2011 NFL Draft: Why Blaine Gabbert Won’t Live Up to the Hype

After Andrew Luck declared, no doubt to the horror of the Carolina Panthers, that he would remain at Stanford instead of going pro after his redshirt-sophomore year, NFL analysts frantically rifled through scouting reports, trying desperately to answer the question: Who is the top quarterback prospect of 2010-2011?

With no clear-cut top prospect, no Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez, NFL scouts settled with Blaine Gabbert, a 6’5, 235-lb senior who played for pass-happy Missouri in college.

With ideal NFL size and arm strength in addition to a pass-first offense, any top-tier quarterback should be able to put up mind-blowing college numbers, right?

Apparently not – Gabbert managed a mediocre 16 touchdown, nine interception season, a season that saw him go 12 for 30 (40 percent completion) in a loss against a very sub-par Texas Tech team.

But his struggles didn’t end there. He completed just under 55% of his passes against San Diego State, where he threw one touchdown and two interceptions.

In Missouri’s game against the Kansas Jayhawks, the same Jayhawks that lost to FCS North Dakota State at the beginning of the season, Gabbert tossed a pair of picks and failed to throw for a score.

During a loss in Lincoln to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Tiger quarterback completed 18 of his 42 pass attempts, good for a 43% completion percentage.

I could go on, but I’ve made my point. Despite fitting the description of an NFL quarterback with his size and arm strength, Gabbert failed to impress – even in the college ranks. Whoever drafts Gabbert in the 1st round will receive in return an average to below-average output.

In his best-case scenario, Gabbert would be Kerry Collins; at worst, Ryan Leaf.

While he may have the look of a franchise quarterback, teams should avoid this future bust unless they’re ready for consistently average quarterback play for the next 10 seasons.

But hey, in Carolina, average quarterback play would be quite a step up.

2011 NFL Mock Draft – Redux

1ST ROUND:

1. Carolina Panthers – DT Nick Fairley, Auburn. The Panthers, surely driven further into alcoholism after Andrew Luck’s decision to stay in college another year, need a defensive tackle to help aid a rush defense that ranked 23rd in the NFL. They can build around Fairley similar to the way that the built around Julius Peppers a few years ago. Other possible picks: WR A.J. Green, Georgia. An athletic freak, Green will instantly aid an offense that ranked last in pass yards per game and points per game and help to replace an ineffective Steve Smith. DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson. After recording 16 sacks in his junior season, Bowers, who had underachieved up to this point in his career, quickly climbed to the top of the ranks for defensive linemen. The only issue with Bowers is his inconsistency: why is it that he failed to be a consistent force until his junior season? (Jan 18)

2. Denver Broncos – CB Patrick Peterson, LSU. By selecting Peterson, a freakishly athletic corner out of LSU, the Broncos will add both an excellent coverage man to help out their pass defense which surrendered 236.2 yard per game, as well as a great kick returner and a great special teams player. Other possible picks: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn. Likely their top priority as a pick, the Broncos desperately need some help on the defensive line to help their rush defense which ranked 32nd in the league in yards per game. If he hasn’t already been picked by the Panthers, Fairley will be heading to Denver. DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson. While the Broncos already have a star defensive end in Elvis Dumervil, Bowers will just add more help to a horrendous rush defense. (Jan 18)

3. Buffalo Bills – DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson. After finishing dead last in the NFL in run defense (giving up an abysmal 169.6 yards per game) and recording only 27 sacks the entire season, the Bills clearly need some help at defensive end. Other possible picks: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina. One extra advantage that Quinn could provide for the Bills is that he can play outside linebacker as well. WR A.J. Green, Georgia. The Bills need another receiver to throw to besides Steve Johnson. (Jan 18)

4. Cincinnati Bengals – WR A.J. Green, Georgia. While it is very Matt Millen of the Bengals to draft a wide receiver despite the multiple pass-catchers on their offense, Cincy needs a young, athletic receiver to replace Ochocinco and Terrell Owens and a playmaker to join their offense of the future, centered so far around Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham. Other possible picks: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina. Having Quinn and Carlos Dunlap at your two defensive end spots would create a fierce defensive line for the future. DE/DT Marcel Dareus, Alabama. Another solid defensive end prospect, Dareus will help out a defense that recorded only 27 sacks the entire season. (Jan 18)

