Tomorrow, as I'm sure all of you know, is the 2008 NFL Draft. And tomorrow, the Kansas Jayhawks' three year stretch of going 0fer in the Draft will end, as up to six Jayhawks could, quite possibly, hear their name called on either Saturday or Sunday. This makes it one of the most exciting NFL Drafts of all time from a KU perspective, with a potential first rounder (Aqib Talib), a potential first-dayer (Anthony Collins) and four other potential picks in the later rounds (Marcus Henry, Derek Fine, Brandon McAnderson and James McClinton in order of likelihood to be drafted). Here is just a brief rundown of where you should expect all six of them to be drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent.
CB Aqib Talib :: 1st-to-Early 2nd
Talib is the cream of this Kansas crop of draftees, having once been thought of by NFL "expert" Mel Kiper Jr. as a Top 10 pick. However, Talib's 'good' showing at the Combine in Indianapolis was overshadowed by 'great' performances from small-schoolers Leodis McKelvin (Troy) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State). Those two will almost assuredly go ahead of him, but after that the next corner taken is largely based off the teams' preference. Talib could be the third corner taken, but he could also slide as far as the sixth corner taken, behind other similar prospects in Mike Jenkins (South Florida), Antoine Cason (Arizona), Brandon Flowers (Virginia Tech) and maybe, possibly behind Justin King (Penn State). A large portion of this drop has to do with his admission of thrice testing positive for marijuana while at KU, now thought to be the cause of his multiple suspensions while in Lawrence. This has led him to supposedly be "taken off the boards" of certain teams, leaving his list of potential employers less than the 32 teams in the NFL. That being said, he could still potentially find himself being drafted in the top half of the first round, and most likely will still be one of the 31 names called by Roger Goodell.
Best Case Scenario :: #10 -- New Orleans Saints
Worst Case Scenario :: #35 -- Kansas City Chiefs (Second Round)
In-Between Possibilities :: #11 (Buffalo), #16 (Arizona), #17 (Kansas City), #19 (Philadelphia), #20 (Tampa Bay), #21 (Washington), #22 (Dallas), #23 (Pittsburgh), #28 (Dallas), #31 (New York Giants)
Honestly, he could go just about anywhere between #10 and #35, but those are his biggest chances at getting taken. My money is at #22 with Dallas, but he will almost assuredly be gone if he is still there for Dallas' second pick at #28. And if you want to read a Q&A with him, courtesy of Pro Football Weekly, click here.
OT Anthony Collins :: Early 2nd-to-Early 3rd
Collins was recruited to Kansas having played organized football for a little over two years, and had spent most of those two years on the defensive side of the football. After devoting much of his childhood to the game he loves, basketball, he was finally convinced as a sophomore in high school that football was the way he was going to make the big-bucks, not basketball. So, he played some high school ball, got recruited to come to Kansas, and after red-shirting a year (as did Aqib Talib) he took over the right tackle position his sophomore year. After a successful year there, he switched sides in 2007, moving to left tackle and dominating the opposition there enough to be an Outland Trophy finalist (losing to Glenn Dorsey) and a second team All-American. So, despite his short football life, he is now in the NFL Draft, and could go anywhere from early in the second round to the second day. This is an outstanding Draft for offensive tackles, which is a positive thing for the Chiefs and a negative thing for Anthony Collins, who in most years would be a legit first round candidate. However, this year Jake Long (already made the #1 overall selection), Chris Williams, Jeff Otah and Ryan Clady are all firmly above him, with Brandon Albert (technically a guard but can supposedly, possibly move to tackle), Sam Baker and Gosder Cherilus all likely above him as well. This forces him into the second at the earliest, despite the incredible need for offensive line help throughout the NFL. As always.
Best Case Scenario :: #37 -- Atlanta
Worst Case Scenario :: #66 -- Kansas City
In-Between Possibilities :: #42 (Denver), #44 (Chicago), #48 (Atlanta), #53 (Pittsburgh), #56 (Green Bay), #57 (Miami), #60 (Green Bay), #64 (Miami), #65 (St. Louis)
He will likely fall somewhere in the 40ish range, most likely to Atlanta at #48. Still, he could sneak his way into the first couple picks of the second, as well as facing the possibility of a drop into the third round, meaning he wouldn't hear his name called until Sunday. Either way, it likely would have made more sense for him to stay in school for another season, but nevertheless, we here at RCT wish AC all the best in the NFL.
