With Charlie Weis' firing and Bobby Bowden's reported retirement, NFL scouts expect highly rated underclassmen from Notre Dame and Florida State to even more strongly consider leaving school early for the pros.
Speculation is rampant throughout the league that Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen will enter the 2010 draft and his favorite wide receiver, Golden Tate, is likely to leave, as well.
Clausen is widely considered the most NFL-ready quarterback in the country due to his blend of physical talents, experience in a pro-style offense under Weis, and three years as a starter. If Clausen does indeed leave, it would be hard for any new Notre Dame coach to convince Tate that his stock would improve in 2010. His numbers would almost certainly go down with a new quarterback and potentially new offense and regardless of when he leaves Notre Dame, he'll be the same size, which is the most obvious drawback for the receiver -- perhaps generally listed at 5-11, 195 poinds by the Irish.
Perhaps the most intriguing development, however, could occur with the Seminoles and quarterback Christian Ponder. Like Clausen, Ponder has multiple years of starting experience in a pro-style offense and has showcased the big and accurate arm scouts are looking for. Just as importantly, he's shown a great deal of improvement throughout his career. The shoulder injury that ended Ponder's season prematurely will be healed in time for pre-draft workouts, which has prompted some scouts to float his name as a potential "surprise" early declaration.
One would presume that the relationship already in place with offensive coordinator and expected new coach Jimbo Fisher will keep Ponder in Tallahassee for his senior campaign. However, considering the relative dearth of senior talent at quarterback and the potential salary loss for rookies following this draft, the FSU quarterback is one scouts may be pondering before anyone thought...