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Draft King Analysis

January 1, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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What a day of college football this has been! As flawed and inadequate as the bowl system is, it does make for an intense day of action to have so many big games going on throughout the day. It is insane that they had four games going on at once (Cotton, Outback, Gator, and Citrus Capital One) and then nothing going up against the golden goose of the Rose Bowl (including the WWL seemingly booking as boring a programming schedule as possible across the board while the Rose Bowl was on.) But remember: the bowls are all about money, all the way down to NFL-style change of possession timeouts and extended halftimes.

Rey Maualuga
Will Rey Maualuga reconsider his plan to return to USC in 2008? (John Pyle/Icon SMI)

One of the more impressive performances of the day was the first half put up by USC junior MLB Rey Maualuga, who recorded three sacks on Juice Williams (one of which included running over star Illini RB Rashard Mendenhall en route to the sack) and had an interception before halftime in Southern Cal's blowout win over Illinois. Just last month, Maualuga said that he was returning to USC even if he had a big game in the Rose Bowl. We'll see if he changes his mind between now and January 15.

My gut tells me that Rashard Mendenhall is heading for the NFL. The fact that he broke a 79 yard TD run against a team with so many future NFL players on defense (Terrell Thomas, Keith Rivers, Sedrick Ellis, Rey Maualuga, and probably others) on the field speaks wonders about his ability to make the transition to the pro level.

USC CB Terrell Thomas, who is in the running among the best corners in the country, also looked very good not only in pass defense, but also in being able to accurately read and make plays against the run. That skill makes him Thomas that much more valuable heading into the upcoming evaluation process leading up to the 2008 Draft.

It was a tough night for Colt Brennan and Hawaii, but I don't think Brennan will suffer a big hit to his NFL status. Hawaii's offensive line had a horrible time stopping even a basic pass rush from Georgia, and Brennan was running for his life most of the time.

Missouri put a beat-down on Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. RB Tony Temple impressed with what I saw in highlights (hard as I tried, I couldn't realistically keep up with four games going on at once), breaking the Cotton Bowl single-game rushing record with 281 yards. Temple isn't especially big (5'9" 210) or fast (estimated 4.5+ 40), but he may get a closer look from teams going into the NFL workout process. Temple certainly finished strong.

One NFL note from today that might have flown under the radar for many is the retirement of Denver left offensive tackle Matt Lepsis. There may be some candidates internally that the Broncos have in mind for the spot, and the Broncos have been great for years at their ability to develop lower-round draft picks to fit their system. But it's worth watching Denver to see if they make any moves to bring in players who might be a good fit at tackle in their offensive line scheme.


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