SEC: Marcell Dareus

SEC lunch links

June, 30, 2011
Some SEC linkage for your viewing enjoyment on a Thursday:

Coaching 'em up: Alabama

June, 27, 2011
Over the next couple of weeks, we're going to highlight one assistant coach daily on all 12 SEC teams.

In this particular case, it's a coach who has his work cut out for the 2011 season. Maybe he's new to the scene, or maybe the position he's coaching will be extremely inexperienced in 2011. Then again, it could be that the position he's coaching holds the key to that team's success in 2011.

One way or the other, the spotlight will be on him and his players this coming season.

We'll start with Alabama.

Coach: Chris Rumph

Position: Defensive line

Experience: First season on Alabama's staff. Rumph spent the previous five seasons as the defensive ends coach at Clemson. He was hired to replace Bo Davis, who left to take a job on the Texas staff. Rumph also served stints on the Memphis and South Carolina State staffs.

Of note: Played his college football at South Carolina and was a linebacker for the Gamecocks from 1991-94. ... Among his star pupils at Clemson were Da'Quan Bowers and Phillip Merling. ... One of the top recruiters in the ACC over the past few years.

His challenge: Alabama's defense appears poised to return to the kind of dominant unit that paved the way for the Crimson Tide's run to the 2009 national championship. The linebacker corps is loaded with future NFL talent, and the talent and depth in the secondary isn't too far behind, especially with some of the younger players back there having had a chance to mature a year ago. With Marcell Dareus leaving early for the NFL, Alabama doesn't return a proven difference-maker up front. Senior nose guard Josh Chapman is solid, and junior end Damion Square has proven in the past that he can get after the passer. He should only be better in 2011 now that he's two years removed from a torn ACL. Generating a more consistent pass rush will be a priority for Alabama this coming season, and a big part of that will hinge on getting a better push from the defensive line. The departure of Dareus opens the door for some of Alabama's younger players to step up, guys like Darrington Sentimore and Ed Stinson. How quickly junior college newcomers Jesse Williams and Quinton Dial develop will also be critical to the Tide's success up front. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Williams has the size and physical tools to be a dominant nose guard. It's up to Rumph to help get him there.
ESPN colleague Bruce Feldman took a stroll down Memory Lane Wednesday when he re-ranked the top 10 players in the 2008 recruiting class. The SEC had five members inside Feldman's top 10.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck took the top spot after being ranked No. 61 overall by ESPN and the seventh-best quarterback prospect back in 2008. With what he did in his last two years, I don't think many will argue with Feldman there.

LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson was the highest of the SEC players, coming in at No. 2 after ranking eighth when he came out of high school.

Peterson took away half of the field when he lined up at corner and was a dynamic kick returner. He might end up playing safety in the NFL, but he'll be a game changer on defense for years to come.

Here's Feldman's take:
A real freak athlete, the 6-1, 220-pound corner was the nation's No. 8 recruit and he more than lived up to that hype. Peterson won a starting job by the end of his freshman season in 2008, was all-SEC and made some All-America teams as a sophomore. He then won the Jim Thorpe and Chuck Bednarik awards and SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2010. The Cardinals drafted him fifth overall in April.

Next was Alabama running back Mark Ingram, who was third, moving all the way up from 109th.

The Heisman trophy winner was a total work horse in Tuscaloosa and his numbers would have been even better last season if he hadn't have suffered a knee injury before the year.

Here's Feldman's take:
It's fascinating to go through the collection of backs that ESPN had ranked higher in '08: Jermie Calhoun, Darrell Scott, Jamie Harper, Ryan Williams, Richard Samuel; Andre Ellington; Aundre Dean; Carlton Thomas; De'Anthony Curtis and Jonas Gray. A few transferred (Scott and Dean). A few now play other positions (Samuel and Curtis) and if you take out Williams, who had an outstanding 2009 season, you have a group that combined has run for around the same amount of yards and TDs -- 3,300 yards and 42 touchdowns -- as Ingram did in his three seasons in Tuscaloosa, in addition to winning the Tide's first Heisman Trophy. Not bad for the 12th ranked back or 109th overall recruit.

