Two years ago, Mel Kiper was correct about the Redskins’ eventual first-round draft pick from the moment he released his first official mock draft. On January 22nd, 2009, Kiper predicted that Brian Orakpo of the Texas Longhorns would be Washington’s pick; just shy of two years later, Orakpo in unofficially slated to go to his second consecutive Pro Bowl wearing a burgundy and gold helmet. Nice work, Mel!
Last year didn’t go quite so well for Kiper’s Redskins projections. His first effort, almost exactly a year ago, had QB Sam Bradford going to Washington. And who knows, perhaps Kiper would’ve been correct on that as well — but Bradford’s stock rose and he wasn’t on the board for Washington to even consider.
On the other hand, that wouldn’t have mattered to Kiper’s projections, because a month later in his version 2.0 mock, he had switched the Redskins pick to QB Jimmy Clausen — with Bradford still on the board. “Clausen will gain momentum after the combine,” Kiper confidently wrote. “Once he’s fully recovered from his toe surgery, he’ll show teams he can make the throws, but there’s more to it. His intelligence, competitiveness and toughness will impress personnel people, and his stock will rise.”
This, of course, was spectacularly, catastrophically wrong in almost every way imaginable, but it’s worth bringing up now because it’s that time of the year again: Mel Kiper has emerged from his eight-month hibernation period blinking in the winter sun, and — as is the way of his people — immediately released a mock draft. And like last year, it features the Redskins taking a big-name quarterback with their first-round pick — specifically Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, from the National Champion Auburn Tigers.
The actual mock draft is for ESPN Insiders only, but ESPN’s NFC East blogger Matt Mosley was kind enough to post Kiper’s commentary on Newton for us ESPN Outskirters: “A gifted athlete, Newton has good arm strength and size, has developing accuracy and continues to show that the more you ask him as a passer, the more he’ll develop. This spot might be a bit high based on his current grade in the eyes of scouts, but Newton’s skill-set is such that personnel people are going to become more enamored, if they already aren’t. Newton has character questions that need to be answered, but the Redskins have a long-term need at this position and the prospect of developing Newton is a tantalizing one.”
And, as is also traditional at this time of the year, the sportsy internet has very nearly trampled over itself in their rush to respond to Kiper’s vaguely-reasoned prediction. (I mean, really: “people are going to become more enamored”? Because it worked so well when he suggested that “Clausen will gain momentum after the combine”?)
Anyhow, here’s what people are saying about the Cam Newton possibility.
Kevin Ewoldt, Hogs Haven: “Ugh. That has to be a mistake.”
Ken Meringolo, Hogs Haven, writing at SBNation DC: “I find this to be extraordinarily troubling. Do we need a new franchise signal-caller? Oh yeah. Do we need a new hope under center to give us fans something to look forward to for the next decade? Without a doubt. But we have a laundry list of needs. We have more holes to fill than we have draft picks to fill them. Sound familiar?”
Jordan Ruby, SBNation DC: “If this was a Madden franchise that I was running, I would definitely take Newton. But the stakes are considerably higher here. There are other positions of need that the Redskins can fill over quarterback if they feel a better prospect is still on the board. Drafting by position is what keeps teams near the top of the draft, it’s always safest to just take the best talent available. If that happens to be a quarterback, than so be it. But I just hope the Redskins aren’t married to the idea of getting their quarterback of the future, when they should be looking to just improve the team the best way they can.”
Dave Ross and Wisdom Martin, on FOX-5′s Off The Wall:
(For those of you who don’t want to watch the slightly bombastic video, here are the crucial quotes.
Wisdom: “Should they? No. They have too many holes. Don’t have any receivers. Don’t have any offensive lineman — they have one offensive lineman. They don’t have enough. They’ve got too many holes they need to fill. They don’t need a young quarterback. Plus he can’t play right away — he probably won’t play this year. Stay away from Cam Newton.
Ross: “Should they? I agree with you. No, they should not. I agree, they have much bigger issues, much bigger fish to fry, namely that offensive line. If there’s a center at number 10, go get that center. Sorry, Casey Rabach. But WILL they? You never know with the Washington Redskins. It is a hype machine. They are the kings of the offseason. Cam Newton could be coming to DC. But we say don’t do it.”)
KC Clyburn, Bleacher Report: “Shanahan already had a chance to pick up a quarterback like Newton in 2006. He chose Jay Cutler instead of Vince Young. Cutler is about to play in the NFC Championship Game. Vince Young is on the cusp of getting released. With nagging character issues, zero experience in pro style offenses, and a lot of work to do, Shanahan will pass on Newton. Newton could have a ton of upside, but he could also be a tremendous bust. And with an owner like Dan Snyder, who appears to have changed his ways a little but still desperately wants to win, Shanahan can not afford to take a chance on a potential bust.”
Matt Kremnitzer, Krem’s Sports: “In the end, if the Redskins do decide that Newton is the guy, that’s fine. But he’s not going to be the team’s savior with so many other gaping holes on the roster, and it would be wrong of them to believe that. Shanahan and Allen have a ton of work to do, and hopefully they are not solely focused on finding a quarterback. This team needs much more help than that.”
Sure, it’s just a small sampling of the response, but it’s also uniformly negative. And, what the heck, I’ll add my own voice to the chorus and say that I’d rather see either offensive OR defensive line addressed with the first-round pick than risk taking anything less than the surest of sure things at QB.
The good news for all of those people (me included) is that Kiper’s supremely confident prediction of a big-name quarterback last year turned out to be completely and inarguably wrong — twice.
Tags: 2011 nfl draft, cam newtown, Media, offseason speculation, OffseasonSpeculation
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