Some pro prospects are worth the risk. They may have weaknesses, but their strengths will overshadow all doubts about them and the reward could be huge. Adrian Peterson was a risk because of his injury issues, he would have been the number one overall pick, but he was viewed as a risk. The Vikings took a chance on Peterson and the reward was, well, history. There is another Peterson in this draft, but there is no risk there, Patrick Peterson is a sure thing.
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Biggest risk in the entire Draft. Newton is the next great bust! Draft experts will ask what happened to Cam and why did he fail, in the future. There is no reason to have to look back and wonder. Guys who make six digit salaries will excuse there miss evaluation of Newton, as that is easy to look back in retrospect, and not pick him number one. They will go on to talk about his college career, national championship, Heisman, etc. But remember this blog entry that Cam will never be a great QB in the NFL. Newton has everything you want in a football player except he can't throw and he isn't a high IQ guy. Well, those are the number one and two traits you want in a QB. Cam Newton is another athlete who wants to play quarterback, this has never worked, yet some real geniuses keep trying to make square pegs fit in round holes. It's like communism, fails everytime, but people keep trying it and swear it will work, the next time. I hope my Panthers trade Cam if they draft him, if not they will take a risk that will have no reward.
Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas
Ryan Mallet has all the tools to be, not a good QB, but a great one. He has tools similar to Joe Flacco, but he is bigger and better in every measured skill. Mallet is a lot like Newton in the sense that he has the tools, but the IQ and off the field problems have come into question. The difference between Newton and Mallet, is that Mallet can really spin it and last time I checked that's what QBs better be able to do in the NFL. Crazy idea to want a QB who can throw the ball, right?! One big part of Mallets' risk factor is that Bobby Petrino has never produced a great pro prospect, but he has never had a QB like Mallet who destroyed SEC defenses with his arm two years in a row. Ryan has many very desirable skills and physical traits (cannon for an arm, 6'7, etc), but have you seen his hands? Mallets hands have to the biggest hands of any NFL QB ever and as you may know many great QBs have big hands (Brett Favre, Drew Brees, etc). Mallet may fall to the 2nd round and if he does this might be the steal of the decade. Mallet is a big risk, but the reward could be as big as his giant frame and arm. A pure passer with his skills and size could be, scary!
Da' Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Bowers is a protype 4-3 Defensive End. So, what's the problem, well the knee is. I heard it said that many NFL guys call it a "ticking time bomb." This makes Da'Quan a big risk, but if he falls to the mid of late 1st round he could be a huge reward for some team.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Blaine Gabbert is a risk, because all QBs are, and because he is system guy who will be drafted top five. With that said I would take Gabbert over Cam Newton any day. Gabbert looks like an NFL QB and I hear he is great locker room leader. Locker room leadership is much more important than foot speed for a NFL QB. Gabbert (6'4) can really sling it and he stands tall in the pocket, plus he has Tom Brady hair and that has to count for something. There are some risks that go long with any QB and Gabbert is a risk, but nothing can be more rewarding than drafting a franchise QB. Gabbert seems to have all the tools and intangibles to be a NFL franchise QB for a long time.
Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
The only reason there is any risk with Quinn is he has not played football for a year. You just don't know what that does to a guy until he gets back on the field in game action. Quinn looked good at the combine and after a year layoff that is impressive. Robert can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and Quinn has good DE size, but moves like a linebacker. That is a combination that any NFL team would be crazy about! Quinn would have most likely been the overall number one pick if he had not missed the entire 2010 college season. So, if Quinn falls out of the top 5 it would be a great value and could be a very rewarding pick for a team in the long run.
Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
The rumors that are circulating around the NFL are what make Nick Fairley a risk. Everyone has heard these rumors by now, that Fairley is one year wonder, lazy, and takes plays off. But, I saw his drills and workouts and Fairley moves like DE and yet is almost 300 pounds. I have never seen a man of that size move like that. No one in the SEC could block him and that speaks volumes to his ability. Fairley stole the spotlight from Cam Newton by dominating the National Championship game. Nick could be a very rewarding pick because a DTs with his size and skills can anchor a top ranked NFL defense.
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
This one is easy, best player in the draft. Played in the SEC, check, Safety size, check, elite corner speed, check, and on top of that he returns kicks. Peterson is ball hawk and is one of the most dangerous kick returner to come out in a decade. Peterson is just a can't miss!
Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Like Peterson, Dareus played in the best college football conference in the world. He is huge man at 6'4 and 315 pounds and has a great motor. The experts say he can even play some DE and the NFL really like the DE/DT hybrid right now. A DT like Dareus, with his size and skills can make everyone on his side of the ball better (and make everyone on the other side look bad). DTs like Dareus don't always have the sexy stats, but the dominate football games.
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Castonzo has it all he is 6'7 and 311 pounds. He has the size and the fundamentals to go long with them, which is rare at this time in OT career. Castonzo will come right in and start, and will be a 12 year starter unless injuries prevent it. Castonzo seems to be well coached and smart and that is super important, because a tackle has to learn so much. It seems Castonzo might not go top 10, which means Castonzo will be a steal, because he is a sure thing.
Here are some other sure things or at least guys I really like in the 1st round.
Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (but he is a risk)
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State (maybe a steal if he goes late 1st round)
I will write about more Risks, Rewards, and Sure things from the later rounds in Part II tomorrow...