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Pi Network

Draft King Analysis
January 4, 2012
Lou Pickney,

Reader feedback is always welcomed here on Draft King. Sound off with your thoughts on Twitter (@LouPickney) or via email at

In a somewhat surprising move today, San Diego State redshirt sophomore Ronnie Hillman announced his plans to apply for entry into the 2012 NFL Draft. He has a productive two seasons for San Diego State, rushing for 1,532 yards and 17 TDs as a redshirt freshman in 2010 and then 1,711 yards and 19 TDs in 2011. Add in his receiving stats and the combined numbers are even more impressive: 1,981 yards and 20 TDs as a redshirt sophomore. He makes an already strong 2012 RB draft class even stronger. There will be some serious RB talent available in rounds 3-4, which ironically might make some teams less likely to use a first-round pick on a running back in April knowing the depth that should be there later in the draft.

I read details about Hillman's decision to turn pro on Rotoworld, which humorously claimed that the decision was met by groans in the draftnik community. I've asked this before, but I haven't been able to find the origin of the term draftnik. Obviously it's a play off of the term beatnik, and I suppose there is a certain negative connotation as a result.

As for Hillman, I can't speak for the mock draft community at large, but there aren't any groans coming from this site about the move. Hillman showed the capacity to handle a primary running back position, and particularly with how quickly running backs can break down from the beating they take, it makes sense to make money while you can if you are a talented enough RB. If Hillman really was given a third-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee, it makes sense for him to jump to the NFL, even with this being such a deep RB draft class.

Another consideration: no way that Hillman wanted to be run into the ground in San Diego. In two years, Hillman posted 3,500+ combined yards and had 573 carries over that time, which is quite a pounding to take. The car analogy with running backs works quite well in this case: too many miles can lower the value.

And, now, the mailbag: Twitter style. Thanks to all who have followed me on Twitter: I appreciate it. And, fittingly, Twitter is where tonight's two entries in the mailbag arrived from. Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Deal with it (h/t LSUfreek).

Steve Kessler 1/3/2012, 4 p.m.
@LouPickney Browns aren't taking a defensive tackle in the first round. We have 2 excellent DT's on the roster.

Lou: You make a fair point, particularly with the Browns having used the #21 overall pick on Phil Taylor in the 2011 NFL Draft and signing DT Ahtyba Rubin to a four-year, $27.6 million contract extension ($18 million guaranteed) before the 2011 season began. Moreover, the fantastic team needs chart agrees with you on defensive tackle being a low priority for the Browns. The next update will reflect that accordingly, though it might also represent a lower drafting position for Cleveland with Atlanta's 2011 first-round pick.

William J. Blance 1/3/2012, 12:35 a.m.
@LouPickney does Stanford LB #35,Lancaster project to NFL? He was solid 2 night.

Lou: Jarek Lancaster had a great game against Oklahoma State, credited with seven solo tackles. He has received praise for his performance, such as he did in this write-up by Kevin Gemmell.

From all indications, Lancaster will be returning to Stanford this fall. His story is a bit interesting: as a three-star high school LB recruit in the northwest suburbs of San Antonio, Lancaster was an early verbal commit to Rice who changed his mind and decided to go to Stanford when he was accepted academically at the school in December 2008. Stanford initially planned to convert him to a safety, in contract to Rice, which had wanted him to play LB.

Ultimately, Lancaster's talent at the linebacker position won out, and he is coming off a strong season. But to make it at the next level, Lancaster probably needs to add another ten pounds or so of muscle to move to 6'1" 235-240 pounds. He'll still be undersized by NFL linebacker standards, but in systems that utilize cover two and/or "Tampa two" type defenses, Lancaster could make a huge impact. Just look at what Pat Angerer (6'0" 235) did for the Colts this past season, having a monster year in making an impressive 148 tackles. I'd wager that most casual NFL fans know nothing about Angerer's season since Indianapolis went 2-14 in 2011.

Going back to school for another year is a good move for Lancaster, where he can further improve as a player and possibly bulking up more in Stanford's weight program. The tough decision will come this time next year if he has another strong season for the Cardinal in 2012. Four years of free education at a school like Stanford is pretty nice compensation in the grand scheme of things, and he'll have that by going back for his redshirt junior season. His decision on the 2013 NFL Draft may prove to be more interesting.


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