Posted on: January 7, 2011 12:26 am

Staying Put

Andrew Luck, though certainly the most highly-rated and compelling prospect talked about Thursday, wasn't the only player decided they wanted to return to school rather than moving on to their chosen profession.

Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles has been as productive as any player in college football over the past two seasons. His 131 receptions for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns this season showed how he has become the main cog in the Sooners' offensive attack. NFL scouts, however, are not overly enamored with his game. Most teams have him rated as a mid-second to early third round pick because his lack of size and strength will limit him to the slot, and his lack of elite straight-line speed will make it difficult for him to separate from man coverage. His hands and willingness to work the middle of the field should allow him to have a long career, but the negatives will prevent him from leaping up into the mid-to-late first round no matter how he plays in 2011.

Quick but undersized linebacker Travis Lewis also decided to return to Norman for another run at a national title, and to be the first Sooner to lead the team in tackles four straight years. If Lewis could build strength and bulk to each 240-245 pounds by next year's Combine without sacrifcing much speed, he would challenge for first-round status. This spring, he would have been a mid-second round pick, at best.

Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield, son of former NFL Pro Bowl corner Frank, also chose to return for his senior year. His teammate, Ras-I Dowling, went back to school after last season, which may have cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars unless his Senior Bowl and Combine performances are exceptional. Minnifield's skills would have earned him a second-round slot this year (second-team All-ACC, 6 INTs), and by adding some bulk to his 180-pound frame and playing well against next year, he could rise into the first round.

In somewhat of a surprise, BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds will remain in Provo despite being older than the typical junior because he served on an LDS mission. And though he can be physical and fairly athletic, he was not in NFL shape this season. Improved physique and footwork could translate into better draft position next year.

Oregon State receiver James Rodgers also received an additional year of eligibility because he lost most of his senior season. That means he and brother Jacquizz appear to be headed back to Corvallis for 2011, which means the Beavers may have a good chance at competing for a conference title.

And then there's the "Tat Five" at Ohio State that includes QB Terrelle Pryor, LT Mike Adams, RB Daniel Herron, WR DeVier Posey, and Sugar Bowl hero DE Solomon Thomas. Reportedly, all five promised head coach Jim Tressel that they would stay for 2011 if given the chance to play in this bowl game. After the game, however, Pryor evaded the question. He played fairly well in the game, but hardly looked like a given first round pick. Going back against his word to Coach Tressel won't help his case when scouts call "The Vest" to ask about him. Stay tuned to whether he -- or any of the others -- decide to come out anyway, rather than sitting out a portion of next season.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter.
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: January 6, 2011 11:26 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 11:51 pm

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Stanford QB Andrew Luck got the big headlines by announcing he would stay in school, but several other players also made announcements today.

Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers surprised nobody by saying he was ready to move on to the next level. A probable top 5 selection, Bowers' combination of strength and agility at 280 pounds will gain fans of defensive coordinators running 3-4 and 4-3 base schemes. He's not quite the athlete that Julius Peppers was coming out of the ACC as a junior, but Bowers will run a very good 40 for his size and impress in other areas, as well.

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett announced he will enter the draft after a good performance against Ohio State Tuesday night. His arm strength is among the best in recent memory, but his long delivery allowed Buckeye performers to bat down one of his pass and intercept another late in the game. His deep ball accuracy is lacking, as well. His footwork is inconsistent, as he at times escaped the pocket but other times threw poor passes while stepping up to avoid pressure. Still, scouts love the big arm...and he's got that.

Wisconsin DE/DT J.J. Watt joined the fray, as well. He looks to be a mid-to-late 1st round pick, depending on whether a team values him as much as the Rams did Adam Carriker or if he's viewed as a bit of a DT/DE 'tweener like Tyler Brayton. His effort and quickness off the snap are unmistakable, and he could add more weight to become a fine 3-4 five-technique.

Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph missed most of his junior season, but decided to enter the draft, anyway. It's a similar story to former Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski, who has performed well with the Patriots as a rookie. Rudolph's 6-5, 265-pound frame make him a Jason Witten-like receiver prospect at the next level. He could go anywhere from the late first to the mid-second round.

Virginia Tech RB Darren Evans decided to pass on his final year of eligibility, as well. He's not an elite in any one part of his game, but would likely have not seen a great jump in his stock after next year with David Wilson, and possibly Ryan Williams if he stays in school, taking a lot of the carries. A team will take a shot on him in the late rounds as a solid rotational back.

UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers was a player I looked forward to watching this year, but he and his mates' uneven performances didn't really help his draft stock. Still, his length and instincts are perfect for 3-4 teams looking for OLBs...so he could end up a first round pick.

