These same experts said Reggie Bush would be the No. 1 overall pick. He went No. 2. These same experts said quarterback Matt Leinart would be taken third or fourth in the draft. He went 10th. These same experts said LenDale White would be the second running back taken behind Bush. White was the fifth running back, the 45th overall pick. These same experts projected Florida receiver Chad Jackson would go in the first round. He went in the second.
So when you hear an expert say Leinart would have been the No. 1 overall pick if he'd come out last year, don't buy it. Leinart did nothing to hurt his draft stock between his junior and senior season. Maybe he would have gone No. 1. Maybe not.
Remember, these same guys had quarterback Aaron Rodgers going first or second in the first round last year. He went late in the first round.
I say this not to pick on NFL draft experts, but to point out the uncertainty of how the draft will play out.
Each year, Lindy's SEC Football magazine charges me with projecting the top 10 SEC pro talents. Last year, two of three NFL experts that I contacted rated Florida quarterback Chris Leak ahead of Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt.
Based on that information, I listed Leak, who was eligible to turn pro, ahead of Cutler. Cutler, of course was the No. 11 overall pick. Leak stayed in college.
This year, the two experts who rated Leak No. 1 last year didn't put him in the top 10 among SEC pro prospects.
What a difference a year makes.
Some of last year's projections were pretty accurate. Of the SEC players that were in the draft, the order was Cutler, Jason Allen of Tennessee, DeMeco Ryans of Alabama, Marcus McNeill of Auburn, Jesse Mahelona of Tennessee, Andrew Whitworth of LSU, Freddie Roach of Alabama and Gerald Riggs of Tennessee.
Cutler and Allen were the first two SEC players taken. Ryans was the fifth, McNeill the eighth, Whitworth the ninth. Each was taken in the first two rounds.
Mahelona went in the fifth round. Roach and Riggs went undrafted, Riggs in part because of a broken ankle.
Two players who cracked the SEC top 10 were juniors: Jonathan Joseph of South Carolina and Chad Jackson of Florida. LSU running back Joseph Addai, Alabama defensive back Roman Harper and Georgia cornerback Tim Jennings were in the top 10.
Of the eight SEC underclassmen who turned pro early, Joseph went in the first round, Jackson the second round, Leonard Pope of Georgia the third round, Ko Simpson of South Carolina the fourth round, Dee Webb of Florida and Stanley McClover of Auburn the seventh round. UT's Rob Smith and Tony McDaniel went undrafted.
Regarding next year, two draft analysts told me Tennessee will have two of the SEC's top 10 NFL prospects. Defensive tackle Justin Harrell figures to go in the first round and offensive lineman Arron Sears in the second round.
The No. 1 SEC pro prospect for next year: Georgia defensive end Quentin Moses.
FLORIDA PRODUCES MOST HIGH DRAFT PICKS
NFL draft analyst Mike DeTillier of South Louisiana had an interesting note in his publication, M & D Draft Report.
DeTillier noted that the state of Florida had 49 high school players taken in the first or second round of the last five NFL drafts. Second was California with 35, followed by Texas (33), Georgia (29) and Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina (12 each).
Mississippi had nine, Tennessee six, Arkansas four and Kentucky one.