April 22, 2010

Mock Draft: Looking back as recruits

MORE NFL DRAFT: Notebook: Four find motivation from HS coaches | Yahoo! Draft Coverage

Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

They grow up so fast.

OK, we know, it's all relative - the athletes selected in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night are all young men. Soon to be rich young men.

But here at Rivals and RivalsHigh, we take pride in following their progress from even earlier days - back when they were in high school and just starting to develop into football prodigies.

With that, we take a look back at the players in the first round of the Yahoo! Sports mock draft and see how we described them in high school: Their rankings ... our writeups ... and maybe even some old photos and videos - though we promise, no prom pics.

So before you turn on the TV, hear their names called and imagine these guys as professionals, take a look back and remember them as high schoolers.

1. St. Louis Rams
The Pick: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Putnam City North, Class of 2006
The Buzz: Bradford was a Rivals.com 3-star player who chose to go to Oklahoma over Iowa State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Bradford was an early commit for the Sooners, ending his recruitment on May 27, largely based on his relationship with then OU offensive coordinator Chuck Long. Before his senior season, one college assistant said that Bradford was "a better pure quarterback than Jason White."
2. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Ndamukong Suh, Portland (Ore.) Grant, Class of 2005
The Buzz: Suh was the No. 1 player in the state of Oregon and a Rivals.com 4-star player in his class. Ranked as the No. 51 player overall in the nation, Suh chose to go to Nebraska over Cal, Mississippi State and Oregon State. In an interview after his commitment Suh said that he loved everything about the recruiting process, except the phone calls when he was trying to do homework.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Southeast, Class of 2006
The Buzz: McCoy was a U.S. Army All-American his senior year and ranked the No. 4 player in the nation for the Class of 2006. While he waited to make his commitment to Oklahoma until Signing Day, the drama between the Sooners and USC was more of a show. McCoy piled up 20 sacks in both his junior and senior years of high school and received plenty of praise before he even set foot on campus at OU.
4. Washington Redskins
The Pick: Trent Williams, Longview (Texas) High, Class of 2006
The Buzz: Williams was not quite under-the-radar, but he was far from an elite recruit coming out of high school. Williams was rated as the No. 28 offensive guard and No. 63 overall player in Texas his senior season but developed into a potential Top 5 draft pick. The Signing Day evaluation of Williams from the OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was that by "watching him move" he was "going to be a tackle."
5. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Eric Berry, Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside, Class of 2007
The Buzz: Berry was a freak high school athlete and climbed the Rivals 100 to the No. 3 ranking nationally. He was the No. 1 player in his state and at his position before heading to Tennessee. Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell said of Berry as a recruit, "He is a great athlete who is still learning to be a great defender, but his potential is off the charts."
6. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Russell Okung, Houston (Texas) Bush, Class of 2006
The Buzz: Okung is the second Rivals.com three-star offensive lineman from Texas projected to go in the upper level of the draft. Okung was between Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and LSU before deciding to become a Cowboy. When he committed to Oklahoma State, Okung said, "We will be the next big thing and I'm excited about it."
7. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Kyle Wilson, Piscataway (N.J.) High, Class of 2005
The Buzz: Wilson was a complete under-the-radar prospect in high school. Sharing the secondary with 2009 first-round pick, Malcolm Jenkins, may have overshadowed his ability but Wilson worked at his game while at Boise State. His only other offers were to Delaware and Rutgers and was a Rivals.com two-star player.
8. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: Bruce Campbell, Chatham (Vir.) Hargrave Military Academy, Class of 2007
The Buzz: Campbell was a Rivals.com five-star player out of the Hargrave Military Academy. He ended his time at Hargrave as the No. 3 ranked prospect to come out of a prep school in his class. His coach at Hargrave, Robert Prunty, said that Campbell "will be an NFL player," in January 2007.
9. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: Bryan Bulaga, Woostock (Ill.) Marian Central Catholic, Class of 2007
The Buzz: The No. 2 prospect from Illinois in the Class of 2007 emerged as a major force in the Big Ten in his time at Iowa. Bulaga had offers from most everyone in the Big Ten but committed in May 2006 to Iowa. In an interview before Signing Day Baluga said, "Iowa was the place I wanted from the first day I went there and nothing would have changed that."
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Earl Thomas, Orange (Texas) West Orange-Stark, Class of 2007
