While working on the Joe McKnight position-change post Thursday, I took a quick glance at the recruiting Class of 2007 and was rather surprised at a) how weak the names were at the top, and b) how badly the pundits missed on the real talent.
Let’s dive right in:
1. Jimmy Clausen – Never lived up to the hype at Notre Dame, but did compile good stats. Fell in the draft despite hype attempts from Mel Kiper … career 3rd string NFL QB, if he’s lucky.
2. Joe McKnight – Bust at USC*, non-factor in the NFL.
3. Eric Berry – The biggest direct hit of this class. Star at Tennessee, budding NFL star with the Chiefs.
4. Ryan Mallett – Was terrific at Arkansas, expected to be an early pick, but off-the-field issues scared teams off. Patriots took him late and he may not see the field until he’s traded.
5. Carlos Dunlap – Nice career at Florida, great rookie year with the Bengals (9.5 sacks). Inconsistency is an issue.
6. Everson Griffen – Good career at USC, underwhelming (so far) in the pros with the Vikings.
7. Marvin Austin – Beast at UNC, but injuries slowed any shot of him having a studly NFL future. Another guy on this list who got hit with the “character issues” label.
8. Ronald Johnson – Never became a star at USC, 6th round NFL pick, riding the bench in Philly.
9. Torrey Davis – Went to Florida, was arrested a couple times, kicked off the team, last seen in Calgary.
10. Josh Oglesby – Injury-riddled career at Wisconsin, never panned out.
Obviously football recruiting is not an exact science. Some players take longer than others to develop. Some need the right coach or system to flourish. Some, like Oglesby, have multiple surgeries. Maybe the early hype for some of these kids leads to inflated sense of self worth, and then they get hit with the “problem” label.
So where were the real future stars from this class? Down the list.
Cam Newton 28 – He was ranked one spot behind Tyrod Taylor, who went to Virginia Tech and is now with the Ravens. Newton went to Florida, then JUCO, then dominated at Auburn and is now one of the bright young stars in the NFL.
Dez Bryant 54 – Tell me if these names mean anything to you – Chris Culliver, Dwight Jones, Duval Kamara, DeAngelo Benton … see what I’m doing here? All these guys were rated ahead of Bryant, who already is an elite NFL receiver.
Joe Haden 59 – Stud cornerback with the Browns flourished at Florida and is arguably one of the five best young cornerbacks in the NFL.
Aaron Hernandez 66 – Not only did the high school pundits whiff on him – so did the NFL scouts! Perhaps due to off-the-field issues, Hernandez fell to the 4th round in the draft.
* For his lofty high school ranking, I thought he was a bust. He did rush for 1,000 yards as a junior.