The Marcus Thomas Mystery

It's draft week and after months of wondering and speculating the answers will be in for the members of the 2006 Gator Football team. Where will they be playing? When will they get drafted? Who goes sooner than expected? Later? All those questions will be answered Saturday and Sunday when the NFL conducts its annual player selection process.

No Gator has a bigger mystery surrounding him than defensive tackle Marcus Thomas. The troubled lineman has first round talent, but substance and personal discipline issues have many teams backing off. This afternoon I heard a radio interview with his agent conducted by Heath Cline and it seemed to indicate there are at most seven teams seriously considering Thomas for a first day selection. Picking Thomas in the second or third round would be a risky proposition considering the way his collegiate career ended.

A Risk Worth Taking

If I were advising a team like Cincinnati I would tell them to steer clear of Thomas or any other player with a tainted past. The Bengals seemingly have more guys with police records than without and cannot afford to take any chances. But if my team had a pretty clean roster with quality veteran leadership I would grab Thomas at any point after the middle of round two.

Defensive tackles with his talent are special. If Marcus Thomas had never had any issues he might be ticketed for the top ten. To get a top ten talent late in round two or early in the third is a potential steal. When you look at it from the risk/reward perspective it is relatively low risk and potentially very high reward.

Part of the reason I feel this way, is that the defensive tackle class is rather thin. The highest-rated tackle on the board is Louisville teenager Amobi Akoye and number two is beefy Michigan lineman Alan Branch. Then you have a tandem of Tennessee Vols in Justin Harrell and Turk McBride. They're all good players, but none is as good as Thomas.

Other Gator Draft Notes

Reggie Nelson is apparently slipping on some draft boards over speculation he may be a slow learner since he went to a junior college. What nonsense! Nelson might be the second best football player in the entire draft. No, he's not very big for a safety, but he's a big time player. If he slips past both of my New York teams (Giants # 20, Jets # 25) I'll scream.

Jarvis Moss might be the best pass rusher in the draft and while other defensive ends (Jamal Anderson, Gaines Adams) will go sooner, I wouldn't bet against Moss leading all rookies in sacks. Denver is hoping he slides to them at # 21 but I'm betting he won't.

Ray McDonald seems to be a lock to be the third Gator chosen, perhaps in the first half of round two. NFL teams like the fact that Ray Mac can play just about anywhere on the line, and that he's a top notch character guy. He's a great kid and he really deserves it after tearing up both knees.

Brandon Siler is getting bad-mouthed by some as too stiff for the NFL. That's a typically goofy NFL spin that comes after individual workouts, but didn't seem to be a factor in any actual football evaluation. He'll be a lot like Andra Davis in the NFL which makes him a great value third round pick.

No other Gators are certain to go on day one, although some teams really like Dallas Baker. Still when all is said and done, I bet about ten of the '06 Gators will be packing up their championship rings and heading on to new digs. More, if you count free agents.

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