On a weekly basis (so long as I remember my half), MtD and NFLMocks.com hooks up for a draft-related Q&A. This week I sent the questions over to NFLMocks' lead editor Jesse Bartolis on a few different subjects. My questions are in bold. His answers are italicized.
1. At this time of year, there is constant news happenings regarding underclassmen entering the draft. Which redshirt sophomores do you think are ready to make the jump to the NFL?
I think there is really only one who would benefit from declaring for the N.F.L. this year and that is Miami Hurricanes running back Lamar Miller. Miller has his N.F.L. body now and loads of talent. And besides that running backs have short shelf lives in the N.F.L. and (except for blitz pickups) usually a much quicker learning curve.
I also think Jarvis Jones could play in the N.F.L next year, but I saw a quote from him where he said
"I'm going to be here as long as I can. I love the university. I love the guys here. I love being in Athens. Most of all, school is going to come first. I love my coaches and right now, I don't think I'm ready to play in the NFL. I've still got a lot to learn."
If a player is self-aware and thinks he isn't ready for the N.F.L who am I to disagree with him? Some 34 team that's drafting high that needs a pass rusher is going o be disappointed though if he doesn't.
The other one I think is talented enough to play in the N.F.L. right now is Xavier Rhodes, but he didn't quite make the jump this year I thought he could. He has a world of potential and it's probably in his own best interest if he returns to school next year to try to make the jump into the first round.
(Note: Jesse dropped a line later saying he'd forgotten Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert. Of him, here's what he said: I think he can play in the league now as well.)
2. Over the last month, there has been no hotter quarterback than Matt Barkley of USC. But there are others who think only Baylor's Robert Griffin III could overtake Andrew Luck as the top QB in the draft. How would you contrast Barkley and Griffin?
The more you read and hear about Griffin as a person the more you like him because you can see on the field how physically gifted he is. I found it odd that both were listed at the same exact height and weight.
I think Griffin is more athletic and has a higher upside, while Barkley is a little calmer in the pocket and will wait a little longer through his progressions and could reach his potential quickly. I think Griffin throws a little more accurate deep ball. Barkley has more experience in a "pro-ready offense" while Griffin will have to adjust to that.
I think one of the important similarities they have is they have both shown to be smart quarterbacks with good touch on the football and guys who have really stepped up this year to make big plays and win big games. There aren't any diva concerns around either of these players and I think they both have a bright future.
3. With the NFL season winding down, who should be the NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year and why?
The defensive rookie of the year for me is become Von Miller more and more each week. Miller hasn't just been productive, he's overcome a benching early in the season and improved in the run game. Miller is also making big plays in big moments with sacks late in the fourth quarter, and last week he put some serious pressure on Rivers to keep the Broncos chances of winning alive.
On offense I still think it's Cam Newton. And while Andy Dalton has been impressive the Panthers are asking Newton to do an awful lot (too much if you ask me). The Panthers have two very talented running backs who are both averaging nearly five yards per carry this season (Williams at 5, Stewart at 4.8) but they only have 201 carries combined which is only 13 more than Benson has a lone. Newton also has 22 total touchdowns. An impressive year.
I guess I discount Dalton a little bit because he's doing it with A.J. Green even though that may not be fair of me.
I think DeMarco Murray joined the party a little too late and isn't scoring a ton, but he might be the league's Most Valuable Rookie, the player who is helping push the Cowboys into the playoffs.