The NFL Draft Prospects: From Suh to Simonds

The Saints won, now what? Are you trying to tell me that I’m going to honestly have to sit here and wait until August to start following football again? Absolutely not. The truth is that as soon as the Super Bowl ends, announcers are already eager to start talking about the NFL Draft within minutes of the Lombardi Trophy being handed out. While we are told to live our lives in the present, we can’t help but gossip over who will be the stars of the future. Will Colt McCoy be the next Drew Brees to prove everyone wrong? Is CJ Spiller going to be the next Reggie Bush? Time will only tell, but for now we can only assume that if the college play of the top prospects in the draft is indicative of their potential in the NFL, we are in store for an amazing class of athletes.

The first player on my draft board is none other than Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh. Suh’s play has gained him national acclaim and odds are that if you haven’t heard of this freak, you’ve been living under a rock for the past year. Suh was the only DEFENSIVE finalist for the Heisman trophy. Oh, did I mention that he’s a DEFENSIVE TACKLE? Suh being a Heisman finalist as a defensive lineman is the equivalent of someone getting into Harvard as a freshman in high school. If you managed to catch a glimpse of Nebraska’s Big 12 Championship Game against Texas, then you know what type of player Suh is. The 6’4″, 300 pounder racked up 12 tackles with 4.5 sacks in the best game of his career. At one point, Suh took Colt McCoy and literally threw him into the turf with one arm while managing to push back an offensive tackle five yards. This is the type of player that defenses build around, and unless the Rams plan on contending for an NFL worst record next year, they’d be fools to pass on Suh.

Although Suh is the most dominating defensive player in the draft, there are a slew of talented defensive players headlining this year’s draft including USC safety Taylor Mays, Tennessee safety Eric Berry, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan. However, there is one player that I think has the makings of the next Lawrence Taylor. Compounded with the fact that this player has been predicted to go to the New York Giants in several mock drafts has me salivating. The player that I have been alluding to is Alabama’s star linebacker Rolando McClain. McClain is 6’4″, weighs 258 lbs and runs a 4.6 40-yard dash! The Butkus Award winner has amazing vision and was the defensive quarterback for the best defense in the country at Alabama. This is amazing because it is not too often that players with McClain’s stature also possess the intelligence to efficiently run a defense. His versatility to play in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 makes him a highly desirable commodity around the league.

This last prospect wasn’t doing the gator chomp in Gainesville; throwing up the “U” at Miami or fighting on at USC. Instead, he was playing in our very own Andy Kerr Stadium. That’s right; I’m talking about our very own Colgate wide receiver Pat Simonds. Simonds’s unique size (6’5″ 229 pounds) has NFL scouts looking at Hamilton’s best and the odds are that Simonds will be taken in a later round (projected to go in the sixth or the seventh round) of the draft or at the very least be invited to training camp with a chance to contend for a spot on a 53-man lineup. Recently, Simonds played in the U.S. East-West Shrine All-Star game for college seniors. He was one of three FCS players to be invited to the game which allowed him to play on the same team as future NFL players such as Miami running back Javarris James. Simonds’s best assets are his enormous stature and great hands. However, the one knock on Simonds has been his blocking ability, which he has been working hard at addressing in the weeks leading up to the draft. Don’t write off Simonds as being inferior to his competition just because he’s from Colgate. Former FCS wide receivers in the NFL include San Diego’s Vincent Jackson (Northern Colorado), Green Bay’s Donald Driver (Alcorn State), New Orleans’s Marques Colston (Hofstra) and Buffalo’s Terrell Owens (Tennessee Chattanooga).

The NFL draft is where teams with Super Bowl dreams are finally provided the means to go and find the missing pieces. No player is ever a guaranteed star despite his collegiate accomplishments. Teams will never know if they are drafting the next Ron Dayne or Ryan Leaf or if they are drafting the next Chris Johnson or Tony Romo. This year’s draft seems to be top-heavy with defensive players and only a couple of offensive talents that really stand out (Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant (WR) and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford (QB)). As we eagerly wait for April 22nd to hear the fate of our favorite teams, we can only pray to a higher power that we don’t draft the next Tim Couch.