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Interesting comments on many underclassmen who have declared


Robb4242
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I found this interesting, I guess especially so since I am in agreement with most all of the comments. Rather long, but some good info IMO.

Now that decision day for underclassmen to enter the NFL Draft has come and gone, we at New Era Scouting break down every player who entered and whether or not they made a wise decision.

See you on Sundays

Brandon Albert, OG, Virginia - Albert was one of the first to officially declare for this draft and he immediately shot to near the top of the offensive guard rankings in doing so. A tall, powerful monster along the line, Albert should find himself as one of the first guards taken come April.

Projected Round: 2nd

Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt - Bennett left school at the right time. He has some of the surest hands in the game right now, being the only receiver in SEC history to catch 75 balls in three consecutive years. Bennett is not a vertical threat, but his game was not going to improve any at Vanderbilt.

Projected Round: 3rd

Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas - The most common comparison given to Charles is his similarity to Saints running back Reggie Bush, which may both help and hurt Charles. Teams may look at him as being too soft and undisciplined to be an effective every down runner, and lower him down their draft boards. Charles does have elite speed and athleticism though, and after a banner second half of the season at Texas, had to declare.

Projected Round: Late 1st

Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State - The mountain of a man from Boise State is one that NFL scouts have been drooling over all season. Clady is a road grader in the ground game, and dominant at the point of attack. He moves well laterally for a man his size, and should easily be the second tackle taken off the board.

Projected Round: Early 1st

James Davis, RB, Clemson - The physical, power running Davis left early because of financial reasons, and his desire to step out of the shadow of his running back duo with sophomore C.J. Spiller. Davis is a disciplined back, and has a good feel for the game. The time for Davis to go was now.

Projected Round: Late 2nd - Early 3rd

Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech - The big name duo of Flowers and Victor Harris originally were both in for the draft, but Harris later rescinded and went back to Virginia Tech. Flowers is experienced in playing both off and press man coverage, and has good jump ball skills. Flowers value wasn t getting much higher.

Projected Round: Late 2nd/Early 3rd

Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio St - It was no surprise for Gholston to declare after having two dominant seasons for Ohio State playing the Leo, or drop end position. It is a position that is similar to that of a strong-side linebacker in 3-4 defense, which is where Gholston is likely to play in the NFL. His size/speed combination has made Gholston a solid two-way defender.

Projected Round: Early 1st

Letroy Guion, DT, Florida State - It is highly likely that Guion will be a second-day pick, but he failed to keep his grades up and would have been kicked off the Seminoles. Should he have entered? No. Did he have a choice? No.

Projected Round: 6th

Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida - The most elite pass rusher in this draft is Harvey. He is blessed with great quickness and hand use. Harvey s not a massive player, but with his athleticism, is being projected to move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

Projected Round: Mid 1st

Desean Jackson, WR, California Jackson is the definition of a game breaker. His lightning fast speed and ankle-breaking cuts have made him a very hot item on the wish list of many teams. He will need time to improve upon his route running and ball skills which can be suspect at times, but he will make an immediate impact in the return game. If Ted Ginn Jr. can make it into the first round, so can Jackson.

Projected Round: 1st

Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma - Kelly s past two seasons at Oklahoma have shown he s ready for the big time. He has steady hands and is a physical force over the middle.

Projected Round: Mid 2nd

Curtis Lofton, LB, Oklahoma - Lofton s breakout year in 2007 showed he was ready for the NFL. Lofton has good range and instincts, and can play the run well. Lofton will likely test out very well, and could see a big jump in his draft stock.

Projected Round: Late 1st

Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas - The lock of the draft finally made his intentions known on Jan. 14, letting the worst known secret out. McFadden has superstar written all over him.

Projected Round: Early 1st

Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee - An outstanding athlete with good speed, Mayo will have to work on his recognition skills and instincts at the next level, particularly in coverage. Is a solid tackler who can contribute immediately at the next level, either from scrimmage or on special teams. Probably made a good call considering the inside linebacker class is weak overall and he s coming off of a good season.

