For the second straight year, Vince Young made the Rose Bowl his own personal playground. Not only did Young lead Texas to its first national title since 1970, he also propelled himself near the top of the 2006 NFL draft, and made himself a lot of money in the process.
The Houston Texans already have said they will take USC running back Reggie Bush (if he declares) with the No. 1 overall pick. The New Orleans Saints pick next, followed by the Tennessee Titans, both of which will be in the market for a quarterback of the future.
Young isn't the only underclassman quarterback to declare for April's draft, but he is the only one who will go in the first round.
Vince Young, Texas
2005: 65.2 completion percentage, 3,036 passing yards, 26 touchdowns; 1,050 rushing yards, 12 TDs
He moved from being the ninth or 10th pick in the draft up to -- at worst -- third overall based on his Rose Bowl performance. He possibly could go second to the Saints, but I'm projecting Matt Leinart there right now. Young would then go third overall to the Titans. he showed such poise against the Trojans, and that performance made him a lot of money.
Omar Jacobs, Bowling Green
2005: 60.7 completion pct., 2,591 yards, 26 TDs
His numbers as a junior weren't as good as those in his sophomore season, but you can live with what he did. At Bowling Green, Jacobs played in a great system for a quarterback. He does have an unorthodox release, and that concerns me as to how effective he will be in the NFL. Vince Young has an unorthodox release, as well, but Young is a far superior athlete. Right now, Jacobs projects as a fifth-round pick.
Marcus Vick, Virginia Tech
2005: 61.2 completion pct., 2,393 yards, 17 TDs
He should have gone to a Division I-AA school next year and dominated. Then Vick could have played in all-star games and taken some momentum into the draft.
Right now, Vick is as cold as Young is hot. Vick didn't play well late in the season and didn't look good against Miami. He has off-field issues and can't play in all-star games. Vick needed another year, so right now I'd project him to go late in the draft or even go undrafted because of his latest problem. Now is the time of year to be acting like a model citizen, and Vick is doing anything but.
Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin
2005: 1,636 rushing yards, 22 TD; 53 receptions, 571 yards
He transferred to Wisconsin from Colorado, and set the tone in the first game of the season that he was going to be a great player (263 yards, 5 TD vs. Bowling Green). He was a vital performer in the passing game as well. He's comfortable running through tacklers because he plays bigger than his size (5-10, 196). Toward the end of season all the pounding took its toll on Calhoun (rushing for less than 65 yards in three of his last four Big Ten games). Ultimately, Calhoun will be a second-round pick.
Maurice Drew, UCLA
2005: 914 yards, 13 TDs; 31 receptions, 453 yards; 28.5 yards per punt return
He's compact (5-7, 199) and has pretty good speed. Drew will be an all-purpose player in the NFL, not a primary ball carrier. He has powerful legs and a low center of gravity. If a team already has a featured back, Drew could be a very good complementary performer, and he could be a second- or third-round pick.
Anthony Fasano, Notre Dame
2005: 47 receptions, 576 yards, 2 TDs
He was incorporated into the passing attack more in 2005. Fasano had more catches as a junior than in his first two years combined (45). He's not a threat to stretch the defense, but is good in short and intermediate areas. He's a reliable but not great blocker. Fasano should be an early second-round pick with a chance to move up to the first round depending on his workouts.
Willie Hall, Middle Tennessee State (tackle)
He has good physical potential because he moves very well for his size (6-6, 310), but Hall could have used another year in college to put it all together. He showed flashes at times but is a work in progress from a technical standpoint. Hall should be an intriguing second-day possibility.
Derek Morris, North Carolina State (tackle)
I'm a little surprised he came out. Down the road, Morris could be a very good player because he has good size (6-5, 338). He was a bit up and down, and quicker pass-rushers got the best of him in 2005. He has a lot of skills, but I thought he needed another year to build on his consistency. Based on his physical skills, Morris is a late first-day or early second-day pick.
John McCargo, NC State (defensive tackle)
2005: 24 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 6 QB hurries
He's a very solid and reliable performer. A blue-collar player who is good at the point of attack. He was freed up a lot because he had Manny Lawson and Mario Williams on the outside and won't be afforded that luxury in the NFL. McCargo could go late in the third round or early in the fourth.
Stanley McClover, Auburn (Defensive End)
2005: 31 tackles, 13½ tackles for loss, 8 sacks
McClover could have been better and more consistent. There were several games this year where he was not a factor and didn't have any impact. His damage was done late in the year, and it was good to see him finish strong. McClover has good pass-rushing size (6-2, 250), and I could see him being an early second-day pick.
Haloti Ngata, Oregon (Defensive Tackle)
2005: 61 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks
He came to Oregon as the top defensive line prospect in the country and has recovered fully from a serious knee injury in 2003. Ngata was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of Year and was a huge presence. Not only is he difficult to move (6-4½, 338) but he gets a lot of penetration into the backfield. Ngata will go in the first round, but right now I'm not sure how high.
Kai Parham, Virginia
2005: 103 tackles, 14½ tackles for loss, 8½ sacks
He started all three years at Virginia. He has very good size (6-2½, 247) and is physical enough to take on interior linemen. Parham was used as a defensive end in some passing situations and led the team in sacks. He'll go late in the first day of the draft or early in the second.
Ernie Sims, Florida State
2005: 66 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions
He has been one of the top linebackers in the country the last couple of years. He has exceptional closing speed and runs sideline to sideline very well. Sims is an electric hitter, but he needs to play under control and is undisciplined at times. If he plays within the structure of a scheme, Sims has a chance to be a really good player. Right now, he projects to go in the late stages of the first round.
Stephen Tulloch, NC State
2005: 134 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 6 sacks
He really had a great year and is one of the more underrated players in ACC. Tulloch made the most of playing behind two very good defensive linemen, Manny Lawson and Mario Williams, and led the Wolfpack in tackles. Tulloch should be a late first-day pick.
Charles Gordon, Kansas
2005: 21½ tackles, 2 INT, 3 pass breakups; 34 receptions, 313 yards, 2 TD at wide receiver
He has to define his true position in the NFL. Gordon did have some outstanding individual performances during the season but wasn't as dynamic throughout, and I thought he needed another year. As a result, he could be an early second-day pick.
Johnathan Joseph, South Carolina
2005: 55 tackles, 4 INT
An intriguing prospect because he has great speed. He missed most of the 2004 season with a foot injury but came back with a solid year in '05, leading the team in interceptions. Joseph is a decent tackler with good cover skills. Another year in school and he could have been a first-round pick, but now he's looking at the second round, no worse than the third.
Richard Marshall, Fresno State
2005: 78 tackles, 3 INT, 11 pass breakups
He didn't have a huge junior season. Marshall plays with a lot of confidence and relishes the challenge of defending top wide receivers; however, he needed another year at Fresno State. He could go in the fourth or fifth round, but could have gone higher had he returned to school.
Dee Webb, Florida
2005: 46 tackles, 1 INT, 13 pass breakups
He would have benefited from another season in college. He's a really good athlete but was up and down during the season. Webb has skills, but I'm sketchy on him right now, so we will have to see what he does in workouts. If he has good workouts, Webb is likely to go early in the second day of the draft.
Ashton Youboty, Ohio State
2005: 56 tackles, 1 INT, 9 pass breakups
As a sophomore, he was one of the better cornerbacks in the country. Youboty had a good but not great junior season. He was beaten in man coverage and struggled with ball recognition. He does have an impressive combination of size (6-0, 189) and recovery speed, and did play well late in the year. Because he has a ton of talent and likely will be a good workout player, Youboty will be a late first-rounder.
Ko Simpson, South Carolina
2005: 103 tackles, 9 pass breakups
Simpson is a third-year sophomore. He was an immediate difference maker as a freshman with six interceptions in 2004. Simpson led the Gamecocks in tackles in 2005. He's instinctive and has top-notch physical skills. Depending on workouts, Simpson is looking at being a first- or second-round pick.