It may seem odd that such a powerful college football program with a long standing success of putting successful players into the N.F.L. could have a group of players entering the 2012 N.F.L. draft as almost under-dogs, but that is the case of the current draft eligible Cornhuskers. The Cornhuskers had a long drought for putting players into the first round of the N.F.L. draft that changed two years ago with Nndumkong Suh was drafted #2 overall by the Detroit Lions. The following year the New York Giants drafted Prince Amukamara 19th overall. Heading into the 2011 College Football season the Cornhuskers had two projected first round picks in Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick.
Crick started the season off pretty well displaying his usual relentlessness and functional strength that made him a coveted 34 DE despite a MCL sprain he had suffered prior to the season. Then five games into his season he suffered a season ending pectoral injury. But as the draft as approached Crick has become a forgotten man among media guys. Crick hasn’t been mocked into the first round in forever and in twitter mockdrafts Crick is routinely available in the middle of the third round, and according to a Profootballweekly draft value chart Crick is currently projected as a mid fourth round pick by the league, which I find confounding. Crick had a lot of years on tape prior to his injury when he was considered a first round pick and his injury is not something that will keep him out of the start of the off-season training program, so why his injury such a major issue. This is a player that is about as safe as a N.F.L. prospect as you can get, a good athlete for a big man who has to add a little weight to anchor consistently, but a productive and high-motor defender. A player I’d feel comfortable with in the middle second round and a player who might eventually be a steal.
Alfonzo Dennard is a cornerback who entered the pre-season with scouts saying he had better tape than last year’s 19th overall pick Prince Amukamara–in a draft that was better than this one, and while he didn’t have a terrific season he still had good tape. Yet he’s been dropping further and further in the minds of draft followers. Dennard had a poor Bowl game where he got beat deep by Alshon Jefferey and than got in a fight and was ejected.
Then he went to the Senior bowl and struggled because Dennard wasn’t able to play his press-coverage he excels at and he had a nagging injury. Now the cornerback who entered the season as a better Prince Amukamara-is looking like a third round pick if draft media guys like this site are to be believed. Dennard could enter the season as a starter for whatever team he is drafted by, and people have forgotten how good he is.
I think NFL talent evaluators understand the value of Alfonzo Dennnard and Jared Crick, but fans of the draft have forgotten. These are two good athletes who play extremely physical and were very productive in college. They have a lot of desirable traits for players at their position and will be successful N.F.L. players–when you hear their names called out by your team thank your lucky stars to have two of the most under-appreciated players in the draft.
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