Purdue Boilermakers Top NFL Prospects for 2012 and Beyond


Purdue head coach Danny Hope has provided the Boilermakers with exactly that–hope–and while Purdue is certainly not known as an NFL pipeline, they have put some of the best players in the league. Drew Brees is obviously the pride and joy for former Boilermakers in the NFL, and if you’re looking for something a little more recent, one of the best sack artists in the nation was just selected 16th overall by the Washington Redskins, former Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.

Purdue might not have a blue-chip player right now like Kerrigan, but there are certainly some guys who could have impact careers in the NFL…

23 Ralph Bolden (RS Junior), RB, 5’9″ 194

Speedy running back who missed the entire 2010 season due to knee surgery. Returns for his redshirt junior season to a very, very thin Purdue running back corps. As a sophomore in 2009, he really showed what kind of skill he possesses, running the ball 200 times for 935 yards and nine touchdowns, as well as catching 20 passes for 261 yards and two more scores. Bolden has a ton of speed and playmaking ability, but can he stay healthy? With such a thin group of backs at Purdue, he is probably set to return for a senior season, but the risk of injury is always in the back of players’ minds as they approach the next level. He is undersized, but he definitely has some power in his game, and he is not afraid to stick his shoulder down and get the extra yardage. Slippery between the tackles, but he’s definitely not a power back by any means. He is deadly in the open field, and with Purdue’s typically bad offensive line finally gaining some continuity, he could have a huge year provided he can stay healthy. In the NFL, he could be that change of pace type of runner, the guy who comes in on third downs and can catch the ball out of the backfield or take the ball on a draw. Probably not built to be an every-down NFL back, but if he can stay healthy and productive for a year or two, he could make significant contributions at the next level.

93 Kawann Short (RS Junior), DT, 6’3″ 305

Big, athletic, physical defensive tackle who could be poised for a breakout season in 2011. As a freshman, Short had 47 tackles and two interceptions as a freshman in 2009, and followed it up with somewhat of a coming out party in 2010 as a sophomore when he finished second on the team with six sacks, and 41 tackles with 11 tackles for loss. Short also finished the season with an astounding eight passes deflected at the line of scrimmage, and he has a ton of NFL potential. In fact, he might have the most NFL potential of any player on the Purdue roster. A defensive tackle with his size and athletic ability will certainly catch the eye of NFL scouts, and with the class of 2012 shaping up to be somewhat of a weak class in terms of the depth at defensive tackle, and Short has the type of talent that NFL scouts drool over. The only thing we need to see from Short in the future is health and consistency to deem him a first or second round prospect.

37 Carson Wiggs (Senior), K, 6’0″ 206

Wiggs is a powerful kicker whose accuracy has seen dramatic improvements over the last two seasons. In 2009, he made only 14 of his 21 attempts. That all changed in 2010 when he hit on 15 of 19 attempts, and allegedly nailed a 67 yard shot at the Purdue Spring practice. This is a guy whose accuracy will potentially make or break his NFL career. If he can continue to improve in that area, he might even get himself drafted with as strong a leg as he has. He should be able to contribute as a kickoff specialist, and he has also done some punting for the Boilermakers, hitting a 59 yarder among his 22 kicks last year.

35 Logan Link (RS Senior), S, 6’0″ 204

Link is somewhat the real-life version of Rudy Ruettiger, the man made famous for his impressive work ethic and determination to succeed at the University of Notre Dame. As the story goes, Rudy eventually got to dress for a game, and he has been a hero ever since. That was all due to his prowess on the practice team, making the players around him better by showing them how to work hard, and teaching other players humility. The same is sort of true for Link, who walked on to the Purdue football program nearly four years ago. Link redshirted his freshman year, and spent two more years on the practice squad. Entering his junior season, he really impressed the coaching staff in the Spring, and he was given a scholarship and a starting safety position. In his first year actually playing, much less as a starting safety for the Boilermakers, Link led the team with 91 tackles, and had an interception and two pass deflections against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He also had one of his biggest games on the biggest stage, even in a blowout loss to Ohio State, where he had a career high 13 tackles. Link is a hard hitter who isn’t a great athlete, but he out-works almost everybody and is going to probably crack an NFL roster because of his tackling ability and work ethic.

“He really has pushed himself and developed himself physically,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “He’s a smart guy who understands football, and he started playing faster and with more confidence. The timing of it was really good for him to step up, and he hasn’t slowed down a bit.”

Purdue has a bunch of guys, specifically cornerbacks Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson who are going to be on my radar after this season after very productive seasons as first year starters. Purdue could also have a couple of receivers enter the NFL radar by the end of the season, as well as a couple of veteran linebackers. This is a team that is slowly becoming filled with NFL talent, and at the college level, speed kills.