WR Marcus Henry :: Late 5th-to-UDFA
The "late 5th" high point is awfully optimistic, as almost every single mock has him either a) being taken late in the 7th and last round or b) one of the first UDFAs to sign. He is a tall, lanky wideout who didn't even receive a scholarship offer to come to KU until a week-or-so before fall camp began, when he was discovered at an All-Star game. He wasn't invited to the Senior Bowl, but instead played in the East-West Shrine game, where he had mixed reviews. He practiced well during the week, not dropping balls and running routes well and blocking well. However, in my quick flip to ESPN, who was broadcasting the game, I saw him drop two-or-three balls, one of which was extremely catchable; right to his hands. So, not really sure if that helped his nebulous stock or hurt it. Either way he will likely be one of the "prized" UDFAs that are almost more sought after than 7th rounders, with multiple teams after his services after the Draft concludes on Sunday. Still, at least someone sees him going in the late 5th round.
Best Case Scenario :: #165 -- New York Giants
Worst Case Scenario :: UDFA
In-Between Possibilities :: Chicago, Carolina, Cincinnati, Baltimore, St. Louis, Houston, Green Bay and Kansas City
I see him, as said previously, going undrafted, then signing with one of the above-listed teams. I'll go with the Bears, if only because they seem to be the most desperate team searching for WRs, and even if they draft a couple this weekend could still use some help.
Derek Fine :: Early 7th-to-UDFA
Fine was Reesing's safety valve all last season; the go-to guy when no one else was open. This led his catch total to skyrocket, although he still struggled with drops at crucial times during the game. Still, he is a very good blocker, and will likely fit in as an H-Back type of player wherever he ends up in the NFL. He can pass block, he can run block, he can catch the ball. He can stay at TE if needed, although I do think his future in the NFL, if he has a substantial one, is as an H-Back.
Best Case Scenario :: #197 -- New England
Worst Case Scenario :: UDFA
In-Between Possibilities :: #222 (Chicago), #236 (Indianapolis), #238 (New England), Jacksonville (UDFA)
Fine is a tricky guy to project. In all actuality, that 'Best Case' of #197 may be too low, as according to this article, Jacksonville is in love with him (their last pick as of right now is 158 and 159). That article lists the three teams that are truly interested in him as New England, Chicago and Jacksonville, with me including Indy because they have a decent TE need as well. Still, I see him either being taken late in the 7th round or being signed as an UDFA. I'll predict Chicago at 222, just because I wouldn't want Fine to go up to New England.
Brandon McAnderson :: UDFA
BMac came to Kansas as a special-teams-player-to-be, or so it seemed. He moved to FB from his high school position of LB his sophomore season, and had a goal-line duty his junior year, essentially serving as the backup and short-range compliment to the all-everything Jon Cornish. Then, last season, after splitting time with Jake Sharp, he emerged as the lead runner for the Jayhawks, and while still splitting time with the quicker Sharp, received the vast majority of carries from there on out. He has zero chance of being a RB in the NFL, but has a long-shot possibility of becoming a bruising, blocking FB in the NFL, a dying bread.
Best Case Scenario :: FB-friendly scheme
Worst Case Scenario :: Nobody signs him
He has almost zero chance of having his name called this weekend, but an excellent chance of at least getting a trip to someone's training camp. My money is on him signing with the hometown Chiefs, just because I don't want to sift through the other teams that need a FB, and often the hometown team is more willing to offer more marginal players trips to training camp.
DT James McClinton :: UDFA
I absolutely love McClinton, but his undersized frame has little chance of lasting in the NFL. Sure, he should get picked up and get a ticket to a training camp somewhere in America.
Best Case Scenario :: Signed as an UDFA
Worst Case Scenario :: Not signed as an UDFA
I've got nothing as far as where he is to go.
That's all I got as far as the 2008 NFL Draft goes. I will update whenever any Jayhawks get drafted/signed, and do a recap-type-post on Monday reviewing all of the Jayhawks' fortunes.