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The Matriculator Six

             The one hundred and forty or so players who will be drafted between the 4th and 7th round this year will be singing the Abba classic, Take a Chance on Me.  “Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie.  If you put me to the test, if you let me try.”  Dylanesque, really.  Between four and eight players drafted in the ass end of the draft will become Pro-Bowlers.  In all, between a dozen and twenty will become productive starters, which means only about half the teams will get one good player from the entirety of those four rounds.  Not great odds, but if you hit on Robert Mathis, Jared Allen, Michael Turner, Dan Koppen or Jahri Evans your team could be hoisting the Lombardi in a few years. 

            We did a little study from 2003 through 2007.  During that period (and we aren’t counting special teamers though they are certainly important) there were 24 pro-bowlers spread out across the board by position as follows:


OFFENSE (11 Pro Bowlers)


Quarterback:  Pro Bowlers-Derek Anderson (we know he’s not very good) and Matt Cassel.

Other nice picks-  Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kyle Orton. 

Running Back:  Pro Bowlers- Michael Turner and Marion Barber. 

Other nice picks: Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Michael Bush.

Fullback- Pro Bowler- Ovie Mughelli 

Guard/Center:  Pro Bowlers- Jahri Evans and Dan Koppen.

Other nice picks- Chris Komeatu, Eugene Amano, and Jason Brown. 

Tackle:  Pro Bowlers- Dave Diehl

Other nice pick-Doug Free 

Wide Receiver:  Pro Bowlers- Brandon Marshall and Brandon Lloyd.

Other nice picks- Marques Colston, Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery and Patrick Crayton.

 Tight End:  Pro Bowler- Owen Daniels.

Other nice picks- Brent Celek and Kevin Boss. 

DEFENSE  (13 Pro Bowlers) 

Defensive End:  Pro Bowlers- Trent Cole, Elvis Dumervil, Jared Allen, Shaun Phillips and Robert Mathis.

Other nice picks- Chris Canty, Ray Edwards and Parys Haralson. 

Defensive Tackle:  Pro Bowlers- Kyle Williams and Jay Ratliff.

Other nice picks- Kedrick Golston, Isaac Sapoaga, Aubrayo Franklin, and Paul Soliai.

 Linebacker:  Pro Bowler- Cato June.

Other nice picks- Michael Boley, Stephen Tulloch, Scott Shanle, and Hunter Hillenmeyer. 

Cornerback: Pro Bowlers- Cortland Finnegan, Nathan Vasher, and Terrence McGee.

Other nice picks- Ike Taylor and Chris Harris. 

Safety:  Pro Bowlers- Antoine Bethea, Yeremiah Bell and Hanik Milligan.

Other nice picks- Eric Coleman, Dawan Landry, and Gerald Sensabaugh. 

              Between 2008 and 2010 (and granted it’s too early to tell) there have already been five late round receivers who have shown promise: Jacoby Ford, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Johnny Knox and Mike Williams.

          We were surprised at how few offensive lineman were hits, particularly at tackle, and how many good pass rushers slipped into the later rounds.  We were also surprised that there was only one Pro-Bowl linebacker during this stretch as the conventional wisdom has always been that you can find bargains on the offensive line and at linebacker in the ass end of the draft.  We’ve got 16 players who should be drafted from round four forward who we think will be good players, along with the Matriculator Six, who we think could eventually be late round Pro-Bowlers from this class.   

2012 Matriculator Six

16.  Terrell Manning- 5th Round: LB, Packers

Manning is a very active and instinctive player who should become a starter.  His injury history is a concern but if he stays healthy we expect to see him on the field in 2012.

15.  Cliff Harris- Undrafted: CB, Eagles

In 2010 Harris was an All-American with 23 pass break-ups, 4 interceptions and 4 kick return touchdowns.  He was arguably the best cornerback in the country entering the 2011 season, but the 2011 season never happened for him.  What is it with corners these days?  He was kicked off of Oregon's team and has an impressive list of off field gaffs. 

14.  Brandon Washington- 6th Round: G, Eagles

Washington was great as a guard in 2010 and was miscast as a left tackle in 2011.  He's a road grader who should become a solid starter inside.

