When it comes to the NFL Draft and SU, we're in the wrong decade.
Dwight Freeney is great. McNabb was great. But of late, the best NFL player to emerge from our neck of CNY is Tampa Bay's Mike Williams, and he's hardly tied to the program. Safety Tanard Jackson looked like a stud, but after a second drug violation, he's not a lock to stay teammates with Williams in Tampa. Tony Fiammetta was the fullback on the NFL's worst team in 2010. The helmet catch aside, David Tyree was an Average Joe until he retired. As great as he once was, Keith Bulluck should join him in retirement.
That's why the 2011 NFL Draft is so critical to the revitalization of the SU Football program (yeah, I'm talking about it too). If HCDM's ultimate goal is a National Championship--and you know it is--he'll need future NFL players suiting up for the Orange. They'll come if there's more Freeneys and McNabbs playing Sunday ball. They won't come if Quinn Ojinnaka has to be the NFL ambassador for SU.
The prospects this year aren't can't miss guys. But, should they find themselves in the right NFL situation next weekend, they'll have a shot to blossom. And these situations are...
Delone Carter is drafted by the New Orleans Saints with the 88th overall pick (3rd round):
Using the Saints/Marrone relationship isn't enough to tie a player to New Orleans (ask this guy about that). But the Saints are in the market for a power back--a Deuce McCallister who can get the tough yards in the red zone and split carries with Pierre Thomas. Carter can provide that punch (I couldn't resist), according to fftoolbox.com:
"He (Carter) is turning into a sleeper in this year's draft. At 5-10 (which is probably being a little generous) and 215 pounds, Carter has the size to be an every down back, but also has the shiftiness and speed to break some big plays. By the third round, Carter will look like a really good running back."
And wouldn't you know it: the end of the third round is exactly where the Saints (who have four games on National television this season) hold two selections. Earlier this month, Carter visited the team on April 7th in New Orleans, and from all accounts, his suspension from the team won't hurt his draft stock. They'll have to consider the Pinstripe Bowl's first MVP, given his MVP-performance in another contest--the East-West Shrine Game (watch the first minute):
East-West Shrine Game Risers (via AloAloysius)
Doug Hogue is drafted by the New England Patriots with the 159th overall pick (5th round):
Ready for a killer pun? Doug Hogue fits the Bill...Belechick mold of blue-collar players he selects. Comedy aside, the Pats value special teams players, and Hogue can do that in the first few years of his NFL career. After that, he projects to be either a 4-3 outside linebacker, or a 3-4 inside linebacker. Having Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo in the front seven won't hurt Hogue's playmaking ability. That's why he's visited a number of teams, like the Lions, Jets, Giants, and yes, the Patriots, says PatsPulpit.com:
"In a lot of ways, with his ability to rush up the middle from the linebacker position, athleticism, and smaller size for a 3-4 inside linebacker, he (Hogue) reminds me of a poor man's Lawrence Timmons. It wouldn't surprise me to see Hogue go somewhere around the fifth round of the draft."
And with the insane amount of picks the Pats hold in this draft (9 total, and 4 in the first 2 rounds), they could take Hogue a round higher and not sweat it later. Check out this scouting video, and my apologies about the Super-Mario-dungeon style music:
Draft Preview: Doug Hogue (via foxsports)
Ryan Bartholemew is drafted by the Indianapolis Colts with the 188th over pick (6th round):
Every time Peyton Manning takes a snap, we see Jeff Saturday's rear end. Saturday is a Pro Bowler and an established vet with a few more years of NFL play in him. It's the perfect scenario for Bartholemew's behind to be in. Learn from one of the best, and then snap to Peyton Manning in the twilight of his career (that means a ton of TV coverage, folks). From National Football Post's scouting report on Barty, it seems like he's the right man to lead that Colts stretch handoff:
"...Is one of the most athletic offensive line draft prospects…the 6-foot-1, 302-pounder is slightly undersized for the position, but has ideal strength and mobility."
Look up Saturday's scouting report. They're nearly identical, which is why the Colts are looking hard at Barty. Then, of course, there's the clinic he put on for the NFL Combine...34 reps? That's crazy.
Ryan Bartholomew - Post Bench / Pre 40 Interview (via TESTSportsClubsNJ)
Derrell Smith is drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 222th overall pick (7th round):
Tampa is one of those up-and-coming teams that seems to grab a playoff spot every few years. SU's ben kind to the Bucs--if not for Sam Bradford, Williams could've been the Offensive Rookie of the Year. You know all about the Tampa-Two defense, which calls for coverage-savvy linebackers. Smith can do that and more, says CBSSports' Chad Reuter:
"Tough between-the-tackles defender who find the ball by sliding through traffic to find the ballcarrier. Unafraid to take on blockers in the hole, occasionally holding them up then making a tackle. Keeps tabs on backs and tight end in coverage over the middle, wraps up consistently after the catch. Knows where the first down marker is when making his drop."
He's a bit undersized, but at this point if draftniks are saying you can start, you're worth a selection. You tell me if you think Smith is NFL quality:
Derrell Smith Draft Profile (via ProFootballWeekly)
Consider these guys--Delone Carter, Doug Hogue, Ryan Bartholomew, Derrell Smith (and maybe, a fifth: Rob Long) the NFL torch-bearers. If one (or more) of these players can find success in the league, it'll greatly help SU's profile.
That is, of course, if there's an NFL season that'll let them showcase their talents. Enjoy the draft.