his accuracy on short passes and some intermediate passes is very good and he hits his receivers in stride when he challenges defenses downfield he has to put touch on his passes or he doesn’t place the ball well and that will lead to turnovers in the NFL. He seems to be pretty smart, hard working and doesn’t appear to have any character concerns so I think he will stick in the NFL, but primarily I think he will be a back-up and at best a solid game-manager type of quarterback. His arm strength and downfield accuracy is just too much to overcome to ever be a truly effective starter in my opinion.

Projection: 4th round. He may go a little bit earlier than this thanks to his reputation as a winner and as a very successful college quarterback, but I think most teams will be wary of his arm strength, his inconsistent decision making and his questionable downfield accuracy. He definitely has potential thanks to his solid size, average arm strength and quite reliable short passing accuracy, but improving on the longer, more difficult throws will be challenging once he makes it to the NFL.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

Arm Strength: 2.5
Accuracy: 3.0
Mobility: 3.0
Decision Making: 3.0
Mechanics: 3.5
Pocket Awareness: 3.0
Intangibles: 3.5

Thanks for reading my scouting report on Andy Dalton. As promised my reports on Julio Jones, Greg McElroy and Marcell Dareus are on the way.

–Tom

Here are my current QB rankings as of early November. This list does not indicate the order that I think they will come off the board in April, but rather which I like the most at this juncture. Enjoy!

1-      Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford- Luck has a great combination of size, good arm strength, accuracy and he is a very intelligent QB. I don’t think he will come out this year but if he did I think he has the football IQ to transition effectively to the NFL, much like Mark Sanchez.

2-      Jake Locker, QB, Washington- Yes, I have Jake Locker #2 even though I have Mallett going #1 overall in my mock draft. I personally think Locker will be the better NFL player, though he will need more coaching than most probably thought after his incredible progression from his sophomore to junior year. His intangibles are just so special that a good QB coach could really make him a quality NFL starter.

3-      Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas- Mallett has as much potential as any QB I have ever scouted because of his amazing arm strength and great size, but how good of a leader is he? How dependable is he late in games to make the right decisions and not turn the ball over? I don’t like his intangibles and his leadership ability and that combined with the offense he plays in, which is not preparing him for the NFL, make me doubt him as a prospect. However, that is just my opinion, and I still believe he is the odds on favorite to go #1 if Luck stays in school.

4-      Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State- I really like Cousins’ game so he stays high on my rankings. He has been effective this year, but I am a little concerned about how he played against Iowa. That was a huge game for Michigan State and he made some mistakes that led to three interceptions. However, I think he has the tools to be a good starting QB in the NFL.

5-      Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State- Ponder has disappointed me in the little that I have seen him this year, but it’s not enough to drop him out of the top 5 of my rankings. I still think he will be a solid starter in the NFL, but he doesn’t look like a franchise QB to me. He is a fringe first rounder in my opinion at this point, so we will see how he does the rest of the year.

6-      Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama- McElroy has been very efficient this year but I am not sure he is much more than a solid NFL starter. I think he will be a solid mid-round pick and he seems to be very intelligent and if he had a good running game and some quality targets to throw to I think he could be an effective QB. Like Ponder I think he may be a product of the players around him rather than a Franchise QB/leader that makes the rest of his teammates better.

7-      Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho- Enderle was one of my favorite QB’s coming into the season but he has had a very down year so far involving a lot of turnovers. I’m not willing to drop him down in my rankings yet since I haven’t scouted him in any of them specifically yet. However, I have definitely been disappointed with how he has played statistically thus far this year.

8-      Cam Newton, QB, Auburn- It is hard not to rank Newton in the top 10 even though he hasn’t shown me as much as I would like to see as a passer. In my opinion Newton is performing at a level that everyone expected Terrelle Pryor to perform at. He has shown the ability to throw the ball well, but his athletic ability and smoothness as a runner is what sets him apart from other QB’s. He has a lot of improvement to make as a passer, but to produce like he has as a first year starter in the SEC is absolutely amazing to me. I really hope there isn’t anything to these allegations of taking money for signing a LOI (Letter of Intent) because he is a fun player to watch.