Projected Round: Mid 2nd

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois Mendenhall was the the key to the Illini offense that led the squad to a Cinderella season with a win over Ohio State and a Rose Bowl birth. Mendenhall runs with a purpose between the tackles and has the ability to make a tackler miss or run straight over him. At 5-foot-10 210 pounds he has the body to hold up well in the NFL, and he does not have a lot of miles on his legs.

Projected Round: 1st

Lamar Myles, LB, Louisville - Myles is a productive inside linebacker who racks up a high amount of tackles, a number that was inflated by the instability around him on Louisville s defense. He can defend the run well, but is not much of a threat to make plays in pass coverage. His lack of size and only average timed speed will push him into the second day, but he is a player with upside.

Projected Round: Mid 4th/Early 5th

DaJuan Morgan, SS, North Carolina State - The departure of Morgan from NC State was a surprise. Due to the down year the program had, he didn t get much publicity. Morgan is an active run defender, and has soft hands. He is a high character player, who has publicly stated he knows he is not a first round pick, but is enjoying the prospect of building up his draft stock in the next few months.

Projected Round: Late 3rd/Early 4th

Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi - Oher is an athletic freak who has only played organized football for five seasons. He ll have to work on his technique at the next level, as he plays high at times, however he has All-Pro talent. His ability to move laterally for a man of his size is truly astounding. Within five years, he could be anywhere from the best tackle in football to out of the game completely. He s a classic huge risk/high upside prospect.

Projected Round: Mid-Late 1st

Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia An explosive runner at the college level, it remains to be seen how well Slaton s game will translate on the pro level, but there is no doubt this was the time for him to leave. With the architect of that high powered WVU run game now residing up north the time to move on and capitalize on the numbers that had been but up in the past came for Slaton. He is an absolute burner who used the WVU system to rack up huge stats. While another year in college may have seen him put up comparable numbers to those of the last two seasons, he could also very well have fallen off a bit. Leaving now takes that risk out of the equation and saves some wear and tear on the body.

Projected Round: 2rd-3rd

Kevin Smith, RB, UCF Despite putting up a season that pushed some records to their breaking point, Smith is still not an elite prospect. Despite this however, the time was now for him to come out. Even if Smith returned to school and surpassed his ridiculous stats from the 2007 season, his lack of breakaway speed and true game-breaking ability would keep his stock from rising much. Leaving now Smith is striking while the iron is hot and saving any further wear on his body that has had well over 200 carries each of the last three seasons

Projected Round: 3rd-4th

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon Stewart is that rare combination of speed and power that scouts dream about. Weighing in at 235 pounds and clocking in with sub-4.5 speed, he has all the measurables. Rushing for a team-record 1,722 yards in 2007, the production is there as well.

Projected Round: Mid 1st

Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas Talib was the star on a Kansas team that took the nation by storm in 2007 and continued to impress with a big win over Virginia Tech as the surprising Jayhawks made their mark on the BCS. Talib has great size for corner at 6-foot-2 and more than 200 pounds. A solid round of workouts at the combine and the Kansas Pro Day could see Talib s stock climb even higher.

Projected Round: 2nd

Might be better off on Saturdays

Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M - Physically, Bennett is ready for the NFL. He is a good vertical threat who can run like most wide receivers, but questions linger about his dedication to the game. Despite Bennett s good athleticism, he has yet to put together a dominant season. Bennett should have stayed another year and he may have cemented a spot as the tight end in 2009. As it stands, he s merely in the running to be the first tight end taken.

Projected Round: 3rd

Calais Campbell, DE, Miami - Campbell was smart to come out when he did, but he is a project pick. Campbell is on the lean side physically, and may not stand up to the power run games he ll see more frequently in the NFL. Campbell will have an impact as a pass rusher though, and will see a nice payday.

Projected Round: Mid-1st

Patrick Chung, SS, Oregon - Chung has only played one season at a natural safety position after beginning his career playing Rover. Chung has good athleticism and will post good workout numbers, but would have been at worst a second round pick with another year of college.

