2011 NFL Mock Draft: Is Robert Quinn Really The Best Case Scenario?

Normally, I find myself agreeing with Chris Watkins, our esteemed weekend editor of SB Nation Houston. Luckily for readers, we don’t share the same draft point of view which makes for a more well-rounded coverage, at least I think so. After reading his version of a best case first round scenario, I feel the strong need to reply.

North Carolina DE/OLB Robert Quinn isn't what I see when I think "best case" first round scenario. If anything, Quinn is my 2011 NFL Draft Nightmare, and someone whom I hope the Houston Texans will avoid in about three weeks.

On top of hoping, I also believe that Houston would pass on him, should he be available at 11, every single time. This is something I have said both on this site and Battle Red Blog which usually is greeted by a sarcastic "Oh, of course the Texans won't draft Quinn. He's too talented." However, I don't believe Quinn is too talented. In fact, I think he's among the draft's more overrated prospects and, beyond that, just doesn't fit what the franchise's draft philosophy is.

Let's start with Robert Quinn as overrated first. In his two-year career as a Tar Heel, Quinn had 13 career sacks. Of those 13, four sacks came against the lowly Duke program, three came against the 2009 Virginia Cavaliers (who went 3-9 that season), and four came against Football Championship Subdivision teams (formerly Division I-AA) and a program from Conference USA. That's 11 of 13 sacks against sub-par competition. Additionally, over half of Quinn's career tackles for a loss (14 of 25.5) came in those same games.

In eight career games against ranked opponents, Quinn has a total of one sack. He continues the disappearing act against good competition by having only one game where he made four or more tackles - 2009 against Virginia Tech where he had 10 total tackles (4 solo, 6 assisted). Why is this? Tape suggests Quinn's success came from a speed rush. While he was faster than the offensive line talent in those easier games, speed alone wasn't enough to beat the top talent of the Atlantic Coast Conference - nor will it be enough in the NFL.

Additionally, those games were two years ago. Mr. Quinn didn't play in 2010 due to a season-long NCAA suspension. There was no development in his moves or improvement against quality opponents as the raw pass rusher has not played any meaningful football since December 26th, 2009. Not only that, but all of that game play was as a defensive end, as opposed to the outside linebacker role he'd take on in Houston if he were unfortunately taken at 11. Some will counter with the notion that the Tar Heel will be a weakside rushing linebacker, but even DeMarcus Ware had to handle some coverage responsibilities in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ scheme.

Since I just mentioned it, the suspension is another reason why the Texans won't take Quinn. High-character guys don't get suspended, and suspended players aren't leaders in the locker room. Franchises, especially the Texans, tend to shy away from investing first-round money and publicity on guys who have red flags due to their behavior and character. To Quinn's credit, he has apologized about his transgressions, but how else is he supposed to act in his pre-draft season?

Let’s add it all up: Quinn disappeared in games against good opponents, is a bit of a mystery as a schematic fit, hasn't played football in nearly 18 months (and won’t even practice until this lockout is over), isn't a leader, and I haven't even talked about his health question mark (the whole benign brain tumor issue that requires a bi-yearly MRI to ensure that it’s still benign). Yet, Quinn's shown enough to be the 11th overall pick to the point where Houston fans are calling him the best case scenario? Really? The only thing he’s done since 2009 is post some times and numbers at the Combine and the UNC Pro Day. While his numbers are impressive, that makes him more a workout warrior than someone whose gifts translated into on-the-field domination. 

Call me crazy but I don't buy into Robert Quinn for the hometown team. I would much rather Houston grab a player who didn't have so many looming question marks. The Texans need to nail this pick, and Robert Quinn isn't quite the hammer to do the job. At least that’s how I see it. Easy question for readers: Is Quinn the best case scenario?

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