Another Pac-10 linebacker, Thomas Keiser, has been underrated because of the Luck hype machine. The lanky, high-effort former defensive end is a similar prospect to former Oklahoma star Dan Cody, whose career did not work out as expected due to injuries, and long-time starter Scott Fujita. Look for him to be a top 80 selection.

Indiana receiver Tandon Doss also announced his intentions to enter the draft, much like former Hoosier teammate James Hardy. Doss looks a lot like Cleveland 2008 second-round pick Mohamed Massaquoi , a 6-3, 200-pound number-two receiver who runs tough but lacks great elusiveness. Massaquoi has more speed, but Doss has better hands.

Tomorrow, it is expected that DE/DT Marcell Dareus and RB Mark Ingram will declare for the draft, as well. Dareus' potential as an interior playmaker is fantastic. He could be viewed as the next B.J. Raji or Gerard Warren, able to play anywhere on a three-man line or either interior spot in the 4-3. Scouts weren't impressed with the way he looked coming off suspension early in the year, but he appeared in better shape in the Tide's bowl win. Ingram, of course, looked like the top running back prospect against Michigan State, as well, running through opponents when he wasn't using his excellent vision to elude them. Both Alabama juniors should be selected in the top half of the first round, if not the top ten.

Two other SEC stars are also expected to declare for the draft tomorrow. Georgia WR A.J. Green could be the overall number one pick if Carolina keeps the selection because of his hands, smooth running and exceptional hands. His teammate, Brandon Boykin could force his way into the second round despite lacking great size because of his toughness and ball skills.

There are many other underclassmen expected to announce their intentions before the January 15th deadline... LSU CB Patrick Peterson, Florida CB Janoris Jenkins, North Carolina DE/OLB Robert Quinn, and Auburn DT Nick Fairley are just a few of dozens potentially entering the 2011 draft class.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

Posted on: January 1, 2011 11:46 am

Temple's Wilkerson on the Move

Temple junior defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson told the Philly Sports Daily Report on New Year's Eve that he will enter the NFL draft.

The departure of Owls head coach Al Golden to Miami (Fla.) certainly had a part in Wilkerson's decision, but NFL scouts would have been interested in the versatile 6-5, 300-pound talent in any case. He ranked third on the team's defense with 70 tackles, which included 13 for loss, and 9.5 sacks.

Wilkerson's combination of size and athleticism are obvious to anyone watching the first-team All-MAC pick this season. His agility is impressive for his size, as is his hustle to close on ballcarriers in the backfield or track them down from behind (his 70 tackles are a high number for a defensive lineman). He also has the versatility to play as either a 3-4 DE or 4-3 three-technique tackle. Though still needing to get stronger and raw in his abiliity to get off blocks with his hands against better offensive lineman, NFL coaches can't wait to work with him.

Last spring, East Carolina junior tackle Linval Joseph brought a similar skill set to the draft a year early. The Giants selected him with the 46th overall selection. Other scouts may compare Wilkerson to former first-round pick Kentwan Balmer. Therefore, there's no reason to expect this young, promising talent to be available after the second round has closed.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: December 29, 2010 8:12 pm

Torrey Smith Declares

In the first of many Twitter-based announcements, Maryland junior wide receiver Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) wrote that he is "forgoing my last year of eligibility to enter the nfl draft #terpnation and all supporters I appreciate your support."

Most expected this declaration, as Smith's head coach, Ralph Friedgen, was not retained for 2011 and Smith's production this season (67 receptions for 1,056 yards and 12 touchdowns) earned him first-team All-ACC honors and solid top 50 grades from scouts.

His two catch, 11-yard effort in the team's 51-20 win over East Carolina today should have little effect on Smith's draft status - especially after he shows he has the track speed (expected to run sub-4.4 forties at the Combine) to go along with a six-foot, 200-plus pound frame. Not only can he separate from defenders downfield using that speed, but his quick feet on various routes made it seem like pitch-and-catch with redshirt freshman QB Danny O'Brien this year.

Many will point to the lackluster early career of former Terp/fellow speedster WR Darrius Heyward-Bey when evaluating Smith's pro potential. But Smith's game could be closer to that of Indianapolis Colts star Reggie Wayne, a lean, slashing receiver whose routes and speed eat up zones and make it tough to handle him one-on-one. Wayne's hands can also be suspect, however, and Smith tends to body-catch or lose concentration as well.

If all of the junior receivers expected to enter this year's draft actually declare, Smith may slip through the cracks a bit and end up a second-round bargain.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com