5 First-Year Potential Impact, Busts SEC Draft Picks

South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery

South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery

Most of the time, the SEC likes to brag about its litany of national championships, All-Americans and NFL draft picks.

This year is no different.

After leading all of college football with 42 selections, here’s 10 players from the SEC you’ll be hearing about this season:

IMPACT FIVE

5. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina (Buffalo Bills) - The Gamecocks’ three-year starter and former Mr. Football in the state of South Carolina has a chance to be the cornerstone of Buffalo’s defense with a rare combination of athletic ability and ball skills. While he struggles at times against pump fakes and taller wide receivers, Gilmore’s speed should make up for occasional mental lapses in the secondary.

4. Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia (Buffalo Bills) — One of the best “steals” of Day One, Glenn slipped to Buffalo at No. 42 overall and should start from day one for the Bills. Glenn was tabbed with a first-round grade by most experts, so hearing his name called in the second round was a bit of a surprise for the former Bulldog. At 6-foot-5, 350 pounds, Glenn is a monster to run behind. Already one of the NFL’s least-sacked quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick, is happy if Glenn starts at left tackle.

3. Morris Claiborne, DB, LSU (Dallas Cowboys) — Claiborne will be a star in Big D … in due time. He’ll make an impact this season in the return game and — in certain packages — on defense. He’s a natural ballhawk with 11 interceptions over his final two seasons in Baton Rouge. And please disregard the Wonderlic score! It proves nothing. Claiborne admitted to blowing it off since it doesn’t consist of football-related questions. He won’t have a problem with the Cowboys’ playbook, nor covering some of the NFL’s top wideouts at the line of scrimmage.

2. Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama (Baltimore Ravens) — Whether it’s Upshaw or fellow Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower here, both linebackers are interchangeable talents. Upshaw will fit right into Baltimore’s 3-4 scheme as a hybrid pass-rusher and run-stopper. Like Hightower, Upshaw can play off the edge or drop back into coverage with relative ease. Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome traded up to get Upshaw, an impact player who will be on the field more often than not as a rookie. He’ll be in the starting mix according to head coach John Harbaugh.

1. Mark Barron, FS, Alabama (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) — One of five Crimson Tide standouts to be picked in the first 35 selections, Barron brings supreme talent to a unit that under-performed in 2011. The Bucs need all the help they can get on a defense that ranked last in the league with 30.9 PPG allowed. The Bucs also gave up an NFL-high 6.3 yards per play. In the same secondary as veteran corner Ronde Barber, Tampa’s pass defense got a serious hard-hitting upgrade in Barron.

POTENTIAL BUSTS

5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (Cleveland Browns) — Definitely a shocking pick as a potential bust, Alabama’s Heisman finalist is a tank that takes no prisoners with the ball in his hands, but shouldering the load in Cleveland after off-season knee surgery raises questions. Richardson could be a serious stud and perennial 1,500-yard running back, he’s that good. The other end of the spectrum seems more likely, at least, early in his career behind an offensive line in Cleveland that struggled last season.

4. Rueben Randle, WR, LSU (New York Giants) — Randle is in a good position with the defending champs, but there was a handful of better options for the Giants at this spot in the draft. Picked to replace Mario Manningham, New York ultimately went with LSU’s most reliable target who blossomed as a junior with eight touchdown receptions. Randle could mature into Eli Manning’s best option on the outside, but that will take a few games, seasons perhaps. This fall, he’ll battle Jerrel Jernigan for the Giants’ third wideout spot behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.

3. Melvin Ingram, DE/LB, South Carolina (San Diego Chargers) — Labeled a tweener by most analysts, Ingram’s lack of size as a defensive lineman raises questions on how he’ll perform at the line of scrimmage in the pros. At 6-1, 260 pounds it seems more likely that Ingram will play linebacker in San Diego or become a third-down blitz specialist. I think it’s laughable that some folks have mentioned Ingram being a weapon on special teams. That worked momentarily at South Carolina, but won’t in the NFL. With that being said, he’s an athletic playmaker that can help in a variety of areas and a safe gamble for the Chargers.

