Huddle Up

NFL News and Analysis with Andrew Perloff

  • 05:52 PM ET  04.25
Fullback may be Toby Gerhart's quickest path to playing.
Harry How/Getty Images

1. The Dallas Cowboys can't evaluate either troubled players or receivers, so why are they being praised for drafting Dez Bryant? They proved adding security guards and mentors can't help with the Pacman Jones experiment, and made an awful trade for wide receiver Roy Williams. Jerry Jones may have regretted passing on Randy Moss, but his efforts to make up for that -- including Williams, Terrell Owens, Antonio Bryant --  have never worked. And don't say Dez Bryant must have been a good pick because the draft-savvy Ravens wanted him in the next spot. If there's one position Baltimore doesn't know, it's receiver.
2. Denver spent two first-round picks on guys who will have no real impact this year. No. 22 pick Demaryius Thomas is a physical freak, but coming from Georgia Tech, he has no real route-running experience. Tim Tebow could win the starting job at some point, but that would just be an admission Denver is building for the future. The Broncos have never completely fallen off the map. Since the NFL expanded to 16 games in 1978, they've had losing records in non-strike seasons just four times. Their worst record in that span was 5-11 back in 1990. Every franchise hits a cliff at some point. Josh McDaniels is teetering on it.

3. New Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell was taken too high by Joe Gibbs in 2005 and has lived off that reputation as a first-round quarterback. He has been the promising, big-armed guy who didn't have any stability on the coaching staff. Mike Shanahan knows quarterbacks and didn't think so. Campbell's an upgrade, but Oakland's offense is still going to struggle most weeks.

4. Quarterbacks, left tackles and defensive ends have owned the top of the first round over the last decade as rules have changed to help the passing game. What does it say about this year's draft class that defensive tackles went No. 2 and No. 3 and a safety went No. 5 overall? Only two defensive tackles have gone in the top three over the last 15 years (Darrell Russell No. 2 to Oakland in 1997 and Gerard Warren No. 3 to Cleveland in 2001); and only one safety has gone in the top five in that span (Sean Taylor to Washington at No. 5 in 2004). Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Eric Berry are very good players. But their draft spots speak to the lack of talent in positions teams usually covet that high in the draft.

5. Rookie quarterbacks' ability to win immediately is an overrated trend. Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez only won because their teams had strong running games and defenses. When they had to throw the ball a lot, they got in trouble. None of the rookie QBs in this year's class are in that kind of situation. Bradford, Clausen and Tebow are likely the only QBs who will start games and their teams have little chance of having winning seasons.

6. After Tebow and Clausen, the most heated draft debate was about Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, who some thought was being stereotyped because he's white and therefore destined to play fullback instead of tailback. But if Gerhart ends up playing fullback in Minnesota, it won't be because of race. The Vikings need a running back to take pressure off Adrian Peterson, but it has to be a player whose effective in the passing game, like Chester Taylor. What down is Gerhart supposed to play? Ever heard of a 230-pound third-down back?

7. The 49ers didn't have the splashiest draft, taking OT Anthony Davis and G Mike Iupati, but they took a big step toward reaching the playoffs. The NFC West was, by far, the weakest division last season and got even worse during the offseason. The Niners face a relatively easy schedule, drawing the AFC West, so they have a good shot at double-digit wins.

8. Some say the Eagles and Giants reached for defensive ends Brandon Graham and Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round. What choice do they have in their division? With Donovan McNabb in Washington, the NFC East could have four Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks next season. Philly's Kevin Kolb is unproven, but he has a lot of weapons around him. New York's Eli Manning and Dallas' Tony Romo should both have big seasons as well. Getting to the quarterback will be the only way for defenses to survive.

9. Most draft graders have their formula all wrong. Experts reward teams that got recognizable players from big programs who went lower than projected in all the mock drafts. Teams were lauded for picking up Notre Dame's Clausen, Texas' McCoy and Sergio Kindle, Alabama's Terrence Cody, USC's Everson Griffen, Tennessee's Dan Williams, Maryland's Bruce Campbell, etc. Aren't these players less likely to be steals because teams have had so many opportunities to scout them?

10. You're about to see a few early 2011 mock drafts, including mine. (I nailed Taylor Mays to the Niners, just in the wrong round).  Just after the 2009 draft, multiple mocks had Mississippi's Jevan Snead at No. 1. Snead went undrafted (but landed in QB-deficient Tampa Bay, where he could stick). Washington quarterback Jake Locker will probably be listed at No. 1 overall  several places this week. Locker's skill set might be more effective in college than the pros (think Tebow), and he'll get picked apart next season. Maybe Sam Bradford was lucky he didn't play last year.


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