April 23, 2011

Who will be the first non-Big Six player drafted?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport. There are two questions this week, one today and one Sunday.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Who do you think will be the first non-Big Six player drafted?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
Many mock drafts have Temple DL Muhammad Wilkerson going midway through the first round, so he's probably the best bet. But I'm guessing TCU QB Andy Dalton could be the first to go. His stock seems to be rising fast. He is smart, has adequate arm strength and is a good athlete. He also won big as a collegian. Quarterbacks are at such a premium that I wouldn't be surprised if a team took him in the first round.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think it will be TCU QB Andy Dalton. Physically, he doesn't compare to Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett. But Dalton is just a winner who found a way to make plays. Yes, he benefitted from playing in a ground-oriented offense that didn't revolve around his passing, but Dalton can make the requisite throws, is tough guy and can lead. In a league that is starved for good quarterbacks, some team may snap up Dalton late in the first round. Time will tell, but he may end up being the best quarterback in this draft class.

David Fox's answer:
Most projections have Temple DL Muhammad Wilkerson as the first non-Big Six player taken in the draft. That may happen, but I wouldn't be shocked to see TCU QB Andy Dalton be the first non-Big Six player taken. Some team in the first round will need a quarterback. While Dalton might not be the flashy pick Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Mallett will be, he's a proven winner who may be irresistible for a team after the middle of the first round. This isn't a quarterback-heavy draft, so I expect the demand for Dalton to be there.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I think it will be Temple DL Muhammad Wilkerson. He was a highly productive tackle for the defense-oriented Owls, and he learned from Al Golden and Mark D'Onofrio, both of whom now are at Miami. Wilkerson's versatility means he also could play end for a team that uses a 3-4 set. He's tough against the run and has some pass-rush ability as well. I know TCU QB Andy Dalton seems to be flying up some NFL draft boards, but I don't see the need to take a game-manager-type quarterback in the first round.

Steve Megargee's answer:
This isn't a great year for prospects from schools outside the six major conferences. The only non-Big Six player I've seen mentioned as a first-round pick in just about every mock draft is Temple DL Muhammad Wilkerson, but there also are some reports that his stock is slipping. So I'm going to speculate that the rush for quarterbacks will cause TCU's Andy Dalton to get taken a little earlier than his second-round projection. Dalton might not have as much upside as some of the other draft-eligible quarterbacks, but there aren't a whole lot of red flags associated with him, either. He obviously won't get taken before Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. I figure Washington's Jake Locker also will get taken earlier than Dalton. But I wouldn't be surprised if Dalton's the fourth or fifth quarterback selected, and that could make him a late first-round pick.


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