Being a self-proclaimed NFL Draft Guru, I feel that I have the confidence necessary to give my first annual NFL Draft predictions on who will be this year's Vernon Gholston and who will be this year's Chris Johnson.
Gholston, as you may remember, was selected with the seventh overall pick. What you probably do not remember was his play from this past season. He was considered, by his peers, to be the worst tackler in the NFL in a survey taken by ESPN The Magazine.
Johnson, on the other hand, was selected with the 24th overall pick by the Titans—a team criticized for selected another "workout wonder," like they had done the year before by selecting Chris Henry. Johnson, the man who ran the fastest 40 yard dash time at the 2008 Scouting Combine, had played at East Carolina, a small school who competes against minimal competition.
The most logical potential bust of the group. The small, thin, fast running back was projected to go in the middle of the second round, but was selected in the latter end of the first. Johnson became one of the the most explosive running backs in the leagues from his first touch. He rushed for 1,200+ yards and nine touchdowns.
Gholston, on the other hand, the physical freak from THE Ohio State University, finished with 13 total tackles, and zero sacks.
The Chris Johnson award, as I will call it from now on, goes to the player who is being overlooked, but should not be. This player has been picked apart by scouts for one reason or another, and supposedly possesses a fatal flaw, which will prevent him from being a star in the league. Johnson's was his lack of size and bulk, and lack of experience against qualified schools. Past winners of this award include DeAngelo Williams and Tom Brady, amongst others.
The Vernon Gholston award will go to the player who I believe will benefit from his hype coming out of college, whether it be because of his spotty play or ridiculous workout numbers. This will cause an unlucky team to select him higher than he should be chosen. He will under perform, causing some to write him off as a bust even after one year in the league. Past winners of this award include Alex Smith, Laurence Maroney, Mike Williams, and of course, Vernon Davis.
This year's Chris Johnson award goes to: Michael Oher OT Ole Miss
Michael Oher may be the most over analyzed athlete in college sports history because of his role in the famous book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis. The book tells the story of the evolution of the importance of the left tackle position by using Oher's life as the example. Through the fame of this book, Oher has been scrutinized since his entrance into Ole Miss.
Scouts may be focusing on his late blitz pickups and his inability to pick up schemes fully as a reason for him to drop in the draft. However, scouts are overlooking his glaring strengths.
Oher never missed a single game in his career at Ole Miss, making him one of the more sure-bet players to compete for an entire NFL season next year. He has superior lower body strength, which makes him one of the most solid run blockers in the country. He would make a perfect fit for any team with a running-based offense, such as the Raiders, Titans, or Ravens. His potential is sky-high due to his incredible lower body strength and long arms, which are ideal for a player at his position.
Other potential candidates for the Chris Johnson award are: Michael Johnson (DE - Georgia), Chris "Beanie" Wells (RB - Ohio State), and Alphonso Smith (CB - Wake Forest).
The winner of this year's Vernon Gholston award goes to: Mark Sanchez QB USC
Sanchez comes out of college with only one year of playing experience under his belt. Pete Carroll begged him to stay in college. However, what he lacks in experience, he makes up for in hype and good interviews. That is what scouts are right now raving about his leadership qualities and intangibles.
This reminds me of another quarterback who's draft stock skyrocketed because of his hype and "intangibles." This quarterback was Vince Young. After being benched due to his poor passing and following that up with a suicide scare, Young's intangibles are now largely in question. Sanchez could well end up the same way.
Also, at only 6'2", Sanchez does not provide the ideal height for an elite quarterback. He possesses only adequate arm strength, which is what makes him a less valuable prospect than Matthew Stafford. Also, his ability to read coverages and manage a game could be questioned due to his lack of experience (only 16 starts). After one more year playing quarterback for a top-tier program and coach, I could see Sanchez being a top-10 worthy pick. However, I feel like this year is too early
Other nominees for the Vernon Gholston award: Percy Harvin, Matthew Stafford, and Hakeem Nicks.