9-      Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware- I haven’t ever seen much of Devlin, but from what I have seen he doesn’t seem to have a very strong arm but he does have pretty good accuracy. I don’t think he would be getting the same attention he has gotten from draftniks if it wasn’t for Flacco’s early success in the NFL out of Delaware, but he looks like a solid draft prospect to me.

10-   Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa- Stanzi has been statistically impressive this year and currently has the second best QB rating in the entire nation. I have not scouted him much this year, but he has had a strong statistical showing this year to be sure. In his last three important conference games against Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State he has thrown a combined nine touchdowns with no interceptions which is incredibly impressive.

11-   Stephen Garcia, QB, South Carolina- Garcia has shown some really incredible flashes, such as his 17/20 performance when the Gamecocks upset Alabama, but he has not been as consistent as I would like. In his three games since the Alabama upset he has thrown a combined five touchdowns with four interceptions and for the first time all season he completed less than 65% of his passes in a game in two of those contests. It will be interesting to see if he bounces back to finish the season strong, because right now he is a mid-round pick in my opinion.

12-   Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri- Gabbert is definitely on my radar but I would be surprised if he declared this year. He has impressive arm strength and accuracy along with good size, but he doesn’t have much in the way of mobility and I don’t like how often he is in shotgun and how much Missouri runs sets with four or five wide receivers. He definitely has NFL potential, but I think he needs to stay for his senior year to have a shot at the first round.

13-   Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma- Jones has had an incredibly productive season in his first full season as a starter and he is only a sophomore. He is playing much more efficiently, but he hasn’t been tested by many great defenses. I really wish I could see him play against Nebraska’s defense this year because they have made some really good QB prospects look like mid-round draft picks this season. He definitely has a lot of potential, but I have the same concerns about the offense he is playing in that I had with Sam Bradford.

14-   Andy Dalton, QB, TCU- Dalton has had a good statistical season but he really hasn’t played anyone outside of Oregon State in the first week, and he struggled in that game statistically. I was not impressed with Dalton at all after seeing him play against Boise State last year, so in my opinion he is a mid-late round pick in the NFL Draft. He has some redeemable talent and ability, but his ceiling is an average NFL starter. I think he may be better suited for a back-up role in the NFL, but I still need to scout him based off of his senior year tape.

15-   Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M- I have a really good feel for Johnson’s game and I think he is a 4th round pick at this point, perhaps a 5th rounder, but he has good size, athletic ability and a strong enough arm to warrant development. He just puts too much touch and air under his passes, he has a hitch in his throwing motion where he dips the ball below his chest near his hip, and he has poor footwork and pocket poise. With a couple or three years of development he could potentially be a solid starter, but I think he will have a longer road to starting in the NFL than a number of QB’s that I have ranked ahead of him.

16-   Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech- Taylor has had an impressive statistical season but he has not been tested much other than the first week against Boise State and potentially against NC State. It will be interesting to see how he performs against potentially tougher ACC teams like Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami, but if he continues to play well he will have a chance at the middle rounds, especially if he demonstrates some patience and pocket poise.

17-   Mike Hartline, QB, Kentucky- Hartline has been making me regret not naming him my pre-season sleeper at QB for the majority of the season. He played very well against Auburn, South Carolina and Georgia combining for over 900 passing yards and nine touchdowns with only one interception. He is having an impressive season overall, and I look forward to watching tape of him to see if he has improved on some of the things I saw him struggle with when I watched him against Alabama last year. Hopefully he keeps this up.

18-   Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana- Chappell has had a pretty solid statistical season, however those numbers are padded by games against teams like Arkansas State, Towson, Western Kentucky and Akron. He produced about 1,250 passing yards, a completion percentage of around 68% and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions in those four games. He torched Michigan for an astounding 480 yards passing with three touchdowns and one interception, but he had disappointing games against Ohio State, Illinois and Northwestern where he threw only two touchdowns with a combined six interceptions. He is a late round pick right now, and from what I noticed in the little I have seen him he seems to have a bit of a hitch in his throwing motion.

