As the NFL Combine approaches, there are always a few high profile players who opt not to attend or to only partially participate. For some of the elite players, they feel they can only hurt their draft stock by a bad workout so they decide to let their play and pre-draft hype speak for itself self.
Cam Newton, who held a “media only” workout recently, announced this week that he plans to fully participate in the upcoming combine which is a surprise to many. Many experts believed that the “media only” workout may have been Newton’s opportunity to showcase his talents and that he wouldn’t want to participate in the combine to avoid being potentially exposed in some of his weak areas and to avoid the pervasive interviews about the scandal surrounding Newton at Auburn.
For Newton, the workout he had for the media accomplished what it was meant to accomplish. It generated a great deal of hype and those at some prominent media outlets immediately began to gush over his workout and move him up the mock draft boards. So, with the incredible hype already surrounding him, is it a good idea for Newton to fully participate at the combine?
When asked about his decision to participate, Newton said that he wants “to be transparent” through the whole draft process. He also added:
“I don’t have nothing to hide, and I’m a competitor. I’m going to go out here and do what I’ve been working on this whole time and preparing for this moment right now.”
Cam Newton has been working with a QB coach in San Diego and has received mentoring from Hall of Famer Warren Moon. Newton is already projected to be a top 10 pick, but there are many landmines between now and the draft that could significantly hurt his draft position.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea for Newton to participate in the combine despite some of the dangers. Physically, he’s an imposing individual and I believe that once NFL scouts and executives actually see him in action up close and personal they will struggle to hold back their excitement. Newton is already a more polished passer than Vince Young or Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford helped to dispel the myth that QB’s coming from spread offenses cannot adjust to an NFL scheme.
It is troubling, however, the number of fans and analysts that immediately say that Newton will struggle to pick up an offense and may lack the football IQ due to the system in which he played. No such questions surrounded Tebow or Bradford and so they should not be tagged on Newton. Will it be a long process for Newton to learn to play under center and learn an NFL offense? Of course. But not necessarily any more so than with any other QB prospect in the last 10 years, including Bradford.
Physically, I find it nearly impossible for Newton to have a bad outing. He is just that athletic that I am willing to assume that he will perform well as far as the physical tests. My biggest concern is the interview process. If NFL executives get the feeling that Newton isn’t fully invested in the game of football or that he’s not being completely honest and forthright with them regarding the scandal, it could scare a lot of teams away.
To this point, Newton offered the following:
“That’s nothing I’m worried about. I understand that everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and I just feel like if I have an opportunity to speak with a person or let a person evaluate me as a person, not something that has been stereotyped, I think their perception about me will change, and I’m willing to take that risk.”
Even despite the massive drama surrounding Newton and Auburn this past season he performed brilliantly each and every week. He said all the right things in all the interviews and even though he refused to answer certain questions in a Mark McGuire type way, he handled the scandal relatively well. He continues to say all the right things, but only he knows the truth about the situation with his father.
I believe he will continue to say the same things and I think participating in the combine will significantly improve his already high draft stock. I think it is a great decision on his part to participate especially given that rival draft prospect Blaine Gabbert has already decided not to throw at the combine later this week.
Let’s just see how high this kid goes…
Now that Super Bowl XLV is behind us, there are only a few NFL related topics to be discussed. Obviously the Super Bowl lawsuit and the increasingly troubling labor dispute are currently on the forefront. But the NFL Draft is what most fans are most interested in at the moment. Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion, Cam Newton held a “media only” workout yesterday in California where he worked out in shorts for various members of the media.
There are couple things that should be taken in consideration when evaluating the workout. The first being, it was for the media only meaning that actual NFL talent evaluators were prohibited from attending. Translation, it was a media event conducted for the purpose of creating hype as we enter the NFL draft season. Secondarily, it was in shorts. Savvy NFL scouts will tell you that one of the biggest mistakes they can make is to get too enamored with a kid based on what he does in shorts. Whether that be at a pro day, at the combine, or at some event like Cam Newton participated in yesterday.
