A late start to this week’s edition simply allows for more information to be processed and subsequently distributed to TFY’s listening audience.

Host Brent Sobleski and SportsIllustrated.com’s Tony Pauline discuss…

– Cam Newton’s effect on the 2011 NFL draft

– More underclassmen weighing their options

– The first source to discuss a myriad of defensive players invited to the Senior Bowl.

…and all of the show’s regular segments including:  Taking Stock, What scouts are saying…, and a weekend preview!

After partaking in the  podcast, all conversation can be directed to the site’s FORUMS.

If any questions or comments persist, the show can be contacted via e-mail at tfydraftpodcast@gmail.com.

Plus, it should be noted TFY’s Draft Podcast can be imported into iTunes and can be done  if any listener clicks on the appropriate link situated on the far right of the blog player.  Otherwise…

Tune in next week.  Same Draft Insider time.  Same Draft Insider channel.

Looking over the shoulder of (collegiate) greats

Staring over the shoulders of (collegiate) greatness

A hot topic currently swirling among scouting circles is the viability of Auburn’s Cameron Newton as a legitimate first round talent for the 2011 NFL Draft.

To take a closer look at this inquiry, TFY’s DraftInsider.net would like to welcome our newest guest contributor, Richard Alan Phipps.

Phipps take the time to break down two similar talents who were drafted highly as they compared with the Tigers’ Heisman Trophy front runner…

With the relentless spectacle surrounding the recruitment of Auburn junior gunslinger Cameron Newton likely to linger long after his weird eligibility journey earlier in the week, most draft pundits and college football observers expect the athletic quarterback to announce his intentions to enter the 2011 NFL Draft shortly after the Tigers impending bowl game in January.  As Stanford’s junior signal-caller, Andrew Luck,  settles in at the top of most draft boards, followed by Arkansas junior Ryan Mallet and Washington senior Jake Locker, Newton continues to carve his niche into the cluttered landscape of this draft class.

Scouts and evaluators have mixed reviews on Newton as a quarterback transitioning to the NFL.

“A prospect that could revolutionize the position,” claimed one national scout.

Another insists, “Newton will use his athleticism to transition to an h-back or he’ll go the rounds.”

Regardless of the shady recruitment of Newton, his prospects as a pro-caliber quarterback have skyrocketed due to his play on the field. Newton has an impressive arsenal of tools, possessing elite arm-strength, impressive mobility to get out of the pocket, and ideal height for the position. Newton also has an uncanny ability to produce under the lights, and he seems to possess that “it” factor, as his head coach, Gene Chizik, told the nation months ago.

“You can just see Cameron, physically, when he walks in the door you know he’s a very athletic, very talented young man,” Chizik said at his SEC media day in July.

There are detractors out there, and they are quick to point out Newton’s problems, mainly a host of footwork issues and mechanical concerns in the pocket. He has a bad tendency of staring down one side of the field before he tucks it and runs, and the offensive philosophies of Florida, Blinn College, and Auburn all limit coverage reads in the passing game. He is fairly accurate out of the pocket, but he consistently shows bad balance and telegraphs too many of his intended passes.

Outside of his physical tools, it is hard to evaluate Newton without bringing up the names Tim Tebow and Vince Young; two mobile quarterbacks with similar collegiate success and cult followings and two players who left lasting impressions on the field in their final seasons.  Each one of these prospects faced three daunting challenges in their final season that many professional scouts would equate to playing on Sunday’s in the NFL.

