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Tag:Blaine Gabbert
Posted on: April 28, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Some talk Gabbert could slide

Speaking with NFL sources over the past few hours and one of the more interesting tidbits floating around is that Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert could slip.

Once viewed as a possible No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers, some suggest Gabbert could fall past Buffalo (No. 3), Cincinnati (No. 4), Arizona (No. 5), San Francisco (No. 7), and Tennessee (No. 8) -- despite the fact that each club could use a quarterback.

Quite frankly, while the rumor is interesting, I don't buy it. I have Gabbert going No. 7 overall to the 49ers . My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter has him going even higher -- 3rd overall.

Even if Gabbert slips a bit, I can't imagine him falling out of the top ten. I've been told that Washington head coach Mike Shanahan and his son, Kyle Shanahan -- the Redskins' offensive coordinator, love the Missouri passer's combination of size, arm and athleticism. Should Gabbert slip to the Redskins, he'd jump ahead of other needs, like wide receiver and pass rusher. 

The greater point might be how Gabbert's fall -- should it happen -- would impact the rest of the QB class and how they, too, might slip as a result.
Posted on: April 27, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 7:29 pm
 

Late assessments on the "other" QBs

This year’s draft might be rifer with quarterback quandaries than any lottery in recent memory.

In fact, quarterback might be the one position that commands as many disparate opinions as defensive end – where scouts seem to be in agreement that eight or nine could be taken in the first round, but are all over the board in terms of an order -- maybe even more.

And here are a few late assessments from scouts on the quarterbacks not named Newton or Gabbert:

   --There remain serious questions about the arm strength of Andy Dalton of TCU, especially on deep balls, and passes thrown outside the numbers. Dalton possesses leadership skills that some deem off the charts, and has the most college starts of any of the top-ranked quarterbacks, but his measurable attributes are fairly average.

   --While he has just pedestrian speed, and there are concerns over off-field rumors, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas times the fastest in taking the snap under center and getting rid of the ball.

   --Washington’s Jake Locker was a guy who ran too much early in 2010, but was impressive later in the season in identifying second and third options in the passing game.

   --Christian Ponder probably throws to the “right receiver,” with very nice touch but suspect arm strength, more than any of the quarterback prospects.

--Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:28 pm
 

Arizona Cardinals Draft Preview

Arizona Cardinals 2010 record: 5-11, fourth place NFC West

2011 draft rundown - Eight total picks (round): 5 (1); 38 (2); 69 (3); 103 (4); 136 (5); 171 (6); 184 (7); 249 (7)

Top needs:   

Outside linebacker: Last year's starters, Clark Haggans and Joey Porter, will be 34 by the time the season is scheduled to start. Haggans could return, but Porter, whose salary is due to increase to $5.75 million probably is gone. Von Miller would be a nice replacement. With Daryl Washington and O'Brien Schofield, the Cardinals would have three young, promising linebackers. Brooks Reed from the University of Arizona would make sense in the second round. He's bigger and would be a good fit on the left side.

Quarterback: It's the top priority this offseason, but the Cardinals would prefer to address it through free agency or trade. Those options obviously aren't available to them, but they will be at some point, if the 2011 season is to be played. In John Skelton, the Cardinals already have a young quarterback. But there are some intriguing quarterbacks in this draft. Whisenhunt likes smart, tough gym-rat type of guys. Andy Dalton of Texas Christian falls into that category, as does Washington's Jake Locker. Both likely will be gone by the second round, however.

Inside linebacker: Gerald Hayes, the starter for the past five seasons, probably will be released at some point. The Cardinals don't have a big, inside linebacker on the roster, and could use a physical presence. Illinois' Martez Wilson would make sense in the second round. The starting two inside linebackers, Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington, weigh between 230 pounds and 240 pounds.

Guard: The starting guards, Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui, are not under contract, and there are no young players behind them. Cannon is huge, 6-5, 358, and the Cardinals love to have large, road-grader type guys inside. Cannon has the size to play tackle, too, which is attractive.


First-round focus  5th overall -- The general consensus among league insiders is that the Cardinals would much rather land their next starting quarterback via free agency or trade, rather than invest in a rookie. Despite this notion, Arizona could have a hard time passing up Missouri's Blaine Gabbert -- rated by many as the top quarterback of this class -- if he were available to them at No. 5. With several attractive would-be free agents potentially available, the Cardinals could elect to look at other positions of need, however. Chief among them is pass rusher. The Cardinals feature two aging outside linebackers in Clark Haggans and Joey Porter and could be in prime position to nab the top pass rusher of the draft in Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller. The Cardinals kept close eye on the former Aggie throughout the week of practice at the Senior Bowl and could certainly use his speed off the edge. Arizona is so needy at the position that some theorize the club would "reach" for North Carolina's Robert Quinn should Miller already be gone. Perhaps a safer move would be to stick to the best player available strategy. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson wouldn't fill as big of a need, but could present a big play threat opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Similarly, if Georgia wideout A.J. Green were to still be available, he would provide the Cardinals with a vertical threat to help Larry Fitzgerald. With two receivers of that quality, veteran quarterbacks would likely be lining up at the door to play in Arizona, especially considering that the Cardinals play in the very winnable NFC West division.