With that being said, the event appears to have been a complete homerun. At least when comparing it to it’s initial purpose. The purpose was to create hype and it succeeded on all accounts. Trent Dilfer who is known as being highly critical of various NFL QB’s was absolutely GUSHING over Cam’s workout and other media outlets have highly praised the workout. What we don’t know however, is how NFL scouts are reacting.
So with his tremendous talents, physical stature, and the ESPN hype machine apparently behind him, just how high can we expect to see Cam Newton selected in the NFL Draft?
Lets look at the things that working for and against Newton to try to determine his likely draft position.
History is working strongly in favor of Cam Newton. NFL executives have a long history of falling in love with measurables and Cam is certainly not lacking in that department. Cam is 6’5, 250 pounds and by all accounts runs at least a legit 4.5 40. He has a big arm and has shown the ability to lead a team to a championship.
Think about it, if NFL executives (albeit it was Al Davis) was so enamored with Jamarcus Russell who showed much lesser attributes than Newton to select him #1 overall, that speaks well for Newton. If Tim Tebow, who was projected to go in the 2nd or 3rd round was taken in the mid first round, that speaks well for Newton.
Alex Smith is another QB will far lesser talent and track record for success who climbed to the top of the draft due to a late run of hype and because of his impressive workouts. Cam Newton is likely a much better athlete and QB than any of these players I just mentioned which leads me to believe that someone will roll the dice and reach a bit for him.
Another thing working in his favor is his mechanics. While not polished, he is certainly more advanced in terms of his throwing motion, dropping back under center, and overall footwork than Tim Tebow or Jamarcus Russell were. Make no mistake about it, he is and will be a project for some team, but he has all the physical tools to not only be successful in the NFL, but to thrive. Just based on his physical tools alone, he is a far better prospect than Sam Bradford and maybe even Matthew Stafford depending on your system.
Team needs could potentially work heavily in his favor in the draft. I could make a case that the Panthers, Bills, Bengals, Cardinals, Browns, 49ers, Titans, Redskins, Vikings, Dolphins, and Jaguars all need a QB. Most mock drafts have him going by at least this point in the draft so unless something changes dramatically, it’s unlikely that he could fall any further.
The composition of the draft will also help him tremendously. What I mean, is with the absence of Andrew Luck, there really isn’t a consensus sure fire franchise QB in the draft. Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker have as many question marks, if not more, and probably a lower ceiling than Newton. For this reason, it’s entirely possible to think that Newton will be the first QB selected and with that being said, his draft position immediately skyrockets.
Even though he’s more polished than some of the recent QB’s selected high in the draft, he is still a significant work in progress. In addition to the footwork required to play in the NFL, the reads are far more complex than he is used to making in the spread offense at Auburn. Now one thing that will mitigate this issue a bit for him is Sam Bradford’s immediate success in transitioning from a spread offense to an NFL offense. I’m not saying that Cam Newton will be able to duplicate this transition, but it is something that NFL scouts will consider and potentially use to justify the gamble.
Obviously Cam has had multiple off the field issues dating back to his time in Gainesville. Some will place the majority of the blame on his father, and it’s just my opinion, but I don’t buy it. Cam knew what was going on if you ask me based upon the information available and his answers and demeanor in interviews. I’m not sure that this will give pause to NFL teams or not, but it is certainly something that has caused players to drop in the past.
Being “more polished than Jamarcus and Tebow” isn’t exactly singing his high praises either. He may be better off than those players at this point in their development, but he is still very weak in terms of footwork under center. The good news for him is that he is further along than most and that can only get better as he works with NFL coaches.
Now this is just a crude breakdown of some of the things working for and against Cam Newton as he approaches the NFL draft and obviously the draft is a very fluid beast. Things change on a dime and who knows what information may or may not come out and how he continues to perform in workouts relative to other players projected to go in the 1st round.
