Draft night is here. Months of speculation will finally turn to reality on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall. While this is not regarded as a deep draft class, there is still plenty of talent to go around.
That being said, several big names will slip down the draft boards for various reasons—off-field issues, injuries or even scandals.
Let’s take a look at three high-profile college football stars whose stock may have slipped.
Manti Te’o was once regarded as one of the best prospects at inside linebacker and was projected to be selected in the first round of the 2013 draft. But that was before the Notre Dame star became involved in one of the most bizarre scandals in sports history. Shortly after learning of the death of his girlfriend, he led the Fighting Irish to emotional and inspiring wins. But in the ensuing weeks, it became apparent that Te’o’s girlfriend did not die—in fact, she did not even exist.
The hoax had a huge mental impact on Te’o and affected his play on the field. He was miserable in the National Championship game against Alabama and seemed to lack focus throughout the affair. While NFL.com reports that the Chicago Bears may be interested in Te’o, don’t be surprised to see him slip out of the first round completely.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley’s stock may drop heading into the 2013 draft. According to ProFootballTalk.com, scouts have said of Barkley:
Physically, he’s very average. When he’s throwing it across the field on a deep out, the ball sort of hangs in the air. He doesn’t have that ability to just drive it. In the NFL, with the corners, they break so much quicker. They see it quicker, they close. A lot of those balls are going the other direction at the next level.
There also seems to be concern regarding Barkley’s previously injured right shoulder, which caused him to miss the Sun Bowl. With Geno Smith heading the quarterback class, Barkley may seem like a bit of an afterthought.
Like Barkley, there is concern surrounding Milliner. The Alabama cornerback underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
That is just one of reportedly five surgeries he has had in the past year. ProFootballTalk.com does point out Milliner’s toughness and ability to play through pain:
In his three seasons at Alabama, Milliner missed exactly one game, and in that game (a blowout win over Western Kentucky), coach Nick Saban said Milliner had a minor hip injury and could have played if the team needed him. So while Milliner’s medical history may raise a few eyebrows, his football history says he can get on the field when his team needs him
Despite that, NFL teams may still be hesitant to take him with an early selection.