We finally have the NFL Draft this coming week. Purdue has seen at least one player taken in the NFL Draft each season since 1998, and that will remain true this year as Ryan Kerrigan is almost certain to go in the first round. Lately, Purdue has been one and done though. 2005 (Kyle Orton) and 2010 (Mike Neal) saw only one player get selected from the Boilermakers. That is a far cry from 2004, when a record nine players were drafted.
We all know Kerrigan is headed to the next level, soon to be Oprah-rich (assuming this pesky NFL lockout gets finished). Does anyone else have a shot though? Of course they do, and here they are:
Keith Smith - I feel terrible for Keith Smith. A year ago at this time they were talking about him earning a first round status with a good senior season. One injury and an NCAA 6th year denial later, his future is in limbo. He was unable to participate in the combine as he is still rehabbing his knee, so the scouts will only have his great 2009 season and a game and a half in 2010 (where he still put up solid numbers) to evaluate him. The knee is obviously a major question mark too.
He has great size and strength at 6'2" 226 pounds. I looked at him a smaller version of Dustin Keller, meaning he is a mismatch as a slot receiver. His 91-1100-6 season in 2009 was one of the best in Big Ten history, but again, that was with a healthy knee. NFL Draft Scout ranks him 63rd out of 309 receivers, undoubtedly because of the knee questions.
Smith's work ethic will be critical because he is likely a late round selection at best. That means he is going to have to show that the knee is healthy and earn a roster spot. A lockout that cancels the season could be disastrous because then he is in the no-man's land of no NCAA football due to his 6th year denial and no NFL.
Kyle Adams - Adams never put up huge numbers at Purdue, but he was a smart, reliable receiver and decent blocker. That might be enough to get him a look with an NFL franchise. NFL Draft Scout says he really improved his draft stock in the Shrine game, and they rate him 17th out of 68 tight ends. I see him as more of a pass catcher at the next level, and maybe even a goal line TE even though we never used him in such a role. His size at 6'5" 257 is excellent. As an Academic All-American teams will definitely give credit to his intelligence. He could be a solid late round find.
Jeff Lindsay - Perhaps one of the most underused players at Purdue, Lindsay came in as a 4-star linebacker, yet never played there at a time we needed linebackers. He was moved to fullback, then tight end, but he could be a decent fullback in the League. He's smaller than Adams and rates just 38th out of 68 TE's. I think it is more likely he become a free agent signee than a draft pick.
John Finch - Don't laugh, but there are normally only two reasons that fans know the name of the long-snapper. They screw up royally (Hi Andy Standifer, 1998 Alamo Bowl) or they are characters that form nicknames with their kicking unit. This critical part of the infamous Blur falls into the latter category. He's also a damn fine long snapper that is fundamentally sound. Quick: Who is the longest-tenured member of the Colts after Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday? It's long-snapper Justin Snow. Finch will probably have to go the same route that Snow did, but that's fine. Snow has been in Indianapolis for 11 years.
Jason Werner - Werner has a great heart, but I fear injuries cut short a lot of his potential that he fought hard to get back. He is ranked 62nd out of 186 outside linebackers, but that only means he's probably a free agent signee at best.