There are numerous teams in the top 10 that could potentially be looking for a QB and many things will factor into the final selections. Obviously any team high in the draft needs a lot of help and the selection of one player isn’t going to change the franchise. But as we approach the draft and if the hype continues to build around Cam Newton, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if someone reached extremely high on him to make sure they don’t miss out.
The top 3 teams are largely projected to take defenders, but they all could use a franchise QB. Cincinnati, if they deal Carson Palmer will be looking for a franchise QB and they are the exact type of team that would roll the dice on Newton at the #4 position. At this point, I’ll be a little surprised if he doesn’t go in the top 8 if not the top 3 or 4. At this point I would think he’ll be the first QB selected and I can’t remember an NFL draft that did not include a QB in the top 3 picks with the exception of the 2000 draft.
Don’t be shocked to see Cam Newton selected in the top 3 and there is a very real possibility that he could go #1 overall to either Carolina or to someone moving up to get him.
In what will likely be John Fox‘s final season with the Carolina Panthers, they have been… well… a disaster. They enter the final week of the season at 2-13 and as of yesterday they locked up the #1 overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. That is about the only good news coming from this team this season as they have been consistently the worst team in the NFL. The Panthers’ only two wins came against two of the other weakest teams in the NFL this season, the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers.
The Panthers selected Jimmy Clausen in the 2nd round last season hoping to find the long-term solution to their QB position. They entered the season very high on Matt Moore who had a strong finish to the 2009 campaign but he looked putrid in 2010. This forced Clausen into action earlier than the team would have preferred, but I think it was a blessing in disguise. Is the book completely closed on Clausen? Of course not. But he hasn’t shown much of anything to lead you to believe that he can be a QB in this league. At the very least, the Panthers got an in depth look at their rookie QB so they can see what they have and move forward from there. Much better than not seeing him play, thinking you have a future QB on the bench and then passing on a stud QB in the draft this season.
Which leads me to Andrew Luck, the standout QB from Stanford who is assumed to be the #1 overall pick this year’s draft. Really, in my opinion, the only way that he wouldn’t have been the #1 pick is if a team that just recently drafted a franchise QB was in that #1 spot like St. Louis or Detroit. But with the Panthers slotted in the #1 spot this season, I can’t foresee them passing on the young QB.
It’s possible they could trade down, but it’s highly unlikely given recent history. The #1 spot is so expensive and unless the new CBA significantly restricts the rookie wage scale to such a degree that the top picks aren’t so financially crippling to organizations, I doubt there will be any takers. Plus, the Panthers desperately need Luck more than any other position, in my opinion. They aren’t a horrible team across the board as they have talent on both sides of the ball. But they definitely need a franchise QB and I think a new voice in the locker room will go a long way to improve the team even though John Fox is an excellent coach.
In a tulmutuous season in which we’ve already seen Mike Singletary, Josh McDaniels, Brad Childress, and Wade Phillips receive pink slips, NFL owners are not quite finished making coaching changes. Each of the previous firings are potential landing spots for some of the high profile free agent coaches out there as there is no guarantee that the interim head coaches will be retained. In fact, despite the impending lockout, it sounds less likely that any of the interim coaches will remain with their team with the possible exception of Leslie Frazier.
So who are the next coaches to get the axe?
Fox has had a long and successful run with the Carolina Panthers and he took his team to a Super Bowl which they had a great chance of winning. But since that time, they have been largely disappointing after several years of being projected as possible Super Bowl contenders. The Panthers have been the worst team in the NFL this season and have secured the #1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft. It is a near certainty that Fox will be on his way out in Carolina. But that is not to say that he’s not a good coach. I would think he will land a coordinator position for a year or two and then get back to a head coaching position. The other possibility is to take a year or two off and then put himself in for consideration for head coaching jobs.
Marvin Lewis has had a mediocre stretch with the Cincinnati Bengals and for those familiar with the team, it’s not all his fault. He is the popular whipping boy for angry fans, but the ownership plays a huge role in this franchise’s failures. I believe Marvin Lewis is a much better coach than his first tenure will show and I think he’ll be successful elsewhere. But the sad reality is that the team has underperformed over the past several years and they were absolutely putrid this season. Even last season as they swept the division, they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs and were beaten handily.
