Time to put the 2010 tape to one side and start to properly judge the guys we’ll be focusing on for next year’s draft – college football returns tonight. There’s an awful lot of scope for players to really boost their stock, due to a minimal amount of potentially elite talent going into the new season. Right now I have only Andrew Luck, Ryan Kalil, Matt Barkley and Trent Richardson as players I expect to go early in terms of a pre-season grade.
There are others who will push themselves into the bracket – big names too – but I’m not willing to stamp the ‘sure thing’ label on a Quinton Coples or Alshon Jeffery. They are both potential first round picks, but to get the top-10 grades people are dishing out, they’ll need to earn it this year. Money will be made and lost this season, perhaps more than ever.
It’s also a first opportunity to see how a rookie wage cap impacts the number of underclassmen turning pro. Will it change anything? Or will we still see a large influx of talent leaving as soon as they’re eligible to do so?
It all kicks off tonight with UNLV and Wisconsin. There aren’t a ton of prospective NFL players that stand out on either roster, but the guy I’m most interested in is Peter Konz. I spoke about him a few times last year – usually when down-playing Gabe Carimi as I always believed Konz was the real star on the Badgers offensive line. He’s not a senior (which means he may well stick around for another year rather than enter the 2012 draft) but I think he has the potential to be a very good center at the next level.
Nick Toon is another player to keep an eye on as a capable if sometimes inconsistent playmaker. He could make a roster down the line and has the revelant NFL bloodlines.
I’ll also be watching TCU and Baylor and a cluster of other games over the weekend. Don’t expect a big tape review until Saturday due to work commitments, but in the meantime any thoughts or observations you have feel free to contribute in the comments section.