"Being in the top of the draft and having to fulfill a quarterback need, that worries me. Cam Newton has incredible physical tools, and he could be a great player. I like [Blaine] Gabbert. I don't think he's going to be a bust. But there's no Sam Bradford or Matt Ryan in this draft. There's no quarterback who, after you draft him, you're going to sleep easy at night.''
-- ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay to me Friday.
"This is really a matter which should be resolved, in my view.''
-- U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson, addressing owners and players in a Minnesota courtroom Wednesday.
"At a time when you're struggling to pay your bills and meet your responsibilities, the least we can do is meet our responsibilities to produce a budget. That's not too much to ask for. That's what the American people expect of us. That's what they deserve. You want everybody to act like adults, quit playing games, realize that it's not just my way or the highway."
-- President Barack Obama, after Republicans and Democrats agreed to cut $38-billion from the federal budget in time to avert a shutdown of federal facilities late Friday night.
Am I crazy, or is that something Roger Goodell should be saying right about now, after some contentious meetings with De Smith?
"Tell us about yourself.''
-- U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff, interviewing juror John Mara in Manhattan.
According to Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press, Mara replied thusly: "I am the president, CEO of the New York Giants, for the ball team, and have been so employed for the last 21 years.''
Though Mara asked to be released if he's needed at the talks between players and owners, or if NFL Draft needs with the Giants become urgent, the judge told him he could serve for now.
Mara is an alternate juror on an international drug case in Manhattan. The case seems fascinating. It's about Liberia claiming that a South American drug-trafficking organization was trying to bribe Liberian officials to allow a drug superhighway to run through the African country, making it easier for South American drugs to reach Africa, Europe and the United States.
Neumeister reports the case will last about three weeks, and that Mara has been taking notes and been quite attentive in watching the events of the first four days of trial. If the trial ends on schedule, it would be finished in time for Mara to sit in the Giants' draft room beginning April 28.
Robert Quinn, the highly regarded defensive end from North Carolina, is proving to be a tough study for many teams. He hasn't played football in 16 months, having been suspended for taking improper benefits at North Carolina and being banned for the entire 2010 season. He had a benign brain tumor in high school. Those two elements would make it tough enough. Add this one: He fattened up his sack totals -- 11 in 13 games -- against some weak sisters.
Quinn's game-by-game sack results:
Of his 11 sacks, six came in two games against ACC doormats, two more against NCAA Football Championship Subdivision teams with losing records, and three against Bowl Subdivision winning teams.
If you pick Quinn -- and Cleveland, at number six, may do so -- he'll be a perfect metaphor for the 2011 draft: High picks in the first round almost all come with a risk.
You've got Mel. Well, at least you'll have Mel in the mailbox this week if you ordered Mel Kiper's draft guide, which is being mailed today. The tidbits from the 33rd book that I found interesting:
He has Gabbert and Newton 13-14 on his overall draft board.
He ranks defensive tackles Muhammad Wilkerson and Corey Liuget ahead of Newton.
Mallett is Kiper's 71st-rated player.
He loves Ricky Stanzi, the Iowa quarterback, ranking him over Christian Ponder and Colin Kaepernick.
Do you know what silence sounds like? The chirping of cardinals at the Masters.
I found this to be true three or four times during the final round of the Masters: When Tiger Woods lined up a putt, it got very quiet -- maybe a cough or two and some whispering. When Woods got over the putt and set his feet and was five seconds out from hitting the ball, it got a little quieter, but you still might hear the crinkling of a wrapper. But in the second or two before he hits it, there is absolute silence, except for what nature provides as its soundtrack. Amazing how silent 10,000 people can fall when a big player is about to putt. I was taken aback by the human silence, and just how silent it was.
"At this point Newton a big man with a power arm, and limited QB skills. Accuracy a major concern. Poor mechanics. No sense of anticipation.
"More Newton: A steep learning curve (like Gabbert) re: NFL pass game. Must be taught pocket skills. How he's initially used critical.''
--@gregcosell, NFL Films video-dissector and "NFL Matchup'' producer, after watching Auburn video of quarterback Cam Newton.
"Headed back to pittsburgh.... would be shocked if i wasnt in a dallas uniform nxt year! The draft is april 28th so we will see.... ''
--@mikepouncey, Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey, Wednesday afternoon.
Dallas picks ninth. Would Dallas dare pick an interior offensive lineman ninth overall? I can hear you all now -- No! The value's not there for a guard or center at nine overall! Let me ask you this. If you knew he'd be a premier interior lineman, either at guard or center, would that change your mind?
Last year, the 8-9-10 picks were Rolando McClain (eight, Oakland), C.J. Spiller (nine, Buffalo) and Tyson Alualu (10, Jacksonville). Maurkice Pouncey went 18th, to Pittsburgh. I'd argue Maurkice Pouncey was the rookie who had the third-most impact last year, behind Ndamukong Suh and Sam Bradford. He certainly was a better rookie -- starting from the third day of training camp at center and making the Pro Bowl -- than McClain, Spiller or Alualu. Maybe those three will pass Pittsburgh's Pouncey, but clearly the Steelers got an excellent player at 18.
Particularly in a draft with few absolutely sure things, I'd never rip the Cowboys for picking a guard-center ninth overall -- if they were convinced he'd upgrade the line from day one as a starter better than one of the available tackles.
"Oh and congratulations charl schwartzel!! Great player and even better guy! Very happy for him and his family!''
--@McIlroyRory, Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, who entered the final round of the Masters in the lead, only to shoot seven-over on the back nine and lose.