#Baylor DE Shawn Oakman says he will return for his senior season
— Tim O'Donnell (@TimODonnell25) December 29, 2014
Malzahn: Duke Williams will return for 2015, which is why he's at the bowl game
— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) December 29, 2014
Scratch off two names on our pre-Christmas first round watch-list. Shawn Oakman and D’haquille ‘Duke’ Williams won’t be part of the 2015 draft.
Both players had an opportunity to go early. Both players also have a lot to gain by returning.
Oakman took a big step forward in 2014 after a quiet first year at Baylor (he transferred from Penn State). He recorded ten sacks and 18.5 TFL’s. He’s built like a Greek God and could’ve been a very high pick with a good combine. He can also make clear improvements — he often struggles to disengage and get off a block. He can get even stronger and his goal should be to emulate Calais Campbell. He can be a more athletic version if he can keep getting stronger. It’s achievable.
This is a loaded defensive line class and while there’s nobody quite like Oakman — he’s likely to be a slow burner in the NFL instead of an impact player. He would’ve had a hard time getting ahead of more rounded prospects like Dante Fowler, Randy Gregory, Bud Dupree and Leonard Williams. In 2016 he could be one of the first defensive linemen off the board if he continues to develop.
Williams only moved to Auburn last year after switching from the JUCO ranks. He had an immediate impact and quickly became the go-to receiver for the Tigers, despite the presence of Sammie Coates. With only one year of experience in the SEC, he’ll get a chance to improve his technique and just get more quality snaps. He could be special. He has everything — size, length, hands and attitude. He was unlikely to walk into the NFL two years removed from the JUCO’s and suddenly explode onto the scene. Now he has a chance to work on his craft and potentially be the top 2016 receiver.
Elsewhere, Indiana’s superb running back Tevin Coleman is heading for the NFL after making an announcement today. According to Tony Pauline, Texas’ brilliant defensive tackle could play his final college game tonight too:
Told tonight's Texas Bowl could be final college game for DT's Malcom Brown/Texas & Darius Philon/Arkansas as both leaning towards draft.
— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) December 29, 2014
You can watch Brown in the Texas Bowl later — it’s a good match-up against the biggest offensive line in college football (Arkansas).
I still believe the Seahawks are destined for an offense-focused early portion of the 2015 draft, barring some surprising free agency moves. They’re keeping the defensive core together and know what they have on that side of the ball. The offense needs work and an injection of talent at key positions. Marshawn Lynch continues to be spelled early in games — hinting at more serious health concerns than perhaps we appreciate (and potentially an increased likelihood that he retires in the off-season). If that’s the case, Seattle could easily be in the market for one of the top running backs.
Receiver obviously remains an option too. Kevin White today scored a 49-yard touchdown for West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl against Texas A&M… provoking this Tweet…
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) December 29, 2014
We can but dream.
Meanwhile Dan Kadar at Mocking the Draft has published a new mock draft today. He has the Seahawks picking at #32 — selecting Maxx Williams (TE, Minnesota), a player we discussed recently. Draft Breakdown published Williams’ tape against Michigan this afternoon: