As the season has ended for many teams around the nation and the news heading towards the draft heats up, especially for the underclassmen, this will be your one stop for all the updated happenings. From now until January 18th we will update our live wire with all the information that will impact the 2011 NFL Draft, primarily targeting the underclassmen. Update January 12th: Updates on Georgia…
– While offensive lineman Cordy Glenn and cornerback Brandon Boykin have announced they will return to Georgia for their senior seasons, defensive end/outside linebacker Justin Houston may not follow suit. Sources tonight have told us there’s a 90% chance Houston enters the draft.
Update January 11th
– Sources have told us tonight that LSU running back Stevan Ridley will enter the draft. Ridley will begin training for the combine this week in Florida.
– Though no official announcement has been made, Ridley’s teammate, cornerback Patrick Peterson, will also start training for the combine in the Sunshine State this week.
– Sources have told us Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd, once a given to enter the draft, has been waffling back and forth as to where his immediate future lies in the sport. Floyd is trying to decide which is wiser; entering this year’s draft and being selected in the first half of round two or staying in South Bend then move towards the 2012 NFL Draft as the highest rated senior prospect, considering all the underclassmen at the position that have already entered.
– We hear the news on his teammate Kyle Rudolph is encouraging. You may remember Rudolph entered the draft despite undergoing surgery on a hamstring injury in October which could have shelved him for up to 8 months. Sources today told us Rudolph is recovering well and a workout at the combine from the big tight end has not been ruled out. It will be a TBD type of situation for Rudolph yet the news is encouraging.
– Continuing to follow the story of Matt Reynolds, the BYU tackle has decided to stay for his senior season and will not enter the draft. Reynolds received a fourth round grade from the advisory committee. He recently underwent surgery to repair the torn labrum we reported several months ago.
– Vinny Curry of Marshall is still seriously considering entering the draft. He is still awaiting his grade from the advisory committee and is hoping it projects him to be a 3rd/4th rounder. Privately teams have told him he’ll likely fall a little deeper into the draft. Evidently Curry is likely to tear up his pro-day or combine workout if he enters the draft as sources have told us the 255-pounder ran 4.65 in the forty last spring.
– In what was a startling decision which reverberated around the football world and will profoundly effect the draft, Andrew Luck announced today he will return to Stanford for another season and bypass the NFL for at least one more year. Back on September 20th we posted that those intimate with the situation told us Luck would enter the draft. The same day we posted Jim Harbaugh would likely move on to the NFL, albeit the front runner for the San Diego job. Luck, the consensus number one pick had he decided to enter the draft, surprised everyone with his announcement. Was it the right decision? Andrew Luck feels the decision is best for him and we won’t, don’t and can’t disagree. This in no way diminishes his ability nor our admiration for a player we called the “most NFL ready of any quarterback in the nation” on SI.com back in August and the “most complete quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning” during the SI.com Orange Bowl preview. You can hear more during our video segment today on SI.com.
– In essence this is a double whammy for the Carolina Panthers. Not only do they lose out on the opportunity to draft a potential franchise quarterback based on Luck’s decision but cannot afford to take a chance on a potential impact defensive player by making Robert Quinn the first selection of the draft. D’Quan Bowers is just one of the names that enters the conversation for the draft’s top pick.
– Speaking of Bowers, we twittered earlier that he has signed with BTI Sports and have also heard that the light may have gone on and the explosive pass rusher is starting to mature as a person; both go hand-in-hand. Bowers is said to have been profoundly effected by the recent passing of his father and is taking more responsibility for himself. Throughout the agent process we were privy to the fact several unscrupulous agents were offering the talented defensive lineman all sorts of goodies and making promises they could not keep. The fact Bowers went low-key with an agency known for doing business properly should set the minds of NFL decision makers at ease.
– JJ Watt made official what we reported on 1-1, he’s entering the draft. Watt told people this evening he has signed on with CAA.
– Sources have told us they expect the top ranked Nebraska Blackshirt juniors to return for their senior seasons. Several have confirmed to us that cornerback Alfonzo Dennard will return while earlier in the day the feeling was both Jared Crick and Lavonte David will do the same.
– Its’ looking more and more as though Ohio State center Mike Brewster will enter the draft. Sources told us this evening that several of Brewster’s teammates said the number one ranked center has told them he is leaving for the NFL.
– The anticipated performance of Villanova offensive tackle Ben Ijalana at the Senior Bowl won’t take place. Ijalana is recovering from sports hernia surgery and won’t participate in Mobile. He should hopefully be 100% by the combine and definitely by Nova’s pro-day.
– Cal safety Chris Conte is shooting up draft boards. Not even graded as a camp body entering the season, the first year starter posted a career best 72 tackles, will be playing in the Shrine Game and has been invited to the combine.
Update January 4th
– Sources have told us JJ Watt received a second round grade from the advisory committee. As of today most close to the situation expect him to declare for the draft. We presently rank the Badger defensive end as a top 15 choice in April.
– Word tonight is most in the “know” expect Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams will enter the draft, something of a common theme since October.
– While the football world awaits the decision of Andrew Luck sources have told us one of his underclassmen teammates has let it be known he will enter the draft. Stanford DE/OLB Tom Keiser will enter the draft, something that he’s been considering since October. Keiser is a bit of a ‘tweener we presently rate as a later round selection.
– Yet another source we spoke with this evening thinks tonight will be the final college game for Mike Brewster and the Buckeye center will enter the draft.
– Miami Hurricane cornerback Brandon Harris made official something we brought to the attention of readers back in August; he’s entering the draft. We understand Harris delayed his decision a few days after his poor performance against Michael Floyd of Notre Dame in last week’s Sun Bowl.
– Arizona receiver Juron Criner is telling people he will return to Arizona for his senior season. Criner has stated labor issues in the NFL has him concerned and he has a desire to finish out his career with quarterback Nick Foles, who also plans to play for the Wildcats next season.
– Akeem Ayers officially acknowledged the worst kept secret in the draft world; he will enter the draft. As we tweeted today and initially reported on 12/24, Ayers has been seen driving around town in a brand new Mercedes recently.
– Marshall sackmaster Vinny Curry is exploring his draft options and receiving opinions on where he’ll be selected.
– We are again hearing chatter that Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones will enter the draft. Jones, who has struggled with injury at different times this season, is expected to play in the IAA title game on January 7th when EWU takes on Delaware.
– We alerted readers in November that Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert was seriously considering the draft and today he made it official; he’s leaving for the NFL. Earlier today sources told us those in Gabbert’s inner circle felt leaving for the NFL was in his best interest but the final decision was his alone to make. We were told the overriding factor in opting for the draft was the feeling Gabbert would not improve his draft stock all that much returning to Missouri. The biggest question surrounding Gabbert’s game is his ability to play in a pro-style offense versus the spread he runs in college. Considering Missouri plans to continue running the spread offense these questions will still be unanswered one year from now. As we told you back on 12-24, many teams presently grade Gabbert as the number two quarterback on their draft board behind Andrew Luck. With some many teams that need a quarterback owning a top ten selection there’s a real possibility Gabbert is grabbed much earlier in the draft than many presently think.
– All the players presently embroiled in the Ohio State investigation have promised to return to Columbus for the 2011 season. We hear that may not be entirely true. Sources have told us if the situation worsens and more violations are found involving the players presently suspended for the initial five games of 2011, some could opt for the draft. In fact those close to the program told us there’s a good chance running back Dan Herron could opt for the draft regardless. Herron comes off a career year yet is likely to see a reduced role next season thanks to the depth Ohio State has at the running back position.
– Two sources told us this evening that Buckeye center Mike Brewster is taking a long, long look at his options and sounds like someone ready to enter the draft. It does not seem like a final decision is imminent but there’s a real chance Brewster opts for the NFL. We presently rank Brewster below fellow Big Ten senior Stefen Wisniewski of Penn State on the center list but after a week of intense film breakdown that will change as we now feel Brewster is definitely the top center prospect in the nation.
– Another Big Ten star that looks like he’s heading for the draft is Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure. Leshoure has been checking out his options and evidently has a group of “advisers” helping him. According to once source Leshoure has “done all he can” at Illinois and there’s little reason for him to return, in part because his bruising style will lead to more wear and tear on the college level.
– We hear Leshoure’s teammate Corey Liuget is about “80/20” towards leaving for the NFL.
– Considering the coaching changes taking place at Indiana plus the graduation of quarterback Ben Chappell, we were not surprised to hear Tandon Doss was entering the draft. We recently rated Doss as a third round pick in our wide receiver rankings and feel he’ll be a productive third wide out in the NFL.
– Out in Arizona State we hear junior defensive tackle Lawrence Guy is still undecided where he’ll play next season though there’s still a good chance he could enter the draft.
– One player that’s seemingly had a change of plans is BYU tackle Matt Reynolds. We’ve been reporting since September Reynolds would enter the draft once the season ended. Then came the news Reynolds suffered a torn labrum for the second time in late September, an injury which will require surgery to repair and a four-to-sixth month rehabilitation period. This puts Reynolds in a tough spot; if he had the surgery after the season he would not be able to work out for teams prior to the draft- if he waited until after the combine he’ll miss all of training camp. Many have advised Reynolds to return to Provo for his senior season and the big tackle is likely to go that route.
– Kentucky wide receiver/return specialist Randall Cobb is looking at his draft options and a source tells us he’s “on the fence” as to what he’ll do. We hear UK head coach Joker Phillips is working hard to keep Cobb.
– In somewhat of a surprise sources have told us that Boston College cornerback Donnie Fletcher is looking at his draft options. Fletcher is a solid prospect with a great deal of upside but a junior who needs another year to complete his game.
– Sources close to the situation told us earlier today that JJ Watt of Wisconsin is 99% heading towards the draft. In fact Watt has evidently narrowed his choice of agents down to just two. The source says it would be a bigger surprise at this point if Watt stays at Wisconsin for his senior season, though head coach Bret Bielema will do his best to re-recruit Watt. We’ve maintained all along that Watt will not only be a first round pick but will go much earlier in the frame than many are predicting.
– Another coach working overtime to keep his juniors in fold is Georgia’s Mark Ricth. On the hot seat before UGA’s New Years Eve loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl, we’ve already reported that Ricth has promised Cordy Glenn the left tackle spot if he returns for his senior season. Sources have said its’ a full court press by Richt to hold onto the other underclassmen considering making the jump. The list includes defensive end/outside linebacker Justin Houston, offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant and cornerback Brandon Boykin. We hear unlike AJ Green, who will announce he’s entering the draft any day now, the other three are undecided at this point and still awaiting their grades from the advisory committee.
– As we first reported on this page Christmas Eve, today will be the last college game for Jordan Todman as the running back from UConn is set to enter the draft. What is surprising is how highly scouts think of Todman. Many have told us they feel he will be a better NFL runner than his predecessor from the Huskies, Donald Brown.
– Aaron Williams of Texas made official what we first told listeners during our podcast of October 27th, he received a first round grade from the advisory and is will enter the NFL draft. To repeat what we also said that month, many in the scouting community are more fond of Williams’ ball skills compared to the highly rated Patrick Peterson of LSU.
– Everyone loves a sleeper and one of the names making the rounds in the scouting community is New Mexico offensive left tackle Byron Bell. Scouts love Bell’s size and movement skills. Bell played one game as a true freshman in 2007 before being sidelined the rest of the season with an injury. The NCAA initially declined his request for a medical hardship for the season. Rather than fight the ruling Bell will enter the draft with the hopes of playing in the NFL this season.
– Sources on hand in San Antonio for last night’s Alamo Bowl have told us it looks like Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon will enter the draft. Blackmon has a large entourage following him around and the word from those in the Oklahoma State camp was “he’s gone“. We will look to receiver further confirmation in the coming days.
– Still no word as to whether Arizona Wildcat receiver Juron Criner enters the draft from last night. Speculation is Criner will sit down with Arizona coach Mike Stoops to review the grade he received from the advisory committee and analyze his options.
– It looks more and more like a foregone conclusion that Utah cornerback Brandon Burton will enter the draft.
– Sources have told us that Cal running back Shane Vereen will enter the draft. Scouts have graded the ball carrier anywhere between a 3rd and 5th round prospect.
– The word in Tuscaloosa is that receiver Marquis Maze will enter the draft.
– Sources have said that despite public statements to the contrary, AJ Green will enter the draft and the Georgia receiver should make his announcement public by no later than Sunday.
– During our August preview of the Georgia pro-prospects we targeted offensive lineman Cordy Glenn as a player we really like. Evidently we are not alone. Beside scouts being high on the underclassman we understand Bulldogs coach Mark Richt has promised Glenn a chance to play left tackle if he returns for his senior season. A successful campaign at the position in 2011 will drive Glenn’s draft stock through the roof.
– Sources once again confirmed something we first told you during our podcast of October 27th; despite a serious hamstring injury which sidelined him for most of the season and will take months to rehabilitate, Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph will enter the draft.
– We are hoping to have an update on Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon sometime today. As of right now the talented red-shirt sophomore was 50/50 on his future plans.
