January 15, 2009

NFL draft decisions not right for everyone

MORE: Underclassmen tracker

Thursday is the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft, and as usual, some players are taking their decisions to the last minute.

Here's a look at the guys who surprised us by staying in school and the guys who surprised us by leaving early.

You're coming back?

QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma: He had a tremendous season and won the Heisman. He was considered a sure top 10 pick. Now, he'll play behind an offensive line with four new starters, and he will lose two key starting wide receivers. It's hard to imagine him putting up the same numbers in 2009 as he did in '08.

TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma: There aren't many 261-pound tight ends who can get down the seam and score on 50-yard passes. Gresham is one of those guys. He had 14 touchdown receptions this season and was a first-round lock, but Bradford has to be happy with his decision.

DT Terrence Cody, Alabama: He was a perfect fit as a nose tackle for a team that runs a 3-4. He would've gone in the top half of the first round and may have gone in the top 10.

FS Taylor Mays, USC: He's an incredible physical specimen who would've tested off the charts for NFL scouts. He would've gone in the top half of the first round.

DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma: He wasn't as productive as some tackles, but scouts love his game. He was a sure first-rounder and likely would've been selected in the top 20.

OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma: For all the accolades received by other OU linemen, more than one NFL scout said Williams was the Sooners' most effective blocker. He was considered a likely first-rounder. On the other hand, coming back may mean he goes in the top half of the first round next year.

Why go early?

RB Glen Coffee, Alabama: He had a big-time junior season but that followed two non-descript seasons. He's not a burner and looks like a journeyman running back. And journeyman running backs never make the big bucks.

DE Maurice Evans, Penn State: He was great as a sophomore, a big disappointment as a junior. He's undersized and would've benefited from another season in school both physically and mentally (he was suspended for off-field issues this season).

RB P.J. Hill, Wisconsin: He's a bullish running back who will not be drafted high. On the other hand, he never will be a big-time prospect, so he obviously wants to start earning money as quickly as possible.

G Greg Isdaner, West Virginia: He already has graduated and has been an All-Big East performer. But he's considered a late-round pick this year, and he likely could've improved his draft stock by returning for his senior season.

WR Kevin Ogletree, Virginia: This is one of the more puzzling decisions this year. Ogletree had a solid season in 2006, missed 2007 with a knee injury, then was solid again in 2008. But he's not close to being a first-day pick and could've improved his stock with another year at UVa.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.


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