Obviously I can’t say for certain that Norv Turner will be out in San Diego, but after yet another year of an embarrassingly slow start to the season, it finally caught up to the talented Chargers. Sure, they have had their share of injuries and roster issues, but in the middle of the season they showed us just how dangerous they could be even with the injuries. After falling to the lowly Bengals yesterday, the Chargers were eliminated from the playoffs and that could be the last straw for Turner. This is an incredibly talented team and although A.J. Smith is as much to blame as Norv, A.J. isn’t going anywhere.
The Texans went from an expansion team that was fighting and making progress towards the next step in the franchise’s development to a team that is significantly underperforming in a heartbeat. The team is loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball and has a great foundation on defense with Mario Williams and Brian Cushing. After a great start, the Texans have fallen completely apart and the consensus is that there is far too much talent on this team to get these results. Add Bill Cowher’s alleged interest in the job, and I find it unlikely that Kubiak will return next season.
Eric Mangini has had a rough start to his tenure in Cleveland as he began last season at 1-11 before winning 4 straight games to end the season and potentially salvage his job. This season, the Browns have shown tremendous progress, but they are still not an elite team as far as talent goes. Mangini has been subject to a media vendetta locally, but I don’t believe he has done as awful of a job as some would lead you to believe. I believe he is a good coach and he’s building a strong foundation for long-term success. The reality is, the Browns aren’t that good, yet. But with another strong draft with the assistance of Mike Holmgren, they could make some noise in the AFC North.
The issue for Mangini though, is Mike Holmgren is allegedly itching to get back on the sidelines. So he needs to fight off Holmgren from coming down to the sideline as well as long-time colleague of Holmgren, Jon Gruden. Gruden coached under Holmgren and they share similar philosophies and styles. Gruden has been rumored to be interested in the Browns position should it become available, but nothing has been confirmed. If you listen to local media, it’s a certainty that Mangini will be fired. But keep in mind, they said the same thing this time last year. It’s certainly possible, and given the Browns struggles down the stretch, it’s probably leaning in between possible and likely towards likely.
Fisher is the longest tenured coach in the NFL right now and he has had an incredibly successful run in Tennessee. But with a disaster of a season and an apparent falling out with Vince Young, Fisher could be in trouble with the Titans and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing for him. Owner Bud Adams has a sometimes illogical propensity for Vince Young. So much so that it could actually create enough conflict to cause Adams to let Fisher go. Add that to an awful season, and you have a recipe for a coaching change. Sometimes when a coach is with a team for this long, the team and the coach can both benefit from a change in scenery. I think Fisher would be snatched up almost immediately by one of the teams with an opening if this were to occur.
Possible but Doubtful:
Tom Coughlin won a Super Bowl just a few years ago and the Giants are still fighting for a playoff spot, but they have struggled and are on the brink of complete disaster to end the season. Last week they lost to the rival Eagles despite holding a 21 point advantage midway through the 4th quarter. This week, they were destroyed by the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have lead to two previous Head Coaches’ firings following a blowout defeat to the hands of the Packers. Now this won’t happen during the season, if at all, but add the alleged interest of one Bill Cowher and there is a small possibility that the Giants will make a change.
Bill Cowher was once one of the best and longest tenured Head Coaches in the NFL after spending 15 seasons with the Steelers, going to two Super Bowls and winning one. He then “retired” following his first Super Bowl win at Super Bowl XXL against the Seattle Seahawks. It was later discovered that he had ample reason to walk away as he wanted to spend more time with his family and rightly so. Just earlier this year, his wife passed away from breast cancer and in addition to this struggle, he had long wanted to spend more time with his children.
