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Draft King Analysis

January 9, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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There are a number of junior wide receivers who, in advance of the January 15 deadline, have declared for the NFL Draft.

Perhaps the biggest news of the day is the loss of two junior WRs by Michigan, as both Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington have declared for the draft. New coach Rich Rodriguez is bringing in a new offensive scheme to Michigan, but unfortunately for him, he won't have the two more prolific receivers from the 2007 team available. So much for what I wrote on Monday about Arrington staying. That, coupled with the loss of prized QB recruit Ryan Mallett (who is transferring from Michigan, and is possibly heading to Tennessee) and the graduation of QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart, and likely Top 5 NFL pick OT Jake Long, will create a challenge for Rodriguez in his first year at the school.

Ryan Grice-Mullen
Ryan Grice-Mullen is leaving Hawaii. (David Allio/Icon SMI)
Along with the pair from Michigan, several others are entering the draft. Perhaps the most interesting prospect to leave early to this point is 6'6" 220 pound WR James Hardy, who played a role in helping Indiana make its first bowl game in 18 years. He may end up as a first round pick depending on his combine speed (can he really run a sub 4.6 40?) Hardy, Indiana's career receiving yard leader, clearly has the size to make it in the NFL.

West Virginia WR Darius Reynaud, who is a senior but who would gain another year of eligiblity by graduating in May (due to being academically ineligible for the 2004 season), is heading to the NFL. WVU will be an interesting team to watch next year with Pat White, Noel Devine, and (if he stays) Steve Slaton, but Reynaud won't be part of the mix.

You can't blame Hawaii WRs Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen for declaring for the 2008 Draft. Their coach, their star teammate QB (Colt Brennan), and even their athletic director won't be back in 2008. It is hard to imagine the scenario that would allow either Bass or Grice-Mullen to significantly improve their draft stock by staying. I don't envy whoever has the task of following June Jones at Hawaii.

If EA Sports is savvy, they'll set up a June Jones career mode for its forthcoming NCAA Football 09 title. Think about the possibilities:

Stage 1
-Take Hawaii from 0 wins to 9 in one year.
-Recruit with high costs and low funds.
-Have an undefeated regular season, earn a BCS Bowl berth.

Stage 2
-Get SMU into a bowl game for the first time since the death penalty.
-Run the table with SMU going undefeated.
-Become so good that the Big XII decides to drop Baylor and bring SMU into the conference.

Perhaps that last goal might be a stretch, but my point is that June Jones isn't afraid of a challenge.

Players who, as of this writing, are still on the fence include Cal's DeSean Jackson, Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly, and Vanderbilt's Earl Bennett. Jackson is such a potent playmaker on kick returns that he might end up being the first wide receiver drafted, a la Ted Ginn, Jr. going to Miami at #9 in last year's draft (there's no Calvin Johnson in the 2008 Draft.)

One junior wide receiver who is sliding a bit is Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman. The 6'4" 220 pounder is a strong playmaker who runs in the 4.50-4.55 range on the 40, and while he's looking like a borderline second or third round pick, it will be very interesting to see where lands. The possibility of guys like Bowman and Limas Sweed possibly slipping into the second round (particularly if some of the top tier guys on the fence jump) could impact some decisions made in the first round, or might motivate teams drafting in the mid-late part of round one (like Tennessee) to trade down into the second round, land extra picks, and still end up with a top-tier wide receiver.


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