Projected Round: Late 3rd-Early 4th

Anthony Collins, OT, Kansas - The Jayhawks season was topped with a Orange Bowl victory over heavily favored Virginia Tech. Collins received a nice amount of press this season for his athleticism and upside. He still is not a physical blocker, but his athletic upside will appeal teams like Houston who run a zone-blocking scheme.

Projected Round: 2nd

James Hardy, WR, Indiana - Hardy s early declaration was no shock, but teams may be turned off by his off the field behavior problems. He is a tall target who s hard to stop on fades to the back corner of the end zone. The biggest question for Hardy is if he can create separation in the NFL.

Projected Round: Mid-Late 2nd

Geno Hayes, LB, Florida St - In what seems to be a yearly tradition of a Florida State linebacker declaring early for the draft, Hayes has the potential to be one of the best. He has amazing range in coverage and can change directions quickly. His small frame is a cause for concern though, and he will fall in the draft unless he posts eye-popping workout numbers.

Projected Round: Late 2nd-Early 3rd

Jack Ikegwounu, CB, Wisconsin Coming off a season in which his Wisconsin Badgers had an up-and-down year, Ikegwounu turning pro was a surprise. Most feel that he is not ready to take his game to the next level despite having all the measurables in place. More experience and better showings against top competition would certainly help his stock. Another factor working against Ikegwuonu is his future trial for criminal trespass and burglary stemming from an incident in 2006. If convicted he would face a minimum of four years in prison.

Projected Round: 3rd

Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas - The Robin to Darren McFadden s Batman, Jones has an impressive resume. He is one of the fastest players in the draft, and a top-notch kick return specialist. Jones is not a very patient runner, but his homerun ability on every play will entice someone early. In the early going, though, look for Jones to his mark on special teams. The biggest question that lingers with Jones is can he be the man as the full-time starter?

Projected Round: Early 2nd

Kenny Phillips, S, Miami - Following in the long line of Hurricanes safeties, Phillips declared early after a down season in Miami. Phillips has good instincts, size and hitting ability. He can be beat deep, though, and likely is best as an in-the-box safety. Phillips is a guy whose hype factor and name will likely get him drafted in the first round, but one has to wonder what one more season would have done for him.

Projected Round: Top 15

Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers Though he has received a solid grade from the NFL advisory committee, Rice is a player who could have very well benefited from returning for his senior season. Rutgers career rushing leader now finds himself in a draft class stacked with talent at running back that could push him down in the draft come April.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd

Pat Sims, DT, Auburn - The Tigers up and coming Sims decided to cash in on a strong season by going pro. He has good quickness and ability to penetrate the backfield, but his lack of experience and lower body strength shows he needs more work before being a successful pro.

Projected Round: Late 2nd-Early 3rd

Taj Smith, WR, Syracuse - Smith is a raw product brimming with athleticism, but low on experience. Smith shuttled between corner and wide receiver while at Syracuse. He is already 24 years old, and has yet to nail down a full-time position. His lack of experience in the passing game will likely hurt his chances of playing defensive back full time, so look for Smith to be tried as a return specialist.

Projected Round: 5th

Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State Though he received a higher grade then anticipated from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee, Thomas is another guy who could have benefited from another year. Being that it is a weak corps of receivers coming out this year, Thomas will go where he is projected or maybe even higher due to his great measurables. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and with speed in the 4.5 range Thomas has the physical tools, but another year polishing his routes and working on his footwork would certainly boost his stock

Projected Round: 3rd

Should have gotten better advice

Adrian Arrington, WR, Michigan Although he may have been more or less run out by the new staff at Michigan, Arrington should have sought better advice when making his decision. Though the new offense at Michigan may not be very pass heavy a return to Ann Arbor would have seen Arrington as the No. 1 option in the passing game. Now he has declared in the shadow of Mario Manningham, and will need very good work outs to move himself into day one.

Projected Round: Late 5th- Early 6th

James Banks, WR, Carson Newman - The career of Banks has been tumultuous, at best. He was kicked off the University of Tennessee s team in 2004 for transgressions with the law and a failed drug test, and he also ran into trouble while at Carson-Newman. Banks lackluster numbers and production, added with the fact that he is already 24 means it is doubtful he even makes an NFL roster.

