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NFL Early Entries - Who's Staying & Going?

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 15, 2007


If you're certain to go in the first round, or in the top five like JaMarcus Russell, you can't be blamed for skipping your senior year and taking the millions. But did all the early entries make the right move? Here's the list of all the players skipping school for the big league.



By Pete Fiutak

To go or not to go. Tis nobler to return to school for a senior season than to leave early and get taken late. Even so, it's impossible to tell a legitimate pro prospect not to come out early after what happened to Willis McGahee in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl or Wisconsin's Joe Thomas in last year's Capital One Bowl. If you win the lottery, you don't sit on the ticket for a year. Some of these players are going to be instant millionaires while others are making a big mistake. 

My rule of thumb for pro prospects is this: If your game relies purely on speed, come out. Every football player needs speed to some degree, but a receiver, running back and defensive back only has so many years of blazing speed in them. Any slippage in that top gear, and you're out of the league. Running backs can only take so many shots and should come out as soon as humanly possible. Everyone else should stay in school unless they're a sure-fire first or second round pick. Here are the early entries so far.

Coming back, but could've been rich ...
The top five players that chose to return.

1. Brian Brohm, QB Louisville
And with the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select ...

2. Glenn Dorsey, DT LSU
About ten teams were ticked off about this. Dorsey would've been a lock for the top 20.

3. Jake Long, OT Michigan
Athletic tackles tend to get snapped up quickly.

4. Andre Woodson, QB Kentucky
His stock was starting to quickly shoot up and might've been a late first rounder.

5. Keith Rivers, LB USC
The NFL told him he'd have gone in the 2nd round. He'd have been taken in the top 20.

Jon Abbate, LB Wake Forest
Projected:
Late first day, early second day
Good or bad move? Ehhhh, it depends on how fast he runs at the combines. His size is going to be an issue, but he's not a safety. Another year at Wake Forest would've made him a sure-thing top 100 pick.

Jamaal Anderson, DE Arkansas
Projected:
1st round, top 15
Good or bad move? Great move coming off a big day against Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. a top 20 pick before, now he's being talked about in the top five.

Antwan Applewhite, DE San Diego State
Projected:
Late first day
Good or bad move? A good pass rusher, Applewhite's issue is his size at just 235 pounds. He projected to be more of an outside linebacker, but he might get his shot on the outside as a third down specialist.

Jon Beason, LB Miami
Projected:
3rd round
Good or bad move? Fast, but a bit undersized, he'll likely get lost in the shuffle in a decent year for linebackers depending on all the early entries. An injury-filled year might cost him; he would've been better served coming back.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB Marshall
Projected:
3rd round
Good or bad move? While he might have played his way into first round had he stayed for his senior year, he'll be the definition of a quality pick some time after the second round. He's a speed back with great hands as a receiver.

Alan Branch, DT Michigan
Projected:
Top five
Good or bad move? Good move. The heart-and-soul of the Michigan defensive front will likely be the first defensive tackle taken.

Michael Bush, RB Louisville
Projected:
Late 1st round, early 2nd round
Good or bad move? Certainly one of the most intriguing players in the draft, his broken leg should be 100% by the time he has to show off what he can do. Considered a top 20 pick before the injury, he can quickly work his way up the board as one of the most unique players in the draft.

C.J. Gaddis, DB Clemson
Projected:
3rd round
Good or bad move? If he a corner or a safety at the next level? There's not a whole bunch of buzz about him, but he has the speed that could make him a second round sleeper. 

Ted Ginn Jr., WR Ohio State
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move? What is he? While teams will fall in love with his speed and versatility, is he really a true number one receiver worthy of a first round draft pick, or will he just be a dynamic toy for an offensive coordinator to play with?

Anthony Gonzalez, WR Ohio State
Projected:
3rd to 4th round
Good or bad move? His inability to do anything or get any separation against Florida in the BCS Championship Game once Ted Ginn got hurt killed his draft stock. He's a number three receiver who'll find a spot on an NFL roster for the next ten years.

Chris Henry, RB Arizona
Projected:
Late 2nd to early 3rd round
Good or bad move? He would've been one of the hot backs coming into 2007, but he'll use a good end of the year to be one of the more interesting running back prospects. At best, he'll probably be around the fifth back taken.

Chris Houston, CB Arkansas
Projected:
2nd round
Good or bad move? A fantastic athlete with great cover skills, he has decent size to go along with his speed. He could be a first rounder with a little luck.  

Brandon Jackson, RB Nebraska
Projected:
Late first day, early second day
Good or bad move? Huh? He has the versatility to be a functional third down back, but he's not exactly the type of back teams are going to fall over themselves to take in the first 50 picks. He could've used another year.

Dwayne Jarrett, WR USC
Projected:
Top 20
Good or bad move? He'll have to prove right off the bat with a positive attitude and good work ethic that he's not Mike Williams. Put it to rest; he's not Mike Williams. His measurables likely won't be off the charts, but his size and hands will make him a steal around 20-25.

Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech
Projected:
Top five
Good or bad move? H
e's not going to go number one overall, but he's a lock to be taken in the top five and possibly number two. He's generally considered to be the safest top prospect in the draft.

Charles Johnson, DE Georgia
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move? While he wasn't consistent this year, he's a big, talented pass rusher, he'll probably be the fourth or fifth end taken and will likely go around 20-25.

Rory Johnson, LB Ole Miss
Projected:
First day
Good or bad move? The JUCO transfer only played one year at Ole Miss and was overshadowed by Patrick Willis, but he made plenty of tackles and showed enough to be a decent prospect. Had he come back for his senior year, he would've grown into a sta.

Marshawn Lynch, RB California
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move?
Think DeAngelo Williams. Lynch will be lights out in workouts and start to get in the top ten on several mock drafts, but come late April, he'll likely fall to the mid-to-late first round.

Robert Meachem, WR Tennessee
Projected:
Late 1st round to early 2nd
Good or bad move? The wild-card among the receivers, Meachem could quickly move up into top 15 territory if he blows everyone away in workouts. The other receiver prospects are talented, but few have jaw-dropping measurables. Watch Meachem to yo-yo up and down the mock drafts over the next few months.

Zach Miller, TE Arizona State
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move?
Compared to Todd Heap, he might be the first tight end taken and could rise up to the top 15 with a lights-out workout.

Jarvis Moss, DE Florida
Projected:
Second round
Good or bad move? It depends on how he comes across in the workouts and interviews.
Moss might be one of the big calls in the draft. A strong pass rusher who has top 15 talent, some teams will fall in love with him, some will have him around 50.

Reggie Nelson, S Florida
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move?
He was ready for the next level last year. He's a big hitter with great coverage skills, and now he might be a top 15 pick with a little bit of luck. He could play corner if needed.

Greg Olsen, TE Miami
Projected:
Late 1st round, early 2nd round
Good or bad move? While not a special talent, he has good hands and enough skills to be an exciting late first round pick. He's a good athlete who did the most he could with the shaky Miami quarterback play. He probably could've used another year to prove he can be more of a playmaker.

Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma
Projected:
Top ten
Good or bad move? He should've been in the NFL two years ago. With his blend of size, speed, power, drive and work ethic, he's a dream back who could be a player an offense builds the franchise around. The only issue is his upright running style and his injury problems over the last two years.

Antonio Pittman, RB Ohio State
Projected:
3rd round
Good or bad move? Running backs are a dime-a-dozen in the NFL. Does Pittman do anything special enough to warrant an early round pick? He has a nice blend of talents who could turn into a good starter in the right system.

Darrelle Revis, CB Pitt
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move? With the size, cover skills and tackling ability, he might be the first corner taken but could end up falling to the end of the first round.

Sidney Rice, WR South Carolina
Projected:
Mid-to-late first round
Good or bad move? He could've used another year, but he's going to be a near-certain first rounder. He's not in the Calvin Johnson territory, but he'll likely battle Dwayne Jarrett to be the number two receiver taken.

Gary Russell, RB Minnesota
Projected:
Second day
Good or bad move? The success of Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney should help Russell, but his inability to find the classroom at Minnesota, making him ineligible for last year, means he might have a hard time finding first day draft spot.

JaMarcus Russell, QB LSU
Projected:
Top five pick
Good or bad move? The hot player after the bowl season, Russell went from being on the fence about returning for his senior year to possibly being the number one overall pick.

Brandon Siler, LB Florida
Projected:
2nd round
Good or bad move? With the right workouts, he could move into the last first round. His excellent all-around skills and speed would make him a steal after the 50th pick.

Ryan Smith, CB Florida
Projected:
First day
Good or bad move? A good coverman with excellent speed, his big issue will be size at just 165 pounds. He could be a high riser over the next few months with a few good workouts.

Luke Smith-Anderson, TE Idaho
Projected:
2nd day
Good or bad move? A former walk-on, he's not fast, but he has great hands and is an excellent route runner. He might be lucky to be drafted unless he shows something special in workouts.

Ramonce Taylor, RB Texas
Projected:
Second day
Good or bad move? The off-the-field issues in the past, Taylor has to find a spot somewhere early on as a special teamer and hope to show something special when he gets his chance in camp.

Lawrence Timmons, LB Florida State
Projected:
Mid-to-late first round
Good or bad move? He might end up being the first linebacker taken. He's tall, big, and very fast for his size. It doesn't hurt that Florida State linebackers have, for the most part, been fantastic at the next level. 

Darius Walker, RB Notre Dame
Projected:
Late first day
Good or bad move? A curious move, he would've been the featured player in the Irish offense this year. He's not huge and he hasn't shown anything special, but he could find a niche somewhere as a third down back. If he can show he might be a productive kick returner, his stock will rise.

Danny Ware, RB Georgia
Projected:
Late first day, early second day
Good or bad move? Someone's going to have to fall in love with him. He has the measurables, but he hasn't been able to prove he can stay healthy and had a hard time finding carries. He might be a good number two back in the right system.

Dwayne Wright, RB Fresno State
Projected:
Late first day, second day
Good or bad move? A big, productive runner, he proved his injuries were in the past with a big season on a bad team. The former JUCO transfer has nothing left really to show at the collegiate level, but he has to get some team hot on his potential as a good number two back.

Eric Wright, CB UNLV
Projected:
Late 1st round, early second round
Good or bad move? A great player on an awful UNLV team, Wright, a former USC transfer, was ready for the NFL last year.