– On the NFL coaching front several sources have given us the speculation inside the league including a possible Jim Harbaugh/Andrew Luck package to California and Gary Kubiak being the next head coach in Denver. Seems Kubiak is a favorite of owner Pat Bowlen.
– Back on September 20th we speculated that Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh would be in line for an NFL coaching job. Our thinking at the time was the San Diego Chargers being a possibility, depending on how the team fared. Reports this morning have circulated that the San Fransisco 49ers have Harbaugh on their short list of head coaching candidates. This is important as it will have a major impact on the decision of Andre Luck, who we reported that same day as leaning towards the entering NFL draft.
– Tonight’s Insight Bowl between Missouri and Iowa could be the final game for a number of underclassmen. We mentioned the state of affairs with Aldon Smith and Blaine Gabbert in out Christmas Eve update. Moments ago sources intimate with the Hawkeye program told us Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater is also seriously considering making the jump to the NFL.
While much of this recent update was highlighted in our podcast posted yesterday from December 23rd, there’s has been plenty of new insider news which will soon be broken across the draft world.
– We hear several general managers who own the very early picks of round one have been poking around and asking what is the latest on Andrew Luck. Some think its because of a lack of information on what Luck will do but we believe there is nervous anxiety from the teams who are likely to be at the top of the 2011 draft and hope to pick up this tremendous quarterback prospect. Our belief has been confirmed by several people.
– Late word yesterday had sources telling us Missouri junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert is knee deep into making a decision on whether or not to opt for the draft, something we spoke about in the beginning of November. We hear Gabbert’s decision could be based on what Andrew Luck does; if Luck enters the draft Gabbert is more prone to stay in college and vice versa. It may be tough for Gabbert to stay at Mizzou if he bases his decision on the evaluation of NFL teams. Franchises which have openly spoken about Gabbert have said they rank him as the number two draft eligible quarterback for the 2011 draft- only behind Luck yet ahead of every other senior and underclassmen.
– We confirmed something late yesterday we spoke about earlier in our podcast- Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith will enter the draft. The underclassman, who struggled with an injured leg through most of the season, is in the final phase of picking an agent.
– Sources have told us it is very likely that UConn running back Jordan Todman will enter the draft. Todman is highly considered in scouting circles as many think he is a better running back compared to former Husky Donald Brown. UConn coach Randy Edsall has also given Todman glowing reviews.
– Arizona Wildcat receiver Juron Criner will take his time before making a final decision on his future. Sources say the grade Criner receives from the advisory committee will weigh heavy on his final choice. Many west coast scouts have already stamped Criner with a first round grade.
– While we fully expect BYU tackle Matt Reynolds to enter the draft but sources have told us Reynolds is stating he will wait until he receives his grade from the advisory committee before making a final decision. Evidently Reynolds is hoping for at least a third round grade. If he gets the grade he wants and officially declares for the draft don’t expect Reynolds to have surgery on his torn labrum until after the combine.
– As we stated at the top of our podcast, North Carolina junior Robert Quinn is in the Los Angeles area training for the combine. Quinn is working with the same firm/agent that represents Julius Peppers. It is not clear when Quinn will officially declare for the draft.
– There have been a lot of changes at Temple recently with the departure of their very successful coach Al Golden, who now takes over the struggling Miami Hurricane program. As is the case with the departure of any head coach, talented underclassmen recruits usually follow. Sources have told us that defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson has told many around him he will enter the draft and has spoken with a number of people on the outside in preparation. Wilkerson grades out as a first round talent but will likely fall into the second frame due to the depth available on the defensive line in next April’s draft.
– Though he’s publicly stated he will return for another season with the Cornhuskers, talented linebacker Lavonte David will get a draft grade from the advisory committee.
– Back on September 27th we alerted readers that UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers was likely to enter the draft and sources have told us the junior is on his way to the NFL. We understand Ayers has been seen recently driving around campus in a brand new Mercedes Benz.
– According to one reliable source Ayers teammate Rahim Moore is also set to enter the draft. This is really the first we heard of this and will continue to follow the situation.
– Sources have further confirmed that they expect Florida safety Will Hill to enter the draft.
– Receiver Torrey Smith won’t be the only underclassmen leaving Maryland early. Sources have told us his teammate, safety Kenny Tate, will also make himself eligible for the 2011 draft.
– Robert Sands is considering leaving West Virginia and opting for the draft. Sources have said the safety will go through the process but has not made his mind up yet.
