Although the abrupt Memorial Day resignation of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is not expected to prompt significant ramifications in the NFL, the departure of the embattled Buckeyes sideline boss could result in a ripple effect in the league.
Two sources from the college game and three NFL talent evaluators all told The Sports Xchange they expect the five OSU players suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season to at least consider the possibility of petitioning the NFL for inclusion in this summer's supplemental draft. A source close to one of the players said he "remains committed" to returning to Columbus for 2011, but also conceded the departure of Tressel "puts some things up in the air."
|Terrelle Pryor is the fourth-rated senior quarterback. (Getty Images)|
The NCAA announced in December that five players, most notably quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were suspended for the opening five games this fall for selling rings and jerseys in violation of NCAA guidelines and for receiving improper benefits. All five players, who were ordered to pay restitution, were permitted to participate in the team's Sugar Bowl appearance.
The four other players were: offensive tackle Mike Adams, tailback Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and defensive end Solomon Thomas.
There was speculation at the time of the suspensions that Pryor might opt for the regular phase 2011 draft or the supplemental draft, but he said that was not the case, and was insistent he would return to school. The four other players also indicated, either directly or indirectly, that they would complete their college careers. All were eligible for the 2011 draft because each qualified under the NFL's "three-year rule," and thus are eligible for the supplemental draft this summer.
Pryor possesses the highest profile of the five seniors, but may not be the player regarded as most attractive of the bunch by NFL scouts. A superior athlete, the consensus among league evaluators who have seen Pryor play is that he lacks accuracy and that he abandons the pocket too easily. The scouts surveyed Monday all emphasized they had not evaluated the Ohio State players as draft prospects, but the feeling seemed to be that Adams and Herron might be rated higher than Pryor.
If he stays for his senior season, Adams is the highest-rated prospect for the 2012 draft by NFLDraftScout.com, rated as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the class. Herron is also a Top 50 prospect and the No. 2-rated player at his position. Posey is the No. 6-rated wide receiver while Thomas is the 48th-rated defensive end.
Pryor is currently a Top 100 prospect by NFLDraftScout.com and the fourth-rated senior quarterback, behind Arizona's Nick Foles, Ryan Tennehill from Texas A&M and San Diego State's Ryan Lindley. However, Stanford redshirt junior Andrew Luck is expected to declare for the NFL after next season and be the overwhelming consensus top quarterback available. USC's Matt Barkley and Oklahoma's Landry Jones are also early-entry candidates who could further push Pryor down draft boards if he returns to school and enters the 2012 draft.
League spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed to The Sports Xchange two weeks ago that the supplemental draft is expressly covered by a now-expired collective bargaining agreement, just as the regular phase lottery was last month. The date for the NFL supplemental draft, typically held in July, has not been determined.
Set to enter his 11th season as the OSU coach, Tressel has produced 66 players drafted by the NFL, including 16 first-round picks. Ohio State had five players selected in April's draft, led by No. 31 overall pick defensive lineman Cameron Heyward to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange.