During this final week of October we have huge updates from the PAC Ten, Mountain West and Western Athletic Conferences. Which players are zipping up boards? Who’s moving in the other direction? The answers to these questions as well as a major update on the west coast underclassmen likely to enter the draft and news on Jimmy Clausen’s pending decision, in this weeks edition of NFL Draft notes.
– Even though he’s on the sidelines this season with a back injury, sources have told us it’s 50-50 right now that Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski returns to school for another season of Saturday football. Speculation from Wildcat country is there’s a real possibility Gronkowski enters April’s draft.
– Arizona State defensive end/outside linebacker Dexter Davis is slipping down draft boards. The senior has not elevated his game as expected and could end up in the late rounds.
-Several sources have told us California running back Jahvid Best will enter the draft. In fact, earlier this afternoon a source intimate with the program from the northern California area told us the Bears ball carrier will “definitely enter the draft”.
– Oregon State junior defensive tackle Stephen Paea is very likely to enter the draft. The explosive defender reminds many of former first round pick Sedrick Ellis of USC. Paea is quick, athletic but vertically challenged, barely measuring 6-feet, 1-inch.
– Two USC Trojans are really motoring up draft boards starting with tight end Anthony McCoy. Coming to USC as a receiver out of high school, McCoy’s game has really taken off this season. He’s a terrific pass catcher that’s grown into a solid blocker. Sources have told us their is a chance McCoy could break into the first round with the injuries that have befell the top prospects at the position. The other Trojan moving up boards is tackle Charles Brown. The big tackle has gotten stronger and has shown a little more mobility and improved skill blocking in motion this season.
– Pete Carroll rarely loses juniors to the NFL but sources have told us Damian Williams will follow in the footsteps of Mark Sanchez and opt for the draft after the season. Williams is turning into a special talent and is the odds on favorite to be the first receiver selected next April.
– Brian Price is another underclassman from the Los Angeles area headed for the draft. The UCLA junior is having a knockout season and several sources have told us this will be his last on the college field. Some feel Price could end up as a top 20 pick next April.
– NFL scouts have been very disappointed in the play of Price’s teammate Reggie Carter, and the linebacker is playing himself out of the draft’s seven rounds.
-Several sources have told us over the past week that Washington quarterback Jake Locker will enter the draft. In fact one week ago we were told the Husky coaching staff is gearing up for Locker’s departure after the season. With the injury to Sam Bradford and uninspired play of Jevan Snead a number of scouts around the league have Locker rated as the number one quarterback in the nation.
– Expect Jerry Hughes of TCU to get a lot of work at linebacker during the Senior Bowl. Scouts are excited to watch him perform in space on a consistent basis. The results of his week in Mobile three months from now will dictate how early Hughes is drafted.
– It’s been another tough season for UNLV but interior blocker Joseph Hawley has impressed scouts. Sources have told us Hawley, who was graded as a free agent before the season, now grades out as a 3rd/4th rounder.
– In this weeks “Risers/Sliders” column over at SI.com, Utah defensive end Kao Misi was listed as one of the nation’s better sleepers. Misi is not a sleeper to NFL scouts, some who feel he could end up in the late part of round one. Misi is a sensational athlete whose timed in the 4.5’s at 270-pounds. Some we’ve spoken with like him better than Jerry Hughes of TCU and feel Misi is better dropping off the line then playing in space.
– Misi’s teammate, safety Robert Johnson, is also zipping up draft boards and has caught the attention of NFL scouts. We always liked Johnson and felt he flashed skill on the field but now he’s coming into his own. This season Johnson is putting together a complete game and has posted a team leading five interceptions to go along with his 41 tackles. Scouts have been impressed with Johnson’s range and athleticism in centerfield.
– One Ute heading in the other direction on draft boards is Sylvester Stevenson. The linebacker’s play this season has been very average and there’s a chance Stevenson could slide out of the draft’s seven rounds entirely.
– Mike Iupati of Idaho continues to impress scouts and move up draft boards. Besides being a dominant blocker he’s a likeable and coachable prospect, which lends many to believe Iupati will break into the draft’s first round. There’s a chance he’ll be given reps at left tackle during the Senior Bowl, which he’s expected to get an invitation to. Iupati was a prop 48 player entering college and there’s come concern he may not be able to handle complex schemes. Sources have told us it should not be an issue. Part of Iupati’s problems stem from the fact he did not come to the United States until he was in the ninth grade, and was a little behind the eight ball in the classroom and on the football field.
– Nevada junior defensive end Kevin Basped is heavily leaning towards entering the draft, according to a number of sources. Basped leads the Wolfpack with six sacks. There’s been mixed reaction to this report as a number of scouts feel this would be a poor choice.
– Wolfpack safety Jonathan Amaya has made a slight rise up boards. Nevada coaches have said Amaya is the best athlete on the defense and has enough speed and agility to make a move from safety to cornerback.
– While several sources give outside linebacker Justin Cole of San Jose State high grades, a number of people, including former teammates, feel he’ll have a tough time making it at the next level. Cole looks the part and could be drafted during the initial 75 picks. Yet a number of people told us Cole is not as good as he thinks he is and may have a tough time adjusting to life in the pro-spotlight.
– Several sources have told us the word out of South Bend is quarterback Jimmy Clausen is headed to the draft after the season. Most agree if this is Clausen’s final decision it is a mistake. Many scouts and NFL decision makers firmly believe in the 30/3000 formula for success for underclassmen signal callers who leave college early for a life in the NFL; 30 career wins and 3,000 yards passing per season. Clausen threw for 3172 yards as a sophomore and is on pace for 3500 this season. His freshman season resulted in just 1254. He led Notre Dame to seven victories one year ago and has notched five this season, with five games remaining in the regular campaign.
You can now follow us on Twitter!