"That wasn't a great running back class," Luginbill said. "With Ingram, his style of play and the school he chose with the scheme they play couldn't have been more of a fit. It was a perfect marriage."

Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green kept the SEC streak alive, coming in at No. 4, which is one spot higher than his 2008 ranking.

What more can be said about Green? He never shied away from double teams and made awkward catches look easy. Despite missing the first four games of the season in 2010, he led the Bulldogs in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns.

Here's Feldman's take;
The lanky South Carolina native had three QBs in three seasons at Georgia and he excelled with each of them, despite some nagging injuries and a four-game NCAA suspension in 2010. Green was equally adept at making the spectacular catch and the routine go-to play for the Dawgs. The Bengals just drafted him fourth overall.

Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus ranked sixth after being ranked the No. 39 defensive tackle prospect coming out of high school in 2008.

Dareus arrived on the mainstream college football scene when he had that nasty interception returned for a touchdown in the national championship. He was drafted No. 3 overall in this year's NFL draft and some thought he could have easily gone No. 1.

Here's Feldman's take:
The Crimson Tide had the No. 3 recruiting class, according to ESPN (behind Miami and Clemson), but Dareus wasn't a major reason for the lofty status. He was only touted as the No. 39 defensive tackle prospect in the country. Even die-hard college football fans probably hadn't heard of him until the BCS title game against Texas, when he knocked Colt McCoy out of the game and proceeded to dominate the Longhorns en route to winning MVP honors. Dareus was one of the few proven players on the 2010 Tide D, but when he was on the field he was a big impact guy. In his career, he finished with 20 tackles for loss and 11 sacks before leaving as the No. 3 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Finally, Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones came in at No. 9 on Feldman's list, which is seven spots lower than where he was coming out of high school.

Jones was a freakish athlete during his three seasons with the Tide and while some questioned his on-field work ethic at times, he was easily Alabama's best receiver in each year he was in Tuscaloosa. His work ethic certainly wasn't challenged when he went through the NFL combine with a broken foot this year.

Here's Feldman's take:
A big, strong wideout with every bit as much athleticism as Green, Jones was ranked a tad higher than Green, coming in at No. 2 overall in 2008. Jones became the first true freshman receiver to ever start the opener for the Crimson Tide. In 2009, he helped Bama to a national title. Last season, he had his best year, catching 78 passes for 1,133 yards. At the NFL combine he put on quite the display, notching the longest broad jump and the third-fastest 40-yard dash time among the receiver group and did so despite having a broken bone in his foot. The Falcons traded the kitchen sink to get him at No. 6 in the draft.
Now that the NFL draft is over, I thought it'd be fun to take a look at how last year's first-round predictions turned out.

Shortly after the 2010 NFL draft, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay predicted the SEC would have eight selections in the first round in his first 2011 mock draft Insider. He ended up being pretty close as the SEC had 10 players go in the first round.

He also had Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck going first, which probably would have been the case if he had decided to enter the draft. Instead, he opted to stay in school and Auburn's Cam Newton was taken by the Carolina Panthers with the first pick.

McShay was close with his Marcell Dareus pick. He wrote that the Alabama defensive tackle would go second to the St. Louis Rams, but Dareus went third to the Buffalo Bills.

He also had Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet going 15th to the San Francisco 49ers and Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe landing with the Denver Broncos at No. 13. Mallett was taken by the New England Patriots in the third round, while Powe was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in sixth.

Making these predictions isn't easy, so it's pretty impressive that he was able to predict six of his eight players to go in the first round.

Here's what McShay predicted in 2010:
  • No. 2, St. Louis Rams: Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
  • No. 7, New England Patriots: Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green
  • No. 13, Denver Broncos: Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe
  • No. 15, San Francisco 49ers: Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett
  • No. 19, New York Giants: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
  • No. 24, Cincinnati Bengals: Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones
  • No. 27, Baltimore Ravens: LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson
  • No. 31, Indianapolis Colts: Florida offensive guard/center Mike Pouncey

And here's how the first round turned out:
  • No. 1, Carolina Panthers: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton
  • No. 3, Buffalo Bills: Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
  • No. 4, Cincinnati Bengals: Georgia receiver A.J. Green
  • No. 5, Arizona Cardinals: LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson
  • No. 6, Atlanta Falcons: Alabama receiver Julio Jones
  • No. 13, Detroit Lions: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley
  • No. 15, Miami Dolphins: Florida offensive guard/center Mike Pouncey
  • No. 25, Seattle Seahawks: Alabama offensive guard James Carpenter
  • No. 28, New Orleans Saints: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
  • No. 32, Green Bay Packers: Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod

SEC has 10 players go in first round

April, 29, 2011
The first round of the 2011 NFL draft on Thursday night had a definitive SEC flavor to it.

