Monday, April 26, 2010
SEC snubs in the draft
By ESPN.com staff
Every year, I'm surprised at who goes in the NFL draft and how high they go and who never gets that call.
The biggest surprise for me this year was that Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard went undrafted.
Granted, he doesn't have ideal size for an interior defensive lineman (280 pounds), but you'd be hard-pressed to find a defensive lineman in the SEC who was more consistent than Sheppard the past two seasons. He recorded 24.5 tackles for loss over his last two years at Arkansas and collected more than 10 tackles for loss in each of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
He's played both end and tackle in his career, has a great work ethic and plays hard on every down. Just ask the guys at Florida and Alabama who tried to block him last season.
The thing that killed him was a shoulder injury he suffered in the Liberty Bowl. He tore ligaments and didn't undergo surgery. That led to a poor showing at the NFL combine, and as recently as March, Sheppard said the shoulder was still only about 80 percent.
If he gets back to 100 percent, the Houston Texans may have gotten a steal in free agency. His challenge is going to be finding a position. He's not really an end, and it remains to be seen if he's big enough to play inside in the NFL.
One of the other big surprises in the SEC was that somebody didn't take a shot on Auburn's Antonio Coleman, who led the league in sacks and tackles for loss last season. Coleman, too, is in between positions. He played defensive end in college, but will probably have to shift to outside linebacker in the NFL. Coleman signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills, who are switching to a 3-4 defense.
Other prominent SEC players who weren't drafted included LSU tight end Richard Dickson, Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead, Ole Miss receiver Shay Hodge, South Carolina safety Darian Stewart, Tennessee linebacker Rico McCoy, Alabama tight end Colin Peek and Vanderbilt safety Ryan Hamilton.
Snead's decision to turn pro early was puzzling when he made the announcement. Now it's to the point where it's almost sad how far he's fallen.
Going into last season, the feeling by many NFL analysts was that he was a first-round pick and possibly one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. But when you throw 20 interceptions in a season and look jittery in the pocket every time you feel pressure, things change in a hurry.