I'm writing this for two reasons: 1) I am sick of all the QB talk right now (and this post will probably be buried in a day or 2 by all the QB posts), 2) I've got two hours to kill and no homework before my next class and 3) I love the draft.
I was on record plenty of time's saying last years draft sucked. Well this year's draft is shaping up to be real good in almost every category, especially on offense. We'll look at the offense today so if you're like me and actually give a crap about the draft, take the jump with me. And no, this isn't a mock draft.
Since the hot topic right now is QB, why don't we start there and I should warn you, this will be long:
Andrew Luck (Stanford) has been called the next great thing by basically every talking head imaginable and there's good reason for that. He is the most polished QB to come out of college in a long time. He's got great mechanics, is mobile, strong arm, highly accurate, knows how to operate under center, a leader, a competitor, and highly intelligent. The only negative I have to say on him is that I think he needs to improve his decision making some. Every game I've watched of his he has made one throw into double or triple coverage which has left me scratching my head. Still, if Luck is not the #1 overall pick it's because something catastrophic happened between now and April.
Matt Barkley (USC) was Mel Kiper's pick to be the #1 overall pick this year but it's highly unlikely that'll happen. Still he's got the talent and potential to be a top 10 QB. His main problem is consistency and poise under pressure. At times he looks like a future All Pro NFL QB and other's he looks like a 5th round backup. If he can learn to control his accuracy and settle down in the pocket a bit (and doesn't develop the Leinart sense of entitlement) he could develop into a franchise QB. Personally I think the best option for Barkley would be to go to a good team that doesn't need a QB to win them games (a la Sanchez and the Jets).
Landry Jones (Oklahoma) is the top system's QB in college right now. When the Sooner offense is rolling, watching Jones operate is the college equivalent to watching Brady or Manning run their respective offenses. However when a play breaks down and improvisation is required Jones has not yet shown he can be the guy who can make something out of nothing. Florida State vs. Oklahoma is the perfect example of that. While OU still came away with the victory, the Sooner offense looked out of sync and Jones did not look like a top tier NFL QB. I believe Jones will probably have to sit a year or two to get accustomed to the NFL. Right now I have him locked to the Colts because I think he'll be the perfect QB to sit behind and learn from Manning till Peyton retires.
Outside the 1st round their is still a ton of good talent. Nick Foles (Arizona) and Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) have both had their names mentioned as 1st round guys and if we see another QB run like last year, we could see both go in the first. Foles is a guy that has struggled with consistency but has the tools and Cousins plays in a run oriented offence so it's hard to judge his ceiling but he seems to be a top end game manager. Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) is a guy who has a ton of potential but has limited experience and always seems to crumble under pressure. Kellen Moore (Boise State) is a guy you will see all over draft boards. Some have him as a 2nd round guy because he is a talented QB who knows how to win and others have him as a 5th round guy because of his size (6-1 190 lbs). I think someone will fall in love with this kid and take him in the 2nd but who knows. Brandon Weeben (Oklahoma State) is a guy who has 1st round talent. The problem is he is already 29 so the only way he get's taken higher than the 3rd round is if he can prove he can come into the league and be successful early on.
One wild card to watch is Robert Griffin III (Baylor). I don't think he will declare for the draft this year but if he does, he will be high on my list. He is the best mobile QB coming out of college I've seen in a long time. Think a much more accurate Michael Vick. Great arm and incredibly fast. However the one thing that impresses me most is that while he is a great runner, he is always looking down-field to make a play with his arm first. He is undersized, operates primarily out of shotgun and has yet to go against any real competition but right now he is doing what he should do, absolutely dominating weaker competition. Wanna here a cool little stat line, Robert Griffin has thrown more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12) this season... let that sink in.
Outside the 2nd and 3rd round there is still a ton of potential talent. Ryan Lindley (San Diego State) is a guy I've seen mocked in the 2nd but his accuracy is too wild to be considered before the 4th. Case Keenum (Tulsa) has put together a solid college career and looks like he could develop into a very good game manager and maybe even more. Both Dominque Davis (East Carolina) and John Brantley (Florida) are putting together strong campaigns early and if they continue this way they could push themselves into the 4th. EJ Manuel (Florida State) did a solid job replacing Christian Ponder last year and if he doesn't continue to struggle with injury could make a push for the 3rd round. Even with all these solid names the one guy who has caught my eye the most Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois). Watch film on him, he reminds me a ton of Tebow. He's a big mobile QB who can throw and is a fiesty competitor. The only difference (from a scouting perspective) is that he has some experience under center. He's the guy I have my eye on.
With Tebow the only QB under contract next year I will be shocked if we don't draft a QB and I believe you could find a franchise QB in any round next year. The only thing really splitting these QB's apart are the odds of them becoming a franchise guy and how long it will take for them to develop but each has the potential to develop into one.