2. Michael Brockers, DT, LSU (St. Louis Rams) — Brockers grew from a 250-pound defensive end as a freshman to an agile, 320-pound tackle over his final two seasons but it’s that added size that could negatively affect his ability to chase down opposing running backs and now, some quarterbacks. As dominant as LSU’s defense was last season, Brockers only had two sacks and didn’t force a fumble, so calling him a feared pass-rusher isn’t exactly accurate. Playing in St. Louis without much talent around him won’t help his cause.

1. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina (Chicago Bears) I said it months ago and I’ll say it again: I don’t see Alshon making an impact in professional football. He doesn’t have top-end speed, is a sloppy route runner and has trouble creating separation. Against talented NFL defensive backs, I don’t think he’ll be able to make the same highlight-worthy catches he made during his first two seasons in Columbia. He’s still a formidable downfield threat with great hands and leaping ability, but issues with his speed will be detrimental to his progress. Alshon’s only experience in freezing temperatures was at the Papa Johns Bowl his freshman season. Like most wideouts that afternoon, he had a case of the drops. In the end, he could be Justin Blackmon-good, or just an interchangeable possession guy for quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears took a chance and hope it pans out.

REFERENCES

COMMENTS

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  • i backed you up in the Dooley article last week but i think youre wrong about Jeffery this week. hes a physical reciever and if you look back has never been run down after the catch given some space. he tore up coners. but lets be honest had he not broke out his sophmore year like he did he wouldnt have been doubled teamed all year last year. not to mention qb troubles the gamecocks had. its amazing how some people think hes a bust. the guy is ridiculous and he has a bright future ahead of him. i agree with ingram. but put in the right defense he could be a nightmare.

  • Fair enough, and the QB problems definitely hurt his productivity, but to me, speed is the main issue.

    As for never being caught from behind? That’s just false, no offense. In his most recent game against Nebraska he was caught from behind on the pass down the Cornhusker sideline. He doesn’t have that breakaway, separation speed needed at the next level in my opinion. He’s not going to run away from anybody.

    • I thought of that before I wrote it and did remember but he also was over thrown a bit and was falling forward when he caught it. Look at his other deep receptions ie vandy and tenn from 2010 2011 never run down. He’s not the fastest but he’s fast enough imo

  • If Janoris can simply not be an idiot, Rams could have gotten the steal of the draft. Obviously a major risk, but his on-field talent is big. He may be “good” for a few years missing out on a big money contract, he knows he has to get paid on his second contract. After he gets paid, however, all bets are off. At the current, rate he’ll also have 12 children from 9 women by then.

    • haha. Yeah, a lot of folks even consider Jenkins as the top corner in the draft. We’ll see. Has to lay off the weed because it’ll be plentiful in the league (and drug tests).

  • The most ironic thing about this article is that the number 1 bust torched the number 1 impact player a year ago. At least if memory serves correctly that’s what happened. Not only did Alshon beat Barron on some catches, he harassed Kirkpatrick all day as well, but Kirkpatrick only went 17th overall in the draft, unlike Barron who went 7th.

    Also, if you want to deal with absolutes on him not running away from anybody, check the 2010 Tennessee or Vanderbilt (who had a CB go 62nd overall to the Packers) game, hell, look at the 2009 Arkansas game. You said he’s not going to run away from anybody, I’m just proving a point.

  • The 75-yarder against Tennessee in Columbia was a thing of beauty. And Alshon beat Barron on the out route to the corner, that was it. He abused Kirkpatrick though, especially on the one-hander down the right sideline.

    I’ll never forget that afternoon.

  • Trent Richardson is the whole package, of course he can run, but also block. You list him as a bust, citing off season surgery, and the Browns line struggling. Last season belies the surgery, as well as Cleveland’s’ Trading up to pick him, investing in him, both financially and giving up a future pick. Also he is a good receiver…have you not seen him perform in space?

  • Trent is legit. He was the hardest name to put as a potential bust. But the knee and line are huge factors. But, that’s why he’s at No. 5 on the bust list and not No. 1. He could easily be a star.

  • I’ve watched Alshon since Frosh year and I have NEVER seen him have issues getting open. I tevo every game and watch it 3-5 times before the next game. Especially his first two years before the double teams and QB issues (Well not the QB issues) one-on-one he always seemed open. Seen him running WIDE open beating coverage lots of times and the QB could not deliver the ball. Seen lots of bad passes thrown his way too long too short, never a drop. Case of the drops, meaning multiple drops? I implore you to show us proof of that link because thats a huge claim against a reciever.

