Super Bowl winner gives his insight to the NFL draft
Imagine receiving an invitation to someone’s home. You arrive dressed for a festive occasion, knock on the front door where you are greeted warmly and with tremendous fanfare. Immediately, you are told to leave as the door slams in your face and you hear the sound of a turning lock.
This rude reception awaits several hundred football players who will join the National Football League in a matter of days when Commissioner Roger Goodell continues with his “business as usual” stance when the league kicks off its annual draft, Thursday, April 28 in New York. Moments after the newcomers enjoy the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, they will join several thousand current players already left in the cold during the lockout.
As always, many teams and their fans are anxious to learn who will be their “face of franchise”. Oftentimes, it is the quarterback. Earlier this week, former Super Bowl-winning coach and ESPN’s Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden shared his thoughts about the top quarterback prospects, based on his observations during his recently-conducted “Gruden QB Camp”, during a media conference call.
On the Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton of Auburn: “The thing that impressed me, not only his physical attributes and his size, but his charisma. I just like the look in his eyes, the eagerness and feeling that he has a lot to prove to everybody, including himself. I think Newton impressed me the most in that regard.
“I think he can make the throws. I think it’s a matter of him learning and getting conditioned to what the coach wants him to do, and he can do it. This guy has tremendous ability.”
On Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, who is projected along with Newton as a possible Top 10 selection: “All you have to do is see the ball come out of his hand. He’s got a very quick, strong arm. He has prototype size. He’s over 6′4″, 235 pounds. He’s a finance major, so you know he has intelligence. He has speed. He’s elusive back there. His scrambling and play making ability I think will be very enticing. Once again, here’s a junior quarterback that comes from a very unique, different style of spread offense at Missouri where he’s been in the no‑back set, and the shotgun. I think his physical talents are very noticeable to everybody.”
On Jake Locker, who was considered a possible #1 overall pick last year before he returned for his senior season at the University of Washington: “This is one tough guy. I mean, Jake Locker has played for two head coaches. He had to endure an 0‑12 season. This guy took a lot of punishment. The whole offense was built around (him). He does have to improve his accuracy. But I think when you’re hit a lot and asked to do as much as Locker’s been asked to do, sometimes your fundamentals wane a little bit. They disappear in key situations. He does have a good, strong arm. He’s an outstanding athlete. I think he loves football. I think there is a real passionate fire inside this guy that somebody’s going to capture. He would be a fun guy to coach.”
On Ryan Mallett of Arkansas: “He comes from a unique background. His mom and dad were teachers and coaches. Football is very important to him. The thing I really liked about Ryan Mallett was his background playing under Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. And I know Coach Petrino well enough to know that he coaches quarterbacks hard, very demanding. He does have a beautiful throwing motion that I know a lot of guys in the league are excited about. He can really hum it.”
On TCU’s Andy Dalton: “I think Andy Dalton can play in any offense. I think when you become a pro quarterback and play in the National Football League, as the hash marks change, the field becomes more available. When you’re on a college hash mark and you’re throwing the ball to the wide side of the field, that’s almost an impossible task for anyone. So I think putting the ball in the middle of the field favors Andy Dalton. I’ve seen him be an accurate passer. I’ve seen him manage a high‑volume offense with great success at TCU. And if you look at Texas Christian football, who would have thought they’d be 13‑0 and Rose Bowl champions? He’s an outstanding, well‑versed quarterback that I think will fit a lot of schemes.”
Michael Kim is the host of SportsCenter, ESPN America’s flagship US sports news programme, now airing in the UK on ESPN America – Sky channel 430, Virgin channel 531 and TalkTalk TV channel 566 – every weekday morning live from 6:00am with an updated show at 10:30pm. For more details visit: www.espnamerica.com. The NFL draft will be live and exclusive on ESPN at 1am on Thursday 28th April.Tagged in: American Sport, draft, NFL, Super Bowl
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