IMPACT Rookies…Part 2!

Offense – QB 
 
This QB class isn’t as overwhelming on talent as seasons past, or is it?  The top 3 Quarterbacks in discussion thus far are, Matthew Stafford (UG), Mark Sanchez (USC), and Josh Freeman (K-State).  Stafford has seemed to emerge as the #1 quarterback, to come off of draft boards come April 25th, and most likely, #1 overall pick.  Stafford’s been very impressive in his workouts, and seems to have a majority of the tools needed to be a successful franchise QB in the NFL.   Sanchez, like his announcement, has been a total surprise, seeing that he only has one full season under his belt at USC.  Sanchez has blown away on-lookers, thus far, and has also raised questions as to whether or not, he could be the #1 QB selected on draft day.  Sanchez was seen as superior to Stafford, after teams got a chance to see him during individual workouts, and now has built quite a buzz amongst the top 10 teams in this year’s draft. 
 
 
The third quarterback in discussion, and the one I think will emerge as the best of this year’s draft, is Josh Freeman.  Freeman resembles Donovan McNabb in many aspects, and has the physical tools to boot.  Freeman stands at an intimidating 6’6, and all of 250lbs, with the strongest arm of any QB in the draft, all the while running a 4.68 40 yard dash.  If team in need of a signal caller in the 2nd half of the first round, happens to snag Freeman, I believe they may have the steal of the draft.  Nate Davis out of Ball State, is also a highly touted prospect coming into this draft, and could also be seen as the future of a franchise, but may be more of a project than the previous 3.  A wildcard in this year’s draft, is University of West Virginia’s, Pat White.  To say White blew away scouts at the NFL Combine, would be a huge understatement!  White threw better than any quarterback at the draft, however is much smaller, and much more of a running quarterback, a la, Michael Vick.  How White transitions into the NFL remains to be seen, but whether or not he’ll stay at QB, is the bigger question.
 
 
What I’d like to see…It seems as though Stafford is a lock to be Detroit’s first pick, which would give them a legitimate quarterback to build around, also gives Calvin Johnson someone to get him the ball.  The Lions have 8 picks in the draft, including 3 within the first 33 picks, and holes throughout their team.  It’s always a gamble to draft a Quarterback first overall, unless there is little to no doubt that he’ll be the QB of the future.  If I had that first overall pick, I think I’d find a way to trade down, to a team that is QB needy, such as the 49ers, and gain an extra pick in the draft as well.  Picking in the 10th position, would then allow them to still draft a franchise QB, if still desired, as well as fill another hole somewhere else, mainly on defense.  If Stafford is taken first, I dont see Sanchez making it past the 49ers at 10, and definately not the Jets at 17.  However if the draft does happen to play out this way, it may allow Josh Freeman to fall to the Vikings at 22, which would be a huge turn of fortune, for a team on the verge of a Super Bowl berth.  Freeman would fill a major need for them, and could be the big arm QB, that can take the advantage of the speed on the Vikings’ offense, and would allow the Vikings to draft a WR in the 2nd round, instantly making them a favorite in the NFC.
 
 
 
Defense – DB’s

 

Coming into this year’s draft, all the buzz surrounded Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins, the speedy, physical, who was surely going to be a top 10 pick, in LAST YEAR’s draft.  Vontae Davis, cornerback out of Illinois, was also very heralded in his NFL entry this season.  However, Jenkins’ workouts at the Combine proved, less than stellar, and Davis has experienced the always feared, Character Issues surrounding him.  With these question marks about these two talented athletes, they still figure to be in the upper echelon of talent in the draft.  But, with these two slipping in the draft, it left the door open for others to leave their mark amongst NFL On-lookers. 
 
 
Sean Smith (Utah), and Darius Butler (UConn), have slowly but surely crept up draft boards, and look to be mid-first, early 2nd round picks in this upcoming draft.  Smith’s size and strength allows him to be a candidate for a position change, from corner to safety, at 6’4, 214 lbs.  However, with that height, he can match up against the stronger, taller targets, in the league, such as Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, and of course, Terrell Owens.  Butler was as close to a shut-down corner as you can be in college, scaring coordinators in throwing in his direction.  While Butler isn’t as tall as Smith, his speed (sub 4.4), allows him to make up for it adequately.  The learning curve for DB’s is always a pretty big one, but these potentials look to excel in a short amount of time, and can fit right into many schemes in the league.
 
 
 
Jenkins looks to be drafted as a safety in this year’s draft, which he’ll most likely be the first taken in that position.  Other’s to look for are Louis Delmas (WMU), Rashad Johnson (U of Ala.), and Patrick Chung (U of Ore.).  Although this year’s draft seems short on flashy named players, the talent shouldn’t be sold short, as this can be a productive class, in time.  I think with Taylor Mays (USC), deciding to return back to school, it dealt a blow to the teams waiting to draft him.  But, with another solid season at USC, I don’t see Mays’ stock falling much, if at all.
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