National Football League
November 19, 2007
Draft King Analysis
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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I attended the Mississippi State vs. Arkansas game in Little Rock this past Saturday. It was quite the experience, particularly when it came to viewing some of the impressive offensive talent that Arkansas has.
Most college football fans, even casual ones, have heard the name Darren McFadden at one time or another. The Arkansas RB tore up the SEC in 2006, then followed that up with another very impressive season here in 2007. Seeing highlights of him is one thing, but witnessing him in person was an experience that I can only describe as amazing.
When he walks out on the field, McFadden has an aura surrounding himself that really stands out. He is very good, and he certainly knows it, but his on-field execution is consistently outstanding. Sometimes superstar players fail to properly develop the little things in their game, instead using their elite skill to get by. Not McFadden. He blocks hard. He sells play-fakes incredibly well. And this past Saturday, with Mississippi State clearly game-planning him to the point of ridiculousness at times in the first half, McFadden never lost his cool or let his ego get the best of him.
Instead, with Arkansas using McFadden as a decoy, Razorbacks fullback Peyton Hillis tore up the Mississippi State defense, both as a running back and as a pass receiver. Hillis may end up being as high as a third round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, which might seem crazy to those not savvy to his abilities, but he is a speedy, bruising RB who could fit in the Brian Leonard mold: a fullback who can play running back if necessary.
McFadden finally had his opportunity to shine in the second half, taking a screen pass from Casey Dick and sprinting 57 yards untouched for a touchdown. His speed in separating from the secondary in motoring into the end zone was lightning fast. He later threw for a TD pass, as if he needed to show that he's the total package. I was already sold.
How impressive was he? With all respect to Tim Tebow, if I had a Heisman vote, I'd give it to McFadden. He is as complete of a running back as you'll see on the college level, and he is the surest bet in the 2008 Draft (if he heads to the NFL early) to be a success in the pros.
Arkansas has a wealth of talent at RB, and they were kind enough to put in Felix Jones for exactly one play, a screen pass that he took out of bounds without having to take a hit. At least I can say I saw Jones play in a college game; with him being injured going into the contest, I didn't expect him to take the field at all.
As if that all wasn't good enough, 6'6" WR Marcus Monk made his return from injury and immediately made an impact. For reasons that I don't understand, M-State gave him a ridiculously large cushion on a couple of plays, allowing Dick to easily hit him in stride with passes that he brought in without trouble. Monk's injuries this season may keep him out of the first round of the draft, but he possesses first-round level talent (and size) that will make him a great bargain pick in either round two or three.
Overall, Arkansas showed an amazing array of talent on offense, and it was well worth my time to go see them play in person. It's going to be fun to see them match up with LSU's defense this weekend.