Vince Young

( @ Ohio State )

18/29  62%  270yds  2 td 2 int

76 rush yds

( Oklahoma )

14/27  52%  241yds  3 td 0 int

45 rush yds

( USC )

30/40  75%  267yds  0 td 0 int

200 rush yds  3 td

Tim Tebow

( @ Alabama )

20/35  57%  247yds  1 td 1 int

63 rush yds

( Tennessee )

14/19  74%  115yds  0 td 1 int

76 rush yds  1 td

( LSU )

11/16  69%  134yds  1 td 1 int

38 rush yds  0 td

Cameron Newton ( @ Alabama)

13/20  65%  216yds  3 td 0 int

39 rush yds  1 td

( LSU )

10/16  63%  86yds  0 td 0 int

217 rush yds  2 td

( Arkansas )

10/14  71%  140yds  1 td 0 int

188 rush yds  3 td

When it comes to comparisons with Young and Tebow, it is often the things that are left unspoken that seem to differentiate these prospects in terms of draft positioning. Young, for example, was drafted by an Oklahoma native in Bud Adams, an owner with strong ties to the state of Texas and its university. Young has yet to claim his position as the unquestionable full-time starter for the Tennessee Titans, seemingly in a constant struggle to hold off the ageless Kerry Collins while continuing to battle maturity issues and mediocre success at the position.

Tim Tebow, the quintessential poster-boy for the Cameron Newton hype, brightened living rooms and bars around the country for four years at Florida  begging the question… If Tebow was Superman, what does that make Newton, a player who has put up similar seasonal numbers in just one year of SEC play? If Tebow only warranted the 25th pick in the draft, where does that put Newton in terms of market value?

The Denver Broncos ultimately pulled the trigger on Tebow late in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft, amid some controversy over the pick. In terms of value, Tebow brought instant financial benefits to Denver, along with a Christian pedigree and a strong work-ethic that all coaches crave. Tebow has a total of three yards passing for his rookie season. The single completion being a goal-line touchdown pass.

Newton has led his team to success this season using an offensive philosophy tailored to his individual talents. Like Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick at the beginning of the decade, Newton’s coaching staff will not put the career 63% passer in many situations where he must complete a pass, something that many NFL brass will frown upon.  One undeniable fact working in his favor is his decision-making in these big games, throwing no interceptions while enduring enormous pressure at certain points in all three of his big games.

As the hype and glamor of the college football season winds down and scouts get the film rolling on Cameron Newton, expect them to find too many flaws and questions marks in his toolbox to warrant a high first-round grade. The grumblings surrounding his recruitment, along with his felony arrest and consequential court  approved deal to dismiss the charges and enter a diversion program, will cast a giant cloud over his head for some teams in the league. Still, with is ability to create buzz and excitement, and the potential to strike gold with his physical talents, his name will probably be called late on the first night of the annual draft.

Injuries around the league have opened the door for more rookies to see extended playing time. Chris Tripodi is back again to let you know who took advantage of their opportunities.

Rusty Smith (QB-Ten)

On last week’s podcast Smith was discussed and I mentioned that he might be better off turning and handing to Chris Johnson all day. But even that wasn’t an option against the Texans, who held Johnson to 5 yards on 7 carries and intercepted Smith three times while keeping Tennessee off the scoreboard all game. Smith, a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, was hurt by 6 drops by Titans receivers, but still went just 17-for-31 for 138 yards on the day.

Two of Smith’s interceptions really hurt the Titans; one from his own endzone that led to a Houston touchdown and the other in Houston’s endzone that halted a potential scoring drive. If this is what Smith and the Tennessee offense looks like against the league’s worst pass defense, the rest of his tenure as Tennessee’s starter won’t be pretty to watch.

Toby Gerhart (RB-Min)

Gerhart saw extended action in Minnesota’s win over the Redskins on Sunday when an ankle injury forced Adrian Peterson to the sidelines. The second-rounder out of Stanford ran the ball 22 times for 76 yards and a touchdown as the Vikings made the running game a focus in their first game under new coach Leslie Frazier. He was a big part of the Vikings second-half gameplan and picked up two key first downs on the team’s final drive that kept the ball away from Donovan McNabb for the game’s final six minutes.

Gerhart is a powerful inside runner with great vision and instincts and the footwork to make defenders miss in small areas. He doesn’t have the speed to break away from defenders in the open field but adds pass-catching ability out of the backfield and if Peterson is forced to miss any games, Gerhart should be able to handle another big workload.

Anthony Dixon (RB-SF)

Another rookie running back who received an opportunity thanks to injury, the sixth-rounder out of Mississippi State had 14 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown while splitting time with Brian Westbrook (23 carries, 136 yards). Frank Gore’s season-ending hip injury should open the door for Dixon to receive more work, although Westbrook will likely shoulder the majority of the load for San Francisco.

Dixon led the league in rushing yardage in the preseason and his powerful inside running style will complement Westbrook’s skill set nicely and should give the 49ers two solid options to replace Gore’s production. Dixon lacks the speed and elusiveness of Westbrook but is perfectly suited for short-yardage and goal-line work as well as keeping the aging, injury-prone veteran fresh for the season’s final stretch. He has starting potential in the future and with Gore’s injury prone nature, that future could come sooner than many expect.

Marlon Moore (WR-Mia)

Brandon Marshall’s injury opened the door for the undrafted rookie receiver out of Fresno State to see reps as Miami’s third receiver on Sunday. While Moore had just 1 catch on 4 targets he made the most of it, taking it 57 yards down the sideline for his first career touchdown.

After a strong sophomore season Moore looked like an up-and-coming prospect but struggled with injuries and totaled just 38 catches in his final two seasons with the Bulldogs. His size (6-0, 190), speed (4.51) and athleticism make him an intriguing player to watch but he will have to improve his focus and awareness to stick as a fourth or fifth receiver in the NFL.

Maurkice Pouncey (C-Pit)

It’s rare to hear offensive lineman thrown into the mix for Rookie of the Year honors but Pouncey was Brent Sobleski’s choice as of last week and has been discussed as a legitimate candidate in many circles. With injuries and inconsistency being the norm on Pittsburgh’s offensive line this year and over the past few seasons, the first-round pick out of Florida has been one of the few constants in the trenches for the Steelers.

Pouncey has the size and athleticism any team would want in their starting center. He also possesses great awareness, vision and blocking fundamentals and plays with a nasty attitude on the field. There’s good reason he was the highest-drafted center since Damien Woody in 1999 and Pouncey has made an impact from day one and should continue to develop into one of the league’s best centers.

Jason Pierre-Paul (DE-NYG)

When Pierre-Paul was drafted 15th overall out of South Florida, most thought he would be a project after playing just one season in college. He had just 11 tackles on the season before breaking out against Jacksonville this week with 8 tackles (6 solo), 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, both of which were recovered by Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and the second of which set up a long third-and-26 that led to Terrell Thomas’ game-clinching forced fumble on Garrard.

Pierre-Paul has the size (6-5, 270), growth potential and edge pass-rushing ability to be one of better defensive ends in football.  His limited exposure to big-time competition in college will lead to inconsistencies until he can develop a wider array of pass-rush moves and learn to shed blocks quicker. If he can build on this performance and continue to take steps forward every week, it might only be a matter of time until he cashes in on his vast upside.

Dan Williams (DT-Ari)

Although Williams has been unable to beat out Bryan Robinson as Arizona’s starting nose tackle, coach Ken Whisenhunt has been pleased with his progression throughout the season. That improvement was evident on Monday night against San Francisco, when Williams had a career-high six tackles compared to Robinson’s two.

At 6-2, 327 pounds, the first-round pick out of Tennessee has prototypical nose tackle size and went from a free agent grade entering his senior season to a first-rounder in April. He has continued that development since joining the Cardinals and while he has marginal pass-rushing skills, he is very difficult to move off the line of scrimmage and has the potential to anchor the Cardinals’ interior defensive line for years to come.

Amari Spievey (S-Det)

A third-round pick out of Iowa, Spievey has been starting at strong safety for Detroit and had a huge game against New England on Thanksgiving Day, racking up a career-high 10 tackles (8 solo). In his past four games, he has 25 tackles and has distanced himself from former starter C.C. Brown.

A cornerback in college, Spievey has been great in run support around the line of scrimmage as a safety. He’s a physical player who works hard to get off blocks and make plays up the field. He has the size (5-11, 195) and skill set to stick at safety in the NFL or develop into a starting cornerback, and that versatility will serve him well in the future.

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