Five names on Cardinals' board:   
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
WR A.J. Green, Georgia
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:14 pm
 

Cincinnati Bengals Draft Preview

Cincinnati Bengals 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC North

2011 draft rundown - Eight total picks (round): 4 (1); 35 (2); 66 (3); 101 (4); 134 (5); 167 (6); 207 (7); 246 (7)

Top needs:   

Quarterback: With Carson Palmer stating that he is done playing in Cincinnati, the Bengals have to address the position early. Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour are on the roster but they have thrown a combined 15 passes in regular-season games and are not the long-term answer. Whoever they draft, it won't be a situation like 2003 where Carson Palmer got to sit for a year and learn the offense. He will be expected to play immediately.

Wide receiver: Cincinnati needs to draft a young playmaker who can stretch the field because Chad Ochocinco, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell are all entering the final year of their contracts. With Ochocinco's production declining the past three years and scheduled to make $6 million this year, the odds of him being on the opening-day roster are slim. The Bengals haven't drafted a receiver in the first round since 2000 but they have squandered nearly $25 million in free agency the last two years in trying to find someone to line up opposite Ochocinco.

Safety: The Bengals could go into the season with Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson as the starters (Roy Williams is an unrestricted free agent), but could get caught short for the third straight year due to injuries. They could find a safety or two in the middle rounds but Lewis has already said that the quality in this year's class is not good.

Offensive line: Guard is an immediate need with Bobbie Williams entering the final year of his contract and Nate Livings inconsistent. Depending on if Andre Smith can come back from his third foot surgery since being drafted two years ago, there could also be a need at right tackle. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander has done a solid job developing linemen, but those have been mostly undrafted players.


First-round focus  4th overall -- Like the Buffalo Bills picking immediately before them, the Bengals are in the unenviable position of reading the tea-leaves with their current quarterback. Should the Bengals take Carson Palmer at his word and believe that he will never play for them again, they'll feel the pressure to select either Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton, should either be available to them at No. 4. If neither is, the Bengals are expected to select Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green with the fourth pick. Not only would he help the Bengals' passing game (and potentially help convince Palmer to come back), he also would provide Cincinnati with some flexibility at the receiver position -- something they need desperately considering the precarious status of their current receiving corps. Alabama's Julio Jones is a more physical blocker and ran faster at the Combine. He is viewed by some as a better in the West Coast Offense due to his size and strength, but isn't nearly as consistent as Jones in the all-important categories of route-running and catching passes with his hands. Though the Bengals have rarely moved on draft day (they've been apart of only three first round trades since 1992), this could be the year to do it. There will be plenty of interest in Green and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, as well as Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller should he still be on the board. The Bengals may be forced to trade back into the late portion of the first round if they're unable to trade back from No. 4 as they desperately need a quarterback -- and potentially one who could contribute immediately. Most view Florida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton as the most pro-ready quarterbacks of this year's draft. There is no guarantee that either will be available when the Bengals select in the second round (No. 35 overall).

Five names on Bengals' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
WR A.J. Green, Georgia
WR Julio Jones, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:14 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 9:19 pm
 

Buffalo Bills Draft Preview

Buffalo Bills 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC East

2011 draft rundown - Nine total picks (round): 3 (1); 34 (2); 68 (3); 100 (4); 122 (4); 133 (5); 169 (6); 206 (7); 245 (7)

Top needs:   

Defensive line: The Bills' 2,714 rushing yards allowed was second most in team history and they allowed eight 200-yard rushing games. Aside from Pro Bowl nose tackle Kyle Williams, blue-chip talent required to stop the run and rush the passer is sorely lacking. Alabama's Marcell Dareus and Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers are in the discussion.

Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick's career-high 23 touchdown passes provides a level of comfort. The question is whether Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert are "franchise" talents too good to pass up with the No. 3 overall pick. Or is there a prospect to take in Round 2 (No. 34) and develop? Florida State's Christian Ponder is a candidate for that scenario.

