The Grand Poobah
Scouts Inc.:Todd McShay: Russell, Peterson poised to make leap
Russell, Peterson poised to make leap\
By Todd McShay
Underclassmen have until Jan. 15th to file paperwork with the NFL in order to become eligible for the 2007 NFL draft. As is the case each year around this time, rumors are swirling but very few final decisions have yet to be made by the top eligible underclassmen. In an attempt to maintain a semblance of order, below is an underclassman scorecard that I will continue to update on a weekly basis leading up to the deadline.
Dwayne Wright, RB, Fresno State -- First-day talent will slip to fourth or fifth round due to injury history (knee).
Rory Johnson, OLB, Ole Miss -- Surprise addition to the 2007 class. Former JUCO transfer finished second on the team in tackles behind first-round prospect Patrick Willis (ILB). Johnson projects as a second-day pick.
Tom Zbikowski, S, Notre Dame -- Fourth-year junior made his intentions known prior to 2006 season. An overrated talent but still deserving of second- or third-round pick.
Returning to school
Chad Henne, QB, Michigan -- Wisely plans on returning for his senior season in 2007. Accuracy and overall decision making must improve in order to warrant first-round consideration in the 2008 draft.
Mario Urrutia, WR, Louisville -- Third-year sophomore reportedly has no intention of leaving after this season.
Adarius Bowman, WR, Oklahoma State -- Broke out as a junior but plans on returning to Stillwater for his final season of eligibility in 2007.
Sam Baker, OT, USC -- Sure-fire first-round pick is making it clear that he plans to stick around for senior season.
Jake Long, OT, Michigan -- Could be a top-10 pick in 2007 but will return to Ann Arbor for his final season of eligibility next fall.
Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC -- Wisely plans to return for senior season after struggling through most of his junior campaign.
Leaning toward leaving
JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU -- Stock is at an all-time high after impressive stretch run as a junior. Plus, the senior quarterback class is weak, which means Russell could be a top-15 pick.
The Fiesta Bowl will likely be Adrian Peterson's last game in an Oklahoma uniform.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma -- Enjoy his healthy return in the Fiesta Bowl because it's off to the NFL after that game. Peterson should be a top-10 pick despite durability concerns.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, California -- A foregone conclusion that he's gone. But has he shown enough to warrant being selected in the top half of first round?
Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech -- This physical phenom should be a top-five pick if he comes close to meeting expectations in pre-draft workouts.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR/RS, Ohio State -- World class speed as a receiver and return specialist should land him in the middle of Round 1.
Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC -- Only Trojan underclassman who's being quiet right now, which means Jarrett plans on leaving. He needs to run well to cement a spot in the first round.
Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina -- Third-year sophomore has all but made his mind up and should be a late first-round pick in the 2007 draft.
Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee -- It will be tough to return to school after breakout junior season and with a child to support.
Zach Miller, TE, Arizona State -- Talented pass-catching prospect knows he can be the first tight end selected in marginal 2007 crop.
Greg Olsen, TE, Miami-FL -- On the fence right now but weak senior class of tight ends seems to be overshadowing his disappointing production as a junior this season.
Alan Branch, DT, Michigan -- Complete defensive tackle prospect with size, power and mobility. Only Michigan junior avoiding the question, which means he's leaning in the direction of the draft.
Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU -- Explosive one-gap defensive tackle had a breakout season as a first-year starter. Now it looks like it's off to the NFL. Branch and Dorsey may compete for top interior defensive lineman selected.
Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida -- One of several Gator defenders considering leaving after the BCS title game. Moss is a fringe first-round prospect in 2007, but he could improve his stock by returning to Gainesville for another season.
Quentin Groves, DE/OLB, Auburn -- A 'tweener defensive end/outside linebacker with good pass-rushing skills. Likely would slip to the second round, so he would be wise to return for senior season at Auburn.
Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia -- Late-first-round prospect plans on bolting after the bowl game. He could benefit from another season in college, but he outplayed teammate Quentin Moses by notching 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks during regular season.
Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State -- Came into his own as a first-year starter but could solidify a spot in the first round of the 2008 draft if he returns to Tallahassee for his senior season.
Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh -- He's making it clear to coaches that the NFL draft is in his immediate future. Revis should be one of the top-five cornerbacks selected in the 2007 draft.
Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona -- Six-foot cornerback is expected to exploit a relatively weak crop of cornerbacks in the 2007 class.
Eric Wright, CB, UNLV -- Under-the-radar prospect with impressive natural coverage skills. He could be the second or third cornerback taken if expectations are met in pre-draft workouts.
Reggie Nelson, S, Florida -- Playmaking free safety has all the physical tools of a late first-round pick should he make the NFL leap of faith.
Leaning toward staying
Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville -- Will feel out the NFL advisory committee but I expect him to return to school next fall regardless.
Michael Bush, RB, Louisville -- Season-ending leg injury in the opener (Kentucky) may force him to return. A healthy 2007 season could equate to high first-round pick in 2008 draft.
Mike Hart, RB, Michigan -- Seems disinterested in NFL draft despite healthy and productive 2007 season.
Antonio Pittman, RB, Ohio State -- He's a second- or third-round prospect no matter what year he elects to enter to the draft.
John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame -- Knee injury should force him back to South Bend next fall.
Martin Rucker, TE, Missouri -- Talented but inconsistent; he would be wise to return to school in 2007.
Frank Okam, DT, Texas -- Fringe first-round prospect is still very much on the fence in regards to his NFL future.
Andre Fluellen, DT, Florida State -- Played well during the regular season but could solidify a spot in the first round of the 2008 draft if he returns to school and makes progress next fall.
Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas -- Impressed with 11 sacks as a junior but would be wise to return to school for senior season in order to improve overall consistency.
Chris Long, DE, Virginia -- Howie's son will make the right decision if he returns to Charlottesville for his senior season.
Chris Ellis, DE, Virginia Tech -- High-motor, productive defensive end could go either way once the Chik-fil-A Bowl is behind him.
Brandon Siler, ILB, Florida -- Sources tell me that Siler is very much up in the air regarding his NFL future. He would likely be a second-round pick but has room to improve should he return to Gainesville next fall.
Vince Hall, ILB, Virginia Tech -- He's the leader of the nation's premier defensive unit, but I still expect him to return for the 2007 campaign.
Keith Rivers, OLB, USC -- He's saying all the right things now but his tune could change post-Rose Bowl.
Dan Connor, OLB, Penn State -- He's reportedly leaning toward returning but it's hard to imagine him improving on 2006 production. Don't be surprised if Connor becomes a last-minute defection.
The following is an updated look at the top-32 NFL draft prospects in the 2007 class, which includes eligible underclassmen:
Scouts Inc.'s Top 32
RANK NAME POS CLASS SCHOOL PREV
1. Joe Thomas OT SR Wisconsin 1
2. Calvin Johnson WR JR Georgia Tech 3
3. Brady Quinn QB SR Notre Dame 2
4. Alan Branch DT JR Michigan 4
5. Gaines Adams DE SR Clemson 6
6. Adrian Peterson RB JR Oklahoma 5
7. Glenn Dorsey DT JR LSU 7
8. Leon Hall CB SR Michigan 10
9. JaMarcus Russell QB JR LSU 11
10. LaRon Landry S SR LSU 13
11. Ted Ginn Jr. WR JR Ohio State 9
12. Amobi Okoye DT SR Louisville 18
13. Brian Brohm QB JR Louisville 15
14. Jeff Samardzija WR SR Notre Dame 14
15. Dwayne Jarrett WR JR USC 16
16. Marshawn Lynch RB JR Cal 17
17. Sidney Rice WR JR S. Carolina 19
18. DeMarcus Tyler DT SR N.C. State 21
19. Levi Brown OT SR Penn State 22
20. Troy Smith QB SR Ohio State 31
21. Adam Carriker DE SR Nebraska 23
22. Marcus McCauley CB SR Fresno State 24
23. Quentin Moses DE SR Georgia 28
24. Daymeion Hughes CB SR Georgia 31
25. Patrick Willis ILB SR Mississippi 30
26. Tim Crowder DE SR Texas NR
27. LaMarr Woodley OLB SR Michigan NR
28. Kenny Irons RB SR Auburn 29
29. Dwayne Bowe WR SR LSU NR
30. Darrelle Revis CB JR Pittsburgh NR
31. Anthony Spencer DE SR Purdue NR
32. Zach Miller TE JR Arizona State NR
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