Tag:2012 underclassmen
Posted on: January 3, 2012 6:19 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:39 pm
 

Stanford OT Martin declares for 2012 draft

Stanford junior offensive tackle Jonathan Martin said he will enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

"I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft," Martin tweeted. "Thank you to everyone who has loved and supported me."

Martin is the No. 3-rated offensive tackle eligible for April’s draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com, behind only fellow juniors Matt Kalil from Southern California and Iowa’s Riley Reiff. Kalil has already said he’s entering the draft.

Martin is the No. 13-ranked overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, and 12<sup>th</sup> on Rob Rang’s Big Board. At 6-feet-6 and 305 pounds, Martin is known for his athleticism and considered a good fit for a zone-blocking scheme.

He was quarterback Andrew Luck’s blind-side protector and has the skills to remain on the left side in the NFL.

Luck and guard David DeCastro announced before the Fiesta Bowl that they intend to leave the Cardinal a year early for the NFL as well.

 


Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:40 pm
 

Updated: ASU ILB Burfict declares early for NFL

As expected the past few days have seen a lot of underclassmen news. NFL scouts have to be pleased that virtually every position on the football field has been enhanced with junior talent.

According to multiple reports, Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, North Carolina State outside linebacker Terrell Manning and a trio from Stanford -- quarterback Andrew Luck, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and offensive guard David DeCastro have all announced their intentions for the 2011 season to be their last as amatuers.

Add to that list Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict -- at least according to his facebook page.

The 6-3, 250 pound Burfict thanked fans and teammates for the memories he's had at Arizona State and wrote that he'll be "expanding [his] talents to the next level."

Burfict erased any doubt about his intentions Tuesday afternoon in releasing a prepared statement. The statement reads:

“After thoughtful and in-depth discussions with my family, I have decided to skip my final year of eligibility at Arizona State University and make myself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft.  I would like to thank every one of my coaches and professors at ASU.  I plan to return to ASU and get my degree and I will always support the university and its football program.  I cherish the memories and great times I had as a student-athlete at ASU and I hope to make the university proud of my future accomplishments on and off the field.”

Outgoing head coach Dennis Erickson characterized Burfict's junior season as "average." There may not be a more accurate way of putting it.  

While Burfict certainly has the hype and talent to warrant leaving school early, quite frankly he's been a disappointment over the past two seasons.

For a player nationally known as an intimidator, Burfict only registered 69 tackles (including seven for loss) in 2011, along with one interception and one fumble recovery. He was not recognized by Pac-12 coaches as a first, second or even honorable mention player following his junior season. This is quite a drop from Burfict's 2010 season in which he led the team with 90 tackles and earned Second Team accolades. It is an even bigger disappointment considering that in 2009 he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year.

Burfict is explosive. He can rock ball-carriers in the hole, is particularly adept rushing the quarterback and plays with a ferocity that could quickly make him a fan favorite. As you'll read in our official NFLDraftScout.com profile for Burfict, there are plenty of aspects about his game that translate well to the next level.

However, he has been prone to immature behavior that has cost his team penalties at critical stages of games throughout his career. He's not as instinctive as his reputation might lead you to believe, has a soft build and hasn't shown any real improvement since first stepping onto the ASU campus.

As such, he's currently ranked third in our rankings of inside linebacker prospects.

Quite frankly, I think he's as overrated a prospect as there is in the country. He may prove me wrong. He certainly has talent to do so. However, Burfict won't soon get added to my ranking of the top 32 prospects in the draft. Burfict, in fact, wouldn't make my list if the Big Board contained twice as many players.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:02 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:40 pm
 

Illinois DE Mercilus declares for NFL Draft

Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus declared he is leaving the Illini program a year early.

"After a lot of prayer and discussion with my family, I have decided the time is right for me to forgo my senior year and enter the 2012 NFL draft," Mercilus said in a statement.

Mercilus is the No. 3-rated defensive end prospect for the 2012 draft by NFLDraftScout.com, and the No. 35-rated overall prospect.    

The 6-foot-3, 262-pound Mercilus tied Simeon Rice's school record with 16 sacks in 2011 while setting a Big Ten record with nine forced fumbles - the second-highest single-season total in NCAA history. He also racked up a conference-best 22.5 tackles for loss while earning first-team All-America honors. Mercilus also won the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award.

Mercilus entered the season with just two career sacks, but his departure after a monster season didn't come as a surprise following the firing of Ron Zook and with defensive coordinator and interim head coach Vic Koenning declining an offer to stay on as coordinator.

"I’m very proud of Whitney for the amount of work he put in to be in this position," defensive line coach Keith Gilmore said in a statement. "He really matured during the season and became a terrific leader not only for the defensive line, but for the entire defense."
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Posted on: January 3, 2012 1:44 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:41 pm
 

Miss. State's Cox, Rutgers' Sanu leaving for NFL

Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu announced they will declare for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Cox is the No. 3-ranked defensive tackle prospect eligible for the 2012 draft and the No. 16-ranked overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com. He is also No. 22 on Rob Rang's Big Board.

"God works in many ways," Cox told the New York Times. "He answered my prayer and I knew deep down in my heart it was time for me to go."

The 6-4, 295-pound first-team All-SEC pick is a third-year junior who racked up 5.0 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss in 2011. He has experience playing inside and outside for the Bulldogs, and possesses excellent size, strength and athleticism to be a fit in any NFL scheme.

Cox is considered anywhere from a mid-first to early-second round pick, and currently is projected at No. 28 in Rang's Mock Draft and No. 32 by Dane Brugler.

Sanu is the No. 4-ranked wide receiver and No. 29-ranked overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, and No. 26 on Rang's Big Board. He set Big East and school records with 115 receptions in 2011.

"It was a tough decision, because I was definitely thinking about coming back," Sanu said during a press conference. "I'm going to miss the family, the cohesiveness of being around my teammates every day.

"I'm emotionally attached to this team. ... We have such a tight bond, and I love all these guys."

The 6-2, 215-pound junior owns the school career record with 210 receptions (210) and his 2,263 receiving yards are fourth in school history.

"I think he's going to be a great pro athlete," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano told The Star-Ledger. "He's been a great person and a great representative of Rutgers.

"As great an athlete he is, he's an even better person."

Sanu is 30th is Rang's current Mock Draft, and postseason workouts will be critical in determining whether he makes it into the first round.

While Sanu has great size and hands, some NFL scouts question his deep speed and ability to create separation from defensive backs at the next level. Sanu is also experienced with the ball in his hands, rushing for 653 yards and nine touchdowns during his career as he ran the Wildcat during his first two seasons, which contributes to his ability to break tackles and generate yards after the catch.


Posted on: January 3, 2012 9:13 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:41 pm
 

UNC DE Paige-Moss leaves for NFL despite torn ACL

Heading into the 2011 season many regarded North Carolina junior defensive Donte Paige-Moss as every bit the first round candidate as his more celebrated teammate Quinton Coples.

Estimated to be 6-4, 260 pounds, Paige-Moss recorded 49 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks as a sophomore, including a dazzling all-around performance (six tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, blocked kick) in North Carolina's Music City Bowl win over Tennessee that seemed to establish him as a young star on the rise.

Unfortunately, like a lot of the UNC Tar Heels, it seemed as though Paige-Moss entered the 2011 season caught up in his own hype. The explosiveness and relentlessness that had been evident in his game earlier in his career wasn't as apparent as the 2011 season began. Though Paige-Moss saw action in all 13 games in 2011, he was passed up on the depth chart by sophomore Keenan Martin and didn't start a game.

The frustration of seeing his playing time and statistics cut (29 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks in 2011) had pushed Paige-Moss to explore leaving UNC for a shot at the NFL. Paige-Moss was active early against Missouri in the Independence Bowl, recording three tackles and again demonstrating the combination of athleticism and size that had led talent evaluators from 4-3 and 3-4 teams, alike, to value him. Unfortunately, Paige-Moss suffered a torn ACL in his right knee against the Tigers, putting at least the beginning of next season in doubt.

Rather than consider redshirting next season and recovering from the injury, Paige-Moss informed UNC officials Monday that he is leaving early for the NFL.

Though it had been known that Paige-Moss was considering making the jump, once news of his injury spread I, for one, presumed he'd return. The Tar Heels may have been surprised, as well, as they officially announced the junior's decision via their Twitter feed rather than offer up the press conference and/or statement traditionally associated with news of this magnitude.

Scouts can't help but acknowledge Paige-Moss' athletic gifts. However, considering his play regressed this season, his injury and the fact that Paige-Moss has had run-ins with authorities in the past, the junior pass rusher is going to have a hard time convincing teams to spend anything more than a late round pick on his services this April.

Paige-Moss has been listed as high as 3rd on NFLDraftScout.com's ratings for defensive ends in the 2013 class.



Posted on: January 2, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:42 pm
 

Huskies RB Polk entering NFL Draft

Fourth-year junior running back Chris Polk is leaving the University of Washington a year early to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

"Chris had a terrific career at Washington and deserves the opportunity to move on to the next level," Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said in a statement. "We wish him nothing but the best in what I'm sure will be a great professional career."

Polk is the No. 4 running back eligible for the 2012 draft and the No. 56 overall prospect, according to NFLDraftScout.com, behind only Alabama's Trent Richardson, Miami's Lamar Miller and David Wilson from Virginia Tech. All are underclassmen, with Miller already declaring his intention to enter the draft. Richardson and Wilson have yet to play their bowl games.

Polk, who has already earned his bachelor's degree in American ethnic studies, leaves as the second all-time leading rusher in Huskies history with 4,049 yards in 40 games. He is behind only Napoleon Kaufman (4,106) on the school's career rushing list. Polk's 799 career carries and average 101.2 rushing yards per game are school records.

Polk is a strong interior runner who has the burst to get through the line and the power to break tackles. He's not a naturally explosive outside runner, and is primarily a North-South runner who has good vision for cutback lanes. Polk lacks true breakaway speed, but has plenty of speed to rip off yards in chunks. He doesn't get caught from behind often.

Coaches will value Polk's willingness and competency as a blocker as well. Like most college backs, he has to work on his technique, but Polk doesn't shy away from oncoming blitzers. 

Polk also increased his versatiliy by becoming far more involved in the Huskies' passing attack in 2012.


Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:59 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Update: RG3 hasn't made his NFL decision yet

In a rare contradictory move made over a holiday, a Baylor University spokesperson contacted ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben via text message to announce that a previous ESPN report that Heisman quarterback Robert Griffin III was heading to the NFL is incorrect.

"Robert Griffin III -- the son, the player -- has NOT made a decision regarding eligibility," BU spokesman Heath Nielsen said via text statement, according to Ubbben. "[Griffin] will seek input from coaches later this month, then make his decision."

The text was sent in response to a report initially made by Chris Mortensen on Saturday evening that Griffin was wrapping up meeting with agents and would be informing Baylor of his decision soon. Mortensen has since quoted Griffin's father, Robert Griffin II, as saying, "I met with my son (Friday) and his schedule is pretty much he will attend the Sugar Bowl here in New Orleans, then next weekend he will meet with five agents and select the right agent to represent him and plan a good pre-draft process," Griffin II said. "After that he will sit down with three of his coaches at Baylor on Wednesday or Thursday (Jan. 11 or 12) and make it official."

I picked up on the story yesterday, offering my two cents as to what could be in store for Griffin, assuming that he does eventually make himself eligible for the 2012 draft.

Griffin, like all underclassmen, have until January 15 to decide whether they would like to return for another season of college play or give up their remaining eligibility to pursue their NFL dreams.



Posted on: January 1, 2012 2:10 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Underrated Wake Forest WR Givens off to NFL

There is one common denominator between most of the high profile receivers -- Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery, Rutgers' Mohammed Sanu -- they are all big split end prospects.

Some NFL teams are, of course, looking for these types of receivers.

Others teams -- eyeing the success the Pittsburgh Steelers are enjoying with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders -- are shifting their focus to smaller, quicker receivers capable of lining up at flanker or in the slot.

And that is music to the ears of speedy receivers like Baylor's Kendall Wright and Wake Forest junior Chris Givens, a 6-0, 195 All-ACC wideout who has led the Demon Deacons in all-purpose yardage for three consecutive seasons.

It had been well known that Givens had petitioned the NFL for his grade. Shortly after catching nine passes for 54 yards in a 24-17 Music City Bowl loss to Mississippi State, Givens informed the media that he'd been given a third round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee and that he was heading to the pros.

"Next year, I'll be forgoing my senior year and going to the NFL Draft," Givens said.

Givens is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 11 rated receiver for the 2013 draft. He has a chance to move up in our 2012 rankings due to his speed and playmaking skills.

Wake Forest rarely sends underclassmen to the NFL. Their last one, in fact, was inside linebacker Jon Abbate, who left school early to not get drafted at all in 2007. Jim Grobe, who coached both Givens and Abbate, drew some interesting distinctions between his two former pupils when Givens informed the media that he would be petinioning the league for an early entry grade.
"He's a real-deal guy, there's no question about it," Grobe said. "And Jon Abbate was a real good player. There was no doubt Jon could play. But Jon just wasn't very tall.

"In Chris' case, you know they would probably want him to be a little taller, I'm sure, if the truth is known. They would probably want him to be a little bit more physical as a blocker and did some things without the ball in his hands than he does.

"But he does some really good things — good speed, good routes, good work ethic, catches the ball good. He's got the real, real good foot speed.

"He's a good player. He's a really good player."


Givens ends his career ranked third in Wake Forest history with 21 all-purpose touchdowns on 163 catches for 2,473 yards. 



 
 
 
 
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