The Buzz: Thomas is the third player from the Lone Star State projected to go in the Top 10 of the draft. Thomas was the No. 12 ranked athlete in his class, No. 19 in the state of Texas, and in the overall Top 250 nationally. Thomas learned to play piano at age two. He also taught himself to play drums, organ, saxophone and the guitar.
11. Denver Broncos (from Chicago)
The Pick: Rolando McClain, Decatur (Alabama) High, Class of 2007
The Buzz: The hard-hitting linebacker opted to stay in the state of Alabama where he was ranked the No. 1 player in state and No. 35 player nationally in 2007. McClain, as a recruit, said he was "not outspoken" unless he was on the football field, but then you would "hear him a lot." Now it's time to see if he can make noise as an NFL player.
12. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Dan Williams, Memphis (Tenn.) East, Class of 2005
The Buzz: The run-stuffing defensive tackle has worked his way to a top NFL prospect. As a high schooler in Memphis, he was the No. 9 ranked player in the state of Tennessee and No. 35 ranked defensive tackle. Williams chose to attend Tennessee over Auburn, but it was a tight race as his mom went to Memphis, his dad went to LSU, his brother-in-law went to Tennessee, and his uncle went to Mississippi State.
13. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Joe Haden, Ft. Washington (Md.) Friendly, Class of 2007
The Buzz: Haden was the No. 1 rated prospect in the state of Maryland and No. 59 in the nation for the Class of 2007. He committed to Florida early in the process but then took a visit to Ohio State. Haden graduated high school early and got on campus early, saying, "My thing is I definitely want to get on the field. I just want a fair shot at it. Being here early is going to allow me to learn the system."
14. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)
The Pick: Brandon Graham, Detroit (Mich.) Crockett, Class of 2006
The Buzz: A U.S. Army All-American in high school, Graham was the No. 1 player in Michigan and No. 15 nationally. He provided virtually no drama on the recruiting trail as he committed to the Wolverines very early. At the All-American game, Mike Farrell noted that Graham was "a gap filler and huge against the run."
15. New York Giants
The Pick: C.J. Spiller, Lake Butler (Fla.) Union County, Class of 2006
The Buzz: One of the best all-purpose players on the field in high school, Spiller continued that style of play at Clemson. The No. 1 ranked player from Florida in the Class of 2006, Spiller also climbed to No. 8 nationally. Spiller knew of his ability to be a game changer early. "I've been blessed by God with this ability, and I want to use the wisdom he gave me to make the right decision in the end."
16. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Derrick Morgan, Coatesville (Pa.) High, Class of 2007
The Buzz: Morgan was the No. 1 player in the state of Pennsylvania for the Class of 2007 and No. 76 nationally. His commitment to Georgia Tech was a bit of a surprise, but his high school coach Tom Nichols, knew exactly what the Jackets were getting. "He's very conscious of what he has to do and there is no downside here. He's the kind of kid his parents should be very proud of because they did a great job."
17. San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina)
The Pick: Jimmy Clausen, Westlake Village (Ca.) Oaks Christian, Class of 2007
The Buzz: No one on this mock draft list was more scrutinized than Clausen. The Rivals.com No. 1 ranked player in the country for the Class of 2007 has been under the microscope for many years but has stayed the course towards success. Even in high school, analysts were able to see his ability, as Mike Farrell said, "Clausen is as mechanically developed as any quarterback in the last decade."
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Maurkice Pouncey, Lakeland (Fla.) High, Class of 2007
The Buzz: The Pouncey twins' commitment to Florida was huge news in June 2006 and Maurkice developed into a first round pick under Urban Meyer. Entering college Maurkice was the No. 15 ranked offensive guard nationally and the No. 33 ranked player in the Sunshine State.
19. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Jason Pierre-Paul, Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High, Class of 2007
The Buzz: Pierre-Paul saw his draft stock soar following a solid season at USF and impressive performance at the NFL Combine. In high school Pierre-Paul flew under-the-radar as a two-star recruit deciding to go to UCF. His high school video was pretty impressive though.
20. Houston Texas
The Pick: Ryan Mathews, Bakersfield (Cali.) West, Class of 2007
The Buzz: Mathews lead the nation in rushing his senior year of high school, piling up 3,396 yards and 44 touchdowns. He was also the feather in the cap for Pat Hill and Fresno State as USC tried to swoop in late and get him to come be a Trojan. He was not highly ranked as the No. 69 athlete nationally at his position and only the No. 98 overall player in California.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Jermaine Gresham, Ardmore (Okla.) High, Class of 2006
The Buzz: Gresham was the No. 1 tight end in the nation in 2006 and figures to be the first taken in the 2010 draft. Gresham was hotly recruited but decided to go to Oklahoma on the words of Coach Stoops. "Coach Stoops has said if I give him a chance, he'll show me."
22. New England Patriots
The Pick: Sergio Kindle, Dallas (Texas) Wilson, Class of 2006
