No, not the one that all the libs said W was going to impose, the NFL one. Sort of like signing day for college football, draft weekend is Christmas for NFLophiles, although the presents are much more expensive unless you're UT, A&M or SMU, although SMU received the ultimate lump of coal in June Jones, but who's counting... Ok I am, $2 million per victory. I'm just sayin, but I digress.
Anyway, until this past season TCU has had a nice run of prospects go in the draft in the Patterson era, and had Tommy Blake not gotten his Sigmund Freud on, the streak would have continued, although I'm still surprised Roach didn't get a late round pick up. However, none of that matters now because this year we're guaranteed at least 2 picks with room for a possible third, depending on who you believe. The whole concept of the mock draft is such a worthless crapshoot but also more addicting to fans than meth is for an SFA student. Seriously, Mel Kiper makes perhaps seven figures MAKING INCORRECT DECISIONS FOR A LIVING! I think he also receives stock options in Aquanet. What a country, man, what a country.
Ok ok, so TCU has, according to what I've seen, seven players who have tossed their names into the NFL draft hat. These guys fall into 3 categories - "Yes, NFL love you long time" "Maybe, but probably as a Free Agent as long as you don't pull an OJ" and "Hunter S Thompson driving around in the desert in a convertible with a flyswatter on LSD has a better chance of hitting one of those bats than you do at being drafted." Let's break it down. Note: I used ESPNs database of prospects, but used SIs analysis because I've never wanted to pay to be an Insider. This will come into play later:
- Jason Phillips/Waller's Finest. Everything I've read, and everything that I'm sure you have read, is pretty much guaranteeing Phillips a mid round selection, with some slotting J Phil as high as 3rd and some as low as 6th. He projects as an inside linebacking prospect because scouts do not see him as much of a pass rusher. Still, have they watched the film because whenever that guy got into the backfield he rarely missed. Yes, I understand the whole college to pros conundrum that exists, but GP dismissed all doubters of his size by comparing Phillips to another LB who was too small coming out of college - Zach Thomas, Tetch, although perhaps scouts were saying that to mask the fact that they were afraid of his decision making abilities at ILB due to his pedigree. Given Thomas wasn't anything special with the Cowboys, that guy was an absolute murderer (not the Ray Lewis kind) for the Dolphins, and as some mocks have had Phillips going to the Boys, maybe he can change the way we feel about the undersized LB. The biggest concern with Phillips is the fact that he did have surgery this off season, but few if any scouts see that as a major concern. If anyone is worried about his durability, may I direct you to the fact that he missed one game due to injury in his entire career, despite starting as a true freshman? Anyway, Phillips is one of the best linebackers to ever play in the MWC without a doubt, and, with a little added size, I don't see how the guy can't have a decent career at the next level.
- Stephen Hodge/The 903-187er. My my, where to even begin with Stephen Hodge? This was the guy that was always overshadowed on our defense, whether it be by Tommy Blake two years ago or that slaughterhouse known as our linebackers last year, but who was always one of the top 3 players on defense. You guys may have seen his work in the Poinsettia Bowl, because he had 145 tackles and almost single handedly won the game, not to mention his first career INT came at the biggest possible moment. Seriously, watch the game again - Hodge made every single tackle for our defense. If you don't have it on TIVO retainer, just go out one night with WWHD, because his outings always culminate in a late night viewing of the defensive series from that game, the presence of girls be damned. Hodge was easily the most fun player to watch on our defense last year not because he was so good, although he was so, so good, but mostly because of the way he tackled. Hodge didn't just tackle people: he grabbed, flung, maimed, conquered and pillaged opposing players. Seriously, the Poinsettia Bowl should be all the film scouts need to understand that this guy is for real, and I think perhaps a better prospect than Phillips. He's slated to go in the mid to late rounds and projects as a pass rushing OLB, although he may not possess the height some teams hope for. Two things are helping him this year, one being that more and more teams are switching to the 3-4 and need speed on the outside, and second that he's apparently related to Bears coach Lovie Smith. I'm not saying that guarantees him anything, but if Pat Knight, one of the poorest coaches to ever happen into our lives, can get a head coaching job at any level of competitive basketball because of his raving lunatic father, anything is possible when it comes to family ties. Being from East Texas, though, this has to be taken with a grain of salt because we're all related somewhere along the line, and I'm probably even in that Lovie tree somewhere.
- Robert Henson/(Insert Hyperbole). RH-51, our own resident Bill Brasky. Killer to see him go, partially because of the obvious Longview connection, but also because he was the heart and soul of the defense. Seriously, no one could get the team and the crowd more fired up than Henson did in my now 7 seasons as a Frogs fan and I'm not sure who fills that void next season. Apparently Hughes has stepped up and become a vocal leader, but there's just something about having a hard hitting LB as that guy that really gets the rage flowing. During the season I thought there was no way that Henson wouldn't be a drafted prospect, and could possible go higher than Phillips. Now I'm definitely not so sure. A lot of people, myself included, lost a lot of respect for Henson after he missed the Poinsettia Bowl due to academic ineligibility, none more so than Patterson who still addresses that situation as an example of a guy who had it all laid out before him but probably cost himself millions. As evidenced by San Francisco's psychoanalysis of Matt Stafford, teams are infinitely more concerned with character issues when it comes to handing a 22 year old millions of dollars because of the economic downturn. Not that a late round selection is much of a financial burden on a team as far as guaranteed money, but you see what I'm saying. Anyway, I ran into Henson a couple of months ago at a Mavericks game where he was fuming about not being invited to the combine - I was also a little surprised at this - but said things were going well in training and how he'd already had conversations with several NFL teams. He's listed as an ILB prospect, and with his size that seems like a perfect fit, but for some reason I could also see him as a Roy Williams - before he was terrible - hard hitting SS? I don't know, I'm no judge of these things. Anyway, considering I've seen no mention of him among any of the various publications I've read, I still think he'll be a free agent pick up, but he'd be a steal in a late round.
- Aaron Brown. Tired of giving nicknames. Oh AB. AB AB AB. What could've been, man? If not for the multitude of injuries along the way, Brown would've been one of the preeminent running backs in TCU football history, one that we'd all remember for a long time. Instead, all we'll remember is wasted potential. He'll always be part of the greatest senior class ever, though, can't take that away from him. AB is listed as an RB in the draft, but I think we all know he's a likely slot receiver with that 6'0", 196 lb frame. However, if he is to be drafted, and I do not think that he will, a team will likely sign him based on his dependability in the return game. Look for him to be another free agent pickup for the Frogs. He's got to be a better returner than Pacman was for the Boys this year, right?
- Shae Reagan/250 lb HS QB. Definitely deserved a nickname because of that fact and officially my sleeper pick for the Frogs in this draft. Unfortunately, much like AB, Reagan never reached his full potential due to massive injuries, including a broken leg during his junior season. GP remarked several times that if Reagan could stay healthy, he had a legitimate shot to be playing on Sundays, and I think that potential is still there. While only being listed at 6'3" - most NFL TEs are in the 6'5"-6'6" range - Reagan still checks in at 243 pounds and could easily put on a little more meat in an offseason program. Reagan's case wasn't helped much last year due to Dalton opting to scramble more often than he dumped it off to a TE, and being on the same team as Kerley, Bryant and Luxury Tax didn't help either, but I think a team may take a flier on the guy. His injury history will keep him from being drafted, but I think someone brings him into camp as a free agent. Let's hope for the best because this guy could've been great.
... Way too long to abbreviate, so I'll just go with "no stamp!"
- Blake Schlueter/Flozell Adams, jr. Schlueter went into his senior season being touted as Mr. Big Stuff on the OL and his past play gave us no reason to doubt him. Unfortunately, something happened to this guy in the off season because he mentally never got it going. It's pretty tough for your center to false start because he controls the ball prior to the snap and should be the most well versed in the snap count of anyone on offense, but Blake still had lots of problems with this. Beyond that though, I think his size may also be an issue, checking in at 6'2" 286. When you're going up against DTs like Cleveland's Shaun Rogers who comes in around 3.5 large, Schlueter would get mauled. Obviously it's feasible that he could pack on some pounds, but I just don't think he has the quickness, nor did he do anything this past season to impress the scouts. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the guy has a future in the NFL.
- James Vess. I applaud the guy for giving it a shot, and if I was a college football player with even the tiniest of tiny hopes of getting drafted I'd certainly throw my hat in the ring just because you can always say you did, but there's no way Vess is getting picked up. Character issues aside, and apparently they're there considering he was suspended an entire season, he's just not big enough to be a DT in the NFL. He's almost 6'3", but when you come in weighing only 266 pounds, that's a problem; by comparison, the draft's top DT prospect is B.J. Raji out of Boston College who is 6'1" and 323 pounds. Quite a bit of difference. Vess did a great job coming back last season after missing his junior year with GP going so far as to say that having him back was the most important off season development for the entire team. Still, dont' see this guy making any noise in the NFL.
- Cody Moore. Feel pretty similarly about him and Vess. Really, just read the above paragraph and remove the character issues part.
So there you have it, our seven prospects and one man's completely objective thoughts on them. We had other guys participate in senior day - Walter Bryant, Steven Coleman, Giles Montgomery - but I guess they were not interested in seeing what the NFL had in store for them. Out of those guys only Bryant surprises me because of his size, but dude has no idea where the sideline was half the time, so I suppose that hurt him.
To give a bit of an outsiders perspective, I took a peek at where SI has our guys listed according to their rating system, and I found a few surprises. One, Reagan and Vess were not even listed as prospects by them but ESPN did list them, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Second, our highest rated prospect? Aaron Brown, with a 3.98, and no one else was even close. According to their system, a prospect who falls in this range is considered a "First Year Contributor" and could start early in his rookie season. Very, very impressive marks for AB. Following down the list, Phillips comes in second with a 3.44, and is also listed as an OLB prospect, but this puts him on the upper edge of a "Fence Prospect", which according to SI means that he has the tools but needs time to develop. It should be noted that he missed being listed as a "Future Starter" by .01. Schlueter is next with a 3.26, followed by Hodge with a 3.19 and Henson with a 3.17, which categorizes them as "Practice Squad" guys. This doesn't entirely surprise me for Schlueter and less so Henson, but Hodge??? Really??? I thought that guy would be a sure thing, and every bit as highly rated as Phillips, but like I said, these things are just the opinions of various writers and there's no real science to it. Regardless, let's hope our guys prove them wrong. Lastly, Cody Moore received a 2.89 rating, which makes him a "Free Agent" prospect and likely to make an 80 man roster somewhere. I feel the same way about Moore as I do about Vess.
Furthermore, Brown is considered the THIRD BEST RB in the COUNTRY according to this rating!!! Whoa... that just blew my mind. He's actually not that far behind Beanie Wells or Knowshon, although they are viewed as "Quality Prospects" No mock I have seen to this point has listed AB as being drafted, but maybe scouts are coming around? Regardless, keep a big eye on this development. For the other guys, Schlueter is listed as the 13th best center, Moore the 42nd DT, Henson the 17th ILB, Phillips the 15th OLB and Hodge as the 27th S. So you can see how the ESPN and SI ratings differ along a lot of lines as they do not list the same prospects and for Hodge at least did not even list him as the same position.
Being that Dallas has no first round pick, and given that even with the shortened time between picks the first round still drags on FOREVER, I don't see myself watching too much of the early draft. This isn't even mentioning the Mavs/Spurs conflict (draft now starts at 3PM). However, unless something catastrophic happens and every single pundit is wrong, which isn't so catastrophic now that I think about it, Phillips and Hodge should go during the middle of day two of the draft so for those of you with interest in the future of these guys beyond TCU, it may be worth checking in on from time to time. Besides, what else are you going to do on a Sunday afternoon, go to bingo?