– We understand west coast scouts have been raving about Boise State junior safety George Iloka. Though he does not get the same notoriety of his teammate Jeron Johnson, Iloka is highly considered in scouting circles.
– A league insider who reads this site and is intimately involved with the labor situation in the NFL posed an interesting question to us yesterday; assuming there is a lockout before the draft, then the draft takes place, what are the owners going to do about undrafted free agents? Presently a lockout would prevent them from signing a contract with individual players until a new CBA is hashed out- do the owners change the rules and allow themselves to sign a few of these players after the seven rounds of the 2011 draft is complete? Stay tuned…..
– Sources have told us that Ryan Miller of Colorado will go through the process of getting his draft grade from the advisory committee and is seriously considering entering the draft. We presently grade Miller number seven on our list of draftable guards. Others we’ve spoken with give him a higher grade.
– Sources have told us Illinois junior defensive lineman Corey Liuget is leaning heavily towards entering the draft.
– In conversations with insiders we’ve received rankings on the wide outs from a number of teams and there are some surprises. Here are the rankings for the senior receivers:
1) Jerrel Jernigan/Troy State
2) Leonard Hankerson/Miami
3) Titus Young/Boise State
4) Greg Salas/Hawaii
5) Dwayne Harris/East Carolina
6) Matt Szczur/Villanova
7) Vincent Brown/San Diego State
8) Niles Paul/Nebraska
9) Ronald Johnson/USC
10) Greg Little/North Carolina
11) Denarius Moore/Tennessee
12) Cecil Shorts/Mount Union
13) Austin Pettis/Boise State
14) Armon Binns/Cincinnati
15) Dane Sanzenbacher/Ohio State
16) Jeff Maehl/Oregon
17) Edmund Gates/Abilene Christian
18) Terrance Toliver/LSU
19) Jordan White/Western Michigan
20) Lester Jean/Florida Atlantic
No receiver was given a first round grade. Szczur, who left the semi-final game this week, was given a mid 4th round grade. Niles Paul late 4th, Cecil Shorts mid 5th, Edmind Gates mid 6th.
Here’s how they rate the underclassmen wide outs:
1) AJ Green/Georgia
2) Jonathan Baldwin/Pittsburgh
3) Justin Blackmon/Oklahoma St
4) Julio Jones/Alabama
5) Juron Criner/Arizona
6) Torrey Smith/Maryland
7) Michael Floyd/Notre Dame
8) Ryan Broyles/Oklahoma
9) Jeff Fuller/Texas A&M
10) Randall Cobb/Kentucky
– The national media is catching on to something we first told TFYDraftInsider readers back on September 27th; defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and offensive tackle Tyron Smith, both from USC are heading to the draft. We alerted readers last week that Smith got off to a quick start in deciding on representation. Tonight we can tell you Smith has in fact signed with a representative, will undergo a physical this weekend then begin training for the combine right after Christmas in Arizona.
– Sources have told us that Maryland receiver Torrey Smith will enter the draft. Outsiders have been telling Smith he’s a better pass catcher than former Terrapin wide out Darrius Heyward-Bey and may have the junior believing he’ll be an early first round pick. While we’ve been high on Smith and spoke glowingly about him in our August preview, and feel he could slide into the tail end of round one, we do not grade him as an early selection in the draft. We’ll have more on the situation during our podcast which will be taped Wednesday evening.
– Big news from the state of Florida. Several sources have told us Gator cornerback Janoris Jenkins will enter the draft. Also looking hard at opting for the draft is Miami receiver Travis Benjamin and defensive lineman Micanor Regis. Finally Seminoles linebacker Nigel Bradham has requested a grade from the advisory committee and we hear he is also leaning towards entering the draft.
– It seems there’s more and more chatter that Georgia’s Justin Houston may make the jump to the next level. The Bulldogs sackmaster must think long and hard about his decision as most we’ve spoken with are concerned about Houston’s ability to play in space, an opinion we agree with, and a majority of teams project him to outside linebacker.
– Sources told us tonight that Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson will go through the process of gathering information on his draft ranking and could enter next April’s event.
– Finally we’ve been told that Greg Romeus is far ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation. The senior suffered a season ending knee injury in November after returning from back surgery which forced him to the sidelines in early September. Sources have said Romeus has rebounded well from his recent knee surgery and they are keeping fingers crossed he’ll be able to perform to a degree at the combine.
– We’ll have much more in our podcast which will be posted for listening on Thursday.