Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:53 pm
On Tuesday Stanford left tackle Jonathan Martin announced via Twitter his decision to enter the 2012 draft.
According to a source close to Martin, the decision was a difficult for the second team AP All-American.
Martin only made the decision after getting a first round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee and receiving positive feedback from scouts on hand for his final game, an overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
The 6-6, 305 pound Martin is one of a trio of talented junior left tackles expected to earn early to mid first round consideration. Based on his size and athleticism, some view Martin as having greater potential than either Southern Cal's Matt Kalil or Iowa's Riley Reiff. Martin is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated offensive tackle but is also our No. 12 rated prospect, overall.
A league source on hand for the Fiesta Bowl was impressed with Martin against the Cowboys and specifically noted that Martin's physicality impressed him.
"That's been one of the knocks people have had about him," the scout told me Friday evening on the condition of anonymity. "No one is going to confuse the guy with Jake Long in that regard, but I've seen too many so-called finesse left tackles wind up being Pro Bowlers to worry about that too much with a guy as big and athletic as [Martin] is. He'll be fine."
With the NFL shifting to an increasingly pass-happy league, athletic left tackles are as valuable as they've ever been. It is that athleticism that could intrigue a host of teams picking inside the top 20.
As such, Martin is currently projected by NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang and Dane Brugler to be drafted within the first half of the draft.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:51 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 7:56 pm
And then there was one.
With Oregon's LaMichael James confirming Friday that he's forgoing his final year of eligibility, only Alabama's Trent Richardson remains among elite running backs yet to declare their intentions for the 2012 NFL Draft.
James followed Virginia Tech's David Wilson and Temple's Bernard Pierce in announcing Friday that they intend to enter this year's draft.
"My experience at the University of Oregon has been one unlike any other, and one I will never forget," James said. "I am grateful for the people I have met, the things I have learned, and the amazing community I have had the privilege of being a part of over the last three-and-a-half years."
James rushed for 1,805 yards and scored 18 touchdowns this season, and concluded his college career with 159 yards in Oregon's 45-38 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
The question with James will be his 5-foot-9, 185-pound frame and what role teams believe he can play in the NFL. He's sixth among running backs and No. 80 overall among prospects for the 2012 draft, according to ratings by NFL DraftScout.com.
However, there will be teams that covet his ability to use a low center of gravity, quickness and acceleration to produce explosive plays on the ground and as a potential return man. He has drawn comparisons to successful former NFL backs including Warrick Dunn and Brian Westbrook. Rob Rang compared him to another undersized back in this Week 11 Breakdown.
"I am 100 percent behind LaMichael," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "He is a very special person and certainly will be remembered as one of the very best players ever to wear a uniform at the University of Oregon. It has been a pleasure to coach him for the four seasons he has been here and is comforting to know that he will obtain his degree this spring. I could not have asked anymore from him and I am confident he will be a success at the next level."
James joins Wilson, Pierce, Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman in announcing they will forgo their remaining eligibility - Miller and Hillman are redshirt sophomores.
Assuming Richardson joins in on the fun, as expected, running back is shaping up as the 2012 draft's deepest position.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 5:26 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 5:27 pm
The 2012 college football season continues to look bright for the Florida State Seminoles as another key prospect suspected of considering leaving school early for the NFL has instead decided to return for his senior season.
As first reported by John Crist of NoleDigest.com, junior cornerback Greg Reid announced on Facebook that he will be playing for the Seminoles again in 2012.
Reid's status on his Facebook said simply, “G5 will be landing in Tallahassee next season…#bcs bound”
Florida State is expected to make an official announcement regarding Reid's status soon.
Reid joins pass rushing phenom Brandon Jenkins as prominent Seminoles technically eligible for the draft who have already decided they are returning to play for Jimbo Fisher. Quarterback E.J. Manuel hasn't officially announced his plans, though those close to the program believe he is returning. That leaves talented redshirt sophomore Xavier Rhodes as the only highly touted Seminole thought to be strong considering making the jump. Rhodes' decision may have been impacted by a knee injury suffered against Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Assuming that Reid is, indeed, heading back to Florida State next season, the Seminoles could be in excellent position to contend for the ACC championship or even the BCS title.
While Reid (5-08, 186) lacks the size that scouts prefer at cornerback, he is a proven playmaker in both the secondary and return game. Reid was credited with 32 tackles and two interceptions in 2011 and returned a punt for a score, as well. As Crist points out, Reid is known for playing a bit hot and cold. Scouts will like, however, his ability to step up his play in big games. Both of Reid's interceptions in 2011 came against rival Florida and his punt return was against the Hurricanes.
