Posted on: January 12, 2012 3:46 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 3:49 pm
All-Americans running back Trent Richardson and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick announced they will be forgoing their final year of eligibility at Alabama and entering the 2012 NFL Draft. Both were part of a pair of national championship teams in three years in Tuscaloosa.
Tidesports.com reported that linebacker junior Dont'a Hightower will also leave the Crimson Tide.
The 5-foot-11, 224-pound Richardson was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back in 2011 after setting a single-season school record with 1,679 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. He broke the record set by 2010 first-round pick Mark Ingram, and is the top-rated running back prospect by NFLDraftScout.com and the No. 7 overall prospect.
Richardson is a powerful inside runner who presses the line of scrimmage and has surprising speed for his relatively short, thick frame. A tough runner who will initiate contact, Richardson is widely expected to be the first running back selected in April. NFLDraftScout.com analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler both currently have Richardson going fifth overall to Tampa Bay.
"I am going to leave here and try to represent Alabama in a Class A way," Richardson said.
Kirkpatrick is the No. 2-rated cornerback by NFLDraftScout.com, behind only LSU's Morris Claiborne, who also announced Thursday that he's leaving after his junior season. Kirkpatrick is the No. 10 overall prospect, with Rang having him going seventh to Jacksonville and Brugler predicting him to go No. 6 overall to Washington.
"It was a blessing to have an opportunity for (Alabama) to open their doors the way they did to me and my family," Kirkpatrick said. "This is a family decision, and I am going to be leaving, going to the NFL, to try to better myself and better my talent."
Kirkpatrick had 30 tackles and nine pass breakups in 2011 possesses. He has excellent height and athleticism at 6-2, 192 to be a potential shutdown corner in the NFL. He has the long arms to be effective as a press corner and good recovery speed. He's not as experienced in zone coverage, but has shown the instincts to read the quarterback and break on the ball. Kirkpatrick is also noted for his physicality and willingness as a blocker in the ground game.
"We are 100 percent supportive of both of these young men in terms of what their choice is and what they choose to do," coach Nick Saban said of Richardson and Kirkpatrick. "They've been great ambassadors, great representatives for the University of Alabama as people, students and football players."
Hightower, who was not at the press conference, is also a potential first-round pick. He is the No. 2 inside linebacker according to NFLDraftScout.com, behind only Boston College's Luke Kuechly. A redshirt junior, he spent four years at Alabama and is the No. 26 rated prospect overall. He had 85 tackles, including 11 for loss, four sacks and an interception this season.
Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:58 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:36 pm
A year after leading the NCAA with nine interceptions, Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley is taking his ball-hawking skills to the NFL.
Hosley made the announcement following Virginia Tech's overtime loss to Michigan Tuesday night in the Sugar Bowl.
According to Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post, Hosley had hinted that Tuesday's game might be his last as a Hokie. When Hosley was given a second round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee it made his decision to leave early.
"It's gonna be tough walking away but I got to do what I got to do, Hosley said. "I think I handled my business pretty well."
After his nation-leading nine interceptions in 2010, the 5-10, 172 pound Hosley struggled with injuries a bit this year. He was limited by a hamstring injury and suffered a concussion in the ACC Championship game. Despite the injuries and opponents often ignoring his side of the field, Hosley still led the Hokies with three interceptions this season and nearly had two more against Michigan's Denard Robinson last night.
On the first play it was initially ruled that Hosley intercepted the pass. After looking at the replay, however, the play was overturned and Michigan was rewarded the ball. Later, Hosley did snatch a high pass from Robinson for an interception. He was flagged for pass interference on the play, however, negating the pick.
Hosley has terrific quickness, speed and ball skills. His lack of size, however, is certainly a detriment. Recognizing this, Hosley was more aggressive this season in run support, registering a career-high 59 tackles.
Hosley was given a late first round, early second round grade by NFLDraftScout.com prior to news of his early departure from Virginia Tech. He was rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 underclassmen cornerback, behind only LSU's Morris Claiborne and Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:13 pm
Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.
