Tag Archives: Underclassmen

The Surprise Candidate

Sanchez

USC Trojan junior quarterback Mark Sanchez has abruptly ended his career in So-Cal, and has opted to enter this April’s NFL draft. The decision appropriately shocked those in football circles, but as a matter of simple arithmetic, it all added up for Sanchez:

1. An impressive junior campaign, where Sanchez and the Trojans lost only one game. Bearing in mind that USC plays in the cake-walk PAC-10, the Trojans silenced their critics with the highly publicized decimation of the Ohio State Buckeyes in front of a nationally televised audience. Furthermore, Sanchez’s personal stats included 34 passing touchdowns, versus only 10 interceptions over the entire season.

2. A stellar bowl performance in the 2009 Rose Bowl, which saw Sanchez throw for 4 touchdowns and add one on the ground as the Trojans trounced the then No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions. Sanchez looked flawless, throwing for a career-high 413 yards, evading pressure, showcasing his arm strength, and emulating the composure of a great leader.

3. The decisions of both Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford to return to both Florida and Oklahoma, respectively. Both would have been near, if not at the top, of most scout’s quarterback rankings, and their abrupt omission from draft boards seemingly opened the door for Sanchez. He now only faces competition from Georgia’s gun-slinger Matthew Stafford for the title of number-one rated quarterback.

So what does this equate to?

Sanchez, all-of-a-sudden, becomes a realistic option for the Detroit Lions with the number one overall pick in the 2009 Draft. With their franchise amidst one of the biggest identity crises in sports history, the Lions may look to duplicate the success of the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens, in drafting a first-round “franchise” quarterback.

It must be said that both Matt Ryan (Atlanta) and Joe Flacco (Baltimore) are anomalies. Rookie quarterbacks are supposed to be lack-lustre and it would be unfair to hold Sanchez to this expectation. Given the publicized failure of recent underclassmen quarterbacks declaring for the draft, in addition to Sanchez’s blatant lack of starting experience, he undoubtedly has a lot of proving to do, before and after draft day.

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Filed under Player Analysis, Quarterbacks

Wide Receivers Follow Suit

Harvin, Crabtree, Maclin

In what has been an exciting set of developments, this year’s crop of underclassmen wide receivers have mimed their offensive counterparts in the backfield. It seems as though declaring for the draft as a young-gun is more “in vogue” this year than any in recent memory, as illustrated by the two most critical offensive skill positions.

The most notable wide receivers that have declared for the pros are: Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Jeremy Maclin (Missouri), Percy Harvin (Florida), Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland) , Kenny Britt (Rutgers) and Hakeen Nicks (North Carolina). Crabtree is the most alluring prospect, often being cited as the number one talent in this year’s draft, regardless of position.

But beyond the Crabtree-mania, there exists a group of receivers that represent a complete 180 degree turn-around from the first-round drought that we witnessed last year at the WR position. Maclin has the potential to climb into the top-15, Harvin into the top-20, and each of the remaining prospects all have a realistic shot at being late first to early second-rounders (assuming they work-out well, and perform strongly at pro-days etc.)

So what are the consequences of this eminent double-cohort at the wide receiver position. It is frighteningly similar to the situation unfolding at the tailback position, where established seniors are being forced down the totem poll, by the more athletic, more skilled and more confident list of underclassmen. This is obviously bad news for the likes of  Derrick Williams (Penn State), Louis Murphy (Florida), and all other senior wide receiver prospects. Not only was the glut at the position unexpected, but it will ultimately cost these college graduates millions of dollars on draft day.

So much for the cliche “stay in school”, these underclassmen have apparently been far more influenced by the Steve Miller Band… “take the money and run”.

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Filed under Player Analysis, Wide Receiver

Underclassmen RB’s Not Undecided

knowshon-moreno-1

It is not rocket science. Running Backs take an endless pounding game in and game out. Touching the ball anywhere from 20-40 times a game, they do not have the Quarterback’s luxury of throwing the ball away to avoid oncoming defenders. This transaltes into a very fragile playing career that typically does not span past the age of thirty.

It should come as no surprise then, that four, yes four, marquee underclassmen runners have already declared for this April’s NFL Draft. This list includes two sure-fire first rounders in Chris “Beanie” Wells (Ohio State), and Knowshon Moreno (Georgia), in addition to two more RB’s who could easily creep into the first round, LeSean McCoy (Pittsburgh) and Shonn Greene (Iowa). All four of these kids had tremendous production over the past year, and certainly have scouts salivating at the possibilities one would undoubtedly¬† bring.

It goes without saying that the four underclassmen listed above severely overshadow the senior crop of running backs ready to join the professional ranks. What’s more is that the recent underclassmen rush to declare could potentially prevent a senior RB from being taken in the first round. Such is life.

The underclassmen are capitalizing on what has been widely publicized as a weak RB senior class, and the financial reward that comes with high draft status is theirs for the taking. All four of these kids are brilliant talents, naturally gifted and instinctive runners who have earned the right to leave college early and collect their grand pay-day.

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Filed under Player Analysis, Running Backs