ESPN Insider Request 5 Most Impactful NFL Draft Decisions

Discussion in 'Sports & Training' started by kicker6136, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. 13rownie


    Feb 12, 2007
    The five most important NFL Draft decisions

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | Feedback | Print Entry

    Jake Locker announced Monday that he will return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft. As an immediate result, we had a bigdomino remain standing in the NFL Draft vs. next season's college football BCS race.

    No, I'm not insinuating that Locker's Huskies are poised to make a national title run in 2010 (I do think with 17 starters back, they'll have agood shot at making a top 25 appearance), but his presence is very, very significant in the shaping of the Pac-10 championship race; since he makes the U-Dubso dangerous, it impacts the potential contenders, namely the Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans.

    Washington also plays Nebraska next year. TheCornhuskers will lose Ndamukong Suh, but could be one of thebetter teams in what shapes up as a wide-open Big 12 (a few great QBs are leaving the conference). One great performance by Locker could knock any of them outof the BCS picture.

    We're still a while away from making 2010 preseason top 10 lists, but here are five guys whose NFL Draft decisions will be massively important whenthose discussions start happening:

    (And for reference, here's Todd McShay's Mock Draft and Mel Kiper's most recent Big Board):

    1. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama Crimson Tide:

    The Butkus Award winner has been considered a coach on the field for Bama. He's a nimble, instinctive 260-pound play-making machine -- and he's aleader too. Is he or Mark Ingram Bama's best player? Two SEC coaches I spoke tothis week are convinced it's McClain. "Ingram's a tough back, but so is the guy behind him (Trent Richardson)," said one SEC assistant. "McClain is so more valuable to whatthey do." Most expect McClain to jump after the season, but Bama should still be pretty nasty on D, especially since they get Dont'A Hightower,another freakishly athletic LB, back from injury. But without McClain, there will be a void there. Just how big is the question?

    2. Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida Gators:

    The Gators' offense was a disappointment this season and clearly missed Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin a lot, but things really would've been bleakwithout the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Bristol, CT product who put some sizzle into the spread option attack via shovel passes as he proved to be a lethal runner inthe open-field. Hernandez is the top underclass tight end prospect on Mel Kiper's Junior Board. With Tim Tebow and WR Riley Cooper using up their eligibility, Hernandez's versatility would be a huge help asthe Gators break in new QB John Brantley and shift into more of a passingattack.

    3. Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:

    With all due respect to the Triple Option (and star RB Jonathan Dwyer), Morgangives this defense some much-needed bite. In 2010, they figure to be outstanding on offense in what would be QB Josh Nesbitt's third season running the attack, but is the D going to be tough enough tomake a title run? It was decent this year, ranking 54th in total D. That needs to improve, and if Morgan stays, it almost assuredly does. If not? He was theACC's Defensive Player of the Year and is so relentless and physical that some analysts (such as Kiper) have the 6-foot-4, 275-pound junior ahead ofrangier, more freakish junior ends (Carlos Dunlap and JasonPierre-Paul). Despite being the focus of rival offenses, Morgan, who played on a D-line that lost three very good starters from 2008, still managed 12.5 sacks(6th in the country).

    4. Damian Williams, WR, USC Trojans:

    He was one of the few Trojans who had a terrific 2009 season. Williams is about as smooth as they come. He caught 30 more passes than anyone else on theteam and had almost twice as many receiving yards as the Trojans' No. 2 receiver despite battling through ankle and hamstring injuries this fall. He'salso a very returnman. He has said it's 50-50 about whether he stays or goes. You know freshman QB Matt Barkley is hoping he returns to help spruce up what was just the country's No. 68passing offense. Considering that the Trojans will have all of their toughest games at home in 2010, things seem on track for a bounce-back year, but withouttheir star receiver, it would leave a major void in the passing game.

    5. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma Sooners:

    The Sooners already took a big hit when star QB Sam Bradford announced he wasleaving early. More defections could come, but none would hurt more than losing McCoy, who was arguably the next most disruptive D-lineman in the Big 12outside of Ndamukong Suh. The Sooners were seventh in the country in scoring D and should bounce back on offense next fall.

    Just Missed the Cut: Navorro Bowman, PennState, LB; Joe Haden, UF, CB; Jon Dwyer, GT, RB; CameronHeyward, Ohio State, DL; Bryan Bulaga, Iowa, OT; AllenBailey, Miami, DL; Chad Jones, LSU, S; Stephen Paea, OregonState, DT; Jahvid Best, Cal, RB; Marvin Austin, UNC, DT.

    Around the college football landscape

    • The Jim Leavitt story is a huge one, if the original report that appeared on AOL is true. Later in the day, the father of the player who was allegedlystruck in the face twice said things didn't happen like that. We've heard plenty of stories about Leavitt's volatility, but thatdoesn't necessarily mean he did what he was accused of. I wasn't a huge Mark Mangino fan, but from what I was told and from the people inside theKansas program that I spoke to that story got twisted pretty fast once it became "public." (Or whatever it is we're calling stories when they hitthe internet these days.)

