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Draft King Analysis

August 29, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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Rice used a national television timeslot tonight to serve notice to the nation that it is going to be putting points on the board in bunches this year.

Jarett Dillard
Rice WR Jarett Dillard is very good at getting open. (Icon SMI)
Some thought SMU, with new coach June Jones (formerly of Hawaii) in place, would be competitive playing Rice in Houston. And early on it looked plausible; Rice spotted the Mustangs a 13-0 lead. But then the Eagles woke up, and they lit up the scoreboard.

The primary player for NFL Draft observers to watch on that Rice team is WR Jarett Dillard, a redshirt senior who entered 2008 as the active NCAA leader in catches, yardage and touchdowns. He built on that tonight; Dillard hauled in three of Rice QB Chase Clement's six TD passes, and he kept alive his streak of at least two receptions in every game of his college career.

Dillard's measurables look pedestrian on paper: he's 5'11" 185 pounds and his listed 40 times vary wildly, with some putting it in the 4.55 or even the 4.6 range. But Dillard has proven to be a clutch receiver for Rice, and I'd be very surprised if he didn't end up as at least a possession wideout in the NFL. He has an innate ability to get open and great hands, two traits that should endear Dillard to NFL scouts.

Plenty of high-profile players will be in action tomorrow: Beanie Wells will take to the field for Ohio State, as will ILB James Laurinaitis and CB Malcolm Jenkins. Tim Tebow will start at QB for Florida; Matthew Stafford begins his season as the signal-caller for Georgia. USC's several defensive standouts will be in action on the road at Virginia. Michigan DT Terrence Taylor will be called upon to plug the middle for the Wolverines.

The Illionis vs. Missouri matchup, as mentioned yesterday, features several potential future NFL players. After months of waiting, it should be good times all around for football fans across the country... except for those whose favorite teams end up on the losing end.

Something to look forward to in the 2009 NFL Mock Draft revising on here: Atlanta will still have the #1 spot based on the Vegas odds for team wins in the 2008 regular season. However, Fili Moala (presently the #1 overall pick on there) is listed too high for what his projection really looks like at this point and I'll have to find another, more realistic player for Atlanta at that spot. Perhaps a star offensive lineman to protect Matt Ryan's blind side would be in order?

The X-Factor player of the 2009 NFL Draft at this point is an athlete who might not even declare early for the pros: Florida QB Tim Tebow. The opinions on him vary a great deal relative to how he projects as a pro. If he comes out this year as a junior, would he be a top five pick or would he fall to round two -- or even day two?

The word from Gainesville is that Tebow will have fewer carries per game this year than he did in 2007, and it will be interesting to see how he will perform this year. If he matches his Heisman Trophy season performance from 2007, could he really slip outside the first round? Or would such a performance make him a lock for the top five? There are varying opinions out there on the subject, and it will be a fun storyline to watch play out.


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