Against The Grain: Draft thoughts
It becomes easy to follow the consensus leading up to the draft, but things never turn out the way everyone thinks in April. Here are some observations on the avalanche of draft analysis starting to pour in on this year's class:
Obviously college statistics don't go that far in draft evaluation. Otherwise Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore would have left early and gone in the first round. But Moore is 6-foot and probably will never get drafted. Gabbert is 6-5, athletic, and has a strong arm. And if you look closer at Gabbert's numbers, he was headed toward a prolific season when he ran into a great Nebraska defense midway through the season and got pretty beat up. It seemed to take him all season to recover physically and mentally, but he looked great in the Insight Bowl, throwing for a season-high 434 yards.
College football experts always wonder why players who succeeded at the college level aren't considered more valuable. The answer is simple: The NFL is looking at different skill sets. Teams have no interest in running quarterbacks because of the injury risk, and they're more comfortable with taller QBs. Gabbert has NFL written all over him.
Peterson is a potential top three pick, and he'll really only be that valuable if he can shut down half the field like Darrelle Revis, who is 5-11, 185 pounds. Maybe he can show that in workouts, but he'll probably look a lot like a safety instead of a cornerback at that size. As for his vaunted return skills, is that really a factor for someone being considered at No. 1 overall? Do you even want your supposed shutdown returner getting hit as a returner? It worked with Deion Sanders, but he was too fast to hit.
Gabe Carimi fell during the season, but the 6-7 Wisconsin tackle is already making up ground with a strong Senior Bowl practice. Same with Boston College's Antony Castonzo. Experts seem comfortable with them in the 10-20 range, and the same goes for USC's Tyron Smith and Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, but teams have to be considering offensive line help before that.