Kings for a day
For the fourth year in a row, The Mag invited a crew of midround NFL draft prospects to the Big Apple for a little taste of the action
This story appears in the April 18, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
JEREMY KERLEY, WR, TCU
Attention NFL owners: Don't ask what Kerley can do for you, but, rather, what can't he? In 2010, the 5-foot-10, 189-pounder caught a team-leading 10 TDs, ran for two scores, threw for another and was TCU's top punt and kick returner. "I bring a lot to the table," says the Mountain West's two-time special teams POY. Plus, he's already played for a proven winner: The Horned Frogs were the first non-BCS school to become Rose Bowl champs. "We always knew we were going to be the ones to put the program back on the map."
When he'll be picked: Fifth or sixth round.
Draft plans: At home, watching every round on TV.
CASEY MATTHEWS, LB OREGON
"My parents give us the freedom to do anything, but I wanted to play football," says Matthews, whose father, Clay Jr., and uncle Bruce, both played 19 seasons, while his brother Clay III won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers. Casey lived up to the pedigree in 2010: He led the Ducks with a team-high 79 stops, and racked up three picks and nine tackles for loss en route to the BCS title game. At 6-1, 231, he may not be the biggest or strongest of this year's 'backers. "But watch the film," Matthews says. "It's obvious I can make plays."
When he'll be picked: Third or fourth round.
Draft plans: Hanging out with family.
RASHAD CARMICHAEL, CB, VIRGINIA TECH
Nicknamed Roc by his late father, Bernard, the 5'10", 192-pound speedster (4.36 40-time) certainly played solid defense for the Hokies. After recording a career-high six interceptions and 55 tackles in 2009, he led a secondary that ranked No. 2 nationally in picks last season. All that from a guy considered slightly undersized by most scouts. "To me, size doesn't matter," he says. "This game's all about heart."
When he'll be picked: Fourth or fifth round.
Draft plans: Home with family and friends.
COLIN KAEPERNICK, QB NEVADA
The only QB in FBS history with the head-turning stats of 10,000 yards passing and 4,000 yards rushing, the 6-5, 233-pound Kaepernick ran Nevada's pistol-spread attack with aplomb. The question is whether he can run a pro-style offense. "I had to adapt to a completely new offense in college, and I started as a freshman," says Kaepernick, whose 4.53 40-time was the second best for QBs at the combine. "That proves I can make a transition quickly."
When he'll be picked: Second or third round.
Draft plans: Lounging poolside or playing basketball.
STEVAN RIDLEY, RB, LSU
During his first two seasons in Baton Rouge, patience became a virtue for the 5-11, 225-pound Ridley: With only 57 carries he didn't exactly have much of a resume. "When your time finally comes, you have to be ready," Ridley says. His time came last season, and Ridley was prepared, rushing for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns, fourth most in school history. It was only one season, but the bruising back believes he showed enough to prove he's NFL-ready and that last season wasn't a fluke. "If a team wants three or four yards a carry," he says, "then I'm their pick."
When he'll be picked: Sixth or seventh round.
Draft plans: Cook out with LSU teammates.
TYLER SASH, SS IOWA
He may have had trouble deciding on a pair of shoes, but choosing a college was a no-brainer for the six-foot, 211-pound strong safety. "I grew up knowing nothing but the black and gold," says the Oskaloosa, Iowa-native, who hauled in 13 career picks and holds the Hawkeyes' all-time record for interception return yards (392). Those are just the kind of stats he'll need to stand out among this year's crop of safeties. Not that Sash is sweating. "All 32 teams don't have to like you," he says. "It just takes one."
When he'll be picked: Fifth or sixth round.
Draft plans: A small get-together with friends.
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ESPN The Magazine: April 18, 2011
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