5. Arizona Cardinals – QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri. Since the departure of Kurt Warner, the Cardinals have struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball, specifically in the passing game, where they ranked 31st in the NFL. Gabbert, while not as highly thought of as Andrew Luck, still has a huge arm and will provide better quarterback play than Derek Anderson (supposedly; he threw only 16 touchdowns to 9 interceptions last season… so draw your own conclusions). Other possible picks: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina. The Cardinals need a defensive end after lacking any kind of consistent pass rush last season. DE/DT Marcel Dareus, Alabama. Another good defensive linemen in a draft filled with good defensive linemen. (Jan 18)

6. Cleveland Browns – DE/DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama. After finishing 27th in rush defense this year, the Browns need some solid defensive end play (they also struggled getting pressure on the quarterback, recording only 29 sacks). Other possible picks: WR Julio Jones, Alabama. Honestly, the Browns are just as likely to pick Jones as they are to pick Dareus, as their offense’s top receiver was TE Benjamin Watson, whom finished with less than 800 receiving yards on the season. The Browns need a big play receiver, and Julio Jones is just that. CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska. While not terrible on pass defense this season (finishing 18th overall), the Browns still need improvement if they hope to win a division with quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. (Jan 19)

7. San Francisco 49ers – CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska. The 49er defense finished 24th in pass defense last year, and other than CB Nate Clements, San Francisco lacks solid corner back play. Amukamara, a physical defensive back, will add an instant improvement Other possible picks: DE/DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama. If the Browns decide on Julio Jones, then San Francisco could conceivably pass on Amukamara and go with a DE; but I think that Amukamara is the more likely pick. RB Mark Ingram, Alabama. This pick is very unlikely, but if Jim Harbaugh decides that the one-two punch of Frank Gore (853 yards last season) and Brian Westbrook (340 yards) just aren’t getting the job done, the 49ers could add the former Heisman winner to their roster. Again, very unlikely. (Jan 19)


Texas Longhorns Football: Overview of the 2011 Recruiting Class (Posted Originally on Bleacher Report)

After a disappointing season ended prematurely with a loss to Texas A&M, the University of Texas looked to be in dire straights with the loss of defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp, the firing of Greg Davis and the overwhelming aura of indecision and chaos hovering over Austin. Despite the turmoil, however, Mack Brown still managed to keep a spectacular recruiting class together (the top-ranked class according to both Rivals and Scout).

The prize-jewel of the class undoubtedly is Steele HS running back  Malcolm Brown, the top overall prospect at his position and a top ten overall prospect on both Rivals and Scout. The six-foot, 220 pounder has a similar style of play to that of Mark Ingram and Beanie Wells. With a powerful burst entering contact,  great ball-carrier vision and a strong will to fight for extra yardage, Brown provides the consistency at the running back position absent since Cedric Benson carried the ball for the burnt orange.

The second most highly-touted recruit for the Longhorns is Dangerfield, Texas linebacker  Steve Edmond, a five-star prospect by Scout and a four-star by Rivals. A powerful run-stopper, Edmond has the size to play middle linebacker in college, but could also be used like the coaching staff used  Sergio Kindle and lined up at defensive end.

On the offensive line, Sedrick Flowers (fifth ranked OG) and Garrett Greenlea (fifth ranked OT) are both strong verbal commits to Texas as of now, while the top-ranked OT Christian Westerman waffles due to the coaching changes at UT. Currently, Westerman seems to still favor Texas as a tentative verbal commitment, but the tackle has also shown interest in Oregon, Auburn and Alabama.

The defensive backfield, however, is where Texas’ class really shines. For the second year in a row, the Longhorns pull the top recruit out of Oklahoma, this time in cornerback Josh Turner, ranked as the fourth-best corner in the nation. UT also pulls the third-ranked corner, Leroy Scott from South Houston, as well as the fourth-ranked safety, Sheroid Evans and eighth-ranked corner, Quandre Diggs (considered an athlete by Rivals, but a four star there as well).

On the defensive line, the Longhorns pick up two four-star defensive tackles in Desmond Jackson and Quincy Russell, as well as four-star defensive end Cedric Reed. Texas also has commitments from four-star middle linebackers Kendall Thompson and Chet Moss.