Reid was enjoying a solid performance against Notre Dame before suffering a concussion. A year earlier, he helped shut down Alshon Jeffery in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
Reid is currently graded by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 11 cornerback in the class of 2013.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:07 pm
Virginia Tech's David Wilson became the fifth running back to announce he's forgoing his remaining eligibility and entering the 2012 NFL Draft.
Wilson said he made the decision this week after receiving a second-round grade from the NFL advisory committee. Wilson is the No. 3 running back and No. 41 prospect overall eligible for the 2012 draft, according to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Wilson set a single-season school record with 1,709 rushing yards in 2011.
The decision didn't come as a surprise, especially with Virginia Tech set to lose four senior starters off the offensive line.
"It was very tough," Wilson said at a press conference Friday attended by coach Frank Beamer. "Even yesterday writing the statement, I almost teared up just thinking about the Sugar Bowl is my last game at Virginia Tech."
Wilson is known for his excellent athleticism, as he also finished sixth in the nation in the triple jump at the NCAA championships last spring, and has earned All-American honors in football and track and field.
Wilson joins Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk, Temple's Bernard Pierce and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman in announcing they will forgo their remaining eligibility - Miller and Hillman are redshirt sophomore. Still yet to make their announcements are Alabama's Trent Richardson and Oregon's LaMichael James.
Wilson is the second Hokie in as many days to declare for the draft, following cornerback Jayron Hosley. Tony Gregory, who is recovering from his second ACL surgery, freshman Michael Holmes and incoming recruit J.C. Coleman figure to vie for snaps in the Hokies' backfield next season.
"I can come back and accomplish some great things, some very great things that haven't been done at Virginia Tech before," Wilson said. "At the same time, you're risking a lot of negatives that could happen. The positive is I had a great season this year and I feel like I built a legacy here."
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:34 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:32 pm
Temple's Bernard Pierce joined a lengthy list of junior running backs making the jump to the 2012 NFL Draft.
A three-time First-Team All-MAC selection, Pierce rushed for 1,481 yards and a school-record 27 touchdowns in 2011. He is the No. 7 running back and No. 90 prospect overall, according to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com.
He joins Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman in announcing they will forgo their remaining eligibility - Miller and Hillman are redshirt sophomore. Still yet to make their announcements are Alabama's Trent Richardson, Virginia Tech's David Wilson and Oregon's LaMichael James.
Pierce closed out his career with 157 yards and three touchdowns against Army in the New Mexico Bwol, showing what he can do when healthy. But Pierce has been slowed by injuries in all three of his seasons, including hamstring tightness and a concussion in 2011.
Pierce was "Bernie" in the backfield dubbed the "Bernie and the Bug" show along with 170-pound junior Matt Brown.
"It has been a hard decision to make, and took a lot of soul-searching, but I believe that it is the right decision for me and my career," Pierce said in a statement. "I would like to take this time to thank Coach Steve Addazio, Coach Tyree Foreman, and all the staff here at Temple, for helping to shape and mold my football talent. I would like to thank Temple University for all the educational and athletic opportunities it has provided me."
Pierce leaves as the school's career leader with 53 rushing touchdowns and 54 overall.
"We want to thank Bernard for all that he has given to Temple football during his tenure," Owls coach Steve Addazio said. "We wish him great success at the next level, and we appreciate all that he has contributed to Temple University and the football program."
Posted on: January 5, 2012 7:50 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:33 pm
Despite catching just 28 passes in 2011 and receiving an unfavorable grade from the NFL's Advisory Committee, wide receiver Stephen Hill has decided to leave Georgia Tech for a shot at the pros.
According to Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Hill came to the decision after conferring with his parents, head coach Paul Johnson and receivers coach Buzz Preston. Hill's grade was not specifically given, but reading between the lines of Sugiura's report it sounds like the scouts graded Hill as a possible day three (rounds four through seven) pick.
Johnson's triple option offense rarely puts the ball in receivers' hands. Georgia Tech's scheme calls for big, athletic and strong receivers who can sneak downfield for the occasional deep pass but whose primary role is to provide blocking on the perimeter. Like former first round picks Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, the 6-5, 206 pound Hill has the bulk to certainly catch scouts' attention. At that size, if he were to run anything lower than a 4.60, he'd have a shot at getting drafted. And if he were to run considerably faster, Hill's stock could improve in a hurry as he's certainly shown flashes of playmaking skills.
