Comings and Goings- Offense

A first hand look at which draft eligible underclassmen on the offensive side of the ball are planning to enter April's event. The information gleaned has been gathered over the course of the last three months after talking with school officials, scouts and most importantly, the players themselves during scouting trips.

Early on it seemed as though entering the draft was the furthest thing from Ben Roethlisberger's mind but that has changed. After a good season and several games seen on national television, the big junior from Miami of Ohio is heavily leaning towards entering the draft and who can blame him?  Everyone we have spoken with agrees; if Roethlisberger enters, he is a top 12 pick.

During the third weekend in October, we traveled to Durham and scouted the Arizona State-North Carolina game. At that time, it was told to us that Andrew Walter was in fact ending his career with the Sun Devils and would leave for the NFL after the season. That has since changed as Walter hurt his ankle and is playing terrible football. What was an 80%-20% decision to leave for the draft now seems more like 50%-50%.

Georgia's David Greene has publicly announced he will stay in college while Kyle Orton is also heavily leaning towards returning to Purdue.

Running Backs:
As reported Saturday Kevin Jones will leave Virginia Tech after the season and enter the draft. He is expected to be a high pick and can go exceptionally early if he runs well in the post season, proves he can catch the ball and has no medical red-flags pop up.

The worst kept secret in the running back ranks is Steven Jackson's choice, which has been known since September. Putting together yet another terrific campaign Jackson will also enter the draft and could be the first running back selected.

The Hurricanes Frank Gore was set to enter the draft with Larry Coker's blessings before his knee injury in early October but that has obviously changed.

Auburn's Carnell Williams was also considering the draft but recently stated he plans to stay; a good choice considering his injury history.

A surprise early entry could be Anthony Davis from what we hear. The Badger runner was off to a great start before being sidelined with injury.

Wide Out/Tight End:
We expect a bevy of receivers to enter the draft. Reggie Williams of Washington already has a post-season program in place and could announce his eligibility as early as Saturday after the Huskies finish out the season.

Another who has made the decision to enter the draft is Michael Clayton of LSU. Sources in the south have told us Clayton is long gone after the season he has had, and why not? 

A month ago we were told by a fellow reporter that Larry Fitzgerald's dad was "going over the vague language" on the NFL's rule for eligible underclassmen, a sure sign the Pittsburgh receiver was going to throw his hat into the ring. Fitzgerald's dad has recently made public statements about his desire to challenge the NFL's rule.

Georgia's Fred Gibson was ready to enter the draft in September and still may, though an injury-plagued season has caused him to rethink his original plans.

We have heard Braylon Edwards of Michigan is also seriously considering leaving Ann Arbor for the NFL.

The surprise entry from the receivers could be Mark Clayton who is ready to leave after a breakout season.

Speaking of breakout seasons, we were alerted several weeks ago about Craphonso Thorpe's desire to enter the draft after his sensational campaign. However, we would expect that has changed after Thorpe broke his leg on Saturday.

What will the top tight end in the nation do? Leave for the draft the way we hear it. Kellen Winslow Jr. made statements to that effect at the start of the season then pulled back saying he would only leave if the Hurricane's won the national title. When we were in Miami at the start of October we were told it was a front to save face and Winslow will in fact enter the draft.

Offensive Linemen:
Pair of blockers from the SEC are likely headed to the draft and into the first round. Arkansas junior tackle Shawn Andrews will enter the draft after the season and battle for a top ten position.

LSU center Ben Wilkerson is also leaning towards entering the draft from what we have been told and would be the first center selected if he does.

Georgia Tech tackle Nat Dorsey will likely leave the Jackets at seasons end and head for the NFL.

The junior guards have been quiet as to their plans for the immediate future; not much from David Baas, Chris Snee or Jonathan Clinkscale yet.

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