Draft outlook not good for former Tigers

Although several Missouri seniors raked in All-Big 12 honors in 2003, none of them have received considerable attention for the 2004 NFL Draft this weekend.

In the past season, four Missouri players earned all-conference honors in one of the toughest leagues in the nation, the Big 12.

Tackle Rob Droege was a first-teamer on the media team and on the coaches' second team. Center A.J. Ricker finished the opposite: on the first team with the coaches and the second team with the media. Running back Zack Abron, the Tigers' all-time rusher, finished on both second teams, and cornerback Michael Harden merited a honorable mention on the coaches' team.

So why aren't any of them showing up on any draft boards? The consensus is speed.

ESPN ranked the 329 top players for the 255 spots in this weekend's NFL Draft, and only Droege and Ricker showed up on the boards: Droege at 326th and Ricker at 342nd. Both rankings pointed to their speed as the primary concern for the players.

Abron hasn't shown up on any boards, even with what's considered a shallow year for running backs in the draft. Harden said in January he thinks he has a chance to make a team and that he's hired an agent, but he also has not received much if any attention.

So when it comes down to it, the biggest news Tiger fans can expect come draft time could be on Monday, when teams can sign draft-eligible players to free agent contracts.

Wide receiver Darius Outlaw, on the other hand, has decided to take a different route to the NFL. Outlaw left two weeks ago for Germany to try his hand in NFL Europe.


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