From the diaries. -N
The NFL draft is coming up at the end of the month in New York. And while we don't have as much to talk about as Texas and SC fans, we've got a few guys in the running that deserve a little discussion.
We've got a big group of guys hoping for a phone call on April 29-30, including Spencer Havner OLB, Jarrad Page S, Justin London ILB, Mike McCloskey OC, Ed Blanton OT, Robert Cleary OG, Kyle Morgan DE, Wesley Walker OLB. But most of the attention will fall on Marcedes Lewis TE, Maurice Drew RB and Drew Olson QB.
The "experts" at ESPN have accessed these guys up and down. For Marcedes:Lewis saw time in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2002, finishing with six receptions for 51 yards with one touchdown. He started eight of the 13 games he played as a sophomore in 2003 and notched 30 catches for 377 yards and three touchdowns. As a junior in 2004, Lewis finished with 30 receptions for 360 yards and seven touchdowns. He surpassed that production as a senior in 2005, when he finished with 58 receptions for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns. Lewis still has room to improve in terms of his blocking technique, lower-body strength and overall route running savvy. His lack of straight-line speed could also hurt him on draft day. However, we still view Lewis as a potential impact maker in the NFL. After adding bulk and strength last offseason, Lewis was an improved blocker in 2005. He also has the frame, hands and athletic ability to generate mismatches in the passing game. In our opinion, Lewis warrants consideration late in the first round and he would be a steal if he falls to the middle of Round 2.
For Maurice:Drew became the first freshman since DeShaun Foster in 1998 to lead UCLA in rushing, as he finished the 2002 season with 582 yards and five touchdowns on 135 carries. He also caught 15 passes for 104 yards while finishing 14th nationally with an average of 26.6 yards per kickoff with two TD's. Drew was hampered by an ankle sprain and a calf injury during his sophomore season in 2004 but he still finished with a team-high 1,007 yards and eight TD's on 160 carries, while catching 18 passes for 262 yards and three TD's. He also averaged 15.2 yards per punt return (with a TD) and 26.4 yards per kickoff return that season. Drew earned All-American recognition as an all-purpose back during his junior season in 2005, when he finished with 914 yards on 186 carries and 453 yards on 31 receptions, while also averaging 28.5 yards on 15 PR's and 13.8 yards on five KOR's. In total, Drew finished the 2005 season ranked 13th in all-purpose yards (155.25) and also contributed 20 touchdowns. In many ways, Drew reminds us of Eagles RB Brian Westbrook. Drew is a bit more compact and strong, while Westbrook shows a little bit more open-field explosiveness, but both are tremendously versatile backs that can contribute as runners, receivers and return men. Unfortunately, also like Westbrook, Drew lacks size and comes with his fair share of durability concerns. The team that drafts Drew cannot plan on using him as a featured back. However, if used properly in a versatile role, Drew should emerge as a potential game-changing weapon. That's why we consider Drew's value to be in the second-to-third round range of the 2006 class.
And for Drew Olsen:Olson started five games in 2002 and he started nine of the twelve games he appeared in during the 2003 season. He started twelve games during the 2004 season throwing. As a junior, he threw for 2,565 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. As a senior in 2005, he completed 64-percent of his attempts for 3,198 yards, 34 touchdowns and six interceptions. Olson is essentially a four-year starter with excellent experience. The knee injury he sustained at the end of his junior season raises concerns about his long-term durability. However, Olson bounced back extremely well as a senior in 2005 and showed no ill-effects. He lacks ideal height and he is not a good athlete. However, Olson's accuracy, consistency and confidence are much improved. He has the instincts and arm strength to develop into a productive pocket passer as a backup quarterback in the NFL, which is why we grade Olson out as a fifth round prospect in the 2006 draft.
More from Maurice in his own words click here.
If your interested in such things, Mel Kiper, Pat Kirwan and Mike Mayock all project Marcedes as the 2nd TE pick. Vic Carucci has Marcedes as the 4th TE, and provides a few notes. Kirwan also has Maurice as the 8th RB pick, and Mayock has him as the 7th.
For their part, ESPN projects Marcedes as the 3rd ranked player at in his position and 32nd overall; Maurice projects to 7th by position and 71st overall; and DO is slotted as 10th in his position.
I don't know enough about the other players in the draft to provide much commentary. But I'd be interested to hear what everyone thinks about the way things are shaking out. I also wonder how much some of these players stock would have gone up had we managed to beat Arizona and make a game of it against USC.
I'm sure we'll hear more as the draft gets closer. But, for now, good luck to our Bruins in the draft.