The ink is finally dry on National Signing Day, and with it the season is officially over. It’s time for another grueling, yet event-filled offseason.
The next events we have to look forward to are the NFL Combine and spring football. The combine starts less than a week from today on February 20th, and spring football is just around the corner with Georgia starting March 2nd. Before we know it, we’ll be gearing up for fall camps.
Fueled by rash and aggressive speculation, we have five bold predictions for the SEC offseason:
1. We’ll suffer from Johnny Manziel fatigue
We all love Johnny, but that’s all we’ll hear about in the offseason. He’ll be picked over AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray as the top preseason SEC quarterback. There will be multiple reports from College Station about how often Johnny spit shines his Heisman Trophy, and how he has managed his Twitter account. All the cameras are on Manziel, and if he slips up anywhere, someone will catch it. Hell, the speculation already abounds, and we’re not even into March. The controversy of whether Johnny received free seats at NBA games, or whether the New Year’s Eve sparkler was really a sparkler…everyone will document his every move, and we’ll grow tired of it.
2. Dan Mullen and Gary Pinkel hot seat talks start to escalate
The SEC saw four head coaches get canned for the 2012 season, and two others step into the spotlight now. Since destroying Michigan 52-14, Dan Mullen is 15-11 in the last two years and finished just 8-5 after starting 7-0 in 2012. And right now, all the momentum is in Oxford with Ole Miss. Mullen’s Bulldogs were thumped 41-24 in the Egg Bowl, and after back-to-back top 25 recruiting classes, Mullen is pressed to take the next step for the program. Eight wins are great at MSU, but with the reality of the SEC West loading up with so many premier prospects, it’s only going to get tougher. And right now, MSU trails Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and LSU, and one could make an argument for Auburn and Arkansas.
Missouri’s Gary Pinkel enters ‘13 firmly on the hot seat, as the Tigers only won two conference games in 2012. It wasn’t exactly the splash one of the new guys wanted to make in a new conference. In addition, his offensive coordinator and ace recruiter David Yost is gone, and his ‘13 recruiting class was a letdown and a disappointment overall. Things are going to get interesting in Columbia, and it starts now.
3. Cordarrelle Patterson wins the NFL combine
For all of the 79 SEC players invited to the NFL Combine, there are some real stars in the making and plenty with much to prove in front of scouts. Cordarrelle Patterson is certainly one of those players, and he didn’t even have the best receiving numbers on his own team, much less in a more macro look at the conference. But Patterson possesses elite play-making ability in his 6-3, 210-pound stacked house he calls a body. You see moves from 5-10, 185-pound elite athletes in Patterson every time he touches the rock. Although he’s projected to be a first-round pick already, he’ll shoot up draft boards and will be the talk leading up to April after scouts see his amazing size and ability in person. He’ll only have to convince them he can run great routes.
4. Chiefs pick Luke Joeckel
For all the emerging Geno Smith talk becoming the first pick in April, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel will steal the show and become the first player selected. The Chiefs will build around Joeckel in the future and realize he’s just too good of a player to pass on. And then, just next year, the Aggies’ returning tackle Jake Matthews will also become the first offensive lineman taken in the draft. How’s that for a prediction?
5. 18 SEC players picked in the first round of the draft
It’s true – former SEC players saturate NFL Draft big boards. As many as 16 have been projected to be picked in the first round, but I’m feeling quite aggressive about April. The ACC set the record in 2006 with 12 first-rounders, and the SEC will shatter it with 18 players picked. It’ll start with Luke Joeckel to the Chiefs and end with Sam Montgomery to the Ravens. Book it.
Photo Credit: Spruce DerdenâÃÃ¬USA TODAY Sports