Due to his desire to be closer to his family and his home in North Carolina, it was long speculated that the logical spot for his return to the NFL would be the Carolina Panthers. For whatever reason, he does not appear to be interested at all in the Panthers, so much so that those rumors have all but died. But as the 2010 NFL season is drawing to a close, Cowher is apparently getting the “itch” to return to the sidelines. Just about any NFL team with a vacancy, and some without a vacancy would want him running their franchise, but where does Bill Cowher want to coach?
It was reported this morning that Cowher has put together a “Wish List” of sorts detailing the top 3 coaching jobs that he would consider IF there were a vacancy. Obviously Head Coaches make a very good living in the NFL, but Cowher does have a pretty cushy job in the studio and he’ll need to have an ideal situation in place in order for him to make the jump back to the NFL. As much as he wants to still coach, he has been, and I believe he will remain to be very patient.
So what are the teams on his “Wish List”?
3. New York Giants:
This one strikes me as very odd for many reasons. First, Cowher placed a caveat in his list saying that “if these teams had a vacancy”. He obviously has to do this so as not to disrespect any coach who is currently under contract, but we all know that it’s just a way to get around breaking the “coaching code” of not publicly pursuing a job that is already filled. The Giants are in a fight with the Eagles for the NFC East crown and even with a total collapse to end the season, it would be extremely unlikely that Tom Coughlin would be fired. Especially with the pending labor situation where teams are very apprehensive to make coaching changes until the CBA situation is cleared up.
There have been previous rumors that Cowher would want to coach in New York, but I don’t see it happening. At least not in 2011.
2. Houston Texans:
The Texans job has been rumored for other NFL head coaches, but this is the first I’ve heard Cowher mentioned. The Texans continue to be a solid team under Gary Kubiak, but they have failed to take the next step into the playoffs. In a year where the Colts are struggling more than they have in nearly a decade, the Texans failed to take advantage and they are significantly underperforming. There is certainly talent in place (especially on offense) and a coaching change has been rumored for quite some time.
This is a plausible scenario if Cowher wants the job pending the labor issues obviously.
1. Miami Dolphins:
This one puzzles me as well similarly to the Giants. Tony Sparano has done an outstanding job turning around the Dolphins from a 1-15 season to making the playoffs. And while they’ve struggled this season, it hasn’t been because of coaching in my opinion. They have significant issues at QB and they play in an extremely difficult division. I honestly can’t see Sparano losing his job in general, and again, especially because of the looming lockout.
So the question I have is whether or not this is a true “Wish List” or just a smoke screen from Cowher to put the NFL on notice that he’s ready to return and to drum up interest. There is no way that this wasn’t leaked on purpose and the only question is whether or not it’s an honest list or if there is some ulterior motive. The market will be full of suitors for Cowher so I’m not sure why it’s necessary, but perhaps it’s an attempt to get some of the over-zealous owners to overpay for him.
Dallas was previously rumored, but with the success of Jason Garrett and the lockout, it’s largely believed that Jerry Jones will stand pat with his current coach.
Many Browns fans would love to have Cowher on their sideline and he certainly knows the division inside and out, but team President, Mike Holmgren isn’t likely to bring Cowher in. There are too many other viable options that fit Holmgren’s agenda and Cowher doesn’t fit in. If Holmgren makes a change that doesn’t involve him returning to the sidelines in Cleveland then he’s likely to bring in someone from his own coaching tree.
The Redskins are a complete disaster and some have speculated that Mike Shanahan will be one and done after butchering the season and losing his mind. Daniel Snyder is crazy, but I don’t think he’s that crazy. Plus, I don’t think Cowher would go anywhere near D.C. given their roster and big time problems with the franchise.
So in summary, at this point, I honestly have no idea where he’ll end, if anywhere. But I don’t believe that the “Wish List” is an honest representation of where he wants to land. We’ll keep a close eye on Cowher, Gruden, and other big name coaches who are itching to get back on the sidelines.