13.  Drake Dunsmore- 7th Round: TE, Buccaneers

He reminds us of Dallas Clark.  He looked very good at the Combine as a receiver but may need a year to make the transition from h-back to tight end.

 12.   Jerry Franklin- Undrafted: LB, Broncos

This guy wasn't invited to the Combine?  Read more about him here.

11.  B.J. Cunnigham- 6th Round: WR, Dolphins

He's one of the Big Ten's all-time leading receivers and only a slow forty time kept him out of 2nd day consideration.  He looks faster on tape and has tremendous hands.

10.  Brandon Mosely-  4th Round: T, Giants. 

He's a little raw and inexperienced but at 6'6", 305 he moves well and could develop into a starter.

9.    Matt Daniels- Undrafted: S, Rams

Daniels is one of the most underrated prospects in this class. You could make a strong argument that he was the third best draft eligible safety though there wasn't much buzz surrounding him.  He was Duke’s MVP (sort of like being the biggest fish in a rain puddle) and a First Team All-ACC selection after finishing a senior year that included a whopping 126 tackles , 4 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 14 pass break ups.   His career numbers included 324 tackles, 27 pass break-ups and 7 forced fumbles.   He wasn’t invited to the Combine but showed high end NFL athletic ability by posting a 4.49 40-yard dash and 35 inch vertical at 215 pounds.  

8.   Zebrie Sanders- 5th Round: OT, Buffalo Bills

Sanders has the skills to be a first round pick, but mentally he's not always there.  If the Bills can coach him up we could see him starting in 2013.

7.   James-Michael Johnson- 4th Round: LB, Browns

A thumper and high volume tackler, he seems a good fit for the dog pound.

The Matriculator Six

 6.  Bobby Massie- 4th Round: OT, Cardinals

He's got loads of potential and is athletic enough to be a first round pick, but he's sloppy and lazy at times and he would have a better chance if he wasn't going to the tackle graveyard in Arizona.  Their track record of developing tackles has been pathetic.

5.  Alameda Ta-amu- 4th Round: NT, Steelers

There is a dearth of talent at nose tackle and the Steelers plucked a good one in the 4th round?  We aren't so sure Ta-amu won't turn out to be a better pro than 11th overall pick Dontari Poe.

4.  Jarius Wright- 4th Round: WR, Vikings

He's a poor man's Mike Wallace and a rich man's Ted Ginn.

3. Brandon Boykin- 4th Round: CB, Eagles

If Boykin hadn't broken his leg at the Senior Bowl he might have been the second corner drafted.  The SEC's all-time record holder in touchdowns over 100 yards, he's an explosive athlete though a bit undersized at 5'9". Obviously there is an injury concern, but if he comes back healthy he will be a nickel corner and return ace.

2. Markelle Martin- 6th Round: S, Tennessee Titans

He has all of the tools to be a star but a torn meniscus after the Senior Bowl dropped him several rounds.  He's a ball hawk and big hitter and we think he will be a starter in 2013.

1.  Greg Childs- 4th Round: WR, Vikings

In 2010 he looked like a first round pick before a serious knee injury. He didn't show any signs of being an NFL receiver in 2011, but he ran under 4.5 at his pro-day with a 41 inch vertical indicating he may be back to full speed. He is a monster at 6'3", 225.  If he's healthy, watch out.


2011 Matriculator Six


16.  Jah Reid- OT, Central Florida.  The guy is huge at 6’7” and he “trimmed down” to 325 at the Combine.  He moves okay and with some coaching has the size to be productive.

15. Terrell McClain- DT, South Florida.  He didn’t appear to be outmatched alongside his impressive colleagues at the Combine.  His numbers at South Florida weren’t overwhelming but he could develop into a contributor.

14. Buster Skrine- CB, Tennessee-Chattanooga.  He’s small at 5’9” but he ran a sub-4.3 in the forty.  He was very good in the drills at the Combine and should be able to cover, the question is will he be strong enough to hold up.

13. Greg Lloyd- LB, Connecticut.  He’s 6’2”, 255 pounds and moves well enough to be a physical presence in the middle.  He was 2nd team All-Big East as a junior before injuring his knee late in the season.

