Top Five Underclassmen in the 2007 NFL Draft
With only three days left for college football players to apply for draft eligibility, this year's group of underclassmen is rounding out nicely. As of Friday morning, 30 juniors or sophomores had unofficially applied for eligibility. Comparatively, 48 players were granted eligibility for the 2006 draft, so expect a few more to straggle in over the weekend as well.
A few of the underclassmen will have a large impact on the draft. Let's take a look at our top five to declare so far:
1) Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
When Calvin Johnson declared himself eligible earlier this week, he virtually guaranteed that there would be an underclassmen chosen this year in the top three picks. Winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award for the nation's best wide receiver was a monumental achievement when you figure that Johnson had an average quarterback (Reggie Ball) throwing him the ball. It may be cliche, but at 6'6" and 235 pounds, Johnson possesses a rare combination of speed and power that leaves most scouts with mouths agape. Regardless of where he is drafted overall, this particular underclassmen is probably the class of the 2007 draft.
2) JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
When a quarterback can throw a ball eighty yards, there's a good chance that he's going to get some attention. Russell has wowed people with his arm strength for a while, now he's moving the show to the big time to see if he can make the same kind of impression in the NFL. Russell is a virtual lock for a top five pick and could conceivably even be the first overall selection. Cleveland have the second pick, so even if Quinn goes to the Raiders first, Russell might go to the Browns next and it would be the first time since 1999 that quarterbacks went one-two in the draft. Ironically, it was the Browns who selected first in 1999 and took Tim Couch ahead of Donovan McNabb.
3) Alan Branch, DT, Michigan
Branch entered the draft because he instantly became the top prospect at defensive tackle by virtue of doing so. While the draft needs of top drafting teams may keep Branch out of the top five picks, it's extremely doubtful that he would make it to number ten. At 6'6", 331 pounds, he would seem to be a wide-bodied run stuffer, but Michigan coaches rave about both his athleticism and his intelligence. In high school, he played baseball, basketball, soccer, and of course football, and all at 300-plus pounds. The Redskins pick at number six and would surely love to pick up Branch if Gaines Adams was already off the board.
4) Darrelle Revis, CB, Pitt
Revis has all world talent. When the junior out of Pittsburgh announced his intention to declare, he instantly became the top cornerback on some experts' boards. While senior Leon Hall still has a leg up with some experts, many predict that Revis could be a top fifteen selection. Revis was a semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back, and he earned first team All-Big East honors for the second straight season. A good showing at the combine could push Revis ahead of Hall on other boards and make him a consensus top ten pick.
5) Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC
Playing for such a huge program, D.J. gets huge hype. He rarely disappoints. The two-time All-America caught 70 passes and scored 12 touchdowns this season at USC. Perhaps more importantly, he had 206 yards (11 receptions) and two touchdowns in the Trojans' 32-18 victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. It was a fairly impressive stage to make a mark, and his performance was undoubtedly a large impetus behind him making 2007 the year he goes pro. Undoubtedly a first round pick, Jarrett has the physical skills to improve his stock at the combine and move into the top ten or fifteen picks.
Adrian Peterson isn't on the list simply because he hasn't declared himself eligible yet. The running back from Oklahoma sat out most of the 2006 season with a broken collarbone, but returned for the now infamous Fiesta Bowl game against Boise State. Peterson has all the tools to play in the NFL and if he declares over this weekend, would certainly be on our top five list.
Here is a list of the underclassmen declarations so far:
Stay up to date on all of the underclassmen news and declarations on the underclassmen page of our 2007 NFL Draft section.
This article was released on 2007-01-12.
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