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Draft King Analysis

August 31, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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First off, let me wish the very best for the people in Louisiana who are facing the imminent arrival of Hurricane Gustav. I spent five years living in Tampa (working in TV news for part of that time, no less), and I am hyper-sensitive to the damage that hurricanes can cause. Hopefully the damage will be minimal. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities (read this if you wonder why), and I hope it can make it out of this unscathed.

Chris Wells
How severe is the injury Chris Wells suffered yesterday? (Icon SMI)
Ohio State fans across the country let out a collective gasp yesterday when star RB Chris "Beanie" Wells, considered by some to be the best running back in college football, fumbled the ball on a third quarter carry and collapsed to the ground in pain without being touched. Wells clutched his right foot in pain and had to be helped off the field.

The word as of today is that Wells didn't break any bones and that he'll be evaluated further tomorrow. His status is TBA at this point, and there is a possibility that he will have to miss the blockbuster Ohio State at USC game two Saturdays from now. Buckeye fans hope that this won't happen.

The latest mock draft for the site debuts tomorrow, and it will be put together under the thought that Wells will be able to recover quickly. But if that doesn't prove to be true, it could inflict a major hit to an already thin running back pool for the 2009 Draft, though Wells as a junior was not a lock to be part of that process.

Missouri WR/KR Jeremy Maclin showed Illinois that even the best gameplanning can't stop world-class speed and talent. Maclin is a redshirt sophomore who should make a big impact for the Tigers this year, though he did suffer an ankle injury late in the win over the Illini. Seeing him play on the turf at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis only made him look that much faster.

USC gave a few lessons to Virginia yesterday. It was over in a hurry; to point, the USC Trojans put 21 points on the scoreboard before Virginia managed a first down. Southern Cal junior QB Mark Sanchez made a major statement, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns against the Cavaliers. What makes that performance even more impressive is that Sanchez suffered a dislocated kneecap in practice earlier this month. His quick recovery shows moxie on his part.

USC has popped out several NFL-quality QBs in the Pete Carroll era, and Sanchez could be the next in the list. At 6'3" 225 he has NFL quality size. He isn't a speedy runner (with a listed 40 time of 4.78), but he is tough, accurate, and strong. Whether he jumps to the NFL after this year or goes back to USC for another year of seasoning, I anticipate we'll see him as a starter on down the line in the NFL.

Hunter Cantwell
Hunter Cantwell did not impress in his 2008 Louisville season debut. (Icon SMI)
Not to be overlooked is the way that USC's defense choked out Virginia's offense. Part of what has me so excited about the USC/Ohio State game is seeing a strong offense with the Buckeyes face off with the loaded USC defense and to see Sanchez and the USC offense take on the likes of ILB James Laurinaitis and CB Malcolm Jenkins. As a neutral observer, I hope Wells will be able to play so we can see how those two very strong teams can match up at even strength.

On the flip side of how Mark Sanchez performed, Hunter Cantwell's attempt to follow Brian Brohm as the next great Louisville QB took a major hit today with Kentucky's 27-2 roughing up of the Cardinals. To be fair, Cantwell had at least five passes deflected, his running game provided very little support, receivers had trouble hauling in his passes many times, and he had to run for his life on multiple occasions.

But, at the same time, Cantwell had some accuracy issues, and he threw a bullet pass or two that were dropped and might have been caught with a bit more touch. Overall, Cantwell threw three interceptions and also coughed up a fumble. Ouch.

The season is young, and Cantwell will have more opportunities to prove himself throughout the season. Cantwell is 6'4" 235, though he is not fast at all (running a near 4.9 40). I read a comparison of Cantwell's release being similar to former Kentucky QB Andre Woodson, which is *not* a good thing since that slower release caused Woodson to free-fall in the draft and end up being put on waivers by the New York Giants.

Another highly touted QB, Clemson's Cullen Harper, came up on the losing end yesterday against Alabama. Harper was the victim of several drops and faced an Alabama defense that was fired up and kept him on the run for much of the life. In my estimation Cantwell came off much worse than Harper, but Harper's 2008 debut wasn't at all what he (or Clemson fans) had hoped to see.


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