The stock market is difficult place to make a living. You can work hard to find the right stock and come up with a real winner, something that really puts you on the financial map. It’s not a one way street though. Sometimes you do extensive research, ask all the right questions and have a great feeling about the stock you’ve purchased, then BAM the stock plummets because of some unforeseen event and you’re never to see the profit off of that investment again and all the due diligence you did goes up in smoke.
Research that NFL teams do on potential draft prospects works the same way. I’ve turned my eye to some of the stock that teams should be shorting and some other instances that are screaming buys.
In today’s NFL Buy, Sell or Hold we’ll be discussing Quarterbacks with regard to the 2011 NFL Draft:
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada Wolfpack: Kaepernick is the most talented and complete quarterback in this draft. Everything he does equates to being a star quarterback in the NFL. Colin has an elite arm, exceptional speed, great pocket vision, height, and a top notch work ethic. There are no red flags here, except for the manufactured worry over his delivery. NFL teams that he has worked out for have all said that it’s not a concern and there’s no need to change his throwing motion. It’s becoming apparent that he probably won’t be picked in the top 10. This will further drive up his value to potential buyers.
Andy Dalton, TCU Horned Frogs: Dalton isn’t going to WOW you on film, if you’re looking for the flashiest guy, biggest arm, or best mobility. He will WOW you if you’re looking for accuracy and pristine precision of dissecting a defense. He has a NFL mind at the quarterback position. When he walks to the line he’ll be reading the defense and spotting holes, then he’ll methodically move the offense up and down field. Dalton will excel at fitting the ball in the NFL size windows, to his receivers. His stock has skyrocketed as of late in the media but I believe scouts have had him as a fringe first rounder for awhile. A team would be smart to scoop up this player in the 2nd half of the first round and enjoy the profits off of it for years to come.
Jake Locker, Washington Huskies: Locker is a polarizing stock. You either love him or you hate him. I love his game. He’s a winner that will fight for every yard, put the team’s needs above his own, and you won’t have to question his loyalty as a coach. The biggest question surrounding Locker is his accuracy from inside the pocket. He may be the most accurate passer that I’ve ever seen outside the pocket. Locker is built like a linebacker, plays like a fullback, and thinks like a coach. He didn’t have a great offensive line at Washington or receivers for that matter. Once he gets on a NFL team, with a coach that will work with him, he should be able to learn to become a better pocket passer. This was not something forced upon him in college. I believe he’ll learn it and if he gets to play in an offense that takes advantage of his mobility i.e. Washington, then he’ll strive in this league. Locker could go anywhere from 8th overall to the 2nd round base on a particular team’s perception. Obviously, the cheaper you get him, the better.
Pat Devlin, Delaware Fightin Blue Hens: The last two players that I’ll list will be low value stocks that you can actually buy on the 3rd day of the market opening. These guys will not cost an arm and a leg, but could pay huge dividends. Pat Devlin will make a NFL team’s roster and be a key contributor, after he gets the right leadership and coaching from the team that drafts him. He needs to work on being more consistent and not taking as many chances with the ball. Devlin threw for 22 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions in 2010 but he’ll be making a huge jump from Delaware to the NFL. It should be noted that he did look solid in his limited time while at Penn State. Devlin is a mobile quarterback with good arm strength. Drafting him on day 3 will allow teams to not worry about playing him early and with a few years of mentoring at the NFL level he should be good to go. Buying cheap on the 3rd day here is the way to go.
Josh Portis, California (PA): A strong armed mobile quarterback that has bounced around to three different schools. Sound familiar? I’m not saying he’s Cam Newton but I am saying that getting him in the later rounds with his character issues is a lot smarter than staking the future of your franchise on Newton with similar character issues. Portis is raw and will have to learn to be more patient in the pocket. He can’t just tuck the ball and run, any time there is a break down in the line. Portis is extremely mobile and has a cannon for an arm. A team like the 49ers could wait on drafting a quarterback until day 3 and Jim Harbaugh may see some simple comparisons of Portis and his former quarterback at San Diego, Josh Johnson. This is a low risk stock, that if you don’t see any gain within the next 2 years, you can drop, without it hurting your bank account.
Cam Newton, Auburn Tigers: All my decisions in Draft Stock Buy, Sell or Hold are based on as if it were my money. With that in mind, if I’m the Carolina Panthers and I’m thinking about making Newton the first overall pick, there’s no way I pull the trigger with all of the red flags surrounding him. Newton has a great arm, great mobility and speed. He’s definitely the most athletic player I’ve seen in quite some time. The QB position in the NFL is not just about that though. No player at any position is. What good is Aqib Talib if he keeps getting arrested? I’m not saying that Newton will end up in jail, but he has way too many red flags surrounding him to invest that much money. The Panthers also don’t have a second round pick and have a ton of holes on their team. Newton could be successful in the NFL but that’s actually what I’m afraid of. Even if Cam can develop on a team without veteran leadership, he’ll be swallowed up by the fame, fortune and the spotlight. I wouldn’t buy this player this high. I would consider taking Newton on the second half of the 1st round and lower if he had the right situation around him, not on a young team, with a first year head coach that has a defensive background.