Since I do not believe Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina) is eligible for the draft this year, Trent Richardson (Alabama) is the consensus top pick and will be the only guy to go in 1st round due to his size, speed and vision. Chris Polk (Washington), Cyrus Gray (Texas A&M), and Montee Ball (Wisconsin) are big RB's who will most likely be taken in the 2nd. LaMichael James (Oregon) is a smaller utility back who looks like he could be an elite 3rd down RB (think Bush or Sproles) but he probably won't ever develop into a feature back. Other guys to watch out for are Doug Martin (Boise State) and Tauron Poole (Tennesse). Outside the the top rounds it's hard to really predict RB's because they're a dime a dozen and it really is a crapshot trying to figure out how they'll fall but my guy to watch is Vick Ballard out of Mississippi State.
This year's crop of receivers is very strong. Ashlon Jeffrey (South Carolina) and Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) are the top receivers this year and both are considered top 10. Right now it's mixed which one is better but since Oklahoma State has far superior QB play, my bet is on Blackmon to come out on top. Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) has 1st round talent but due to character concerns as well as poor QB play could fall to the 2nd round. Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma) and Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M) are both fringe 1st round guys as well. Juron Crinor (Arizona), Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers), Dwight Jones (North Carolina), and Greg Childs (Ohio State) are all names to watch in the 2nd.
Last year the draft was full of smallish receivers who had a better chance of succeeding as kick returners than receivers. This year is different, all these guys I have mentioned have the ideal size and skill set to be dominant receivers in the NFL. Right now my main player to watch in the later rounds is Marquis Maze out of Alabama. One wild card to watch is Chris Rainey of Florida. 5-9 179 lbs is definitely not NFL size but he has lightning speed and has been nothing but a playmaker for the Gators. He can play both RB and WR (think McCluster) and is a real interesting player to look at late in the draft.
The second most important position for an offense is LT and this year the draft is stacked their as well. Matt Kalil (USC, brother of all pro center Ryan Kalil) is currently sitting as my 2nd best player in draft and has dominated all year so far. Jonathan Martin (Stanford) and Riley Reiff (Iowa) sit 2 and 3 respectively and both will be top 15 picks. One player to watch is DJ Fluker (Alabama). It's doubtful he will declare but if he does he could push Kalil as the top tackle in the draft this year. All these players are top physical specimens who dominate in both the run and pass games.
Mike Adams (Ohio State) would probably see himself in contention for the 1st round if it wasn't for character issues. Right now he sits at the top of the 2nd round. Wisconsin always seems to develop NFL caliber o-lineman and Ricky Wagner seems to be the next one of them. Matt Reynolds (BYU) has 1st round talent but his age (25) could cause some teams to shy away. Levy Adcock (Oklahoma State), Bobbie Massie (Ole Miss), Nate Potter (Boise State), and Andrew Datko (Florida State) are all players to watch as well. Xavier Nixon (Florida), Tanner Hawkinson (Kansas), and Al Netter (Northwestern) are players to watch outside the 2nd.
Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) is a huge guard with great power and athleticism. He'll probably be the only guard taken in the 1st but David DeCastro (Stanford) could make a strong case to go in the 1st as well since he is an experienced guard who is strong at both pass and run blocking. Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin), Ryan Miller (Colorado), Barrett Jones (Alabama) and Cordy Glenn (Georgia) are all players to watch in 2nd. Other's to watch are Rokevious Watkins (South Carolina) and Brandon Washington (Miami). At center, Michael Brewster (Ohio State) is the only notable name but William Vlacho (Alabama), Pete Konz (Wisconsin) and Ben Jones (Georgia) are all names to watch later on as well.
As you can tell I this draft is stacked on the offensive side of the ball. Players I believe will be on the Broncos radar in the 1st round will be Luck (duh), Richardson, and any of the top 3 OT's. Outside the 1st, I could easily see the Broncos taking a RB or going after a o-lineman. I think QB will wait till the 3rd and Broncos snag whoever is left at the top of their board or we could even see a trade up to get the QB they want. However without seeing what the defensive side of the draft looks like it is hard to truly predict what will happen so join me for Pt. 2 (hopefully I will get it up soon).
I forgot about FB's and TE's so I'll quickly cover the ones I think you should watch right now. Dwayne Allen (Clemson) is currently sitting atop my rankings for TE. Great at both blocking and receiving, right now he's sitting with a 2nd round grade but I could see him slipping into the 1st. Michael Egnew out of Missouri was Gabbert's top target last year. He will probably see a drop in his production but he's still a threat as a receiver. Other guys to watch out for are Rhett Elison (USC), Jake Stoneburner (Ohio State), and David Paulson (Oregon). Ladarius Green (Louisiana-Lafayette) is a small TE at only 230 lbs. but he's a matchup nightmare and could be a guy to keep your eye on. He could be a real dangerous threat for a pass happy team.
There are two FB's that are worth mentioning. Cody Johnson (Texas) is a mauler and the top pure blocking TE in college right now. He isn't a threat in the pass game which could determine whether he is drafted or not. Joe Halahuni (Oregon State) is the only other guy who could get drafted due to the fact he is a threat in the passing game.