The latest breaking draft news and notes coming from the Big Ten, Big East and Mid-American conferences along with notes on a number of top small school prospects. Who is rising up draft boards and what players are heading in the other direction? The answers to these questions plus some huge, draft impacting news on the underclassmen headed towards next April’s draft!
– There’s good news coming out of Buffalo as it pertains to running back James Starks. The big ball carrier was sidelined the entire season after tearing a labrum in August. Sources have told us the injury was not that bad from the get go yet the shoulder was loose enough that surgery was required. Evidently no cartilage damage was suffered. Starks will be medically ready to participate in any post season All Star game he may get invited to. Sources have told us Bulls head coach Turner Gill is lobbying hard for Starks to get an invitation to the Senior Bowl in Alabama. Gill is usually present on the sidelines every January. Starks is expected to check out medically at the combine in February.
– A number of scouts have been very impressed with Central Michigan receiver Bryan Anderson. In a recent conversation one insider compared the CMU senior to San Diego Charger wide out Vincent Jackson.
– Former Temple defensive lineman Junior Galette is making no friends in the scouting community. Galette was dismissed from the Owls and has since transferred to Stillman for the ’09 campaign. Sources have told us the physically gifted Galette is a high maintenance player that has missed scheduled meetings throughout the season with NFL scouts and he is someone that comes across with an poor attitude.
– Louisville cornerback Johnny Patrick will enter April’s draft and is presently deciding on an agent. The speedy defensive back has nice size and athleticism yet needs a lot of work on his overall game and ball skills.
– Pittsburgh Panther left tackle Jason Pinkston has been speaking with agents and is leaning towards entering the draft. We spoke highly of Pinkston and his pass blocking skills entering the season and after watching him this year it’s obvious he’s improved his run blocking skills.
– Jason Pierre-Paul has set the world on fire at South Florida this season, his first in the program after transferring from Fort Scott CC. His career with the Bulls could be short lived as a number of sources have told us Pierre-Paul will enter next April’s draft. He’s a sensational athlete expected to light it up during workouts.
– So what’s the full story with Syracuse receiver Mike Williams? We touched on the recent events in our column at SI.com this week. The full story starts with Williams initial suspension prior to the Akron game. Evidently the receiver posted a message on his Facebook page telling friends he was gone after the season; it read something to the extent, “college is not for me- it’s almost over, wink-wink.” This was a reference to the fact Williams planned to enter the draft at the end of the season, something we alerted TFY Draft readers to back on August 6th. Williams was involved in another off the field incident several weeks ago and was about to be suspended a second time this season but decided to quit the team instead. There were even local reports that Williams tried to return to the team but coach Doug Marrone said no, a report we’ve yet to confirm. This was the worst thing he could do for his draft stock and Williams is now going to slide into the late rounds.
– Who is the best NFL prospect on the Iowa Hawkeyes? Sources we spoke with say its’ junior cornerback Amari Spievey. Some scouts feel Spievey rates favorably to former Hawkeye defensive backs Bradley Fletcher and Charles Godfrey, both third round picks.
– Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren is telling former Wolverine teammates he will enter the draft after the season. Warren has had an up and down campaign in 2009 but sources have told us he is disgruntled with the present situation with the program, as are many UM players.
– Sources close to the situation have said Corey Wootton continues to improve on a weekly basis. During our Big Ten notes of October 14th we alerted readers that Wooton was experiencing knee pain the days following games. Many felt that Wootton really should not have played the first month of the season and he was not fully healed from his prior knee surgery. Now comes word that his knee is getting stronger and Wootton’s fighting spirit has really impressed scouts. Wootton could fall out of the first round yet scouts are still very excited about his future.
– There’s been a bunch of speculation about three Ohio State underclassmen from the defensive side of the ball and what they will do at seasons end, starting with Thaddeus Gibson. Sources have told us Gibson is leaning towards entering the draft. There’s a need for money and his mother’s health has been an issue lately. Scouts we’ve spoken with say Gibson translates much better to the NFL compared to Vernon Gholston, the former sixth pick of the draft in 2008 who’s been a non-factor for the New York Jets. Scouts say Gibson is much more passionate about football compared to Gholston, and is much more instinctive.
– Defensive end Cameron Heyward on the other hand is giving the impression he will stay at Ohio State for his senior season. Money is not an issue for the son of the late Craig Ironhead Heyward, a former first round pick, and Heyward realizes how much more he can improve his draft stock with a good senior season.
– There’s a good chance cornerback Chimdi Chekwa could leave for the draft after the season. Chekwa has been terrific this season and opponents have purposely been throwing away from him.
– Scouts continue to be impressed with senior Kurt Coleman. They have told us the safety lacks classic measurables but he’s a weight room guy who plays big and smart. Sources from Ohio State have told us they expect Coleman to impress NFL teams during the interview process as he’s a well spoken and honest person.
– When people talk about small school defensive backs the name of Akwa Owusa-Ansah from Indiana-Pa. always enters into the conversation. But it is another defensive back from the PSAC that has scouts excited. Sources have told us that scouts have been incredibly impressed with the play of California-Pa. cornerback Terrence Johnson and some teams have him rated in the middle rounds. On film Johnson is mechanically sound with solid ball skills. He barely measures 5-feet, 9-inches, which may turn some teams away.
– Hillsdale offensive tackle Jared Veldheer is moving up draft boards. Veldheer possesses eye-popping numbers at 6-feet, 7.5-inches and 321-pounds. He’s also run a verified 4.88-forty. Sources we’ve spoken with said Veldheer is “this year’s Sebastian Volmer”.
– Missouri State tight end Clay Harbor, a player we’ve been high on for more than a year, is making a big move up draft boards and teams have him rated as early as the fourth round. Harbor is a natural receiver with reliable hands. He weighs in at 245-pounds and sources think that despite his verified forty time of 4.75-seconds, Harbor is actually a legit 4.5-forty guy. What’s really improved about his game this season is his blocking. Harbor has always been someone who gave effort blocking yet got marginal results. The game that really started to change the tide of opinion on Harbor’s blocking was Northern Iowa when he manhandled the Panthers highly rated defensive end James Ruffin.
– A number of scouts love UMass offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse and we concur. Sources have told us they expect Ducasse to make a William Beatty type move up draft boards as April approaches.
– On film Abilene Christian offensive tackle Tony Washington is easily the best small school player at his position. In fact several scouts from the southwest area feel Washington could be one of the top three senior tackles in the nation. Unfortunately Washington has some major character issues in his past that are raising red-flags. A number of teams have already removed his name from their board.
– Keep an eye on William & Mary defensive end Adrian Tracy. He’s been impressive this season with 14.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. Tracy is starting to draw comparisons to San Francisco 49er linebacker Parys Haralson.