When you come off of a 134-catch, 1,962-yard and 22 touchdown season, it seems only fitting that you should have your own song and music video in your honor. No, I’m not talking about a promo for NCAA Football 2009; the song and music video was performed and produced locally. The statistics were actual statistics produced last season and not a part of any virtual reality simulation. Those were the numbers that Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree posted as a redshirt freshman during the 2007 season. I interviewed Crabtree in May and asked him about the “Crank That Crabtree” music video and the entire atmosphere at Texas Tech when he’s on the field. He said when he scores a touchdown, “They do that [Crank That Crabtree] to get crunk; to get the crowd going. They’re all dancing, and they got the crab claws; they got everything.” Crabtree is off to another incredible start this season, and the crab claws are clanging in appreciation of No. 5. In the Red Raiders first three games, Crabtree had 24 receptions for 395 yards and five touchdowns. He failed to reach 100 yards receiving in the first game against Eastern Washington (nine catches for 73 yards), but he was still effective and scored a touchdown. Crabtree is eligible for the 2009 NFL Draft, because he’s been enrolled at Texas Tech for three years, despite playing just two seasons. If he decides to forego his junior and senior seasons, he’s a lock to be a top-five draft pick.
Mickens, who had six interceptions last season, is off to a slow start this year.
One of the best playmaking cornerbacks in the country, Cincinnati’s Mike Mickens is off to a forgettable start and hasn’t had much of an impact in the Bearcats 1 – 1 start. Last season, the 6-foot, 190-pound ballhawk secured six interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns. But this season, in Cincinnati’s first two games, Mickens had just five tackles, one pass defended and no interceptions. In the first two games of 2007, Mickens had nine tackles, two interceptions and a touchdown. It’s too early to say that Mickens’ slow start will affect his draft status, because he will eventually erupt and solidify his standing as a first round prospect.
Michigan State running back Javon Ringer, who last year split time in the backfield with Jehuu Caulcrick, is finally receiving featured back reps and has emerged as one of the premier rushers in college football. In the past, Ringer was a tremendous change of pace runner who brought a lot of excitement to the field when he was in the game. But the 5-foot-9 spark plug is not just a flashy back; he carries a solid 205-pound frame that’s built to last. Michigan State is off to a 2 – 1 start this season, and a major reason for their success has been because of Ringer’s ability to carry the load. In those three games, Ringer’s carries have increased each week. He had 27 against California, 34 against Eastern Michigan and a career-high 43 against Florida Atlantic. Ringer also amassed a career high 282 yards rushing against Florida Atlantic. At this pace, if Ringer is able to continue this early season success throughout the season, it’s likely that he will be a late-first round selection next April.
I hear it all the time: if Chase Daniel was four inches taller, he would be the first quarterback taken in the 2009 draft. And unfortunately, size at the QB position is important, but not detrimental to one’s success. Daniel is listed at 6-foot, and that’s a generous listing, but you can’t deny his production and ability to locate an open receiver. Missouri’s offense is loaded with a lot of weapons, which include top-rated tight end Chase Coffman and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The 2007 Heisman finalist, Daniel is off to a ridiculous start and has thrown for 973 yards, completing 72-percent of his passes, 10 touchdowns and just one interception in the Tigers first three games. What Daniel lacks in stature, he makes up for in heart, and the determination he displays on the field will ultimately make him a late Day One selection.
A streaky, undersized, but effective pass rusher, Oregon’s Nick Reed is an interesting defender that will draw attention from NFL scouts over the next few months. Reed is your classic rush end who will get sacks in bunches, but will also disappear from game to game. Last season, Reed led the Ducks in sacks with 12 and the country in tackles for loss with 22.5. In Oregon’s first three games of the season, Reed has recorded 12.5 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, and three sacks. On Saturday, Reed broke out and had two sacks in the Ducks 32 – 26 overtime win against Purdue. The week prior, he attained his first sack of the season when the Ducks handled Utah State 66 – 24. And in Oregon’s opening weekend 44 - 10 blowout victory over Washington, he had 7.5 tackles. Reed may not be a premier defender in the country, but his ability to get after the quarterback will benefit him next April.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.