WR Joe Adams, Arkansas: NFLDraftScout.com currently ranks Adams as a 5th-6th round pick, but this is largely based off of preseason tape in which Greg Childs appeared to be the Razorbacks' elite wideout. With Childs nursing a sore knee throughout much of this season, Adams has emerged as the team's playmaker. At 5-11, 190 pounds, some have compared Adams to former Florida Gator standout Percy Harvin due to each player's extraordinary agility and 4.3 speed. Adams will have a tough test Saturday against a talented South Carolina secondary. Should his strong senior campaign continue, he could be looking at a Top 100 pick -- or perhaps even significantly higher than that... This game begins at 7:15 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 3:57 pm
With a full month of the college and NFL seasons now in the books, we can now take a look at the talent likely to be available in the 2012 draft and compare it to the areas of concern for most professional teams.
Though I'd argue that none of the cornerbacks in the upcoming draft class appears to be as good as gifted as No. 5 overall pick Patrick Peterson (Cardinals), what is becoming increasingly obvious is that the cornerback class, as a whole, is much stronger than in most years.
Durability and off-field concerns have certainly reared their ugly heads at the position as Nebraska senior Alfonzo Dennard has struggled to return from a pulled leg muscle and two of the better ball-hawking corners in the country -- North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins and Oregon junior Cliff Harris -- had noteworthy run-ins with police during the off-season.
That isn't to say any of the three of them is likely to slip out of the first round should their issues be resolved to NFL teams' satisfaction prior to the April draft.
As everyone knows, the NFL has morphed into a league dependant on the passing game. This fact makes quarterbacks and strong passing attacks critical to offensive success. At the same time, it drives up the value of pass defenders -- whether they be pass rushers or defensive backs.
The 2012 class of safeties does not appear to be an overly talented one. At cornerback, however, there is a great deal of talent. Besides the three players I've already mentioned, I'd be surprised if Alabama's 'Dre Kirkpatrick, LSU's Morris Claiborne, Virginia Tech's Jayron Hosley -- all juniors -- aren't selected in whatever first round they choose to make themsevles eligible. I currently list six cornerbacks among my top 32 prospects for the 2012 draft.
Some argue that by spreading the defense out elite cornerbacks can be taken out of the game. There certainly is ample evidence to argue this considering that so many pro offenses are now utilizing three, four or even five receivers per snap.
My argument against this theory, however, is that spread offenses are only going to drive up the value of cornerbacks. Cornerbacks with Hosley or Harris, for example, while perhaps not ideal run defenders or possessing the size teams would like to slow the Andre or Calvin Johnsons of the world, might prove perfect cover options for the smaller, quicker slot receivers that are proving so integral to today's top passing attacks.
This doesn't appear to be a case of teams needing help at one position and therefore grading players at that position of need higher than normal.
These guys just might be that good.
For some NFL defenses weary of giving 300+ passing yards to even average quarterbacks, the help can't come soon enough.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 10:29 am
Oregon junior cornerback Cliff Harris, an underrated component of the Ducks' drive to a berth in the BCS Title Game last year, has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Chip Kelly after being arrested for speeding and driving a rental car with a suspended license early this week.
Harris, along with two other unidentified Oregon football players, was pulled over by an off-duty Oregon State police officer after the car Harris was driving was clocked at approximately 118 miles per hour. They were pulled over south of Albany, Oregon, which is north of the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.
This is at least the second time that Harris, 20, has been cited for driving with a suspended license.
Kelly announced that Harris would be suspended for Oregon's opener against LSU in Cowboys Stadium in Texas "at the very least" and cautioned that the suspension could go on for much longer should Harris' behavior not improve.
“Cliff’s future clearly is in Cliff’s hands,” Kelly said. “Earning an opportunity to represent the University of Oregon and this football program certainly rests far beyond a player’s ability on the field of play. Our behavior out of the spotlight often is more important and will be held to a higher standard. Until Cliff is able to conform to the same standards all of us must comply with, his status will remain unchanged.”Though he's only entering his junior season, you can be sure NFL teams are already paying attention. Harris, 5-11 and 180 pounds, led the country with 23 passes defensed last season and led the Pac-10 with six interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown (against Tennessee). Harris is perhaps just as well known for his special teams' prowess, as he's one of the more dynamic return-men in college football.
Last year, he broke the Oregon school record with four punt returns for scores.
Harris currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 junior cornerback prospect behind only Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick. Each would rate as first round values at this early stage in the process.
As this video will show, Harris' return skills are undeniable. So too are his ball skills. And while some of his punt returns come against weaker competition, three of his interceptions last year came against elite NFL prospects Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley.