In this (possibly-more-than-but-likely-only) two part series, Juco and I will take a look at the professional prospects of some of our Rebel seniors. By analyzing several various mock drafts, we will determine what we feel to be the best and worse case scenarios for these young men.
First up is Mike Oher.
For Ole Miss Rebel fans, Michael Oher needs no introduction. The four-year starter on the Rebel offensive line has been heralded as one of, if not the absolute greatest linemen to ever suit up in Oxford. That is quite a billing to live up to, when considering the accomplishments of Stacy Andrews, Todd Wade, Terrence Metcalf, Chris Spencer, Bruiser Kinard, Gene Hickerson and the like.
The subject of Michael Lewis' book, The Blind Side (which, interestingly enough, is being adapted for a motion picture of the same name starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw), Oher is viewed as the protypical left tackle as he possesses a unique blend of size, speed, and intelligence. With regards to the upcoming NFL Draft, Oher is a nearly unquestionable first-round selection. After combing through the various mock drafts all over these here intrawebs, I've seen Mike Oher going as early as 6th overall to Cincinatti, as late as 28th overall to Philadelphia, and just about everywhere in-between. Taking all of these into consideration, here are what I feel to be the best and worse case scenarios for the Rebel tackle:
Best Case Scenarios: Philadelphia, Cincinnati
Philadelphia would be an ideal situation for any left tackle, especially one with the upside possessed by Oher. The Eagles lack any real, quality gametime experience at either tackle slot besides right tackle (and aforementioned once-Rebel) Stacy Andrews, who started 11 games at the position as a Cincinnati Bengal. Winston Justice, one of the only other Eagle tackles with real playing time, once allowed six sacks over the course of one game. Granted, those sacks were earned by Osi Umenyiora of the New York Football Giants, but it is still quite difficult to excuse. That performace even led former Eagle standout Hugh Douglas to say, "to me he's not even a football player."
Their other tackles include former Auburn Tiger and 2008 7th round pick King Dunlap and journeyman Chris Patrick. On the surface, it seems like the Eagles need help at tackle in the worst way and will have full intentions to take one with either of their first round picks. Furthermore, if we are going to judge Oher's potential suitors by championship capabilities, Philadelphia is the obvious pick in this litter.
Philadelphia has the 21st and 28th picks overall. Oher has been projected as a potential pick for both.
Cincinnati could conceivably take Oher with the 6th overall pick which would give him an incredibly lucrative rookie deal. With a pick this high and a need for increased pass protection for Carson Palmer, they are undoubtedly going to select an offensive tackle in the first round. The question remains then as to which one they will be choosing. Like the Eagles, the Bengals are weak at tackle and sport a few holes in their depth chart. Levi Jones has had a successful yet underwhelming career as a former first-rounder who has never so much as sniffed at a Pro Bowl or any major accomplishment. Their tackle position is rounded out by Anthony collins, a 4th round pick out of last years draft, and Dennis Roland, an unsigned former Bucaneer and Georgia Bulldog.
Worst Case Scenarios: Detroit, San Diego
The Detroit Lions have two first round picks: the highly-coveted first overall pick, and the 20th pick which they acquired last season from the Dallas Cowboys. Michael Oher will not be the first overall pick, but would be hard for the Lions to pass up if he were to still be available by the time their second pick rolls around. Detroit needs help at, well, every position on the field and the rebuilding of a franchise. The reason this is a "worst case scenario" is that, if Oher is going to be drafted by an ailing franchise, there are plenty of teams selecting before Detroit's 20th pick which would have a better shot of getting out of their cellar.
I find it hard to argue against the case that San Diego is a dying beast. Injuries, aging stars, and coaching changes have taken a team which was a consistent winner only a few seasons ago and turned into a 8-8 squad (which somehow still wins their division). Furthermore, of the teams mentioned here, San Diego has the solidest group of exterior linemen. Marcus McNeill and LJ Shelton are great bookends and Oher would likely not see playing time early or often if selected by San Diego. Perhaps they could groom him to replace an aging Shelton (in the same way that the Seahawks groomed our very own Chris Spencer to replace former Pro-Bowler Robbie Tobeck) but I don't see Oher playing right tackle. Ever.
Alright, I know I screwed up somewhere. Please don't hesitate to let me know where I went wrong.
The mock drafts used for this piece were gathered from the following websites: NFL.com, NFLDraftSite.com, NFLDraftDog.com, WalterFootball.com.