    If the original story was accurate and it comes out that Leavitt did strike a player twice, I don't see how USF can keep him around, as Mike Bianchi also writes.

    I will say this, having been around a lot of programs in the past decade and having seen practices at probably 20 percent of the FBS programs: thingsoccasionally get said to players in a tone that wouldn't pass HR standards in many office settings. And I think as football fans, we understand that. Thedemands aren't for everybody. I've seen a couple of current head coaches who are considered among the best in the business really, really rip people.Still, there has to be a distinction between hard coaching and being physically abusive. Grabbing a player by the facemask is one thing, swinging at him issomething very different.

    • Does the Heisman voting method need to be revised? Ben Volin brings up afew interesting points in light of these comments from a voter, who had Mark Ingram/Tim Tebow/Colt McCoy in that order:

    "The reason that I voted for Ingram, Tebow and McCoy was because I saw them play the most. I never saw Gerhart play an entire game (we work all day Saturday and Saturday night) and only saw a few minutes of Suh's game against Texas. I refused to vote for somebody based on highlights. And I think you have to represent your part of the country; in fact, there used to be fine print on the paper ballots that instructed balloters to vote "with regard to your region." However, I think it's wrong to leave a player off your ballot completely just to help a player from your region, as apparently the case with some Big 12 voters on Tebow year. So I, too, an still unhappy about that injustice."

    Volin has three suggestions, starting with making the voting base smaller. I am for that. I hear about people who have votes who probably don't go totwo games all season. Then again, I heard one colleague who goes to games every week and played the sport at the highest level and I really disagree with hisvote. Do I think he should be stripped of his vote just because I didn't agree with it? (Thinking . . .) Of course not.

    Making the votes made public seems like a good idea. If you want the right to vote, you should be willing to stand by it. Then again, how far off are wefrom some really bizarre incident of some voter getting heckled or a lot worse by the fan of a school that felt like it was robbed?

    • Former Syracuse OC-turned Tennessee Vols grad assistant Mitch Browning interviewed for Memphis OC job Monday I'm told. Browning orchestrated one ofthe country's most productive running games in the past 15 years in his days as Minnesota's offensive coordinator.

    • Evidently, it's not a slam dunk that one-time Florida QB Cam Newton reunites with Dan Mullen at Miss. State. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound QB, now at BlinnCollege in Texas, tells that he's looking hard at Oklahoma:

    "Talking to Coach Stoops, Coach Heupel and Coach Wilson and all those guys, I have an opportunity to be the man if I commit there," he said. "That is what I want in a school. I want a chance to compete for a starting spot. I don't want anything given to me, because I feel if something is given to you then people won't take you as seriously as if you earned it. Oklahoma, North Carolina, Auburn, Mississippi State, Baylor and Arizona. But out of those schools, especially with this weekend being as good as it was, Oklahoma is right there in the race. Coach (Bob) Stoops has an excellent coaching staff there, good guys on the team, good personnel and the recruiting class that is coming in is an eye-opener nationally."

    • The BCS Title Game bid isn't the only good news of late for Texas. The Longhorns also turned former LSU commit Mike Davis, reports Gerry Hamilton:

    The visit was straight," Davis said. "There wasn't anything major that stood out, but I just liked the players and stuff. I liked hanging out with the players the most. Texas is in-state, closer to home, closer to my momma, the academics are great, I like the chow down there, and I know I'm going to be taken care of down there." Davis first showed signs of having second thoughts when he visited Texas A&M officially Oct. 30. He continued to consider trips to Florida, North Carolina and California, but the Longhorns had his full attention as well as a leg up on the competition thanks to former Skyline and current Longhorns safety Christian Scott, who hosted Davis on the visit.

    • Big battle between for old Southwest Conference rivals Arkansas and Texas Tech for one of the nation's top JC players -- Butler County CC, Kansasdefensive end Scott Smith. Wednesday morning is the first day junior college prospects can be signed; both of these two programs should be loaded on offensebut need big help on their D-lines

    The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Smith, who had 14 sacks last season and was the Jayhawk Conference's 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, is originally fromHonolulu, Hawaii. He signed with California in 2007, but transfered to Butler County following his freshman year. Smith had 28 tackles for loss this year andwould be eligible to go through spring ball.

    • Nevada just got a commitment from one of the best names in football: Bubba Boudreaux, a 6-foot-0, 195-pound defensive back from Palomar CC (San Marcos,Calif.), has committed to the Pack for the Class of 2010.

    • Tweet of the Day: From former FSU DB Myron Rolle:

    Yes, there are good student-athletes at FSU...