Blaine Gabbert,Missouri Tigers: This is one of those players that look great at first glance. Then when you investigate more, you realize that what you see is more fluff than anything else and he’s really not built to succeed in the long haul. I wouldn’t draft him at all. He doesn’t appeal to me as a NFL quarterback. If he’s a player a team is interested in, there’s no way I would take him in the top 10 and it he only becomes a potential decent value in the 2nd round. Before you label me crazy, realize I said this exact same thing about Jimmy Clausen last year at this time. How happy er the Panthers right now with that investment?
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas Razorbacks: I really think that Mallett could be one of the top quarterbacks in this draft based on talent alone. When I look at Mallett, I think Colin Kaepernick except Mallett doesn’t have the 2 minute poise and the outside the pocket mobility. Ryan also has off the field red flags. My biggest problem with Mallett is how his play diminishes in the 2 offense when the game is on the line against good defenses. I also see another former Arkansas quarterback when I look at Mallett and that’s Matt Jones. You can disagree with me if you want, but a ton of people will lose jobs if an organization drafts the wrong quarterback in the first round. It takes a special type of person to deal with the life changing events that comes with being a franchise quarterback in the NFL. I personally don’t believe Mallett has that DNA to say NO, to the women, drugs, and bandwagon friends that come with NFL success. Would you stake your job on Ryan Mallett showing up to practice on time after he threw the game winning touchdown to send his team to the playoffs? I wouldn’t, I would expect that he would call in sick i.e. Carolina Panthers workout. Be leery, this investment could give you short term gains, only to have the bottom fall out of it.
Christian Ponder, Florida State Seminoles: There’s really nothing horrible about this player. There’s really nothing exceptional about him either. My biggest problem with Ponder is the price he’s being marketed with. I would take him at a 3rd round price but the rumors are that he’ll l be purchased at a first round level. People have been falling in love with Ponder because of how good he looks dropping back from center, compared to the spread offense guys. That’s great now, but the best drop back doesn’t equal the most accuracy, best reads, best mobility, winning determination, or most importantly in Ponder’s case, the healthiest player. Every time I turned on a Florida State game on, it seemed as if Ponder was out injured, getting injured, or thinking about getting injured. I would take a chance on him if the price tag wasn’t so high but I would stay clear at these price levels.
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes: I’m not going to waste too much time on this player. As an investment there is nothing appealing to me, nothing intriguing. I wouldn’t consider drafting this player at any cost. I would only bring this player as an undrafted free agent. Nothing to see here, move along….
Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech Hokies: If Taylor were a few inches taller, he would be spoken about as first round talent. It’s always hard to project what these 6’0 quarterbacks will become. He’s a better pocket passer than Pat White was. Taylor seems comfortable waiting in the pocket but, does have the ability to tuck it and run. There aren’t that many highly successful quarterbacks in the NFL that are 6’2 or shorter. But, there are some, so can’t completely rule him out. Where he’s valued at, if a team is willing to take a chance on the kid, they can hold onto him, perhaps place him on the practice squad and see if he pans out. I would make sure that if I drafted him and had any intensions of using him in the immediate future, that I had an offensive line that was aggressive and above average at getting a push at the point of contact. He’ll need an exaggerated separation and lanes to throw in order be successful; more than the norm.
TJ Yates, North Carolina Tar Heels: The frustrating thing when watching Yates is the inconsistency. He has the tools to make it in the league. With the coaching from Butch Davis at North Carolina, and Davis’ endorsement, I would value Yates’ stock on the 3rd day as a better buy than Stanzi’s on the 2nd day. TJ comes win a ton of experience as he started for 4 years at UNC. It’s also a plus that he played in a pro style offense. Teams that like Yates should draft Yates with mild expectations and they should have another option in place with the hopes of developing Yates to be able to take over.
That’s a scout’s take on some of the NFL quarterback draft stock, hopefully the team you root for purchases wisely. It doesn’t matter what causes a player’s stock to fail, it can be talent, character, or any other intangible. At the end of the day, a plummeting stock can cost you your job and well being. It’s the job of the NFL executives in the “War Rooms” to research these players and make certain that they are getting them at for the right price.
Please Note: We will be Hosting a LIVE CHAT during the 2011 NFL Draft. Please join us and take part in the discussion in the room. We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions as the 2011 NFL Draft progresses in real time.
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You may email Jayson directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock