Tag:NFL Draft
Posted on: January 3, 2012 11:33 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 1:58 pm
 

Illinois' Mercilus to enter NFL Draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In the wake of Ron Zook's dismissal and the hiring of Tim Beckman, Illinois had already lost defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. Koenning was the man who helped build one of the best defenses in not only the Big Ten, but the entire country. Now the Illini are on the verge of losing the most devastating force on that defense.

Defensive end Whitney Mercilus announced on Tuesday that he would be entering the NFL Draft.

"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," said Mercilus in a statement.

Mercilus was an absolute beat for Illinois on the defensive line in 2011. Mercilus was named a first-team All-American this season, and deservedly so. He finished his junior season tying the school record for sacks in a season with 16, and he set a Big Ten record with 9 forced fumbles on the year. A mark that is the second-highest of all-time in college football. Tack on his 22 1/2 tackles for loss, which also led the Big Ten, and you get a lot of quarterbacks around the Big Ten high-fiving each other on Tuesday morning.

They can all breath a bit easier now.

Mercilus is ranked third amongst defensive ends by CBSSports.com behind USC's Nick Perry and LSU's Sam Montgomery, both of whom are underclassmen as well. Neither have declared for the draft as of yet, which would leave Mercilus at the top of the list for now.
Posted on: January 1, 2012 11:38 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 11:38 am
 

Report: RG3 will declare for NFL draft



Posted by Tom Fornelli


This will not come as a shock to anybody with common sense, but it sounds like Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin will declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft in the coming days. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the news on Sunday morning

Again, this is not a surprise. Griffin is a redshirt junior at Baylor and could come back for his senior season in Waco, but really, there's no reason for him to do so. He's accomplished just about everything he can at Baylor, including the Heisman Trophy, and he has already graduated from the school. As for his draft stock, it's not going to get any higher than it already is.

While the consensus seems to be that the Indianapolis Colts would take Stanford's Andrew Luck with the first pick of the draft, if the Colts were to fall out of the top pick, they'd be interested in drafting Griffin to replace Peyton Manning.

In our CBSSports.com mock drafts Griffin is the second-highest quarterback on the board, and our mock drafts have him going in the first seven picks of the draft.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 1:17 pm
 

Landry Jones to wait on draft decision

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Oklahoma is set to face Iowa in the Insight Bowl on Friday, and there are plenty of Oklahoma fans wondering if it will be the last game Landry Jones plays in an Oklahoma uniform.

Jones has been wondering that himself, but he hasn't made a decision yet, nor does he plan on making one in the coming days. No, Jones plans on waiting as long as possible before deciding on whether to enter the NFL Draft or return to Norman for another season, and he won't be making his decision known until January 15th, which is the last possible day he can declare himself eligible for the draft.

“I've gone back and forth so many times,” Jones told The Oklahoman. “Right now, it's kind of like a null point where I'm not even thinking about it at all. I just really need to sit down after the year's done and clear my head, without any thoughts of Iowa or my next game coming up."

Jones has already set a number of passing records at Oklahoma, becoming the school's all-time leader in passing yards with 12,218 yards while throwing for 92 touchdowns.

The question for Jones may be where he feels he'll go in the draft, and now that Matt Barkley has announced he is returning to USC for another season, Jones' draft stock has improved. CBSSports.com's Rob Rang has Jones currently listed as the third best quarterback in the draft behind Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin if he decides to leave.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 10:36 am
 

Matt Barkley skips NFL Draft, returning to USC



Posted by Chip Patterson

Even with a projected Top 10 draft stock, USC quarterback Matt Barkley has decided to return for another season with the Trojans.

The junior from Newport Beach made his decision official on Thursday, making his announcement in the shadows of the USC greats in Heritage Hall.

"I am prepared to play quarterback in the NFL," Barkley explained. "It is my dream to play quarterback in the NFL. I intend to make that dream a reality.

"But I also know that I came to the University of Southern California to compete, and have a rare journey as a USC football player, to earn a degree from this exceptional university, and forge life-long bonds with the Trojan family.

"I will earn my degree, the bonds have been forged, but I know in my heart that I have not yet finished my journey as a Trojan football player. Our USC football team has been through some tough times, and we have persevered. The 2012 has some serious unfinished business to attend to, and I intend to play a part in it."

The crowd erupted, the band began playing, and the junior from Newport Beach flashed a smile as he confirmed what many USC fans had hoped.

Barkley threw for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and just seven interceptions while completing 69.1 percent of his passes and leading the Trojans to a 10-2 record in 2011. He returns to Southern Cal with his two favorite receivers from the past season - Robert Woods and Marquise Lee - and will bring lofty expectations to the program for the first time since the Pete Carroll era.

Barkley was projected by many to be a Top 10 selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the lure of one more season as the Trojans starting quarterback was enough to bring him back to school. With the way USC finished the season in 2011, they will likely be early favorites to compete for a National Championship in 2012.  Barkley grew up dreaming of playing for USC, and with the NCAA sanctions lifted he will get the opportunity to lead the Trojans to a Pac-12 title - or possibly more.  

For much more on Barkley's decision to return, check out Trojans RapidReports from CBSSports.com's Chris Huston

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:11 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Matt Barkley staying at USC?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you're a USC fan checking out Twitter on Thursday morning then you are probably enjoying a lot of the tweets your reading. While there has been no official announcement, there have been quite a few tweets from a number of different people, including CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, that it looks like Matt Barkley will not be declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft. Instead he's going to stay at USC for another season.



"So does Matt Barkley stay or does he go?? In my opinion, I think he stays!! You heard it first here," tweeted former USC quarterback Matt Leinart.

What does it mean for USC if Barkley does in fact return for another season? Nothing but good things.

You may have noticed that USC looked like one of the best teams in the country over the final weeks of the season, and just about every major player on the roster will be back in 2012 save for tackle Matt Kalil. Still, with Barkley returning as well, not only does that give the Trojans a Heisman frontrunner for next season, but odds are it will make the Trojans one of the favorites for a BCS title.

Because not only will Barkley be back, but USC's postseason ban won't be in affect in 2012 and they'll be eligible to play in any bowl game, including the BCS.
Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Independence Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

MISSOURI WILL WIN IF: They can limit turnovers on offense and prevent the big play on defense. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin's performance in the regular season finale against Kansas showed both the best and worst of Missouri's offense sans Henry Josey (knee). The worst came early in the game, with Franklin tossing three interceptions in the first 18 minutes of play and the Tigers' offense only producing one scoring drive - which resulted in a field goal. The best came in the second half, with Franklin wearing down the Kansas defense and taking advantage of their weaknesses by creating big plays on the way to a 24-10 win.

North Carolina is much stronger than Kansas, and three first half interceptions may not be something the Tigers can expect to bounce back from in the Independence Bowl. As long as Franklin is smart with the ball and avoids turnovers, he can keep taking his shots through the air and on the ground until he eventually hits the big play. Defensively the Tigers are much better than their numbers suggest, especially when you consider the competition. Still, even the best defense can be broken down by someone like North Carolina wide receivers Dwight Jones, Erik Highsmith, or Jheranie Boyd. Running back Gio Bernard will likely see a heavy load on the ground as well, and the Tigers must keep the shifty freshman from breaking outside and hitting the sidelines.

NORTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: The front seven can contain and pressure Missouri quarterback James Franklin. Ever since Henry Josey's season-ending knee injury, much of Missouri's offense has been based around Franklin creating plays. Luckily for the Tigers the sophomore signal caller not only can extend the play with his legs, but take off and make defenders miss in the open field. In the first game without Josey - the Big 12's leading rusher at the time of his injury - Franklin rushed for a career high 152 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries while still adding 172 yards and two touchdowns through the air. North Carolina's front seven is filled with NFL-caliber talent. However, there have been several games this season where it seems the defensive line and linebackers have not lived up to that NFL-caliber hype. With the nationally televised bowl game, it would be in the best interest of these pro prospects to delver their best performance of the season in this game. If Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, Zach Brown, and the rest of the front seven are able to contain and frustrate James Franklin, they will benefit their own draft stock and give the Tar Heels a much better chance to win their second-straight bowl game. A win-win scenario for the NFL-hopefuls.

X-FACTOR: Who Wants It More? Missouri certainly enters the game with a momentum advantage, winning four of their final five games while North Carolina lost four of their last six. Missouri picked up the invite after being over by the bowls with a Big 12 tie-in, not a surprise considering the Tigers' upcoming departure for the SEC. It will be the last game for interim head coach Everett Withers, who has already confirmed he's not staying with the Tar Heels "in any capacity" under new head coach Larry Fedora. So with Missouri in between conferences and North Carolina in between coaches, the team that can find the motivation for the moment will have an advantage on Dec. 26 in Shreveport.

That kind of advantage will likely be necessary in a bowl game that has been decided by seven points or less five of the last six years, with Georgia's 44-20 win against Texas A&M in 2009 being the only exception. Regardless of the expectations heading into the game, that matchup has always been close in recent years. Maybe it is the mystic atmosphere of Shreveport, or Independence Stadium - where the game has been played every year since the bowl's creation in 1976 - but advantages in X's and O's seem to matter much less in this game. For either team to get win No. 8 in 2011, they will need an extra dose of "Want" on Dec. 26.

Check out all the latest updates on Missouri and North Carolina right up until kickoff at the Independence Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 4:20 pm
 

2012 NFL Draft Early Entry Tracker



Posted by Chip Patterson


With many draft-eligible juniors deciding to file the official evaluation paperwork with with NFL, we take a look at the hottest prospects with the option of declaring for the 2012 NFL Draft. Of the 32 players on Rob Rang's latest Big Board, 19 of them are eligible to return to school for at least one more season.

Keep up the marquee names from Rob's Big Board, with a few notable additions here at the CBSSports.com NFL Draft Early Entry Tracker.

[Updated Dec. 21]

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 1
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: In a surprise to no one, Luck believes he is "absolutely" ready to enter the NFL.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 2
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Matt Barkley has decided to return to USC for his senior season.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 3
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Richardson has decided not to make his decision until after the title game. He suggested that he would return for another year earlier in the season, but his tone has changed since the completion of the Tide's regular season. "I'm going to sit down with coach and my mom after the last game of the season and see what's best for me and my family and see what's best for the team," Richardson explained.

Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 4
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Kalil ended any hopes of a "package deal" return with Matt Barkley when he announced his intentions to enter the NFL Draft.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 5
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. Alabama, Jan. 9
The Latest: Claiborne won't make his decision official until after the title game, but many LSU fans expect he will take advantage of his high stock and make the jump after this season.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 6
What's Next: Alamo Bowl vs. Washington, Dec. 29
The Latest: Griffin hasn't committed to returning to Baylor for another season, but he hasn't announced the intention to turn pro either. However, his parents are reportedly interviewing prospective agents. So there's that.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 7
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Stanford, Jan. 2
The Latest: Blackmon ended the speculation early and has already declared his intentions to enter the NFL Draft. "I think it's just time. It's that time to go. I came back last year to win a Big 12 championship, set us up for a BCS bowl and I think we did that," Blackmon said.

David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 8
What's Nextst: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: CBSSports.com's Rob Rang reports that DeCastro will indeed enter the 2012 NFL Draft, capitalizing on his status as one of the top interior lineman in the class.

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 11
What's Next: Insight Bowl vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 30
The Latest: Reiff has started the last 25 Hawkeye games, but will not make his decision until he plays at least one more. "I haven't really thought about [the NFL Draft] yet at all," Reiff said. "When the time is right, I'll sit down and think about it. Right now, I'm just worried about the bowl and bowl preparations."

'Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 12
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Kirkpatrick has not addressed the NFL Draft, and likely will not until after the title game. Some scouts have considered Kirkpatrick a little raw, which may lead to his return for another year at Alabama. But the All-American corner has not given any hint which way he is leaning.

Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 13
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Martin is considered the second best tackle in the class behind Kalil, who reportedly has decided to make the leap to the NFL. Martin has yet to give any hint which way he is leaning, though with such a high position in the eyes of most scouts it would not be surprising to see him go.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 14
What's Next: Boston College finished the season 4-8, missing the postseason for the first time since 1998.
The Latest: The star linebacker broke school and ACC records for career tackles after leading the nation for the second year in a row with 191 tackles in 2011. The Lombardi Award winner said he hopes to announce his plans for next season "shortly after Christmas."

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 19
What's Next: Memphis finished the season 2-10, TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente was hired to replace Larry Porter as head coach. The Tigers went 3-21 in two seasons under Porter.
The Latest: Poe has "just been focusing on the here and now" and is in the process of gathering information on his draft stock. After Memphis' final game he said his mother, Sandra, will have the final say.

Mohammed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 23
What's Next: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Iowa State, Dec. 30
The Latest: The official word from Rutgers' athletic department is that no underclassmen have made a decision regarding the NFL Draft, but a report last week in Metro New York claims Sanu has informed the coaching staff of his decision to return to the Scarlet Knights for one more season.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 24
What's Next: Music City Bowl vs. Wake Forest, Dec. 30
The Latest: Cox will not address the decision to enter the NFL Draft until after the Music City Bowl. Head coach Dan Mullen said all of the juniors, including Cox, have filed their draft evaluation papers with the NFL.

Nick Perry, DE, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 25
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Perry is reportedly joining Kalil in the 2012 NFL Draft class.

Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 26
What's Next: Orange Bowl vs. West Virginia, Jan. 4
The Latest: Dwayne Allen has submitted the NFL paperwork for an official analysis from the league, but will not make his final decision until likely early January. That will give him two weeks to make a decision before the Jan. 15 deadline.

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 27
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia, Jan. 2
The Latest: Worthy told The Grand Rapids Press a decision regarding the NFL Draft would be made after the Outback Bowl.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 32
What's Next: After a 6-6 finish, Miami declared themselves ineligible for the postseason in response to the current NCAA inquiry into the football program.
The Latest: Lamar Miller has already declared his intentions to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2
The Latest: Jeffery has submitted the evaluation paperwork to the NFL, and will reportedly make his decision after getting his response in early January.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Rose Bowl vs. Oregon, Jan. 2
The Latest: Peter Konz has also submitted the official evaluation paperwork with the NFL, and will not address the decision until after the Rose Bowl. Konz missed the final three games of the season with an ankle injury, but is expected to begin practicing again soon.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Insight Bowl vs. Iowa, Dec. 30
The Latest: Jones has applied for draft evaluation, and recently acknowledged starting to think about the decision "a little bit more."  He will likely wait until after the bowl game, and hearing the results of his evaluation from the league.  “If it's right for me to go, I'm going to go," Jones explained on Tuesday.  "If it's right for me to stay, I'm going to stay. I just have to kind of think about it a little bit more.”

Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Hightower will not make an official decision until after the bowl game, but many expect the All-American linebacker to make the jump after this season.

Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl vs. UCLA, Dec. 31
The Latest: The All-American defensive end has been busy collecting end-of-season honors and has not made an official announcement, but Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline reports that Mecilus will likely forgo his final season with the Illini and go pro.

Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2
The Latest: Like Jeffery and the rest of the South Carolina juniors, Gilmore has applied for evaluation from the NFL.  Assistant coach Lorenzo Ward believes a "first or second round grade" from the evaluation would convince the junior to enter the draft.

Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Charles has applied for NFL evaluation along with the rest of his draft eligible teammates. "It's really going to come down to what the Lord wants me to do," Charles explained. "I'm going to pray about it, talk to my family and definitely wait until after the Michigan State game, and take it from there."

Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Like Charles, Rambo has publicly delayed the decision until after the bowl game and hearing a response from the league's draft evaluation.  Rambo leads the SEC with seven interceptions and was named an AP First Team All-American, but wants to see "what everyone thinks of me and what I can improve on."


For much more news, analysis and the latest mock drafts check out our CBSSports.com NFL Draft homepage

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Report: RG3's parents talking to agents

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that Robert Griffin has officially taken the world over by winning the Heisman Trophy, most people want to know what his next move is going to be. Griffin hasn't really committed one way or the other when it comes to whether or not he'll return to Baylor for another season or enter the NFL draft, but it looks like his parents are taking every precaution.

According to a report by Yahoo's Jason Cole, Griffin's parents have been interviewing prospective agents, and there's a strong chance that Griffin will declare himself eligible for the NFL draft.

Which, as bad as it would be for Baylor, only makes sense for Griffin. While he was a bit of a cult hero coming into the season amongst die-hard college football fans, he had a meteoric rise in notoriety this season culminating in the Heisman win. He's like the Arcade Fire of college football quarterbacks, except that he gets a meaningful award and not a Grammy.

So with that in mind, if Griffin does want to give the NFL a shot, it's hard to see his stock getting any higher than it is at the moment. He's not likely to be the first quarterback taken in the draft, as that will be Andrew Luck, but he's definitely a first round pick and could be the second quarterback taken.

In fact, according to CBSSports.com's mock drafts, Griffin will go in the top ten to either Miami or Cleveland.

So unless Griffin really just wants to spend another year as a college kid -- and given his personality, that's a distinct possibility -- then odds are that the Alamo Bowl will be the last time he plays in a Baylor uniform.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com