19-   Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada- Kaepernick is a true dual-threat QB. He is just as likely to beat you with his legs as he is with his arm. He has a strong arm, but I have never been very impressed with him as a passer. I haven’t scouted him yet this year, but I imagine his athletic ability and arm strength will warrant at least late round consideration when the Draft finally rolls around. However, I am not sold on him ever amounting into a solid starter in the NFL, therefore he will be down towards the bottom of all of my rankings.

20-   Nick Foles, QB, Arizona- Foles should be back from his injury this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how he finishes his junior season out. When I have seen him play I have noticed him staring down his receivers quite frequently which worries me as far as his transition to the NFL is concerned. He has good size and a nice arm, but I worry about the offense he plays in and how often he stares down his primary receiver.

21-   Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State- Pryor is an incredibly gifted player, but he still seems like an athlete playing quarterback to me. He has definitely shown signs of improvement this year, but at the end of the day they are just signs. I think if he comes out after his junior season he will get drafted higher than he deserves, but that doesn’t mean he will pan out obviously. He might have a higher ceiling at wide receiver in the NFL than he does at QB, but that is an entirely different can of worms.

22-   Mitch Mustain, QB, Southern Cal- Mustain has been residing low on my rankings all year, and it’s hard to say that he should be much higher considering how limited his playing time has been at Southern Cal, but I think he has the tools to be a successful back-up QB and if he is developed for three or four years I think he would have a shot at being a solid starter in the NFL. He has a lot of experience in a pro-style offense and that will help his transition to the next level.

23-   Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin- Tolzien is nothing more than a game manager at Wisconsin, but he does a good job of avoiding mistakes and he has shown some added ability to make throws on 3rd down this year when they need a conversion. He isn’t going to be much more than a back-up on the next level in my opinion, but I think he could be a solid back-up who could step in and manage the game should the starter go down.

24-   T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina- Yates is barely on this list and it is only because he has shown flashes of ability this year. I don’t think he deserves to be drafted at this point, and his ceiling is probably a #3 or at best a #2 in the NFL.

25-   Justin Roper, QB, Montana- Roper is a guy who has impressive size but I have not been able to see him play. He has pretty impressive stats even though he is playing at the Division II level, but I look forward to being able to see his arm strength, throwing motion and overall mechanics if Montana is ever televised nationally. A guy with his size and production warrants some consideration.

Hey everyone. Sorry it has been so long since my last post. When I got my computer fixed it seems that all of the games I had downloaded from last year that I planned on re-watching to get a better feel for a lot of seniors and juniors before the season started have either been lost or they are in a very different folder or location on my hard drive than they were before. I tend to believe they are deleted, which is too bad. But I have also been very busy because I just got back to college a week ago so I have been adjusting to that, settling in to my new room, and obviously working for my football team here. I attend Beloit College and the football team here is Division III, but I love working for the team filming their games. They’ve come a long way since I got to campus, so I am excited for their season to start as well as Division I ball and the NFL regular season obviously.

Anyways, those are my excuses for not posting lately. Hopefully they are good enough for you so you keep coming back and reading my blog! I am quite unhappy that I lost all of those games that I downloaded, but I’ll get over it.

I figured that I would tide you all over to my next scouting report or game-breakdown with some rankings. Here are my updated QB rankings as of today, August 25th, for Seniors and Juniors that are probable to be in the NFL Draft. That obviously does not include Andrew Luck, a redshirt sophomore QB at Stanford, but I think it would be a mistake if he left even after a great sophomore season, so I won’t involve him in these rankings even though he has 1st round potential. Here you go! Enjoy!

QB Rankings- 8.18.2010

Mallett has as much potential as any NFL QB I have ever seen, and ultimately I think his combination of size and arm strength will result in him being the first QB drafted.

1- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas- I know I am ranking Mallett #1 on my rankings, but I am not on the Mallett bandwagon yet. Mallett has an absolutely amazing arm and he can make just about any throw you ask of him and it will have zip on it. I have seen him throw lasers off balance without his feet set, which speaks to his outrageous arm strength. He can put the ball where-ever he wants it, but sometimes his accuracy will falter and he will sail passes high or miss a receiver. Some think that has to do with his accuracy, but I think his accuracy is quite impressive. I think the issue is with his footwork. He throws off his back foot, without his feet set, his drops don’t look very good to me and he generally gets away with not having polished footwork and fundamentals because of his absurd arm strength and his naturally talented arm for putting passes where he wants to. But if he wants to improve his accuracy and become an elite QB prospect like so many seem to think he already is then he needs to improve his footwork considerably in my opinion. I personally think Mallett will end up being the first QB selected for a few reasons. First, everyone loves a big arm and Mallett has one of the best arm’s I have ever seen. He can make any throw and he can put a lot of zip on anything he wants to. Second, he has great size to go along with his arm strength. Being able to see over the offensive linemen in front of him so he can read a defense at his height and size makes him even more intriguing. The third thing is a combination of the previous two: Potential. He has absolutely sky-high potential, even if I don’t think he’s a very safe prospect at this point. If he can polish up his fundamentals and develop before he declares after his junior year (in all likelihood) then he could very well be the #1 overall pick in the draft. He just has so much potential. But I am always wary of those types of players because it seems that so often players with Mallett’s ceiling get drafted assuming they will get there and then they never do. But he is my #1 QB right now because I think this could very well be where he ends up. Plus I don’t think it will be possible for Locker to live up to the hype he has gotten as the potential #1 overall pick. He is slightly more safe than Mallett in my opinion, but he doesn’t have the same potential. I just doubt that he will progress as much this year as he did between his sophomore and junior season, which makes me think he will inevitably fall.

Ponder is a safe pick in my opinion, but I think he has the potential to be a quality QB in the NFL.

2- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State- I am a big Christian Ponder supporter despite being a huge UNC Tar Heels fan. He led a pretty amazing comeback against my Heels last year as a Junior, and I think he is going to have a great senior season leading a potentially explosive offense at FSU, and if he improves again between his junior and senior seasons and plays like he did against UNC last year more often this year then I think he will be a top 15 pick. He has the ability to be a very good NFL QB in my opinion. Some will be surprised that I have him over Locker, but I think Ponder is more NFL ready even if he doesn’t have the same potential that Mallett and Locker have. I am very close to sold on Ponder, so I am very excited to see how he plays this year.

3- Jake Locker, QB, Washington-  If Locker takes strides similar to what he did last year again this year then I think it will be hard to argue against picking him in the top 5. I just don’t think that is realistic since he looked like a totally different QB last year than he did in his first two seasons. He definitely has things to improve on, like stepping into all of his throws, not taking unnecessary chances and just throwing the ball away, going through his progressions and using his eyes to deceive the defense. I can’t wait to see how he does this year, but it seems to be a trend that the #1 rated QB or prospect in general tends to have an underwhelming senior year. Hopefully that isn’t the case with Locker. Though I could definitely see him “sliding” if he doesn’t improve as much as some expect, but unfortunately that is what I expect will happen. Some prospects get over-analyzed when they come back for another year like Locker did, and while I think it will give scouts more time to nit-pick at his game, he has also been compared to John Elway, he has been deemed the mostly likely #1 overall selection in the draft, and everyone seems to be expecting him to progress as much this year as he did the year before. That isn’t fair, but I don’t think he will be able to live up to those lofty expectations this year. On the plus side for a team in the mid 1st-round that needs a QB, Locker may just be available and he could end up being the best one out of Mallett, Ponder and himself. We will have to see what happens, but I expect Locker’s stock to drop.

Enderle has a lot of potential in my opinion, and I think he uses his eyes as well as any QB in this draft class. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

4- Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho- I watched a couple of Enderle’s games last season and I was incredibly impressed. He has good arm strength, good accuracy, he is pretty fundamentally sound and runs a pro-style offense at Idaho. He not only showed great ability to use his eyes, go through his progressions and make good decisions in the games I watched, but he led the crucial 4th quarter drive to win the game against Bowling Green with a touchdown with well under a minute left in the game and then a two point conversion to win it. It was truly a spectacle to watch and it made me a believer in him. I can’t wait to see what he does as a Senior. Hopefully he manages to overcome losing four of his five starting offensive linemen from last season and show everyone what I saw when I watched his games from last season. If he was more under the radar he would absolutely be my sleeper, but I’d feel like a cheater since I think he has already demonstrated how good he can be.

5- Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State- I really like Cousins but I don’t think he would get drafted before the 3rd round if he came out this season. I am probably much higher on him than anyone else at this point, but that isn’t what matters to me. I’m not afraid to go out on a limb and that is why I have Cousins this high. He runs a pro-style offense and Michigan State, he had 19 touchdowns and only nine interceptions as a sophomore and he wasn’t even the full time starter since Keith Nichol (who has since changed positions to wide receiver) was worked in fairly regularly, even after Cousins got the starting nod. He nearly won the game for Michigan State against Notre Dame with a late touchdown drive, and has shown poise and good decision making when I’ve seen him. He had his ups and downs as a first year starter, but I think he has the potential to be a very good NFL QB. He has mobility to run and extend plays, he has pretty good arm strength and accuracy, he is the leader of the offense and will be a three time captain by the time he is a Senior (assuming he stays) and he has produced. If he can step it up against the big time Big 10 teams this year (like Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State and in addition Notre Dame) and play better in those games then he will really legitimize himself as a NFL prospect in my opinion. He is definitely my sleeper in the junior QB class, and I have been high on him since last fall when I saw him play against Notre Dame. We will have to see how he does this year, but I expect him to improve quite a bit. That is why I have him so high on my rankings.

Johnson has potential because of his arm strength and athleticism, but he needs to refine his mechanics and streamline his throwing motion.

6- Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M- I am not the biggest fan of Jerrod Johnson, but I think as a developmental QB he could be well worth a 3rd-4th round pick. I have Devlin rated below him for the time being because I have only seen limited footage of him whereas I have a pretty good feel for what Johnson is capable of since I have seen him play a number of times, both live and when I am specifically scouting him. He has impressive arm strength, good athleticism and good size, but his throwing motion is a little off and he tends to dip the ball below his chest before he releases the ball. He needs to polish his footwork a lot and overall his mechanics aren’t very impressive to me. I have him over Devlin right now because he has more athletic ability and arm strength than Devlin does accuracy and experience as far as scanning the field and going through progressions.

7- Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware- I haven’t seen Devlin play a whole game, but I have watched all the footage of him that I could and he looks like a solid QB prospect to me. He has a clean release, solid arm strength and impressive accuracy. He does a nice job on touch throws, but also shows some zip on passes to the sideline. He throws some nice ropes to the sideline. They aren’t going 100 mph, but they aren’t hanging in the air too long as far as I can tell. I haven’t seen him go through many progressions though, which is concerning. He usually stares a receiver down and either throws it to him, scrambles or checks down from what I have seen of him. Hopefully I will be able to see him play in a couple of full length games during his senior season, but from what I can tell he is going to be a developmental guy because he runs a lot of spread formations, not to mention he doesn’t look like he goes through his progressions well, he doesn’t use his eyes well and I think his footwork needs to be improved. If he had a stronger arm, better footwork or if he scanned the field better I think I might have rated him higher than Jerrod Johnson, but Johnson’s athletic ability and arm strength make him a more valuable prospect based off of what I have seen.

Dalton didn't impress me against Boise State, but he has an opportunity to redeem himself as a senior. Especially now that TCU is ranked high enough that an undefeated season could mean a BCS Championship birth.

8- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU- I’m not very high on Dalton, but from what I understand he is a pretty good leader and he has had a great career at TCU. I was not impressed with him against Boise State at all, but I understand that was one of his less impressive games so I don’t want to judge him just off of that game. I think he has the potential to get drafted in the 4th-5th round right now but I haven’t seen enough of him to evaluate him the way I would normally like. It will be interesting to see how he does this year because TCU will have a chance to get into the National Championship game if they go undefeated. I look forward to seeing how he does against Oregon State in week one.

9- Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech- I wrote up a post on Tyrod Taylor earlier in the summer and I have to say I think he has progressed a lot since he had his redshirt taken off and he started to electrify Virginia Tech again. He looks like a QB who can run well rather than a runner who can pass well, which I can’t say I ever thought I would say about Tyrod. He still has progress he can make obviously, but he has come so far in the last few years that it’s hard for me to say that he won’t be drafted in the 5th-6th round range at this point. I think he will have a good senior season, and if he does I would be shocked if he didn’t get drafted. I am very interested to see how he does in arguably the most important season of his career.

Pryor has a lot of potential, but he needs to play like he did in the Rose Bowl more consistently if I am going to buy him as a quality NFL QB Prospect. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

10- Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State- I would have been hard pressed to put Pryor in my top 15 QB’s before I watched him against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, but he made me pause and actually consider him as a potential QB after I saw that game. If he plays more consistently like that then he will definitely move up on my rankings. However, before that I thought he was an absolute joke of a Quarterback, so I am definitely not ready to say that he has arrived and will take the Nation by storm. He has great size and sky-high potential because of his incredible athletic ability, but he is still a great athlete that can play QB to me, not a great QB with incredible athletic ability for the position. It will be interesting to see how he does this year, but I can’t say I expect him to play consistently well like he did in the Rose Bowl last year, so that is why I have him at 10 as of now.

11- John Brantley, QB, Florida- I know that John Brantley doesn’t have much experience, and I know he hasn’t led his team to a lot of wins like Stanzi, McElroy or Tolzien have, but I think Brantley has the ability to be a quality QB prospect. I have watched all of the footage of him that I can find, from the Spring Game this past summer to any throw I could find of him on YouTube. What I see is a pretty good athlete, a guy with good size, a strong arm with good zip on his throws, good accuracy (in the clips I have seen, which I admit have been limited), and even the ability to go through a couple of his progressions. That impressed me because he did as good of a job, if not better, of doing that than Tebow did. I think Brantley has one of the toughest jobs in the entire Nation this year replacing a local and national legend in Tim Tebow at QB of the Gators, so it will be really interesting to see how he handles replacing him on and off the field, because that is a lot to live up to. I think he can do it though, so it will be interesting to see how he plays this season. I think he will have a good first season as a starter, personally.

Stanzi is a solid QB, but he has never impressed me whether I saw him live or on game tape. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

12- Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa- Some are higher on Stanzi than I, but I am not a big fan of him. He runs a pro-style offense, or something similar to a pro-style, but he throws a lot of shorter throws and I am not very impressed with his arm strength, the zip he puts on throws and he makes some bad reads and forces throws into coverage at times. It will be interesting to see how he does without his security blanket Tony Moeaki lining up with him this year. He has some weapons he can take advantage of, so I expect him to have a good year, but I don’t know how much of a leader he is, how good of an arm he has or how well he reads a defense. To me he is a 6th round pick right now, because he has proved he can win and produce when he has to, especially late in games, which is something that has always impressed me. Delivering when the game is on the line is the ultimate test of a quarterback’s competence in my opinion, or of any other position. We will have to see how Stanzi does this year, but I’m not a big fan.

13- Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama- McElroy has some poise, but to me he isn’t much more than a game manager. He’s a pretty good one though, because without some of the throws he made over the course of the season I don’t think Alabama would have won the National Championship. But in my estimation he was just a cog that had to do it’s job for the team to win, not a key piece. He doesn’t look like he has a very strong arm, he isn’t overly accurate, he isn’t a fiery leader, he doesn’t have great size, and I’ve never seen him take over a game when his team needs him to. He has put some nice drives together, but they aren’t drives that make me say “Wow, now that is a good quarterback.” They are drives that make me say “Wow, that is a good team.” It will be interesting to see how McElroy does this year, but I don’t have very high expectations for him to be honest.

14- Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin- Tolzien is a solid QB, but he is nothing special in my opinion. That certainly endears him to Wisconsin fans though, because he is leaps and bounds better than recent QB’s they have had, like Sherer or Evridge for example. He has solid arm strength and accuracy, he has decent size and athleticism, but he isn’t overly poised and doesn’t read defenses particularly well in my opinion. But that was his first season as a starter, so it will be interesting to see how he looks with a year under his belt as he auditions for a potential job in the NFL. He could make a career out of being a back-up, so it will be interesting to see how he does.

