Several underclassmen chomping at the bit
By Smith in spotlight
Forty-eight underclassmen made themselves eligible for the 2006 NFL draft. It should come as no shock that even more are expected to take the NFL plunge in next April's draft. As a result, the rumor mill is already churning.
Everyone knows about the top prospects, such as RB Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma), WR Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (Ohio State) and OT Sam Baker (USC). However, here are a few underclassmen who may be interested in leaving school after this season:
Jon Beason, OLB, Miami-FL
Beason had a better season as a sophomore than he is currently having as a junior. He has battled nagging injuries this season and has only 48 total tackles through nine games. Although he is athletic and instinctive enough to warrant late-first day consideration in next April's draft, Beason could significantly improve his draft stock by returning to Miami for his final year of eligibility in 2007.
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Dorsey's playing time was limited the past two seasons because he was behind standouts Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten. However, the explosive junior defensive tackle wasted little time breaking out as a first-year starter in 2006. Now he's strongly considering taking his game to the next level. If Dorsey leaves after this season he could be a top-15 pick in next April's draft.
C.J. Gaddis, CB, Clemson
Gaddis is a cornerback/free safety 'tweener prospect with good straight-line speed for his size. He has improved his coverage skills as a junior and has held up well when left alone on an island with top receivers such as Johnson. However, Gaddis still has room to improve in terms of his technique and ball skills, which is why he would be wise to return to Clemson for the 2007 season. If he leaves school early, Gaddis would need to blow scouts away with his postseason workouts in order to sneak into the first two rounds.
Chevis Jackson, CB, LSU
Jackson is a better prospect than Gaddis, but Jackson still has room to improve. He has been called for too many penalties on the season and the job he has done on punt returns this season has been underwhelming.
Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia
Much like his counterpart Quentin Moses, Johnson's play in 2006 can best be described as erratic. Johnson flashes first-round talent at times, but he takes some plays off and still needs polishing from a technique standpoint, particularly getting off blocks. Johnson is a fringe first-round prospect in 2007, but a strong senior season next fall could earn him a top spot in the 2008 class.
Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee Meachem is having a career year as a junior, so it makes sense that he wants to strike while the iron is hot. However, another strong season in 2007 could improve his draft stock even more. Meachem would be wise to wait until the 11th hour to make his decision. If Johnson, Ginn Jr., Dwayne Jarrett (USC) and Sidney Rice (South Carolina) all leave school early, Meachem should return to Knoxville for his final season of eligibility.
Greg Olsen, TE, Miami-FL
Olsen battled through a concussion in the middle of the season and continues to drop too many catchable passes. His production has not come close to living up to expectations with only 29 receptions for 331 yards with one touchdown in nine games played. Olsen has an impressive combination of size and athleticism, which is why he would be one of the top tight ends taken in a weak 2007 crop. Still, he would be better served to return to school next season in order to maximize his draft potential.
Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina
From what I am being told, Rice has made up his mind to leave for the NFL after this season. Rice has had an inconsistent 2006 season and he's a third-year sophomore with limited experience. However, he is a tall, fast, playmaking wide receiver with the potential to emerge as a premier target in the NFL. If Rice runs in the low 4.4-second range in the 40-yard dash, he will solidify a spot in the first round.
JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
Word on the street is that Russell plans on leaving for the NFL if he finishes this season strong. Although it wouldn't hurt Russell to return to school for another year, it's understandable that he's leaning in the other direction. This year's senior crop of quarterbacks is relatively weak after Notre Dame's Brady Quinn. That means Russell would be competing with Drew Stanton (Michigan State) and Troy Smith (Ohio State) as the second quarterback taken somewhere in the first two rounds.
Glenn Sharpe, CB, Miami-FL
Sharpe is said to be leaning toward leaving after this season. If that's the case it would be a big miscalculation. Sharpe has impressive speed for his size, but he has much room to improve from a technique and consistency standpoint. He also has a history of injury problems, so another healthy season at Miami would help ease some of the doubts.
Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State
Timmons is fast for his size and makes some jarring hits in pursuit, which is why he grades out as a possible second-round prospect in the 2007 class. However, he still has room to improve in terms of his recognition skills and tackling. If he chooses to return to Tallahassee next season and is able to polish his skills, Timmons could emerge as a first-round pick in 2008.
Scouts Inc.'s Top 32
RANK NAME POS CLASS SCHOOL PREV
1. Joe Thomas OT SR Wisconsin 1
2. Brady Quinn QB SR Notre Dame 2
3. Calvin Johnson WR JR Georgia Tech 3
4. Gaines Adams DE SR Clemson 5
5. Alan Branch DT JR Michigan 6
6. Quinn Pitcock DT SR Ohio State 8
7. Sam Baker OT JR USC 10
8. Ted Ginn Jr. WR JR Ohio State 11
9. Adrian Peterson RB JR Oklahoma 7
10. Jake Long OT JR Michigan 9
11. LaRon Landry S SR LSU 12
12. Leon Hall CB SR Michigan 4
13. Levi Brown OT SR Penn State 14
14. Glenn Dorsey DT JR LSU 15
15. Jeff Samardzija WR SR Notre Dame 17
16. DeMarcus Tyler DT SR N.C. State 21
17. Brian Brohm QB JR Louisville 13
18. Dwayne Jarrett WR JR USC 16
19. Marcus McCauley CB SR Fresno State 18
20. Quentin Moses DE SR Georgia 19
21. Kenny Irons DE SR Auburn 20
22. Daymeion Hughes CB SR Cal 22
23. Buster Davis ILB SR Florida State 27
24. Paul Posluszny LB SR Penn State 25
25. Amobi Okoye DT SR Louisville 30
26. Patrick Willis ILB SR Mississippi 31
27. Zach Miller TE JR Arizona State 23
28. Robert Meachem WR JR Tennessee 24
29. Drew Stanton QB SR Michigan State 28
30. Joe Staley OT SR Central Michigan 29
31. Troy Smith QB SR Ohio State 32
32. Victor Abiamiri DE SR Notre Dame NR
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