Wide receivers Jaxon Shipley (four-star), Miles Onyegbule (three-star) and Mykkele Thompson (three-star) have all signed with the Longhorns as well. Hopefully, these new faces can provide some consistent hands for a receiving core plagued with inconsistency (looking at you, Malcolm Williams).

Hopefully, Mack Brown will be able to retain all of these commitments in the midst of the Cleve Bryant-Gloria Allred circus amongst a host of other issues, including coaching staff decisions. But, deep down, I believe that Mack Brown will lead the Texas out of this darkness like he did nearly thirteen seasons ago.

News About Upcoming Projects

At school, I was recently assigned a five-page research paper worth about roughly a third of my history grade. As my paper focuses on the race-related implications of the Texas Western (known now as UT-El Paso) basketball team, and as this blog focuses primarily on sports, I figured that posting the paper (pending permission from my school and likely permission from UT-El Paso) would be a nice addition, and add some class and intelligence to this blog, which up to this point has been nothing but a barren wasteland void of either class or intelligence.

If, in fact, I’m granted permission to post the essay (there is a distinct possibility that this won’t happen, as explaining that I want to post an essay on a blog called Gator Boy Up in That may be met with a look of bewilderment), I likely won’t do so until March, as I don’t plan on finishing the paper anytime before the last week it’s due.

2011 College Football Preseason Top 5

While attempting to predict the Top 5 for the 2011 Football Season will likely prove to be an exercise in futility, that doesn’t mean that I won’t try.

I’ll continue to post the rest of my Top 25 throughout the next few weeks.

1. Oklahoma Sooners. On picking the top team in the country, I have to agree with Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples’ pick of Oklahoma. By returning LB Travis Lewis and WR Ryan Broyles, both All-Americans, the Sooners stand out as the clear favorite not only in the Big XII, but in the entire country. Plus, with their balanced offensive attack and physical defense, the Sooners will stand a legitimate shot at knocking off an SEC team should they meet one in the National Title game.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide. Despite losing three of their top players to the draft (RB Mark Ingram, WR Julio Jones and DE Marcel Dareus), the Tide will simply reload. Replacing Ingram will be star running back Trent Richardson, a powerful runner whom many think may possess even more talent than the back he’s replacing. As for wide receiver, Marquise Maze will need to step even further into the spotlight and become a dependable target for new Crimson Tide starting QB AJ McCarron.

3. Oregon Ducks. Returning offensive stars LaMichael James, Darron Thomas, Kenjon Barner and All Pac-10 CB Cliff Harris, the Ducks bring back four huge parts to their National Championship run this year. While they do lose Casey Matthews and Kenny Rowe, their high-powered offense should roll through the new Pac-12 with the exception of Stanford.

4. LSU Tigers. While many people have the Tigers winning it all, I hesitate to pick LSU due to their offense, which sputtered throughout the year and managed a decent but not jaw-dropping 29.3 points per game. What defines them as a top ten team, however, is not their lackluster offense, but instead their shut-down defense. Despite losing Patrick Peterson to the NFL Draft, the Tigers still return eight of their defensive starters.

5. Stanford Cardinal. Despite head coach Jim Harbaugh heading from Palo Alto to nearby San Francisco to coach the 49ers, the Cardinal still return the key to their entire team, QB Andrew Luck, the early-season Heisman favorite and one of the best QB prospects in the last 20 years. The primary problem will be to deal with an offensive line which loses four seniors. I predict that Luck, while he may not have the numbers he put up this year, will still go as the top pick overall in the draft next year. The Cardinal’s biggest challenge of the year will be when the Oregon Ducks come to town.

2011 NFL Mock Draft

1ST ROUND:

1. Carolina Panthers – DT Nick Fairley, Auburn. The Panthers, surely driven further into alcoholism after Andrew Luck’s decision to stay in college another year, need a defensive tackle to help aid a rush defense that ranked 23rd in the NFL. They can build around Fairley similar to the way that the built around Julius Peppers a few years ago. Other possible picks: WR AJ Green, Georgia. An athletic freak, Green will instantly aid an offense that ranked last in pass yards per game and points per game and help to replace an ineffective Steve Smith. DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson. After recording 16 sacks in his junior season, Bowers, who had underachieved up to this point in his career, quickly climbed to the top of the ranks for defensive linemen. The only issue with Bowers is his inconsistency: why is it that he failed to be a consistent force until his junior season?

