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Draft King Analysis

December 25, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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Merry Christmas to you all! Here's hoping Santa brings Week 17 victories for those of you pulling for teams on the bubble. Sunday night in particular will be fun with the Broncos vs. Chargers game -- the winner gets the #4 seed in the AFC, while loser is out of the playoffs.

An early Christmas gift came to University of Texas WR Jordan Shipley, who will be returning to Austin this fall for a rare sixth year thanks to a waiver from the NCAA. Shipley missed the 2004 and 2005 season due to knee and hamstring injuries; this past year he came on strong with 79 catches for 982 yards and 11 TDs.

On the flip side, earlier this week Illinois CB Vontae Davis became the first of the top-tier underclassmen prospects to announce his plans to apply for early entry into the 2009 NFL Draft. He hasn't yet signed with an agent, so he could potentially change his mind between now and January 15, 2009 (the deadline), provided of course that he doesn't sign with an agent in that time.

With this draft having so many underclassmen who could dominate the top spots (presently the top three players projected to go in the 2009 NFL Draft on Draft King are underclassmen), it seems only fitting to give a long look at what some of the top-tier prospects are doing relative to the draft process.

-Sam Bradford (Oklahoma): The redshirt sophomore QB, fresh off of a Heisman Trophy win, has filed paperwork with the NFL Draft Advisory Committee to see where the experts think he might go if he decided to leave school early for the pros. Many draft prognosticators see him being right up there with Matthew Stafford as the top QB prospect in a relatively weak year for senior QB prospects.

-Matthew Stafford (Georgia): The junior signal-caller has filed paperwork to determine what his draft position will be. No word yet on how he's leaning.

-Tim Tebow (Florida): He has a Heisman Trophy, one BCS Title, and a chance to earn a second BCS Title next month. He has filed exploratory paperwork with the NFL; he also got into a battle of words with draft expert Mel Kiper that my friends (and FSV partners) over at The Big Lead has chronicled. For what it's worth, I'm higher on Tebow as a pro QB than some others are.

-Colt McCoy (Texas): He has been adamant about saying that he's not going to leave school early, and Mack Brown has a reputation for keeping good players around for four years. Having Shipley back this fall can only make the decision to go back to Texas easier. I imagine he feels that he has some unfinished business to attend to in the Big XII in 2009.

-Josh Freeman (Kansas State): Freeman has filed paperwork to determine his projected draft status. If Bradford and Stafford and Tebow all return to school, it could allow Freeman to end up going higher than he otherwise would -- either this year or next.

-Nate Davis (Ball State): Davis says he's coming back to Ball State for his senior year. That's probably a good idea.

Running Back
Chris "Beanie" Wells (Ohio State): His own coach, Jim Tressell, says that he should go pro. Barring injury I think that's what we'll see happen. Wells is likely to be the first running back selected if he enters the 2009 NFL Draft.

Knowshon Moreno (Georgia): Moreno, a redshirt sophomore, has filed paperwork with the NFL to see where he might go in the draft.

LeSean "Shady" McCoy (Pitt): Also a sophomore three years removed from his high school graduation, McCoy says that he's coming back to Pitt for the 2009 season.

Shonn Greene (Iowa): Greene won the Doak Walker award, given to the nation's top running back. It's all speculation with him, and I haven't been able to find any stories about him putting in paperwork with the NFL to see where he might go in the draft. Iowa fans, fill me in when you hear something.

C.J. Spiller (Clemson): Last month Spiller said that he would return to Clemson if interim head coach Dabo Swinney returned in that position in 2009. Swinney is coming back, so we'll see if Spiller holds true to his word.

P.J. Hill (Wisconsin): Hill has filed paperwork with the NFL to determine his potential draft status.

Wide Receiver
Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech): There is widespread speculation that Crabtree, a redshirt sophomore, will be the top wide receiver taken in the 2009 Draft if he enters early. Recently he admitted that he knows his decision but that he's "just not ready to say" what it is. Usually that's code for "I'm going pro but don't want to say it before the bowl game". That type of wording tells me that he's in; he's arguably the best sophomore wide receiver prospect since Larry Fitzgerald. And, without Graham Harrell throwing him the ball this fall (since Harrell is a senior), there would seem to be relatively little incentive for Crabtree to come back.

Percy Harvin (Florida): He has filed paperwork with the NFL. Harvin is expected by many observers to forego his senior season, and he appears be a likely candidate to be a first-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland): While I haven't seen the word "paperwork" attached to Heyward-Bey, the redshirt sophomore is reportedly "currently taking the steps to gather the necessary information regarding his projected draft status." Heyward-Bey is somewhat raw but has absolutely freakish athletic ability.

Trent Williams
Offensive tackle Trent Williams may leave OU early. (Icon SMI)
Offensive line
Andre Smith (Alabama): Smith has filed paperwork with the NFL. I personally like him as the best offensive lineman prospect but it will be a tight race there with or without Smith. If Smith comes out this may be the deepest offensive line class of the decade.

Ciron Black (LSU): Mum's the word on what he is going to do. With such a wealth of offensive tackle talent out there he might be wise to return to LSU for his senior season. LSU fans, I know you're out there -- any info or predictions on that would be appreciated.

Trent Williams (Oklahoma): Williams, who plays right tackle, has filed paperwork with the NFL. One enticement that might bring Williams back to Oklahoma would be the opportunity to play left offensive tackle (the most valued of the five offensive linemen spots) as a senior in 2009.

Vontae Davis (Illinois): As mentioned above, Davis has already announced that he will be turning pro. It's doubtful that he'll go higher than his older brother Vernon Davis (49ers tight end) went as the #6 overall pick in 2006.

Taylor Mays (USC): Arguably the best safety prospect in America, Mays has filed paperwork with the NFL to see where he might end up being drafted. Odds are they tell him mid-first round; from there the decision is his. Right now he says he's "50/50" on coming out.

Defensive Tackle
Sen'Derrick Marks (Auburn): He has indicated that he is leaning toward return to school, but Marks has filed paperwork with the NFL to be able to make an educated decision on turning pro early. Normally I'd think no, but this is a rather overall weak year at the defensive tackle position.


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