Breaking Down the SoCon Draft Prospects
By Russell V.
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A number of seniors in the SoCon have aspirations of making it to an NFL camp this summer.
Ahh, the lulls of Janaury. The hangover of the previous season finally begins to fade away, but we need something to fill the void as we wait for college all-star bowl games and National Signing Day. Fortunately, we at Southern Pigskin have found a cure – albeit, a temporary cure to this emptiness, but a cure nonetheless.
With the NFL draft months away, it is time to take an early look at the best the Southern Conference has to offer and their chances of accomplishing their goal of making it to the National Football League. CBS Sports has compiled a list of 750 draft prospects, and their overall and positional rankings will be included with each player.
Time to go through each school’s prospects, starting with the Mountaineers of Appalachian State.
CB Demetrius McCray (Rank: 428 overall; 48 CB)
McCray enjoyed a stellar career in Boone, topping it with a solid 2012 campaign that saw him total 55 tackles, four interceptions and eight passes defend. He became the first Mountaineer cornerback ever to lead the SoCon in interceptions twice (2011 and 2012). Unfortunately, his 6’0”, 186-pound frame is far from the biggest, something that could hinder him at the next level. Right now, the best he can hope for is an undrafted free agent contract, but there is still plenty of time between now and the NFL draft on April 25 to change that, including the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl (which will be broadcasted on ESPN2 on January 19) and the NFL Combine.
LB Jeremy Kimbrough (Rank: 601 overall; 27 ILB)
It is no secret what Kimbrough meant to Appalachian State. He was not only the heart and soul of the defense, but one of the team’s unquestioned leaders. His 2012 season was one to remember – a conference-high 128 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three and a half sacks and two games with 15+ tackles, which led to him being honored with the co-Defensive Player of the Year Award. Unfortunately, like his teammate McCray, he is considered small for the NFL (5’11”, 240 pounds) and will need some impressive performances if he hopes to be on a sideline on Sundays.
WR Aaron Mellette (Rank: 168 overall; 20 WR)
Even though he had a down year (at least by his standards) in 2012, Mellette is still the highest ranked SoCon prospect and fourth-highest ranked FCS prospect. Following his record-setting careerm in which he caught 304 balls for 4,254 yards and 44 touchdowns to go with 23 100-yard receiving games, Mellette is currently projected as a fifth rounder. But the 6’3”, 218-pound receiver will have plenty of chances to show scouts what makes him so good, starting at the Senior Bowl on January 26.
TE Colin Anderson (Rank: 545 overall; 29 TE)
Anderson looked like one of the top weapons in the Southern Conference heading into 2012. Unfortunately, he, like the aforementioned Mellette, suffered a down year last season. After catching 40 passes for 696 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011, Anderson finished with 30 catches for 498 yards and zero touchdowns in 2012. Not the worst of numbers, but not the best for a small school player trying to make it to the next level. Sadly, Anderson may have a lot of work in front for him to make it to the NFL.
SS JJ Wilcox (Rank: 199 overall; 6 SS)
Bet you were expecting to see "Man-Bear-Pig" as the top ranked GSU player. Surprise – it’s the 6’0”, 215-pound safety who comes in as the second-highest rated SoCon prospect. The former slot receiver may have only spent one year on defense, but he left his mark there, finishing with 84 tackles and two interceptions. What also helps his draft stock is the 25.5 yards per kickoff return he had during the 2012 campaign. Currently projected as a fifth or sixth rounder, Wilcox will have a chance to up his stock at the Senior Bowl.
DT Brent Russell (Rank: 437 overall; 33 DT)
The one-man wrecking crew that is Brent Russell may have enjoyed a very successful career in Statesboro, but his current NFL hopes do not look so bright. The 2011 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year finished with 44 tackles, eight and a half tackles for loss, four and a half sacks and a blocked kick in his senior campaign, while constantly facing double- and triple-teams. His size (6’2”, 297 pounds) and arrest and brief suspension near the end of last season do not help his cause, though.
DT Nicholas Williams (Rank: 517 overall; 40 DT)
Williams has had a lot of potential tied to his name. 2012 was just his third year of legitimate football participation, as Senior Bowl scouts put it. The 6’3”, 310-pounder finished with 31 tackles, eight tackles for loss and six sacks, not exactly ideal numbers for someone looking to impress scouts and jump up the draft board. The NFL may be a long shot for Williams, but perhaps a future in the CFL is in the cards.
FB Eric Breitenstein (Rank: 479 overall; 12 FB)
If Breitenstein graduated 15, maybe even 10 years ago, perhaps he would have a better shot at the next level. Unfortunately, his chances do not look that good. That is due to no fault of his own, however, as his career was spent rewriting most of the Wofford and SoCon record books. The NFL is becoming a passing game now, one in which the fullback position is becoming all but obsolete. Breitenstein will have a chance to show off his skill set at the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic on January 19, though, which will be broadcasted on the CBS Sports Network.