Projected Round: Undrafted

Davone Bess, WR, Hawaii - Bess decision to go pro was highly questionable. His position in Hawaii s offense, the slot-back, hardly translates to the NFL. He has soft hands, but lacks breakaway speed or elusiveness. He s a physical runner, so his best is to latch on as a punt returner.

Projected Round: 5th

Johnny Dingle, DE, West Virginia Though he is coming off his best season as a collegiate player, Dingle is a guy who could have greatly improved his stock by returning to school. He has a big and powerful frame at 6-foot-3 273 pounds, and would make an ideal end in a 3-4 defense. Another year of improved production would certainly have boosted Dingle up draft boards, but now he is entered into the draft in what looks like another casualty of a coaching change.

Projected Round: 5th-6th

Franklin Dunbar, OT, Middle Tennesse St Dunbar s declaration was one of the first to come out this season, and it brought a collective Huh from the majority of the draft community. Dunbar is an athletic lineman, but with only being a starter for two seasons against weaker competition, he s not ready for the NFL. Dunbar may latch onto a team in free agency, but don t expect much out of him.

Projected Round: 7th or Undrafted

Jermichael Finley, TE, Texas - It is rare when one Longhorn, let alone two declare early in the same year. Finley, a redshirt sophomore, is far from a complete product, but had to leave school early due to his family situation. Finley is a fast tight end, but with his lack of experience may hold him back.

Projected Round: 4th

Ryan Grice-Mullins, WR, Hawaii - Maybe the supporting cast of quarterback Colt Brennan saw the writing on the wall, as Grice-Mullins declared shortly after Bess did. Grice-Mullins has nice hands and is a steady player, but he is on the small side. Add that with his questionable quickness and speed, and it looks like he will be fighting to make an NFL roster.

Projected Round: 6th

Justin King, CB, Penn State Coming off a year that saw him take a step backwards, King s decision to leave early is a curious one. Though he has been a solid player in his time in State College, King has never really realized his potential that made him one of the most sought after recruits in the nation in 2004. A return trip to PSU for his senior season would have allowed King another opportunity to find that potential, but it seems as that is not to be.

Projected Round: 3rd

Xavier Lee, QB, Florida State - Given his lackluster career at Florida State, its pure insanity for Lee to declare. The Seminoles coaching staff had asked him to move to tight end for his senior season, and he responded by going pro. Lee has no experience working a pro offense, and was never able to lock down a starting job at FSU.

Projected Round: Undrafted

Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan - It is rumored that there were many people at Michigan who were quite happy when Manningham left early. Manningham s attitude problems and trouble with coaching staff had some Wolverines faithful comparing him to current Bengal wide receiver Chris Henry. While Manningham is a great deep threat, his lack of strength and physical play could be a detriment.

Projected Round: Late 2nd

Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson - Merling may be stuck as a tackle-end tweener in the NFL. His wingspan and overall size will be attractive to NFL teams. Merling is not much of a pass rusher though, and lacks much creativity in this area.

Projected Round: 4th

Chilo Rachal, OG, USC - Rachal s decision to leave was puzzling. He s not a spectacular player and doesn t display great technique. He could have become a standout for a season for the Trojans, but may now struggle to make a name for himself.

Projected Round: 5th

Darius Reynaud, WR, West Virginia - The Mountaineers top receiver from 2007 was Reynaud. He was a nice red-zone threat in West Virginia s spread offense, but his stats were inflated by the system he plays in. His jump ball skills are nice, but other than that Reynaud has no shining qualities.

Projected Round: 6th or 7th

Orlando Scandrick, CB, Boise State - The first player ever to declare early for the NFL Draft from Boise State was Scandrick. He is a three-year starter for the Broncos, though he was not even regarded as the best cornerback on his team. Scandrick had a problem with getting beat deep and committing bad penalties during his time at Boise despite being a veteran defender for the team. He never made the All-WAC team in any season either. Scandrick has to bank on big workouts and the idea of fighting for a roster spot.