Linebacker: The Bills are in need of run stoppers and pass rushers at this vital position. Even with free agent Shawne Merriman in the fold, there is a general lack of star power on both the outside and inside and Paul Posluszny could be declared a free agent. The team is paying dearly for drafting Aaron Maybin 11th overall in 2009; he has yet to record a sack.

Offensive tackle: The Bills like four of their five starters, but right tackle was a revolving door in 2010. Mansfield Wrotto, Cordaro Howard and Erik Pears are expected to compete for the starting right tackle job but the team will add to the mix.


First-round focus   3rd overall -- The direction the Buffalo Bills go with the No. 3 overall pick all depends on their true feelings for veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The journeyman enjoyed a career year in 2010, passing for 3,000 yards and a respectable 23 touchdowns (against 15 interceptions) despite starting only 13 games. Considering the significant struggles the team had on the defensive side of the ball (including allowing eight 200 yard rushers last year), it might seem obvious that the Bills would look to address their defense. However, GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey eschewed their defensive needs last year to draft playmaker C.J. Spiller with the ninth overall pick and might be similarly tempted to draft a premier young signal-caller like Blaine Gabbert should he still be on the board. Having a year to learn the NFL ropes behind Fitzpatrick and IGabbert could prove an NFL star. The upside of the athletic Gabbert (or even more athletic Cam Newton, should he be available) would also be a wise move for a franchise looking to rebuild their fan base. If, on the other hand, the Bills like what they have in Fitzpatrick or decide to push off their concern for a young quarterback into the second or later rounds, there is plenty of defensive talent likely to be available at No. 3 that could fill areas of need. A stout run defender like Alabama's Marcell Dareus would seemingly be a perfect fit for the Bills and almost surely would be the pick if he were available. Experienced inside and out in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense while with the Crimson Tide, Dareus would make an immediate impact. So too would outside linebacker Von Miller, whose ability to rush the quarterback would help ease the suffering of the huge disappointment that has been former No. 11 overall pick Aaron Maybin. Cornerback is one of the team's relative strengths so LSU's Patrick Peterson would be a surprise, but the Bills have already shown their willingness think outside of the box with the selection of Spiller last year.

Five names on Bills' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

Posted on: April 25, 2011 8:00 pm
 

Carolina Panthers Draft Preview

Carolina Panthers 2010 record: 2-14, fourth place NFC South

2011 draft rundown - Eight total picks (round): 1 (1); 65 (3); 97 (3); 98 (4); 132 (5); 166 (6); 203 (7); 244 (7)

Top needs:   

Quarterback: The Panthers finished last passing in 2010, so it doesn't take much to figure out their biggest need this offseason. In fact, even new coach Ron Rivera has come out and said his team's biggest goal is finding a franchise quarterback.

Defensive tackle: The Panthers have an equally pressing need on the other side of the ball at defensive tackle entering this year's NFL draft. Last year, the Panthers rotated Derek Landri, Nick Hayden and Ed Johnson in at the defensive tackle spots. All three might be considered decent role players, but none are exceptional and might not start for many other teams around the league.

Wide receiver: Yes, the Panthers drafted three wide receivers last year, including two in the third round in Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards and one in the sixth in David Gettis. But if the team decides to trade unhappy veteran Steve Smith, which is a possibility, they will need to replenish this position with a top-end talent.

Cornerback: Richard Marshall has said he doesn't think he'll be back and fellow starter Chris Gamble (who is owed $6 million) is coming off a poor season in which he was benched.


First-round focus   1st overall -- The Carolina Panthers are widely expected to select quarterback Cam Newton with the top overall pick, but some believe the team is struggling to come to grips with the thought of investing the first pick on a player with only one season of starting experience at the BCS level. It is easy to understand why the Panthers might be tempted by some of the other players in this draft class. Alabama defensive Marcell Dareus, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green also play positions of need and are widely viewed as considerably safer prospects. North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn could prove a Pro Bowl caliber pass rusher -- something the Panthers could use considering their loss last year of free agent Julius Peppers -- and would be a popular selection given his close regional ties, as well. Ultimately, however, the way to improve in the NFL is to improve at the quarterback position. Considering the relative talent of the other quarterbacks in the NFC South division (Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa Bay), the only way for the Carolina Panthers to realistically get back into contention for the divisional crown, they need improved play at quarterback. Newton is a gamble, but his 51 touchdowns against SEC competition and poise both on and off the field in driving Auburn to the BCS Championship, is the stuff of legend. At this point, it would be an upset if Carolina selected anyone other than Newton with the first pick -- though with no second round selection and holes throughout the roster, they'll be working the phones to the last second in an effort to trade down.