    Another thing, you start your article by saying “I don’t see Alshon making an Impact at the Professional level”. Then you make these points to contradict yourself:

    1) “He’s still a formidable downfield threat with great hands and leaping ability.”
    2) “In the end, he could be Justin Blackmon-good (1st WR off the board good), or just an interchangeable possession guy for quarterback Jay Cutler.”

    Why are you comparing him to the 1st WR off the board if he has NO CHANCE as a professional? wha, wha, huh?

    3 more points with Alshon then I’m done.

    1) He performed at a HIGH LEVEL against the BEST talent college football as to offer. Faster, more physical, better coached defenses. Defenses and players (Barron, Kerpatrick, Jenkins, Guy, etc.) that all the other recievers off the board before him didn’t see as much of. This is an advantage.
    2) Go check the stats from 2009-2010 last year, Alshon was more lethal a WR than 1st rounders Julio Jones & AJ Green and out played both players in head to head PRIMETIME contests. Rated 2nd behind Blackmon in ‘Best Reciever voting’ and probably a 1st pick as a soph if he was eligable to go.
    3) All this weight, speed and seperation talk about how fast a player needs to be is unproven and hardly as relevant as writers/analyst make it out to be. Alshon’s new team mate CHI WR Brandon Marshall for instance, Top 5 reciever in the league pretty much unstoppable as a Pro wouldn’t you agree? His playing weight is 235lbs and he came in the league as a rookie 6’4 230 and ran a 4.52. Same size Alshon played with last season with his college club. 4.5 is fast, and Alshon dropped 15 lbs for the combine an ran 4.4s. Take these in consideration when judging WRs as well, long arms, jumping ability, big soft hands, cuts, burst, power, strength, intensisty blocking, playing speed, deceptive speed, long legs (strides).

    I played DB and running behind a BIG, Strong, Fast WR for 4 quarters is not easy for any level.

    This is a steal and great pick for Chicago’s needs in the 2nd round. 1st round talent. Will be a second target and highly productive Pro w/ Chicago and grreat new toy for Jay Cutler.

  • Let me clarify, by impact I mean 1,000-yard, Pro Bowl wideout. That’s my definition of impact. Longevity as well. Consistency.

    • Thanks for clarifing your definition of impact. I still disagree and believe that Alshon will perform just as well as AJ Green’s & Julio Jones’s rookie seasons. Around 1000 yds 7 or 8 TDs. I just believe with Forte running, Marshall doubled and Cutler’s arm he poses a mismatch on for DBs in the league. Time will tell.

  • Also, A.J. Green didn’t even play during the 17-6 win in Columbia in 2010. He was suspended. So to compare both head-to-head against each and say Alshon outshined him, is wrong.

    And it’s also wrong to say Jeffery dominated Julio Jones as well.

    2010 game, SC 35-21 win in Columbia, the facts: Alshon 7-127 yards 2 TD; Julio 8-119 yards TD. So that’s comparable.

    “Deceptive speed” – Your homer remark of the day.

    • Toshay, I stand corrected with the S. Carolina vs Georgia game. Even if Alshon did not outshine A.J (suspended) he outshined the Georgia secondary. One of the top defenses that year. (was really RB Marcus Lattimore’s coming out party).

      Against BAMA he again outplayed 2 future 1st round DBs Dre Kirpatrick & Baron and a team full of All-Americans. PRIMETIME, BRIGHT LIGHTS as BAMA was undefeated defending champs when S. Carolina beat them on the strength of Jeffery. Less catches, more yards, more TDs. I’d give the advantage to Alshon over Julio in that game, sorry. Plus his team won.

      I’m still waiting on that Alshon Jeffery multiple drops video too.

      Lots of accomplishments by this kid Brad Crawford. I think your tone will change by next year this time. I’m usually right about these things.

  • Thanks@ Scargamecock87,

    You alright with me Brad Crawford, but you know I’m right.. Give Alshon Jeffery his props, he earned them!

  • Do you see Dre Kirkpatrick as a potential bust, because I would put him at number one.

  • I’m a die hard Gamecock fan…but i agree about Alshon. I just don’t know that he has the explosiveness to carry his big plays into the Pros…I hope I’m wrong but even if I’m not he still should have a solid future as a possesion guy and i wish him good luck!

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