12. Josh Portis- QB, California (PA).  He has almost everything you want in a quarterback prospect.  He’s big and athletic with a strong, accurate arm and a quick release.  He makes good decisions on the field but terrible ones off as he has played at three schools (including Florida), been in trouble for cheating and stealing a credit card.

11. Jeremy Beal- DE, Oklahoma.  Beal’s Combine performance was horrendous.  He was stiff and slow and didn’t even hint that he has the talent to play in the NFL.  So why do we have him on our list?  In spite of his pedestrian athletic ability, he was a three time first team All-Big 12 selection.   In his career he registered a mind boggling 59 tackles for loss to go along with 29 sacks.  He gets the job done, somehow.  He reminds us of Elvis Dumervil who was a terror at Louisville but dropped into the fourth round because he was too slow and too short.

10. Ricardo Lockette- WR, Fort Valley State.   He is big (6’2”, 211),fast (4.37)and from the little bit of tape we could find, he has decent hands. He’s got sleeper written all over him.  He was originally signed by Auburn but he didn’t qualify academically.

9.  Julius Thomas- TE, Portland State.  He was a basketball player at Portland State, but was the most natural receiver of any of the tight ends at the Combine besides DJ Williams.  He could be great if he sits behind a veteran for a year or two and learns how to run routes and use his ability.  Yes, we will compare his potential to Antonio Gates, though most draft sites don’t even have him listed.

8. Anthony Allen- RB, Georgia Tech.  He’s an alien from another planet according to most scouts because he came from the gimmicky Georgia Tech offense of Paul Johnson, but if you look beyond that he’s impressive.  He’s 6’0”, weighs 230 pounds and averaged 5.6 yard per carry in the ACC in spite of the fact that teams knew the Jackets were going to run on every play.  He finished his career with 33 rushing touchdowns and 5 receiving touchdowns.

7. Roy Helu, Jr.- RB, Nebraska.  Helu is big at 219 and you would expect him to be a power back, but he’s not.  He was very productive at Nebraska, ran a 4.42 forty and tore up the most important test for a running back, the shuttle.




6.  Shiloh Keo- S, Idaho

Deion and Mayock loved this guy’s moxy and so do we. He’s a little heavy at 215, and will be a strong safety, but he was also good in coverage netting 11 career interceptions. Even if he never starts at safety he’s a hard worker who should be a core special teamer immediately as he can return kicks and punts.

5. Nick Bellore- LB, Central Michigan 

He’s 6’1”, 250 pounds and is a good, not great, athlete.  His production at Central Michigan was phenomenal, registering at least 90 tackles from his freshman through his senior year.  He also had 32 tackles for loss and 5 interceptions.  He’s a football player, which is nice since he plays…football.

4.  Ryan Bartolomew- C, Syracuse 

He was the anchor up front for what proved to be a good running attack for a bad team.  He was a 2nd team All-Big East player in 2009 and one of the more athletic interior linemen at the Combine.

3.  Denarius Moore- WR, Tennessee  

He never had much of a quarterback at Tennessee, but still managed over 2,000 career yards and 18 touchdowns.  He’s got good size at 6’1”, 195, and he averaged a whopping 18 yards per catch for his career.

 2.  Mark LeGree- S, Appalachian State 

He’s a 6’0”, 210 pound free safety who registered 21 pass break-ups and 22 interceptions at Appalachian State.  He finished in the top two among safeties at the Combine in the forty, the bench press and the three-cone.  We see him developing as a ball hawking free safety.

1.  Delone Carter- RB, Syracuse 

There are really a number of running backs in this class who could end up being stars if they get the opportunity.  Carter reminds us of Maurice Jones-Drew and if he goes to a team where he gets to play early, we expect big things.


        There were a number of players who almost made the list including Tori Gurley (we just couldn’t put a guy named Gurley on a football list), Austin Pettis, Richard Sherman, Virgil Green and Jarvis Jenkins.  If we are as good as we think we are, hope your general manager Matriculates and you draft a few of these hidden gems.

 March 3, 2011