The Buzz: A U.S. Army All-American, Kindle was the No. 1 ranked player in the state of Texas, No. 1 linebacker, and No. 5 player nationally in the Class of 2006. Kindle was determined to stay home and play for the Longhorns saying, "I didn't want to leave out of the state and everybody in the country knows that if you're going to stay close to home, you pick the best school and that's Texas, no doubt about it."
23. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Anthony Davis, Piscataway (N.J.) High, Class of 2007
The Buzz: One of the best offensive lineman in the Class of 2007, Davis was ranked No. 68 in the nation and No. 5 amongst the guards. His choice to stay home and play at Rutgers was a major win for Greg Schiano, putting up walls around the state. His getting drafted to the NFL could potentially be huge for the Scarlet Knights' future recruiting efforts.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Taylor Mays, Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea, Class of 2006
The Buzz: Mays was the No. 1 player in Washington as well as the No. 2 athlete in the nation in 2006. His inclusion as a Rivals.com five-star player put the NFL potential writing on the wall. Mays was one of the more comical prospects at the U.S Army All-American game, saying that he was trying to recruit players to come with him to USC. "I'm trying to get in Gerald McCoy's ear, but he's so big, I can't get close to his ear."
25. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Jared Odrick, Lebanon (Pa.) High, Class of 2006
The Buzz: Odrick was ranked the No. 3 defensive tackle in the Class of 2006 and could be the No. 3 defensive tackle taken in the draft. Odrick was torn between Penn State, Georgia, and Florida before deciding to sign with PSU. All three schools had the big guns out to get him. "Tim Tebow of Florida talked to me two nights ago. Akeem Hebron also called me about Georgia, and I've spoken to Aaron Maybin from Penn State."
26. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Sean Weatherspoon, Jasper (Texas) High, Class of 2006
The Buzz: A Rivals.com two-star player, Weatherspoon almost never ended up at Missouri as he was an early commit to Houston. The Texas District 22-3A Player of the Year chose Missouri over Houston, Iowa State, and TCU. Despite some teams trying to move him out of position, Weatherspoon knew where he belonged. "The coaches at LSU even mentioned safety. But I think it will be outside linebacker although I am playing inside now."
27. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Dez Bryant, Lufkin (Texas) High, Class of 2007
The Buzz: Bryant was one of the highest rated wide receivers to ever sign with Oklahoma State. Bryant was ranked No. 54 overall in the nation and No. 9 at his position coming out of high school. Before setting foot on campus, Bryant knew his skill set very well. "To me it's my ability to attack the football because from what I see most receivers, you know, they run and wait for the ball to come down. I don't like to wait, I just go up and go jump for it."
28. San Diego Chargers
The Pick: Terrence Cody, Perkinston (Miss.) Gulf Coast C.C., Class of 2008
The Buzz: Mt. Cody, as he is called, has always been a mammoth. Coming into Alabama, he was listed at 6-foot-5 and 395-pounds. Cody chose Alabama over Auburn, Miami, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and West Virginia. His coach at Gulf Coast said, "He is going to be a real beast."
29. New York Jets
The Pick: Mike Iupati, Anaheim (Calif.) Western, Class of 2005
The Buzz: One of the lowest ranked players to potentially be drafted, Iupati was listed as a defensive tackle in high school before shifting to guard in college. Only one school besides Idaho offered Iupati - Arizona - with Arizona State and UTEP loosely recruiting him as well. Iupati had a tough time with the language barrier and had a hard time qualifying but grew into a potential first round pick.
30. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Kareem Jackson, Fork Union (Vir.) Military, Class of 2007
The Buzz: One of the final pieces of Nick Saban's first recruiting classes, Jackson was a four-star recruit and ranked at No. 17 among prep players in the Class of 2007. Jackson, who enrolled early for spring drills drew praise from Coach Saban for the decision. "I think it's always beneficial for a player to be able to get into spring practice and get settled academically."
31. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: Charles Brown, Pomona (Calif.) Diamond Ranch, Class of 2005
The Buzz: Brown, who was listed as an offensive lineman, went to college thinking he would become a tight end. The three-star prospect from California was torn between USC and UCLA, ultimately deciding to play for the Trojans. Stability at the head coaching position was the deciding factor according to his coach Tom Leach. "At UCLA, he knows that they have to win next year or who knows what could happen and he just felt USC was a safer pick for him," Leach said.
32. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Jerry Hughes, Sugar Land (Texas) Austin, Class of 2006
The Buzz: Hughes, like many kids that ended up at TCU, flew under the radar being ranked a two-star player. Hughes had offers from Iowa State and North Texas but ultimately chose the location of TCU over the others. His promise to the fans before attending was to give it his all. "I want the fans to know that I give my all every single game."

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