Central Florida junior running back Kevin Smith
is among a handful of underclassmen who decided to return to school rather than opt into the world of professional football.
Others who will be back on campus include: Wisconsin junior tight end Travis Beckum
, Mississippi junior offensive tackle Michael Oher
and Missouri junior tight end Chase Coffman
. LSU junior defensive lineman Tyson Jackson
has said he will probably return to the Tigers, several USC underclassmen have indicated they will be back in 2008, while Alabama junior center Antoine Caldwell
said he will wait until after the Crimson Tide's bowl game to make a choice.
• Louisville red-shirt junior wide receiver Mario Urrutia
decided to enter the draft despite being rated as more of a late-round prospect.
• Middle Tennessee State junior offensive tackle Franklin Dunbar
has said he plans to come out regardless of his NFL grade because he needs to help his family's financial situation. At 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, he could move up the draft board in the postseason.
• West Virginia red-shirt junior defensive lineman Johnny Dingle
, who currently carries a mid-round grade, will play his final game for the Mountaineers in the Fiesta Bowl. Junior running back Steve Slaton
seems to be leaning toward returning to school, especially since junior quarterback Pat White
has already stated his intention to play as a senior.
• Miami junior safety Kenny Phillips
will go pro. Most school officials believe that red-shirt junior defensive end Calais Campbell
will join Phillips.
• Maryland junior wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey
is turning his attention toward an offseason program to help increase his strength. He is already, pound-for-pound, one of the fastest players in college football.
• Tennessee junior defensive tackle Demonte Bolden
, who was suspended for the Volunteers' bowl game (academics), is signed up for next semester at the school. Another Vols junior, linebacker Jerod Mayo
could take a look at the NFL after the bowl game.
• Virginia junior offensive guard Branden Albert
has not made a final decision.
• West Liberty State junior cornerback Darren Banks
looks great on tape. He makes plays with the ball in the air and shows good speed. At times, he seems to lose focus because his athleticism is greater than most around him. Banks plans to weigh his final decision over the holidays.
• Boise State junior offensive tackle Ryan Clady
might be moving on. He is expected to receive a first-round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee. He spent time reviewing agents and other material related to the draft this past summer.
Several prospects have been invited to postseason all-star games:
• Heath Benedict
, Newberry (S.C.), offensive lineman – Senior Bowl
• Chad Rinehart
, Northern Iowa, offensive lineman – Senior Bowl
• Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
, Tennessee State, cornerback – Senior Bowl
• Josh Johnson
, San Diego, quarterback – East-West Shrine Game
• Joe Flacco
, Delaware, quarterback – East-West Shrine Game
• Jerome Felton
, Furman, fullback – East-West Shrine Game
• Jerome Simpson
, Coastal Carolina, wide receiver – East-West Shrine Game
• Dexter Jackson
, Appalachian State, wide receiver – East-West Shrine Game
• David Hale
, Weber State, offensive lineman – East-West Shrine Game
• Kendall Langford
, Hampton U., defensive lineman – East-West Shrine Game
• Curtis Johnson,
, Clark-Atlanta, defensive end/linebacker – East-West Shrine Game
• Kolo Kapanui
, West Texas A&M, tight end – Hula Bowl
• Brandon Keith
, Northern Iowa, offensive lineman – Hula Bowl
• Brennen Carvalho
, Portland State, offensive lineman – Hula Bowl
• Marcus Dixon
, Hampton U., defensive lineman – Hula Bowl
• Bryan Smith
, McNeese State, defensive end/linebacker – Hula Bowl
PARCELLS DRAFT IMPACT
The Miami Dolphins
currently own the rights to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft as well as two second-round picks, including No. 32 overall.
Bill Parcells chose Miami over Atlanta because he could see a potential quick turnaround in South Florida thanks to the 2008 picks followed by some salary-cap space clearing for a run at free agents in 2009.
The Dolphins have questions at quarterback, but will not be pressed into drafting a skill-position player with the first overall pick the way that the Falcons would. Chances are the Dolphins will look to find a true nose tackle via the draft, free agency or trade. Then they could look to find a team desperate for a trade up to No. 1 and slide down three or four picks to accumulate more selections for their war-room chest. They also could listen to offers for their veteran defenders who are unlikely to stay past the next two seasons.
There's some talent in Miami. Running back Ronnie Brown was on pace for an All-Pro caliber season and Parcells will find a way to motivate talented Ted Ginn, Jr.
Cowboys free agents such as wide receiver Patrick Crayton and safety Ken Hamlin or even Patriots defensive back Eugene Wilson could all draw Dolphins interest. Also, restricted free agent defensive lineman Chris Canty, who Parcells identified a few years ago, could be a guy Miami looks to acquire via contract offer or trade.
Expect Parcells to look to his former teams for players he has identified as being loyal soldiers.
John Murphy is Yahoo! Sports' NFL personnel and college prospect evaluator. Murphy's seventh annual NFL Draft Bible package for the upcoming 2008 NFL Draft coverage is now available. Learn more at www.nfldraftbible.blogspot.com.