With the draft now a three day televised spectacle showcasing more genuine human drama than any episode of Survivor or Amazing Race could ever possibly hope to provide, the extreme highs and lows need to be treated equally as surprise events. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the continuous trek to the podium to announce names during the first, second, and third rounds, but for some once projected first round talents those rounds just weren’t enough for them to hear their names called.
One massive (literal) slip that took place was with Maryland Terrapins 6’6” 314lbs. offensive tackle Bruce Campbell. Plenty of projections had him as high as a top ten pick less than two weeks before the draft and even just hours before the process many thought of him as a late 1st round talent. Two days and a few rounds later and Campbell is a member of the Oakland Raiders, but not where he was originally projected at the 8th overall selection, as the 106th overall pick in round four. Campbell obviously has all of the physical tools after totally throwing the expectations for a man of his size out the window with a workout warrior performance for the ages at the NFL Scouting Combine. At his size, the 4.85 second time in the 40 yard dash, 34 reps at 225lbs. on the bench press, and 32-inch vertical jump just brought scouts to their feet while taking in the spectacle. If Campbell can work on his technique and translate that freakish athleticism to on-field success, the sky is the limit for his potential in Oakland.
A number of underclassmen entered this year’s draft and many of them went as they expected upon declaring themselves eligible, but that isn’t true in every case. USC Trojans talented pass rusher Everson Griffen was a junior entry to the draft and was once thought of as a borderline 1st to 2nd round prospect with his exceptional explosion around the edge. His dreams too came up short as he waited until the draft’s third and final day to hear his name called as the 100th overall pick early in the 4th round. This scenario is hardly ideal for Griffen in terms of draft positioning, but the team that he lands with could be a different story. The Minnesota Vikings selected Griffen to complement their already household name edge rusher Jared Allen on the other side of the defensive line and Griffen would be wise to learn the tools of the trade from one of the league’s best. Allen’s tutelage could prove to be the ideal situation for this youngster to step into as he prepares for a career in the NFL that can only dream of being as successful as the current Vikes sack artist.
It’s important to remember that the NFL Draft is far from an exact science and that there are a number of Pro Football Hall of Fame members who were not first round picks. These projections are most certainly flawed and every team is bound to have its own fair share of so-called busts that once looked like ‘can’t miss’ players. These young men all have a unique opportunity to make an NFL roster and leave a legacy in their respective cities at their positions that can last forever. Don’t be surprised if these two turn out to be discussed as steals somewhere down the line for the teams lucky enough to land them.
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