Cleveland Browns QB, Jake Delhomme has had a rough season for sure. After a long tenure with the Carolina Panthers, he was released last season following one of his worst campaigns of his career. Despite his struggles, he was still a better option than any of the previous QB’s on the Browns roster such as Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson. The Browns brought in the veteran despite a ridiculous price tag in attempt to stabilize the QB position that has been a revolving door of fringe NFL players for years.
After the Browns drafted Colt McCoy, the prevailing thought was that, at a minimum, Jake could tutor the young QB and help his development along. Delhomme was impressive enough to beat out career backup, Seneca Wallace and rookie, Colt McCoy in pre-season. Through the pre-season games, he wasn’t too bad and he actually protected the football. As the Browns opened up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, the same old Jake was back in full effect.
Delhomme had a decent first half but then he made one of the dumbest decisions and passes I’ve ever seen. As is Jake’s M.O., he tried to force a pass as he was being sacked, deep in his own territory, with less than 2 minutes left in the half. It ultimately changed the entire course of the game and contributed to a Browns loss. If he hadn’t been infamous for these types of horrendous decisions, I would tend to side with all the homers and apologists who blame Jake’s injury for this play and the rest of his poor plays against the Bucs and in his limited action this season.
But the fact of the matter is that Jake routinely makes not just bad or inaccurate passes, but just flat out stupid decisions. During yesterday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, Jake was picked off twice and literally could have, and quite frankly, should have been picked off at least two other times as well. Yet again early in the game, Jake tried to get rid of a ball as he was being sacked instead of throwing it away or eating it and if it hadn’t hit a defensive lineman, it would have been intercepted and likely returned for a TD.
Then, take a look at the two interceptions he threw on his first two passes in the second half, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Jake consistently forced balls into tight coverage and is actually lucky to have only thrown 2 interceptions. Again, if it weren’t Jake Delhomme we were talking about, I’d tend to give him the benefit of the doubt that the injury and rust caused these poor throws and decisions. But when Jake is perfectly healthy and in rhythm, he does the same thing. Over and over and over and over again.
At this point, we know who Jake is. He’s a veteran leader who’s been an outstanding mentor and teacher for Colt McCoy. But in each of his appearances this season, he has hurt the team’s chances at victory. He’s not going to improve with more reps or more treatment on his ankle. He’s just not. I can deal with bad throws from time to time, but the ridiculous and careless decisions he makes on a weekly basis is too much for an average Browns team to overcome.
Colt McCoy seems to be the preferred choice of Eric Mangini and the Browns coaching staff and obviously he’s injured. But for the love of all things holy… please stop giving Jake Delhomme the football. Seneca Wallace isn’t going to light up the NFL, but he’s a much better option for the Browns than Delhomme. Unless Wallace is completely hobbled by injury still, he is by far the better option. Delhomme is just far too reckless with the football and seems to have no regard for his team. Some of the throws he makes on a regular basis absolutely disgust me coming from a “veteran” and a “leader”.
I do believe Jake is a leader from what I’ve seen and heard. He’s done a great job providing leadership in the locker room and mentoring Colt McCoy. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep trotting him out onto the field when he clearly hurts your chances at success. A common misnomer is that veterans make smart decisions. Clearly, this is a myth.
There is no way a reasonable person can look at what Jake Delhomme has done not only this year for the Browns, but last year with the Panthers, and tell me that he’s the Browns’ best option for the rest of the season. If Mangini wants to win a few more games and save his job, I sure hope he pulls the plug on Delhomme.
Torry Holt was once a prolific WR and was a key component to the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams teams in St. Louis, including the SuperBowl team. He spent last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars as his career was coming to an end, but he hadn’t been the dangerous WR he once was for quite some time.
Holt is calling the Cleveland Browns vs. Carolina Panthers game today on Fox with Chris Rose (who happens to be one of the worst play by play announcers I’ve heard in my life). In the pre-game discussion, Torry Holt gave us a glimpse into at least part of the reason that he declined so rapidly toward the end of his career.
Just take a look at these pictures and tell me if YOU would be able to tie your shoes, let alone catch a FOOTBALL!