Ginn Jr., Jarrett likely leaving college behind
By Todd McShay
Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to file paperwork with the NFL in order to become eligible for the 2007 NFL draft. As is the case each year at this time, rumors are swirling, but very few final decisions have been made by the top eligible underclassmen. In an attempt to maintain a semblance of order, below is an underclassman scorecard that I will update on a weekly basis leading up to the deadline.
Dwayne Wright, RB, Fresno State -- First-day talent will slip to fourth or fifth round due to injury history (knee).
Chris Henry, RB, Arizona -- A surprise early entry, Henry rushed for a team-high 581 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He's a straight-line runner with good size but limited elusiveness. He projects as a second-day pick.
Luke Smith- Anderson, TE, Idaho -- Nothing more than a free-agent prospect with reliable hands but a laundry list of durability issues. He missed nearly three full seasons to knee (2002-03) and spleen (2005) injuries.
Stanley Doughty, DT, South Carolina -- Saw playing time reduced due to work ethic and weight issues. He also left school without notifying coaches prior to the Liberty Bowl. High risk plus low reward will equal undrafted free-agent status for Doughty.
Rory Johnson, OLB, Ole Miss -- Surprise addition to the 2007 class. Former juco transfer finished second on the team in tackles behind first-round prospect Patrick Willis (ILB). Johnson projects as a second-day pick.
Eric Wright, CB, UNLV -- Under-the-radar prospect with impressive natural coverage skills and value as a return specialist. He's the highest-rated underclassman to declare so far and could work his way into the first round with a strong showing in the postseason.
Returning to school
Chad Henne, QB, Michigan -- Wisely plans on returning for his senior season in 2007. Accuracy and overall decision making must improve in order to warrant first-round consideration in the 2008 draft.
QB Chad Henne would benefit from another year of seasoning in Ann Arbor.
Mario Urrutia, WR, Louisville -- Third-year sophomore reportedly has no intention of leaving after this season.
Adarius Bowman, WR, Oklahoma State -- Broke out as a junior but plans on returning to Stillwater for his final season of eligibility in 2007.
Sam Baker, OT, USC -- Sure-fire first-round pick is making it clear that he plans to stick around for senior season.
Jake Long, OT, Michigan -- Could be a top-10 pick in 2007 but will return to Ann Arbor for his final season of eligibility next fall.
Barry Richardson, OT, Clemson -- The 345-pound junior offensive tackle recently indicated that he plans to return for final season of eligibility a Clemson. He's currently a late first-day prospect but can improve his draft stock by shedding some weight and increasing his foot quickness.
Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC -- Wisely plans to return for senior season after struggling through most of his junior campaign.
Leaning toward leaving
JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU -- Stock is at an all-time high after impressive stretch run as a junior. Plus, the senior quarterback class is weak, which means Russell could be a top-15 pick.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma -- Enjoy his healthy return in the Fiesta Bowl because it's off to the NFL after that game. Peterson should be a top-10 pick despite durability concerns.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, California -- A foregone conclusion that he's gone. But has he shown enough to warrant top half of first-round consideration in 2007?
Antonio Pittman, RB, Ohio State -- He's a second- or third-round prospect no matter what year he elects to enter to the draft.
Gary Russell, RB, Minnesota -- Academic issues have prevented this talented running back from blossoming at Minnesota, which is why it will be no surprise if he's available in next April's draft. Russell could be a late first-day pick if he blows scouts away during predraft workouts.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech -- This physical phenom should be a top-five pick if he comes close to meeting expectations in predraft workouts.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR/RS, Ohio State -- World class speed as a receiver and return specialist should land him in the middle of Round 1.
Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC -- Only Trojan underclassmen who is being quiet right now, which means Jarrett plans on leaving. He needs to run well to cement a spot in the first round.
Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina -- Third-year sophomore has all but made his mind up and should be a late first-round pick in the 2007 draft.
Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee -- It will be tough to return to school after breakout junior season and with a child to support.
Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida -- Caldwell has one more year of eligibility remaining after the 2006 season, but he is expected to leave school early. He lacks ideal size and also has durability issues after a season-ending knee injury in 2005. However, the playmaking speedster erased injury doubts with a productive 2006 season. Caldwell should be a second- or third-round pick if he enters the 2007 draft.
Zach Miller, TE, Arizona State -- Talented pass-catching prospect knows he can be the first or second tight end selected in marginal 2007 crop.
Greg Olsen, TE, Miami -- On the fence right now, but a weak senior class of tight ends seems to be overshadowing his disappointing production as a junior this season.
Shannon Tevaga, OG, UCLA -- Possesses quick feet for his size (6-2, 312) and could be a late first-day pick should he leave after the Emerald Bowl vs. Florida State.
Alan Branch, DT, Michigan -- Complete defensive tackle prospect with size, power and mobility. Only Michigan junior avoiding the question, which means he's leaning in the direction of the draft.
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU -- Explosive one-gap defensive tackle had a breakout season as a first-year starter. Now it looks like it's off to the NFL. Branch and Dorsey may compete for top interior defensive lineman selected.
Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida -- One of several Gator defenders considering leaving after the BCS title game. Moss is a fringe first-round prospect in 2007 but could improve his stock by returning to Gainesville for another season.
Quentin Groves, DE/OLB, Auburn -- A 'tweener defensive end/outside linebacker with good pass-rushing skills. Likely would slip to the second round, so he would be wise to return for senior season at Auburn.
Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia -- Late first-round prospect plans on bolting after the bowl game. He could benefit from another season in college, but he outplayed teammate Quentin Moses by notching 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks during regular season.
Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State -- Came into his own as a first-year starter but could solidify a spot in the first round of the 2008 draft if he returns to Tallahassee for his senior season.
Brandon Siler, ILB, Florida -- Sources tell me that Siler is very much up in the air regarding his NFL future. He would likely be a second-round pick in the upcoming draft but he has room to improve should he return to Gainesville next fall.
Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh -- He's making it clear to coaches that the NFL draft is in his immediate future. Revis should be one of the top-five cornerbacks selected in the 2007 draft.
Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona -- 6-foot cornerback is expected to exploit a relatively weak crop of cornerbacks in the 2007 class.
Reggie Nelson, S, Florida -- Playmaking free safety has all the physical tools of a late first-round pick should he make the NFL leap of faith.
Tom Zbikowski, S, Notre Dame -- Fourth-year junior made it clear that he wanted out after this season, but recently retracted the statement. I still believe Zbikowski will be a part of the 2007 draft, where he projects as a second- or third-round pick.
Leaning toward staying
Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville -- Will feel out the NFL advisory committee but I expect him to return to school next fall regardless.
Colt Brennan, QB, Hawaii -- Brennan set the Division I single-season record for touchdown passes (58) when he threw five during the win over Arizona State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Brennan is considered a second-round pick at this point. He says he will leave school only if the advisory committee projects him as a first-rounder.
Michael Bush, RB, Louisville -- Season-ending leg injury in the opener (Kentucky) may force him to return. A healthy 2007 season could equate to high first-round pick in 2008 draft.
Mike Hart, RB, Michigan -- Says he is "99 percent sure" he is returning to Michigan in 2007. This diminutive back carried a heavy load as a junior and doesn't have much more to prove next fall. Regardless of which year he comes out, Hart projects as a second-round pick.
John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame -- Knee injury should force him back to South Bend next fall.
Martin Rucker, TE, Missouri -- Talented but inconsistent; he would be wise to return to school in 2007 but reportedly is examining his options.
Frank Okam, DT, Texas -- Fringe first-round prospect is still very much on the fence in regards to his NFL future.
Andre Fluellen, DT, Florida State -- Played well during the regular season but could solidify a spot in the first round of the 2008 draft if he returns to school and makes progress next fall.
Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas -- Impressed with 11 sacks as a junior but would be wise to return to school for senior season in order to improve overall consistency.
Chris Long, DE, Virginia -- Howie's son will make the right decision if he returns to Charlottesville for his senior season.
Chris Ellis, DE, Virginia Tech -- High-motor, productive defensive end could go either way once the Chick-fil-A Bowl is behind him.
Vince Hall, ILB, Virginia Tech -- He's the leader of the nation's premier defensive unit, but I still expect him to return for the 2007 campaign.
Keith Rivers, OLB, USC -- He's saying all the right things now but his tune could change post-Rose Bowl.
Dan Connor, OLB, Penn State -- He's reportedly leaning toward returning but it's hard to imagine him improving on 2006 production. Don't be surprised if Connor becomes a last-minute defection.
Paul Oliver, CB, Georgia -- This 6-foot, 205-pound cornerback impressed me with his improved coverage skills down the stretch in 2006, including a tremendous effort versus star Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson. Oliver, who reportedly runs the 40-yard dash in the low 4.0s, could be a first-round pick in 2008 if he returns to school next fall and continues to master his craft.
The following is an updated look at the top 32 NFL draft prospects in the 2007 class, which includes eligible underclassmen:
Scouts Inc.'s Top 32
RANK NAME POS CLASS SCHOOL PREV
1. Joe Thomas OT SR Wisconsin 1
2. Calvin Johnson WR JR Georgia Tech 2
3. Alan Branch DT JR Michigan 4
4. Brady Quinn QB SR Notre Dame 3
5. Gaines Adams DE SR Clemson 5
6. Adrian Peterson RB JR Oklahoma 6
7. JaMarcus Russell QB JR LSU 9
8. Glenn Dorsey DT JR LSU 7
9. Leon Hall CB SR Michigan 8
10. Marshawn Lynch RB JR Cal 16
11. LaRon Landry S SR LSU 10
12. Amobi Okoye DT SR Louisville 12
13. Brian Brohm QB JR Louisville 13
14. Ted Ginn Jr. WR JR Ohio State 11
15. Adam Carriker DE SR Nebraska 21
16. DeMarcus Tyler DT SR N.C. State 18
17. Jeff Samardzija WR SR Notre Dame 14
18. Sidney Rice WR JR S. Carolina 17
19. Levi Brown OT SR Penn State 19
20. Eric Wright CB JR UNLV NR
21. Dwayne Jarrett WR JR USC 15
22. Darrelle Revis CB JR Pittsburgh 30
23. Tony Ugoh OT SR Arkansas NR
24. Tim Crowder DE SR Texas 26
25. LaMarr Woodley OLB SR Michigan 27
26. Marcus McCauley CB SR Fresno State 22
27. Quentin Moses DE SR Georgia 23
28. Troy Smith QB SR Ohio State 20
29. Daymeion Hughes CB SR Georgia 24
30. Anthony Spencer DE SR Purdue 31
31. Kenny Irons RB SR Auburn 31
32. Dwayne Bowe WR SR LSU 29
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN Insider.
The year's upcoming draft and the college game can be discussed here.
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