2. Denver Broncos – CB Patrick Peterson, LSU. By selecting Peterson, a freakishly athletic corner out of LSU, the Broncos will add both an excellent coverage man to help out their pass defense which surrendered 236.2 yard per game, as well as a great kick returner and a great special teams player. Other possible picks: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn. Likely their top priority as a pick, the Broncos desperately need some help on the defensive line to help their rush defense which ranked 32nd in the league in yards per game. If he hasn’t already been picked by the Panthers, Fairley will be heading to Denver. DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson. While the Broncos already have a star defensive end in Elvis Dumervil, Bowers will just add more help to a horrendous rush defense.

3. Buffalo Bills – DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson. After finishing dead last in the NFL in run defense (giving up an abysmal 169.6 yards per game) and recording only 27 sacks the entire season, the Bills clearly need some help at defensive end. Other possible picks: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina. One extra advantage that Quinn could provide for the Bills is that he can play outside linebacker as well. WR AJ Green, Georgia. The Bills need another receiver to throw to besides Steve Johnson.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – WR AJ Green, Georgia. While it is very Matt Millen of the Bengals to draft a wide receiver despite the multiple pass-catchers on their offense, Cincy needs a young, athletic receiver to replace Ochocinco and Terrell Owens and a playmaker to join their offense of the future, centered so far around Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham. Other possible picks: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina. Having Quinn and Carlos Dunlap at your two defensive end spots would be one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. DE/DT Marcel Dareus, Alabama. Another solid defensive end prospect, Dareus will help out a defense that recorded only 27 sacks the entire season.

5. Arizona Cardinals – QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri. Since the departure of Kurt Warner, the Cardinals have struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball, specifically in the passing game, where they ranked 31st in the NFL. Gabbert, while not as highly thought of as Andrew Luck, still has a huge arm and will provide better quarterback play than Derek Anderson. Other possible picks: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina. The Cardinals need a defensive end after lacking any kind of consistent pass rush last season. DE/DT Marcel Dareus, Alabama. Another good defensive linemen in a draft filled with good defensive linemen.

I’ll post the rest of my picks later.

Scam Newton: Why the Auburn Scandal Will Kill the NCAA

I’ll be honest with you guys before I start this blog. I’m admittedly anti-SEC. I’m extremely, and even unfairly, critical sometimes (most of the time) when writing about topics involving the conference. So, I guess, take everything  I say with a grain of salt (but seriously, I hate those guys).

Maybe I’ve derived my hatred for this alliance of big southern dummy schools (excluding Florida, Georgia and Vandy) from some sort of bitter jealousy of the conference’s football prowess, or maybe it’s just because of the simple fact that the NCAA turns a blind eye to the conference’s egregious recruiting infractions.

The way that the NCAA dealt with this Cam Newton scandal was, simply put, ridiculous. Clearly, clearly, Cecil was guilty of asking for money for Cam to play. That alone should be worth at least some kind of suspension by the NCAA.

But no, instead, they rule that Cameron was ignorant of the situation, opening the door for a generation of college athletes to plead ignorance when faced with NCAA allegations of demanding “pay for play.”

While Cameron may be innocent (though he has tried to steal a laptop before, so I wouldn’t put recruiting infractions outside of his realm of morality), the SEC still needed to demonstrate to these athletes that taking money to play for a university won’t be met with a slap on the wrist.

And, what do you know, Bruce Pearl presents the SEC a perfect opportunity to crack down on recruiting violations about a month later.

After admitting to cheating, Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl was given the SEC’s version of the death penalty: suspension for the first eight SEC conference games.

Really? No probation? No decrease in scholarships? A punishment equivalent to a freaking parking ticket? Way to make an example out of Bruce, SEC.

But it’s not just Tennessee and Auburn. Kentucky is a franchise, not a college basketball team. What, you think that John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe all came the same year to Kentucky just to play for John Calipari?

Hell, there have already been allegations about how Kentucky recruit Ed Davis’s father demanded pay for his son’s services. Seriously, just how close does a program have to come to 1980s SMU before being handed a harsher punishment than suspension for eight conference games?

Until the weak governing body of the NCAA decides to sacrifice some revenue to keep some kind of level playing field between the SEC and every other damn conference in college sports, the SEC will continue to host a field of the best teams money can buy.

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