Mustain may not be a starter at USC, but that doesn't mean he isn't talented. I think he is worth a 7th round pick at this point, and if he performs well in mop-up duty and posteason games... he could move up even higher.

15- Mitch Mustain, QB, Southern Cal- Mustain is definitely under the radar, but before he transferred from Arkansas he was a starter as a freshman and he wasn’t half bad from what I understand. He could have been a four year starter had he seen eye to eye with Houston Nutt, but he went to USC and has been a back-up ever since. However, he definitely flashed ability when he threw five touchdowns in USC’s Spring Game, so hopefully he will get to play in garbage time so I can see his mechanics, his arm strength, accuracy, and everything else. Hopefully Matt Barkley doesn’t get hurt, but USC has said that they would be comfortable handing Mustain the reigns to the offense, which is high praise considering how bad Aaron Corp looked in a reserve role last season. Mustain said that he received 10 offers to leave USC after the two year postseason ban was announced, but he elected to stay at USC because he wants to master the pro-style offense they run so he can adjust to the NFL quickly. That kind of maturity is impressive, and that makes me like him. I think he is definitely worth a 7th round pick at this point, and if he looks good in postseason games… he could be worth even more.

16- Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana- Chappell is definitely flying under the radar right now, but I spent a good deal of time figuring out whatever I could about him and seeing all the footage of him I can without having a game on my hard drive to evaluate him. He has a bit of a hitch in his throwing motion which is a little concerning, but I am seriously considering him as my sleeper QB for the Senior class. I think he has the potential to move up boards and get drafted, but I can’t rank him above other QB’s that I have seen and gotten a feel for before I have seen him play an entire full length game. As it stands now I have only seen selective clips of him. But he seems to be a good leader and he has a pretty strong arm along with solid size and production. It will be interesting to see how he does this year, I am excited to see him play an entire game.

Harris needs to learn to put zip on his throws, because he will struggle mightily in the NFL if he puts as much air under his passes as he did last year.

17- Jacory Harris, QB, Miami- Harris is a good QB, but at this point I don’t think he is good enough that I would draft him over any of the Seniors I have ranked ahead of him. He needs to continue to progress and work on some of his issues, like his throwing motion, his release point, and the amount of touch he puts on all of his throws. I don’t know if he will ever stop putting that much touch on his passes, and that really hurts his potential in the NFL in my opinion. There are times that you need to put some zip on a throw to get it completed, but Harris either doesn’t understand that or he can’t do it, and neither is a good thing. It will be interesting to see how well he does this season, but I think that he has a lot to work on and that is why I ranked him so low.

18- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri- Gabbert has good size and solid arm strength and accuracy, but he just doesn’t “wow” me in any aspect to be honest. He plays in a spread, had good production and in general performed decently last year. I don’t think he’s a very special prospect, so as a junior if he came out I don’t think he’d get drafted before any of the guys I listed who, for the most part, have more experience and potential. I look forward to watching him to see if he develops into a better passer as a junior though.

19- Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU- Jefferson has a lot of athletic ability along with good size and arm strength but his accuracy is inconsistent and something about his throwing motion looks off. It looks slow to me and I wonder how much it can be tweaked to speed it up. He has never impressed me that much, but he still has potential and that is why he made my list. I wonder how he will look this year, but I hope he will continue to develop and learn to make better decisions and place the ball better.

20- Nick Foles, QB, Arizona- I had Foles much higher on this list but then I saw his throws against USC and I lost a lot of confidence in him. He checked down a lot, he stared his receivers down on almost every snap, and he generally looked unimpressive. Perhaps he will prove me wrong for ranking him this low this season if he holds onto the starting spot and learns to read defenses better, but I am not really holding my breath on that. I will still watch him, but I don’t expect to see anything special. He was productive last year, but if he can’t read a defense then it doesn’t really matter how productive he is: he won’t make it on the next level.

Again, I am sorry about the long time between these posts. I’ve been working a lot for the football team here and it has just been a busy couple of weeks for me. Hopefully this will tide you over until my next post. Thanks for reading!

–Tom