Tonight Oregon take on Auburn in the BCS Championship. The two sides are very different – Oregon as a system and man-for-man team are by far the best in the country. Auburn by contrast have one superstar player who happens to be unstoppable.
It’d be unfair to place all of the Tigers’ success on Cam Newton – clearly Nick Fairley has been stunning this year for the defense. However, Newton represents his team’s only chance tonight – and it was no different against LSU or Alabama.
I’ll be watching (and tweeting) so feel free to join in the discussion. I’ll have a post on the blog covering the game tomorrow.
Following confirmation that Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida) and Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State) won’t be declaring, I’ve decided to update the mock draft to represent prospects who are likely to be available once the deadline passes on January 15th.
I’ll come onto the mock in a moment, but first a quick thought on the why prospects like the two named above may have chosen to stay in school.
The draft advisory board are notoriously conservative with their gradings. We all know Jake Locker got a grade in round 2-3 last year, although I have a hard time believing he would’ve got past Washington with the #4 pick overall (whether that would’ve been deserved or not is another question).
This year the likes of J.J. Watt, Jenkins and Blackmon have also received similar grades. All three – in my opinion – were first round certainties. I’m not sure if it needs to be re-affirmed to these prospects that the gradings are given with the intention of leaving room for improvement. If everyone got given their exact grade – it could technically send out the wrong signal. For example – let’s say you’re a first round pick before any workouts. It only sets a prospect up for potential disappointment and maybe even lethargy.
Jenkins in particular announced he was going to be leaving Florida to declare for the draft but appears to have made a U-turn after getting his grade and speaking to Florida’s new coaching staff.
I’m not entirely sure what Jenkins has to gain by going back to Gainesville. Alshon Jeffery, A.J. Green and Julio Jones all had their worst games statistically against Jenkins. Teams will throw on the tape and be wowed by those three performances. He may have struggled to tackle Terrance Toliver – but watch him cover the elite potential of Green and the obvious quality/size combo of Jeffery and Jones.
The one knock on Jenkins was a lack of elite size in comparison to Patrick Peterson and Jimmy Smith. That won’t change in 12 months.
Perhaps he’ll benefit from a 2012 draft that won’t be as deep at cornerback, or maybe he’ll struggle to match his 2010 season and drop down the board? Either way – I think the draft advisory grades could do with being defined a little better. The draft has lost two real talents in Jenkins and Blackmon – in a year when Seattle could use as much depth as possible now they won’t be selecting until the latter part of the first two rounds.
To see the latest projection click here or select ‘Mock Draft’ in the title bar.
The mock only has a few tweaks to ammend for the prospects that now we won’t be available and the updated draft order. It means some prospects that previously received second round grades have sneaked into round one. I wanted to wait and see Aldon Smith at the combine before putting him at #20, but with the depth weaknening I think he’s almost certain to be a first round choice health permitting.
Picking for Seattle was tough this time, with a lot of potential picks off the board. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seahawks made moves up or down the board next April.
It was difficult to pass on Mark Ingram but I don’t believe this regime will draft a running back in round one. It’d be a big investment so soon after trading for Marshawn Lynch and you’d struggle to justify it behind a line that hasn’t blocked well for the run.
Baldwin has been soft at times this year and his effort has been far too inconsistent. At the same time – he’s got a unique blend of elite size and genuine ability to get deep and make big plays. Did he lose interest in what has been a farcical year for Pittsburgh? Will turning pro re-focus his undoubted talents? Questions that need to be answered, but he might be BPA after Ingram.