Five names on Panthers' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina

Posted on: April 25, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Podcast - Yahoo.com's Farrar and I talk NFL Draft

I'm a visual learner and learn more when I read it, but for those of you who like to listen to information, Yahoo.com's Doug Farrar and I recently had a conversation about this week's upcoming NFL Draft.

We touched upon many subjects, including which quarterbacks each of us prefer (not named Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert), as well as breaking down some of the year's top offensive linemen, a safety who might fit bit dropping down to cornerback and much, much more.

I'm flattered to be part of Doug's "Draftmaster" series, which also features my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and Charles Davis of the NFL Network.

You can listen to my episode here.
Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:15 pm
 

San Francisco 49ers Draft Breakdown

San Francisco 49ers 2010 record: 6-10, third place NFC West

2011 draft rundown    12 total picks (round): 7 (1); 45 (2); 76 (3); 108 (4); 115 (4); 141 (5); 174 (6); 190 (6); 211 (7) 231 (7); 239 (7); 250 (7)

Top needs:   

Quarterback: David Carr is the only quarterback under contract and Jim Harbaugh wants to groom a youngster for the future. The 49ers have enough faith in Harbaugh as an evaluator and coach that they may not necessarily use their first-round pick on the position. Harbaugh could wait until the second round for someone like Nevada's Colin Kaepernick or even longer for a sleeper like Delaware's Pat Devlin. The team has offered Alex Smith a one-year contract to return in 2011. But even if that happens, Smith is not yet being viewed as anything but a placeholder quarterback who could start this season while a youngster watches from the sideline. Smith, a laid-back former No. 1 pick who has played an array of offenses, also could be an ideal mentor for a rookie quarterback.

Outside linebacker: The 49ers starters last year, Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson, combined for 6.5 sacks and Lawson is an unrestricted free agent. Vic Fangio wants an aggressive, blitz-happy defense similar to the one that buddy Dom Capers runs in Green Bay. That will require edge rushers who can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks like Clay Matthews does for the Packers. The best option, Von Miller, likely will be off the board. Other possibilities include North Caroliona's Robert Quinn in the first round, North Carolina's Bruce Carter in the second and Fresno State's Chris Carter in the third.

Cornerback: The 49ers finished 24th against the pass last year, and their top cornerback, Nate Clements, might be released due to an unwieldy contract in 2011. Again, Fangio wants to run an aggressive defensive scheme and having cornerbacks who can cover receivers deep is essential. Louisiana State's Patrick Peterson would be a no-brainer selection at pick No. 7 and the team even could nab Nebraska's Prince Amukamara at that spot. Later in the draft, Texas' Aaron Williams or Virginia's Ras-I Dowling are possibilities.

Running back: The 49ers have taken long looks at running backs that will be available in the middle rounds. Their workhorse the last four seasons, Frank Gore, has been injured in each of those years. Furthermore, he is entering the final year of his contract. Backup Anthony Dixon is talented, but the 49ers aren't ready to turn the reins over to him yet. Kansas State's Daniel Thomas, Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones, Nebraska's Roy Helu and Cal's Shane Vereen have all gotten long looks from the 49ers in recent weeks. Any one of them could wind up a 49er.


First-round focus   7th overall -- Despite their 6-10 record, there is a fair amount of optimism that the 49ers are close to turning around the franchise. The club needs more consistency from the quarterback position, of course, but unless Missouri's Blaine Gabbert slips to them at No. 7, they are likely to wait until the second round (or later) rather than reach for a young passer for Jim Harbaugh to develop. The significantly more likely scenario has the 49ers choosing between a cornerback and a pass rusher in the first round. Both have been positions of need for awhile, as costly free agent Nate Clements has been a relative disappointment and the team has struggled to get any type of consistent outside pass rush despite investing a four top 100 picks in their front seven since 2006, including the No. 22 overall pick that year in former NC State standout Manny Lawson. Should North Carolina's Robert Quinn still be available, he makes a great deal of sense. While North Carolina head coach Butch Davis believes that Quinn is best suited to remain as a RDE in the 4-3 alignment, Quinn has demonstrated the agility to potentially be a star as a rush linebacker in San Francisco's 3-4 defense. Others believe that Missouri pass rusher Aldon Smith has more upside due to his longer arms. There is also the possibility that LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson should fall into San Francisco's lap. While pass rusher is the bigger need and the depth at cornerback is greater this year than outside linebacker, the 49ers might struggle to allow the player many view as the best prospect in the 2011 draft to slip any further. There is some talk that the 49ers would select Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamura over Quinn, as they are believed to have the former Cornhusker rated very closely with Peterson.

Five names on 49ers' board:   
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com