Each week, I field a lot of interesting questions during my weekly chat, but I'm unable to answer all of them due to time constraints.
Since I have a little bit more time on my hands due to the NFL lockout, I decided to answer more of the questions that appear to be on everyone's minds in my new weekly mailbag column.
Projection game: Two-round mock
If you're unable to catch my chat or you simply have a question that you would like answered, please feel free to shoot me a message on Twitter (@BuckyBrooks) throughout the week.
Let's take a look at the questions that stood out this week:
Why do so many people have a problem with taking a cornerback No. 1 overall? If Patrick Peterson is as great as everyone says and ends up being another Darrelle Revis, how can anyone have a problem with taking him first? -- Alex D., Winnipeg, Canada
Bucky Brooks: Scouts traditionally avoid taking cornerbacks with the No. 1 overall pick because the position isn't valued in the same light as quarterbacks, left tackles or pass rushers. Those positions have a bigger impact on the passing game, and it is important for a team to have blue-chip players in place at those positions to have a shot at winning the Super Bowl. Although shutdown cornerbacks can significantly upgrade a defense's performance, it is rare to find a cover man capable of neutralizing the league's top pass catchers on a weekly basis. Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha are exceptions to the rule, but neither of their teams reached the Super Bowl despite their outstanding play. In fact, the argument is routinely made that pass rushers impact coverage far more than corners can impact the rush.
I don't think it's a slam dunk that Peterson is the best cornerback in the draft. He might be the most athletic player at the position, but teams routinely have success throwing in his direction. Take a close look at the Cotton Bowl game against Texas A&M for proof of a team unafraid to attack his side. Also, I worry about his size (6-foot-1, 219 pounds) because you simply don't see guys that big playing for a long time at cornerback. Granted, he can always move inside to safety, but you don't want to take a project that high when you're not certain that he can make the transition. While I love his athleticism, return skills and on-field savvy, I think there are other players on the board capable of making a bigger impact as the potential No. 1 pick.
BB: The Broncos' decision to work out Locker is part of their personnel department doing its due diligence on a prospect sure to attract a lot of interest. Part of their rationale might include looking at him as a potential franchise quarterback who might be available at their second-round selection. If they view him as a player who has more potential than one of the quarterbacks on their current roster, he could be in play at the No. 36 overall pick. The Broncos might have worked Locker out to drum up trade interest from a team that is serious about acquiring his services. If another team is high on Locker, they might pull the trigger on a deal with the Broncos at a certain point in the draft to ensure they get their targeted player. Teams are engaged in a high-stakes poker game as draft day draws closer, so this workout could be viewed as a part of the Broncos' pre-draft posturing.
BB: It is quite amazing that Dareus has become the overwhelming favorite considering Fairley's dominant play throughout the course of the season. However, most teams view Dareus as a "can't-miss prospect" due to his solid work ethic, consistent performance and scheme flexibility. He has been an outstanding player in the middle of the Crimson Tide's defense the past two seasons, and scouts are impressed with his ability to dominate while displaying excellent technical skills. He also enters the league familiar with the kind of preparation that is required of pros after playing under former NFL coach Nick Saban. In looking at Fairley's apparent drop down draft boards, his work ethic and motor have been called into question. He takes a few plays off, and scouts are worried about his ability to consistently play at a high level. Also, the "one-year wonder" tag has been placed on Fairley due to his dramatic surge in production last year. As a junior college transfer, you wonder if he can sustain that kind of play over the long haul. I'm not necessarily sure of that opinion based on watching him dominate the SEC, and I'm convinced he will be an impact player as a pro.
Why aren't more people talking about Andy Dalton being a top quarterback? He has decent size and athleticism, and was extremely successful in the win column while showing outstanding accuracy. What are his weaknesses according to scouts? -- Doug, San Francisco
BB: Dalton is near the top of the second tier of quarterbacks in the draft. He enters the league with a lot of experience and has a proven track record as a winner. He has good arm strength, touch and accuracy, but he doesn't stand out when you look at the tape. He is ideally suited to function as a game manager, and you wonder if he has the ability to carry the offense without a strong supporting cast. While quarterbacks of his caliber have been successful when everything is in place, you don't put a first-round grade on quarterbacks regarded as game managers. Keep in mind, this doesn't mean he is incapable of becoming a starting quarterback or having success in the league, but he will go in with lower expectations than some of his counterparts.