While Hill only caught 28 passes in 2011 they resulted in a gaudy 820 yards. That means Hill averaged 29.3 yards per reception. That led the nation and is the best YPC average in Georgia Tech history.
The concern is that Hill remains a very raw receiver. Not only do his routes need a lot of work, so does his hands. Hill made some notable drops over his career. To be fair, he's also demonstrated spectacular leaping ability and rare hand strength to make some dazzling catches. Prior to his "breakout" 2011 performance, Hill caught just 15 passes in 2010 and four as a redshirt freshman. For his career, Hill caught 49 passes for 1,248 yards (25.47) and nine scores.
Knowing that he lacks the experience catching the ball to impress scouts, Hill acknowledged that his ultimate draft grade may hinge on how he works out.
“With my size and my ability, I know I could raise my stock,” he said.
NFLDraftScout.com has some faith in his ability to do so. He was ranked as our No. 6 wide receiver prospect in the class of 2013.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 5:27 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:33 pm
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is returning for his senior season, with the announcement expected after a somewhat disappointing junior season.
"I want to accomplish the goals that I set before I got here, and there is still a lot more to do," Jones said. "I want to make sure I've exhausted every effort in that area. And I want to be a senior. I enjoy being at OU and with my teammates and look forward to graduating with the guys that were in my class when I got here."
Jones was the No. 3-rated quarterback prospect eligible for the 2012 draft, according to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com. However, he was considered a fringe first-round prospect, and few playoff teams drafting in the lower half of the first half are in need of a franchise quarterback.
Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III are the two highest-rated quarterbacks, and could potentially be the first two overall picks in April. With Landry and Southern California's Matt Barkley returning to school, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill appears to be the only other quarterback with the potential to land in the first round.
Landry entered his junior season with high expectations after passing for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns in 2010. But he failed to build on that campaign, with his 4,463 yards, 29 touchdown passes and 63.2 completion percentage all down from the previous season, while his 15 interceptions were his most in three seasons with the Sooners.
Landry failed to throw a touchdown pass in the Sooners' losses at Baylor and Oklahoma State while being intercepted a combined three times in those games.
"We know the positive influence Landry has on and off the field with our team," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "We're excited that he's coming back to build on what has already been an outstanding career. We expect another great year from him, and like the fact that he's determined to be even better."
With a rebound senior season, Jones has the strong measurables NFL scouts covet and could vault himself back into contention to be a Top 10 pick. He is 30-8 as a starter, including 3-0 in bowl games, and is already the school's career leader with 93 touchdown passes. He owns 21 school records in all.
Jones possesses a strong arm that has the potential to become truly elite, and has excellent size for an NFL quarterback prospect at 6-feet-4 and 230 pounds. What he can really improve on is his accuracy under pressure and proving his ability to make sound pre-snap reads despite getting his playcalls from the sideline.
"We hope to have another opportunity to make a title run," Jones said. "Most of the offensive line returns and we have several receivers and backs return too. We've also got a lot of guys back on defense, so we're confident that we can be a strong team."
Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:56 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:33 pm
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist, confirmed he is returning to the Badgers after the NFL advisory committee said he's a likely third-round pick if he entered the 2012 draft.
"I believe that I am mentally ready (for the NFL), but I think I need to become stronger and faster and I believe another year in the program will most definitely get me to that level," Ball said. "I do believe that I need to come back for my degree because education is most important and that will give me another year to become a better football player. I believe it's a win-win situation."
Ball's 39 touchdowns in 2011 tied Barry Sanders' single-season FBS record, and he rushed for 1,923 yards. However, the 2012 draft is filling up quickly with intriguing running back prospects, with Ball rated as the sixth-best running back and No. 80-ranked prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com.
Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman have already declared they are leaving early for the 2012 draft. Juniors Trent Richardson from Alabama and Virginia Tech's David Wilson could soon follow suit, as could Oregon's LaMichael James, all Top 100 prospects by NFLDraftScout.com along with seniors Doug Martin from Boise State and Isaiah Pead from Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, Peter Konz, the No. 1 center and No. 25 overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, is leaning toward entering the draft, according to a report by the Wisconsin State Journal. Ball will be returning for his senior season, but he could find improving his draft stock difficult minus Konz on the offensive line and quarterback Russell Wilson.