Projected Round: 7th

Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma - While Smith should post good Pro Day numbers, he s never been a spectacular player with the Sooners. Given the amount of senior cornerbacks and juniors who already declared, Smith should have stayed in Oklahoma to lock himself into the first round.

Projected Round: 2nd

Mario Urrutia, WR, Louisville This season was a huge disappointment for the Cardinals and for Urrutia. In a season that was marred by injury, Urrutia saw his stats drop dramatically. Though he presents a big target at 6-foot-6, Urrutia is going to need to run well at the Combine to prove he can create separation on the next level. Teams are also going to be scared off a bit by his injury plagued season.

Projected Round: 5th-7th -Note: Former Oklahoma State quarterback Bobby Reid was left off this list because he is considering transferring to Texas Southern.

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grendel (2/5/2008)
jidady (2/5/2008)
He led the ACC in hurries this past season. He is a tenacious pass rusher.

Where do you find stats on hurries?

Quotes from local papers, for the most part.

It's a bit frustrating for me that this isn't an official stat, but the reason for it is that the definition of a hurry isn't clearly defined. We keep discussing all the hurries Long gave up in a couple of key games this year. NFLDS says he gave up none on the year. I actually had an email in about it, and they said they didn't track it themselves. That was the Big 10's tally. I presume that the ACC does the same with theirs, but I can't even say that with 100% confidence.

It's a murky area. I wish it were not, because I am of the opinion that hurries/knockdowns is much more important than the sack. 5 sacks against Brady is notable. 14-23 hurries/knockdowns (depending on whom you trust) out of 48 attempts paints a much different picture. If he's hit half the time he throws, that matters more than if he's tackled for loss a little over 10% of the time.

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One other note on this based on the research I just did on Long and Ellis: Long is credited with 23 quarterback pressures; Ellis has 1.

That stat alone says a ton about how inconsistent opinions are about what constitutes a pressure. The ACC seems to credit the lineman any time he's in the backfield. The Pac-10 must not award them unless the QB is grabbed by the jersey as the play concludes.

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jidady (2/5/2008)
grendel (2/5/2008)
jidady (2/5/2008)
He led the ACC in hurries this past season. He is a tenacious pass rusher.

Where do you find stats on hurries?

Quotes from local papers, for the most part.

It's a bit frustrating for me that this isn't an official stat, but the reason for it is that the definition of a hurry isn't clearly defined. We keep discussing all the hurries Long gave up in a couple of key games this year. NFLDS says he gave up none on the year. I actually had an email in about it, and they said they didn't track it themselves. That was the Big 10's tally. I presume that the ACC does the same with theirs, but I can't even say that with 100% confidence.

It's a murky area. I wish it were not, because I am of the opinion that hurries/knockdowns is much more important than the sack. 5 sacks against Brady is notable. 14-23 hurries/knockdowns (depending on whom you trust) out of 48 attempts paints a much different picture. If he's hit half the time he throws, that matters more than if he's tackled for loss a little over 10% of the time.

I agree with you that getting pressure on the QB is almost just as important as sacks can be. Hits & knockdowns can take a toll & can cause QB's to start hearing footsteps and rushing things.

But, if a guy coming into the league as a pass rusher is not able to get to the QB at the college level and is just barely getting to him to get some pressure on him, then do you think he'll be able to do the same at the NFL level? JMO, but if he's only able to rush enough to apply pressure at the college level, then he's probably not going to be getting much pressure on NFL QB's against NFL linemen.

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I certainly worry about the ability to finish if a guy is only getting sacks a third of the time he's in the QB's face. That's completely valid. What I like just as much, however, is the high percentage of the time such a player would be disrupting the play. This is exactly why I prioritize hurries over sacks. Not letting the offense run their play as designed is everything in the NFL now. The negative yardage would be a nice bonus, but that's why we're not talking about him as a first rounder.

BTW, the great news here for the Falcons is that a lot of this comes down to coaching. In getting the Jags' DL coach, we're already ahead of the game in this regard. We should see improvements across the board simply from his presence. Bringing in the free agents and draft picks is the gravy.

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