It opened with an SEC player being selected and then closed several hours later with an SEC player being selected.

All told, there were 10 players from the SEC taken in the first round, which was one shy of the league record set in 2007.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was the No. 1 pick overall and went to the Carolina Panthers. It’s the third time in the past five drafts that the SEC has produced the top overall pick. Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford went No. 1 overall to the Detroit Lions in 2009, and LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell went No. 1 overall to the Oakland Raiders in 2007.

Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 SEC first-round selections:
The SEC has had five picks in the top 20 of the first round five straight years now.

Newton became the eighth SEC quarterback to be drafted in the first round in the past 10 years.

One of the biggest surprises of the first round was Carpenter going 25th to the Seahawks. Carpenter played left tackle at Alabama the past two seasons and was thought to be more of a second-round selection. But he helped himself at the Senior Bowl by showing that he could also play guard.

Fairley, the No. 5 prospect on ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s Big Board, dropped to 13th and was taken by the Lions. Fairley will be paired in Detroit with 2010 rookie of the year Ndamukong Suh.

Sherrod had to wait until the final pick of the first round to hear his name called. But in going 32nd overall to the Packers, he ended a long drought for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had gone 14 straight years without a first-round pick.

Alabama became the first team in the SEC to produce four first-round NFL draft selections since Auburn did it in 2005.

Over the past three years, Alabama has produced seven first-rounders, the most in the SEC. That’s after going eight years in a row without any first-round selections.

Nick Saban has now recruited and signed 15 players during his nine seasons as an SEC head coach who’ve gone on to become first-round selections. He was responsible for signing all nine of LSU’s first-round choices from 2004-09 and signed six of Alabama’s seven first-rounders over the past three years.

Tennessee was shut out of the first round for the first time since 2005. The Vols were the only team in the SEC that had produced a first-rounder each of the past five years prior to Thursday night’s festivities.

The draft resumes on Friday night with the second and third rounds.

Among those SEC players expected to get a call Friday are Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb, Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston, Georgia inside linebacker Akeem Dent, Georgia offensive guard Clint Boling, LSU inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, Auburn offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, Florida offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert and Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker.

SEC expected to dominate top 10 picks

April, 28, 2011
ESPN's Mel Kiper has unveiled his final NFL mock draft, and if he's right, get ready to hear a bunch of SEC players' names right away on Thursday night from Radio City Music Hall.

Kiper is predicting that five of the first six picks in the draft will be SEC players, led by Auburn quarterback Cam Newton going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers.

The only non-SEC player in Kiper's top six is Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller going No. 2 to the Denver Broncos.

After that, Kiper has Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus going No. 3 to the Buffalo Bills, Georgia receiver A.J. Green going No. 4 to the Cincinnati Bengals, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson going No. 5 to the Arizona Cardinals and Alabama receiver Julio Jones going No. 6 to the Cleveland Browns.

Also in the top 10, Kiper projects that Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley will go No. 8 to the Tennessee Titans.

That would be six SEC players in the top 10 picks, which would be a record.

The SEC has produced four of the top 10 players in the draft on two different occasions. In 2008, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden went No. 4, LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey No. 5, Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey No. 8 and Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo No. 10. In 2005, Auburn running back Ronnie Brown went No. 2, Auburn running back Cadillac Williams No. 5, South Carolina receiver Troy Williamson No. 7 and Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers No. 9.

Overall, Kiper has nine SEC players going in the first round this year. The SEC record for first-rounders is 11, which was set in 2007.

Rounding out the SEC players projected to go in the first round, Kiper has Florida offensive center/guard Mike Pouncey going No. 15 to the Miami Dolphins, Alabama running back Mark Ingram going No. 28 to the New England Patriots and Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod going No. 29 to the Chicago Bears.
Chris, I like your Patrick Peterson pick. He's probably the best defensive back in the draft and he's also a special playmaker.

Carolina has lacked a true difference-maker on defense since Julius Peppers left and Peterson is the kind of player who could fill that void.

However, the Panthers' secondary isn't that bad off. Carolina ranked 11th in the league in passing defense in 2010, giving up 212.1 yards per game and allowed just 19 passing touchdowns, which was sixth-best in the NFL.

Plus, Carolina hired former San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera whose defense was statistically the best in the league last season and was first in passing yards allowed (177.8).

[+] EnlargeMarcell Dareus
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesMarcell Dareus would give Carolina versatility along its defensive line.
Rivera could probably work wonders with Peterson in his secondary, but it doesn't appear as though cornerback is a position of need this early in the draft.

The No. 1 pick is nothing to joke about, and since the Panthers currently don't have a second-round pick, general manager Marty Hurney has to fill the position of greatest need for his team.

Most are predicting the Panthers to select Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. But is that the best move? The Panthers already have Jimmy Clausen, who might have struggled mightily in his rookie season, but shouldn't be considered a bust after just one year. I agree that quarterback is a position of need for the Panthers, but to use the first overall pick on one -- especially one with as many question marks as Newton -- would be unwise.

So, I'm going with Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. The Panthers need help on the interior of their defensive line and Dareus is the type of player who could make an instant impact in Carolina -- and for the next few years.

Quick: Name Carolina's starting defensive tackles from last season. Yeah, neither could I.

Dareus, who Scouts Inc. ranks as the top overall prospect in the 2011 NFL draft, has the complete skill set as a defensive lineman and can play just about every position on the line. He's also pretty versatile at 6-foot-3, 319 pounds and played in multiple schemes under Alabama coach Nick Saban.

Dareus has a tremendously fast first step, mammoth strength and is a proven leader. He'll plug running holes and harass opposing quarterbacks. He's also quite athletic. Everyone should remember the interception he returned for a touchdown in the 2009 national title game on his way to MVP honors.

Dareus had 34 tackles, including 11 for loss, and 4.5 sacks last season. He also had four pass breakups, four pass deflections and 10 quarterback hurries.

Quarterback is a need, but the Panthers have to address the gaping hole on their defensive line and Dareus is just the guy to plug that gap.

My advice to Panthers: Take Peterson

April, 28, 2011
Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney hasn’t asked me, and something tells me he won’t.

But if he did, my advice would be simple.

Forget about Cam Newton and forget about Marcell Dareus.

Rather, take that No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL draft and select the guy who’s going to come in and make the most profound impact over the next 10 seasons -- LSU’s Patrick Peterson.

There’s no such thing as a sure thing in any draft. But the closest thing to that in this draft is Peterson, a 218-pound freak of an athlete who can lock down on the best receivers in the game and then turn around and change the game with an electrifying punt return for a touchdown.

To me, Newton is a serious reach with the No. 1 overall pick.

He had an unbelievable season a year ago at Auburn, and I could see using a pick later in the first round to get him, especially if he gets in the right system. But no way would I take him with the first pick in the draft.

Dareus would be No. 3 on my board, just a shade behind Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

But my clear No. 1 would be Peterson, who just also happens to be No. 1 on Mel Kiper’s final Big Board.

As I’ve said many times after watching Peterson play the past three seasons in the SEC, there just aren’t many guys like him anywhere on the planet.

He’s pushing 220 pounds, runs a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, tackles like a linebacker and has that edge about him all the great defenders possess.

He’s also one of those rare guys who could play cornerback, nickel or safety in the NFL and be a star at all three positions. And if he gets his hands on the ball, good luck in getting him on the ground.

On special teams, Peterson’s a big play waiting to happen. He led the SEC last season in kickoff return average and punt return average and took two punts back for touchdowns.

When you’re picking first in the NFL draft, you’re looking for a guy who can come in and transform your franchise, a guy who can be a cornerstone for years to come.

That guy wore No. 7 for the LSU Tigers the past three seasons.

