Offensively the focus is on a trio of, if not four, pass catchers and a single offensive lineman. Dan Stricker almost made a big mistake and left for the draft last April but that Vandy intelligence helped steer him in the right direction. Stricker is a nice size, active target that consistently finds the open spot on the field and displays the ability to adjust and make all the catches in contorted positions. He is a smart, tough football player but lacks the great speed and also does a little too much body catching for our liking. A good senior season and more importantly, fast workouts prior to next April, could move him into the late part of the draft's first day in 2003. Receiver MJ Garrett displays the big play ability on occasion and has the strong hands to pull the errant throw out of the air but his consistency is a fraction of Stricker's and Garrett needs a big senior campaign if he's to get selected. Tight end Tom Simone has adequate size and athleticism but is rarely a part of the offense and looks like a developmental prospect right now while another pass catcher, junior Chris Young, showed flashes of skill early in his career but has seemingly dropped off the map. Lastly, guard Jim May is a tough, strong lineman that blocks with solid fundamentals and is very effective in confined quarters. His inability to play in space or cover any amount of range will push him into the very late rounds. Senior center Jamie Bynum is a solid pivot man but will get more looks for his long snapping skills.
Vanderbilt has been known for defensive backs and tough, intelligent linebackers. Both will be available from this program next April. Outside linebacker Hunter Hillenmayer is a nice sized defender with growth potential and already one that plays with good strength at the point of attack. Hillenmayer displays smarts, range and works to get involved in the action. Rarely off his feet he easily sheds blocks on his way to the action but is a little stiff and lacks the quick, smooth change of direction when altering his angle of attack. He could play over tight end in a four-three defense but we feel his best position would be left outside linebacker in a three-four scheme. Fast times will push him into the middle rounds next April. Rushen Jones was injured last season but at the top of his game is one of the better corners in the SEC. Should he meet expectations this season as a senior, Jones could be one of the better secrets at cornerback.