NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Carolina Panthers #1 overall pick Cam Newton from Auburn during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Loser might be a bit harsh. The title should probably be three teams whose Drafts I did not like. It is entirely possible things will pan out for all of these teams. I am just not a fan of what they did.
Carolina Panthers: The success of this Draft for Carolina is based on one player, Cam Newton. If Newton is great, and every other pick bombs, the Panthers will remember this as the Draft that made them contenders. If Newton bombs, and every other pick is great, they will remember this as the Draft that set them back. That is how important the quarterback position is in the NFL and how risky taking a quarterback high is. Is Newton worth the risk of likely over $50 million and the next three to four years of the franchise's history?
It sure does not look like a high risk gamble on paper. Newton has no experience running a pro style passing offense. He ran what for all intents and purposes was a Single Wing offense at Auburn. He does not know how to read a defense or go through progressions. He does not have experience practicing mechanics or the repetitions dropping back from under center. This pick was essentially a leap of faith that he will learn how to be a great passing quarterback because he was a great option quarterback in college. The problem is being good at one does not make a player good at the other. Both require different skills.
Watch an Auburn game on tape and tell me how many times Newton has five seconds to throw with no pressure and misses a wide open receiver. A quarterback in the pros cannot be successful doing that. Newton used his athleticism to dominate college football. He ran through arm tackles. He had guys get open down the field for big plays because defenses had to move up players into the box to counter his running. That will not happen in the NFL.
This just feels like a very bad gamble.
Tennessee Titans: I am using a lot of the same principles with Jake Locker that I did with Newton. The Titans really reached with Locker. One of the worst things you can do to try to make up for a mistake by overcompensating. That is what that pick felt like. Vince Young reportedly had a bad attitude and did not work hard enough. That should not make the opposite of those traits the only criteria for picking a new quarterback. Yes, Locker is a great guy and a hard worker. He also is inaccurate with poor touch on everything but the deep ball, struggles to read a defense, makes bad decisions, and is too quick to take off running. He is a good athlete with a good deep ball. He reminds me of Jake Plummer. Now the next few years of Tennessee's franchise are invested in Locker's raw ability developing into something special. Again, it feels like a bad gamble.
Seattle Seahawks: Welcome to Pete Carroll. The Seahawks reached for James Carpenter in the first round, when there was arguably better offensive line talent available. A number of teams either traded up or tried to trade up near that spot. Why not move down and take Carpenter later? I think they also reached for K.J. Wright and Kris Durham early on day three.