The Panthers have their man, and they deserve him. I do not expect much out of Cam Newton. Supposedly, the people running the Panthers know more than me, but we’ll see. As far as other first round quarterbacks go, the three pick from 8 to 12 in the first round were interesting. The Titans picked Jake Locker a little too high, but he might be the best QB in the draft. I would say he and Gabbert are close, but my personal bias leads me to give the edge to Gabbert. Locker would have been a top five pick had he come out last year, and I still think he could be a very successful Pro. I like him a lot. Washington was not a very good team while he was there, but he made them better. A year behind Kerry Collins and Locker should be ready to go.
I think the Jaguars picked Gabbert at about the right spot. He should have went somewhere between 10and 15. The importance of the position and the fact that he is likely the best at the position in the class had people projecting him too high, and to a team that flat-out said it did not intend to pick a QB in Arizona. People thought the Bills or Cards would take him, but I think the Bills made the right decision because Ryan Fitzpatrick was actually pretty good last year. Even if he is not the long-term answer, he is serviceable enough that they could use the draft to fix more glaring flaws, like their run defense. And the Cardinals have already proved they do not know jack crap about QBs. I know the luster had worn off Leinart, but was Derek Anderson really a better option last year. Anderson, outside of his fluke Pro-Bowl year, was a proven failure. Matt Leinart barely got a chance to fail. I think the Jaguars taking Gabbert is a good choice. They are going nowhere with Garrard at the helm. They made a mistake cutting Leftwich a few years ago. Now they can try to stay near .500 again on the strength of Jones-Drew’s running and hopefully find a competent receiver for Gabbert next year in the draft.
Then the Vikings reached out of their minds for Ponder at pick 12. I’m not a fan of Ponder. I think he was probably the 6th or 7th best QB in the draft, and would have been picked too high as the 12th pick of the 2nd round. The Vikings need a QB, but I do not think that Ponder was the right choice.
All four first round QBs have one thing going for them: the teams that picked them have good to great running games. The Panthers was terrible last year, but so were the Panthers in general. But the Vikings, Jaguars and Titans have maybe the three best running backs in the League.
As far as my team, the Colts had a solid draft, but it is very hard to get excited about Offensive Linemen. I say this as a former O-lineman. There is no duller position in any sport. But it should provide an immediate impact for the Colts offense. They’ve been good the last few (12) years, but the running game has disappeared. With a better O-line the stretch run might come back.
I also liked the 49ers and the Bengals. Again, with the Mizzou bias, I think Aldon Smith will be a star. He is big, athletic, and fast. He should be great. And Colin Kaepernick is interesting if anything but a sure thing. With Palmer and Chad Johnson on the way out in Cincy, it seems like they effectively replaced both. Andy Dalton is not exciting, but he seems dependable. And A.J. Green is exciting. While I’m sure the Bengals still want to keep Carson Palmer, I’m not sure if he can ever be as good as he was before his knee surgery. He was close last year though, and he looked much better without Ochocinco and Owens in the line-up.
Of course, it will all be for naught if the lockout doesn’t end. I hope that the Owner’s appeal fails and the lockout is lifted. Goodell’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece shows just how scattered the Owner’s stance is. NFL players already have the worst deal among the Major sports, why should their position get weaker. It is blind, corrupt greed on the part of the league. I hope the players win.