Zoltan's Crystal Ball: 10 Truths about the 2011 NFL Draft

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Here are a couple of prognostications for this upcoming draft:

  • 1.) No QB is worth the #1 pick this year. To be honest, I see no QB who is worth the #16 pick, either. Yeah, Cam Newton has all the tools an owner could want from his franchise quarterback, but can he keep his personality flaws in control and be a professional like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady? Blaine Gabbert is one of the biggest enigmas of this draft for me. If he gets a great coach and team (I’m looking at you San Francisco and Jim Harbaugh), then he can be a stud. But he could be the next Brady Quinn as well. Jake Locker has accuracy issues (would love to see him staying at home with the Seahawks). Ryan Mallett (the other big enigma) is the ultimate gamble, basically for the same reasons that Newton is a very risky pick. Christian Ponder is ready for the NFL, maybe he is the most prepared from this class, but is he durable enough to become a star? Andy Dalton is everybody’s favorite QB it seems, but people who have eyes for this game told me, he will be just a game manager QB at best. Colin Kaepernick’s stock is on the rise, but is he really a big star in the making (and nobody noticed because he played in Nevada) or are we just excited about some exciting performances in the pre-draft events in a mediocre year for the quarterback position? And Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi, who is the sleeper of this QB class (along with Nathan Enderle of Idaho), where he will land? If he can learn for a year behind an experienced QB and get great coaching – watch out for him!
  • 2.) Of the eight quarterbacks the Jags’ front office likely gave 1st or 2nd round grades, only 5 could realistically end up in teal. Cross off Gabbert and Newton because both will be picked before 16 and Mallett because there’s no way Gene Smith gives the keys to his recently rebuilt 1964 Mustang to this guy. The Jaguars could pick Locker or Ponder in Round 1, Dalton or Kaepernick in Round 2 and Stanzi in Round 3 (maybe in Round 2 if they can trade back and the other seven have already been picked – count out Mallett, not going to happen).
  • 3.) Carolina and Head Coach Ron Rivera will be making a huge mistake if they pick Cam Newton with the #1 pick. I know they expected to get Andrew Luck, but the Stanford QB decided to stay in college. I really respect him for that move and maybe he will regret it, like Jake Locker is now, but for the long term it was a wise choice. The draft is loaded with great defensive players and AJ Green. The Carolina D-line is anything but solid (but former Jaguar Derek Landri is doing fine, it was a mistake letting him go so easily, Gene). Marcell Dareus is the BAP of this draft, with Patrick Peterson a very close second. Plus Jimmy Clausen was your highest pick one year ago. I would give him one more year to prove himself. So why Cam Newton? Because new coach means new QB? Bad things ahead if they make that choice.
  • 4.) If the Jaguars don’t go with a QB, Gene Smith will pull the trigger on a DE. It’s a three way horse race between Cam Jordan – your LDE for the next couple of years, Ryan Kerrigan – the new Aaron Kampman?, and JJ Watt – which would mean the Jaguars are preparing to switch to 3-4 sooner than later. Aldon Smith is too risky for GM Gene, but he may have the most upside, as well. And what if Da‘quan Bowers is still there at 16? That would be very tempting as well. However, all signs look point to the most unpredictable GM of 2010 not surprising anyone in 2011 by selecting the general public’s consensus Jaguars’ pick – Ryan Kerrigan. Or will he?
  • 5.) Expect the unexpected from GM Gene. Let’s see what he surprised us in his two drafts. Monroe was a lucky situation – Prince Amukamara could be this year’s obvious BAP that falls into the Jaguars’ arms. He drafted back to back OTs in Round 1 & 2, then away a future 2nd rounder to move up in the 3rd for a CB nobody ever heard of, Derek Cox. In 2010, he shocked the NFL with Tyson Alualu (so far he was right) and selected four defensive lineman in his first four picks and by the way, he drafted three linemen with his first three picks in ’09. That’s why I think a DE is the most likely outcome in the 1st round. Either Dalton or Kaepernick in the 1st (I hope that won’t happen) would be jaw-dropping and who can really put it past him to select an offensive tackle! The Jaguars will draft another player from the FCS in the 2-4 round as well as at least two small school prospects. Look out for Julius Thomas from Portland State and David Mims from Virginia Union!
  • 6.) The Titans will draft a QB with the first round pick. That will be Blaine Gabbert. Houston will pick a D-lineman ( my candidates are Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan or Aldon Smith). And Bill Polian will draft the BAOT; I personally would  would draft a QB early, if I was GM of the Colts. If something happens to Peyton Manning, the Colts can pick their QB with the top 3 pick they’ll garner in 2012 with Curtis Painter at the helm.
  • 7.) The Jaguars will execute two draft-day trades this year. In ’09 and ’10 they openly advertised that they wanted to trade down from their 1st round slot, yet ended up staying put. They do not appear adamant to trade down from #16 this year, though Gene Smith said they are open to all offers. This could be the year they get their trade-down and some extra picks. Kerrigan and Jordan are prospects worthy of the 16th pick, but if the Jaguars do not get their QB in the 1st round, they will be moving up in round 2 to grab Dalton, Kaepernick, or in a perfect world, Christian Ponder.
  • 8.) Five (count them, five!) quarterbacks will be taken in the first round this year. Newton and Gabbert will be top 10 picks. Locker will be tempting for teams like Minnesota, Miami, Jacksonville, and Seattle – one of them will pull the trigger. And I can see teams like the Bills, Cardinals, Bengals and yes, even the Jaguars maneuvering into the very end of the 1st round to pick Andy Dalton (who will be a 1st rounder) and Kaepernick or Ponder, one of which will be the fifth off the board.
  • 9.) If teams are able to trade players, the Jaguars will trade Derrick Harvey for a middle-to-late round pick.
  • 10.) Jaguars draft scenarios…

Dream Scenario Round 1: Trade back in the 1st, pick up Christian Ponder (QB, FSU) and an extra 3rd rounder Round 2: Stefen Wisniewski (C, Penn State) or Leonard Hankerson (WR, Miami) or one of the Boise St. WR’s (Titus Young and Austin Pettis) Round 3: Greg Jones (ILB, Michigan St.) and Tyler Sash (SS, Iowa) Round 4: Mark Herzlich (LB, Boston College) and Chris Culliver (CB, South Carolina) Round 5: Shiloh Keo (SS, Idaho) Round 6: Julius Thomas (TE, Portland St.)

Realistic VersionRound 1: Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue) Round 2: Rahim Moore (FS, UCLA) or Greg Jones Round 3: Ricky Stanzi (QB, Iowa)  Round 4: Vincent Brown (WR, San Diego St.) and Mark Herzlich Round 5: Ricky Elmore (DE, Arizona) Round 6: David Mims (OT, Virginia Union)

- Zoltan Paksa

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