If the Panthers are smart, he’ll be wearing one of their uniforms next season.

The SEC's NFL pipelines

April, 27, 2011
With the NFL draft set to begin on Thursday night, it’s always fun to go back and see who’s produced the most talent in the SEC over the last decade.

As was pointed out Tuesday, Georgia leads the SEC with the most total draft picks (61) since 2000. Tennessee (60) is second. Both are among the top 5 nationally, too, even though neither team has won an SEC championship in the last five years.

Delving even deeper into the question of who produces the most talent in the SEC, anybody want to venture a guess on which school has produced the most premium draft choices over the last five years and the last 10 years?

And by premium, I mean any player taken in the first three rounds.

Over the last 10 years, that would be Georgia with 29 players selected in the top three rounds. Over the last five years, Florida and LSU are tied at the top, each with 14 players selected in rounds 1-3.

Florida has produced 11 first-round selections over the last 10 years, while Georgia and Tennessee have both produced 10 first-round selections during the last decade.

Over the last five years, Florida, LSU and Tennessee are tied with the most first-round selections, each with seven.

No team in the SEC has done less with more than Tennessee. The Vols are the only team in the league that has produced a first-round selection each of the past five years. Only Florida has produced more first- and second-rounders than the Vols during that span, but has two national championships to show for it.

Tennessee, on the other hand, has finished with a losing record two of the last three seasons and three times over the last six seasons. The Vols last won an SEC championship during their 1998 national championship season.

Equally interesting is how few premium draft picks South Carolina has produced under Steve Spurrier.

The Gamecocks haven’t had a first-rounder since 2006 and only three players over the last five years who’ve gone in the top three rounds.

Mississippi State hasn’t exactly been an NFL pipeline, either. The Bulldogs haven’t had a first-round draft pick since 1996 when Walt Harris and Eric Moulds both went in the first round. They’ve only had one player taken in the first three rounds over the last five years and four players in the last 10 years.

The Bulldogs have gone nine straight years without a first- or second-round pick, although that drought will end this year with offensive tackle Derek Sherrod.

Alabama had gone eight straight years without a first-round selection until 2009. The Crimson Tide have had three in the last two years and are expected to have three more this year with defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, receiver Julio Jones and running back Mark Ingram.

Counting his time at LSU and now Alabama, Nick Saban has recruited and signed 11 players who went on to become first-round draft choices. When you throw in the three others from Alabama who are expected to go in the first round this year, that would be 14 first-rounders for Saban in nine seasons as a head coach in the SEC.

All nine of LSU’s first-round picks over the last 10 years were recruited and signed by Saban, who was the Tigers’ head coach from 2000-04.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson, projected to go in the top 10 picks of this year’s draft, will be LSU’s first first-rounder recruited and signed by Les Miles.

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of who’s produced the most first, second and third-round selections over the last 10 years in the SEC:

Georgia: 29
Florida: 27
Tennessee: 25
LSU: 21
Alabama: 18
Auburn: 18
Ole Miss: 13
Arkansas: 12
South Carolina: 10
Kentucky: 6
Vanderbilt: 5
Mississippi State: 4

Here’s that same breakdown over the last five years:

Florida: 14
LSU: 14
Alabama: 12
Georgia: 10
Tennessee: 10
Auburn: 9
Arkansas: 6
Ole Miss: 6
Vanderbilt: 4
South Carolina: 3
Kentucky: 2
Mississippi State: 1

Here’s a look at the first-round scorecard over the last 10 years:

Florida: 11
Georgia: 10
Tennessee: 10
LSU: 9
Arkansas: 6
Auburn: 6
Ole Miss: 6
Alabama: 3
South Carolina: 3
Vanderbilt: 2
Kentucky: 1
Mississippi State: 0

Here’s the first-round breakdown over the last five years:

Florida: 7
LSU: 7
Tennessee: 7
Alabama: 3
Arkansas: 3
Ole Miss: 3
Georgia: 2
Vanderbilt: 2
Auburn: 1
South Carolina: 1
Kentucky: 0
Mississippi State: 0

Nine SEC players to attend NFL draft

April, 25, 2011
Despite the lockout, the NFL announced Monday that a record 25 players will attend the first round of the NFL draft festivities on Thursday night at Radio Music City Hall in New York City.

