I'm not going to pretend I'm following NFL prospects that closely this time of year, even if they are from Nebraska. But that's the beauty of being part of a vast network of sportsdom - I don't have to follow them because someone else is already doing that. So rather than me making up something about whether or not Jared Crick and Alfonzo Dennard should come out and get drafted, I asked Dan from the SB Nation NFL Draft site Mocking The Draft for his opinion on our guys. His comments after the jump!
There was no way Jared Crick was going to live up to the hype thrust upon him in the preseason. Sporting News said he was the best player in college football and some draft nerds expected him to do as good as Ndamukong Suh last season. You and I both know that's a near impossibility for anyone so I think some are down on Crick. From my vantage point, he's faced more doubles this year and opposing offenses can scheme away from him some.
Still, I think he's a very good player. He's an attractive option because he should be able to play 4-3 defensive tackle or end in a 3-4. That kind of versatility is a big plus. If he came out this draft, I think he'd be a late first- or early second-round pick. However, if he returned to the Huskers, I don't know how much he'd improve his draft stock. He's a good player, but has limited athletic upside. People on MTD also wonder if he's just the next Adam Carriker as a pro prospect.
I didn't see Alfonzo Dennard coming on the way he did this season. A similar thing happened at USC a couple years ago. Everyone was going there to see Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga. But it was Clay Matthews that really stuck out. That's not to say Dennard is better than Prince Amukamara, but he's probably a good second corner in the NFL.
Because of the amount of junior cornerbacks that will probably enter the draft, I think Dennard should return. When I put the new site rankings out, Dennard will be behind fellow junior corners Patrick Peterson (LSU), Janoris Jenkins (Florida), Brandon Harris (Miami), Chase Minniefield (Virginia), Brandon Burton (Utah) and Aaron Williams (Texas). Should he return, he could develop into a first-round pick.
Obviously, it's in the Huskers best interest (and therefore mine) that both these guys return for their senior seasons. In Dennard's case, it may mean millions more, but it may also mean that he'll be a leader on the defense and get the buzz that Amukamara got this season.
As for Crick, well, you always want to hear great things about your guy, right, that he has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL. I hope that Crick returns and in doing so, doesn't hurt his draft status.
The deadline to declare for the draft is January 15th. Hopefully we'll see both return for their senior seasons.