Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Louisville wins big despite quiet drafts
By Andrea Adelson
Just from an pro-talent perspective, Louisville has won with less.
Consider, the Cardinals had zero picks in the recently concluded NFL draft -- the only BCS winning-team from the 2012 season without a selection. Of the 10 BCS teams, only two had no picks -- Louisville and Northern Illinois. Not exactly the company the Cardinals want to keep.
Over the past two years, Louisville has had one pick -- Greg Scruggs went in the seventh round in 2012. And yet the Cardinals have made three straight bowl games. Contrast this to UConn, which has underachieved, as Matt Fortuna showed earlier today.
Now, there is one key reason that Louisville has not represented in the NFL draft of late. The Cardinals have been one of the youngest teams in the country over the past two seasons. The team that beat Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in January featured 12 starters on offense, defense and special teams that were freshmen and sophomores. Only five seniors started out of an exceptionally small senior class.
Usually teams that young don't win that quickly. Credit coach Charlie Strong and his staff for leading them in the right direction.
Because a majority of these starters return in 2013, Louisville is an early preseason top-10 favorite. But even if we begin projecting out to the 2014 draft, only one player has been featured in three early lists of the top prospects. That would be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a rising junior with a decision to make when the season ends. No other Louisville player is featured on these two lists from CBSsports.com or Athlon Sports.
Now take a look at some of the other preseason favorites in 2013 and you will see multiple players listed for Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon to name three. Bridgewater is the clear headliner, of course, as he goes into the season as a preseason Heisman candidate. If he leaves school early, he could be the No. 1 overall pick. But if he is one of just a handful of Louisville players that ends up getting drafted off the Sugar Bowl-winning team, that feat looks even more impressive.
Especially when you consider Florida had eight draft selections this past weekend.