Of those 25 players scheduled to attend, nine are from the SEC -- Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Alabama receiver Julio Jones, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, Florida offensive center/guard Mike Pouncey, Georgia receiver A.J. Green, Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

Here's the entire list:

Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers
Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn
Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb
Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
Auburn DT Nick Fairley
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert
Georgia receiver A.J. Green
Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich
Alabama running back Mark Ingram
California defensive end Cameron Jordan
Alabama WR Julio Jones
Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan
Illinois DT Corey Liuget
Texas A&M LB Von Miller
UCLA safety Rahim Moore
Auburn QB Cam Newton
LSU CB Patrick Peterson
Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey
Missouri DE Aldon Smith
USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith
Baylor DT Phil Taylor
Baylor guard Danny Watkins
Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt
Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams
Tuesday, EA Sports unveiled its NCAA Football 12 cover athlete. The winner, selected by the fans, was former Alabama running back Mark Ingram, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2009.

Ingram is the second straight SEC player to grace the cover of one of EA’s most popular video games. Florida’s Tim Tebow was the 2011 cover athlete.

Ingram, who finished the 2010 season with 875 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 158 carries, beat out former Washington quarterback Jake Locker, Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Outside of Fairley, who won the Lombardi Award last season, this isn’t the most glamorous of lineups.

Ingram won the Heisman in 2009, but fought injury and consistency in 2010. He rushed for more than 100 yards just twice.

It was a fan vote, so you can’t argue the choice. Ingram deserves a congratulations and he had a great career at Alabama. Besides, Tebow won last year with a not-so-impressive senior season, too.

However, there are a few other names left off the ballot that certainly would have given Ingram a run for his cover.

Two that immediately come to mind are former SEC stars: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

You could even argue that Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus or wide receiver Julio Jones should have been in the running.

Why didn’t they make it? Not sure. But I have my suspicions on a couple.

The NCAA trouble Green got into that caused him to miss the first four games of the season might have been a factor. He ended up leading the Bulldogs with 57 receptions for 848 yards and nine touchdowns.

All Newton did was win the Heisman in 2010 and lead the Tigers to a national championship. He was Auburn’s team, accumulating 50 total touchdowns and even led the SEC in rushing with 1,473 yards.

Of course, EA might have been a little hesitant to put his name on the ballot with the NCAA investigation of Newton and his father.

As for Peterson, he wasn’t involved in off-the-field wrong doings this fall and could be a top-five pick in this month’s NFL Draft. He’s the top corner prospect and is extremely exciting to watch in the return game.

Green paid his dues and the NCAA hasn’t found Newton guilty of anything, but his investigation likely isn’t over.

Yes, having either might look bad for EA, but they were deserving of a shot. Let the fans decide from there.

Would having either Newton or Green on the cover really hurt sales of a game that wouldn’t even feature either athlete? Would it force the normal fan of the franchise to put the box back on the shelf?

The NCAA certainly wants EA to represent its product in the most positive light, but if the game sold more copies with Newton on the cover, do you think either side would be upset?

I don’t think so.

Unfortunately, a few of the country’s best college football player was shut out and we’ll never know the excitement that might have ensued if Newton, Fairley and Ingram battled for EA supremacy.

Newton poised to be drafted No. 1?

April, 8, 2011
Both ESPN draft analysts, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, have Auburn quarterback Cam Newton going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers in their latest mock NFL drafts this week.

Six SEC players will go among the top 10 picks, according to both Kiper and McShay.

Here's a look at the SEC players in Kiper's three-round mock draft:

First round
Second round
Third round

Here's a look at the SEC players in McShay's three-round mock draft:
  • Auburn QB Cam Newton, No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers
  • Alabama DT Marcell Dareus, No. 2 overall to the Denver Broncos
  • Georgia WR A.J. Green, No. 4 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals
  • LSU CB Patrick Peterson, No. 7 overall to the San Francisco 49ers
  • Auburn DT Nick Fairley, No. 8 overall to the Tennessee Titans
  • Alabama WR Julio Jones. No. 10 overall to the Washington Redskins
  • Florida OG Mike Pouncey, No. 15 overall to the Miami Dolphins
  • Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod, No. 23 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles
  • Alabama RB Mark Ingram, No. 28 overall to the New England Patriots
Second round
  • Georgia OG Clint Boling, No. 33 overall to the New England Patriots
  • Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, No. 39 overall to the Tennessee Titans
  • Georgia OLB Justin Houston, No. 42 overall to the Houston Texans
  • Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, No. 47 overall to the St. Louis Rams
  • LSU LB Kelvin Sheppard, No. 55 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs
  • Alabama OT James Carpenter, No. 60 overall to the New England Patriots
Third round

Peterson remains No. 1 on Big Board

March, 31, 2011
Former LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson remains No. 1 on Mel Kiper's latest Big Board of the top 25 NFL draft prospects.

Kiper has Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley at No. 3 this week with Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller moving into the No. 2 spot.

There was a lot of chatter a couple of weeks ago about Fairley possibly sliding down to the No. 8 pick or lower, although I'll have to see that to believe it. Auburn coach Gene Chizik feels the same way. In visiting with Chizik last week, he thinks it's all a smokescreen and that Fairley will go somewhere in the top five picks.

Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is right behind Fairley at No. 4, and Georgia receiver A.J. Green is No. 5 -- giving the SEC four of the top five players on Kiper's Big Board.

Alabama receiver Julio Jones is No. 11, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton No. 13 and Alabama running back Mark Ingram No. 19.

There's a very realistic scenario out there where five of the top 15 picks in the draft could come from either Alabama or Auburn.

Talk about stocking up on talent.

Alabama's Dareus to go No. 1 overall?

March, 21, 2011
ESPN's Todd McShay has unveiled a new mock NFL draft, which includes the first two rounds, and he has Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers.

In this latest mock draft, McShay has Auburn quarterback Cam Newton going higher than Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley. McShay has Newton going No. 5 to the Arizona Cardinals and Fairley No. 8 to the Tennessee Titans. According to McShay, Fairley is falling because some teams are worried about his football character, and there are also concerns about the way he's interviewed.

I go back to what I said several weeks ago. The tape doesn't lie, and if too many people pass on Fairley, they're going to be sorry.

McShay has six SEC players going in the top 10 picks and 10 SEC players going in the first round. Here's a rundown:

No. 1 (Panthers) -- Alabama DT Marcell Dareus
No. 4 (Bengals) -- Georgia WR A.J. Green
No. 5 (Cardinals) -- Auburn QB Cam Newton
No. 7 (49ers) -- LSU CB Patrick Peterson
No. 8 (Titans) -- Auburn DT Nick Fairley
No. 10 (Redskins) -- Alabama WR Julio Jones
No. 15 (Dolphins) -- Alabama RB Mark Ingram
No. 19 (Giants) -- Florida C/OG Mike Pouncey
No. 27 (Falcons) -- Georgia OLB Justin Houston
No. 29 (Bears) -- Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod

In the second round, McShay has Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett going No. 39 overall to the Tennessee Titans, Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb going No. 47 to the St. Louis Rams and Georgia offensive guard Clint Boling going No. 57 to the Seattle Seahawks.
Coming off an impressive showing at the NFL combine, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson has jumped up to No. 1 on ESPN analyst Mel Kiper's latest Big Board of the top NFL draft prospects.

Peterson, weighing 219 pounds, ran a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash to go from a sure-fire top 10 pick to possibly one of the top two or three picks in the draft. Kiper thinks there's a chance that Peterson could go No. 1 overall.

Three of the top four guys on Kiper's latest Big Board, which reflects combine performances, are SEC players. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is No. 2, and Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus No. 4.

In fact, seven of the top 13 players are from the SEC.

Georgia receiver A.J. Green is No. 6, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton No. 10, Alabama running back Mark Ingram No. 12 and Alabama receiver Julio Jones No. 13.

Peterson was among those players who gained ground at the combine, according to Kiper.

Among those who lost ground, according to Kiper, were Florida safety Ahmad Black and Newton. Black's best time in the 40 was a 4.74, and with him weighing in the 180-to-190-pound range, Kiper doesn't see that combination cutting it at safety in the NFL.