How weird was Purdue's draft for the 2015 Spring Game? A former starting quarterback wasn't drafted, walk-ons were taken early and often, and I literally had never (ever) heard of the guy that was taken 2nd overall. Should you be worried? No. Let me explain.
We saved the nicest day of the year for Saturday's 1pm Spring Game! Forecasts for 77° and sunny. See you at Ross-Ade! pic.twitter.com/zOvyS3fS2f— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) April 16, 2015
First of all, if you have never seen the Spring Game draft live before, I highly recommend that you check it out. This was the first time that I was able to see it and I really enjoyed it. The official Purdue Football twitter account was able to broadcast the draft live on Wednesday through the new Periscope app. Currently, the app is only available on Apple devices, so if you're like me and you're using an Android device (Hail Hydra!), then you're out of luck unless you own an iPod/iPad or know someone who will let you borrow their stupid iPhone.
If you're interested in watching, the entirety of the draft can be seen by following the link in the tweet below after you download Periscope. If not, then I have the whole thing covered for you here.
The rules of the draft are fairly simple. First, there is a coin toss to see which team chooses first, Black or Gold. The players are then drafted by position. What this means is that whichever player is selected first, both teams will then continue to draft from that player's position until the position is exhausted. For example, if the Gold team wins the coin toss and decides to select running back Markell Jones first overall, then the two teams will continue to draft running backs until no more running backs are left from the roster. Then, the team that didn't get to pick first (in this case, the Black team) gets to pick the next position to draft. After that position is depleted, the Gold team gets to start picking from a new position, and so on.
Seniors are not able to be drafted and were placed on teams prior to the draft. Injured players were announced before the draft as being "out", "probable", or "questionable". Players that were out due to injury included Frankie Williams, Danny Anthrop, Keith Byars, J.J. Prince, Cameron Cermin, and Elijah Sindelar.
I'll do a summary of each "round" here and try to touch on some of the highlights. Full rosters are also posted below.
First Round: Cornerbacks
The Gold Team won the coin toss and elected to start off with a cornerback, arguably Purdue's thinnest and weakest position. They selected Da'Wan Hunte first overall. With Frankie Williams out and senior Anthony Brown already placed as a captain on the Black Team, this was really a no-brainer for Gold.
The Boilers are so thin at corner that Black selected redshirt freshman walk-on Antonio Blackmon as their first pick and 2nd overall. I'll admit that I had never heard of Blackmon before and I spent some time Googling him and basically found absolutely nothing, besides a little blurb from last year on a Bishop Dwenger site that mentioned that he would be pursuing a degree in pre-med at the University of St. Francis in Ft. Wayne.
The next two picks were walk-ons Race Johnson and Stefan Certa. If I'm quarterbacking either of these teams, I'm going to throw deep balls against these corners all day long. No offense to any of these guys, but the fact is that they're just not talented enough to defend against any of Purdue's receivers when the quarterbacks are clicking like they did last week.
Second Round: Offensive Line
With seniors Corey Clements, David Hedelin, and Robert Kugler already placed on teams as captains, Black opened up the second round by drafting offensive lineman Jason King. The rest of the lineman were drafted in the following order: Jordan Roos (Gold), Kirk Barron (Black), Mertesse Patterson (Gold), Joey Warburg (Black), Mike Mendez (Gold), Bearooz Yacoobi (Black), followed by walk-ons Eric Swingler (Gold), Dakota Jelinek (Black), Wade Fisher (Gold), and Colton Bahamonde (Black).
Third Round: Defensive Tackle
Jake Replogle was the first defensive tackle taken and was probably the best pick in the draft by Gold. He's my early sleeper pick for defensive MVP, not just for the Spring Game but for 2015 as a whole. Coach Hazell loves the guy and has been raving about how hard he's been working. He started 2014 off very slowly but came on and finished strong and should be even better this coming season.
Seniors Michael Rouse and Ryan Watson were split between Black and Gold, respectively. The 2nd tackle taken was Ra'Zahn Howard by Black, followed by Johnny Daniels (Gold) and Will Colmery (Black).
Fourth Round: Quarterback
Finally, things started to get very interesting. With only three quarterbacks available, Hazell said prior to the draft that the 3rd QB will split time playing for both teams in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. That basically means that each team is drafting a QB to play three quarters and getting that third QB for one quarter. With that in mind, Black drafted Appleby and Gold chose Blough. Etling wasn't drafted and will play one quarter for each team.
What does this mean? Well, potentially nothing, but that won't stop us from reading in to it. Does this mean that Blough is now second on the depth chart? Probably not. They are all three very different quarterbacks with different strengths and weaknesses. Senior Danny Anthrop was asked after the draft why they chose Blough over Etling and he explained that Blough is the more mobile of the two and that they thought they might need his legs at some point to win the game. He also said that they weren't sure who the receivers or tight ends would be on each team and that played a factor in the decision as well.
Either way, we're going to get to see all three perform on Saturday and I expect each of them to have huge games again against the depleted secondary.
Fifth Round: Tight End
Gold selected redshirt freshman Cole Herdman as the first tight end of the draft, followed by Jonathan Curry (Black), Carlos Carvajal (Gold), Matthew Burke (Black), Micah Budzinski (Gold), and Jacob Anderson (Black).
After the teams were done selecting their tight ends, Hazell put a giant picture of senior walk-on Jordan Jurasevich on the monitor and announced that he was being placed on scholarship. This is always a very cool thing to see and everyone in the room (players, coaches, and media) all erupted in cheers. Jurasevich is the only returning tight end that has caught a pass in an actual game for Purdue and is reportedly the front runner on the depth chart at the position, so the scholarship is definitely deserved and well-earned.
ICYMI: Sr. TE Jordan Jurasevich was surprised by coach Hazell with a scholarship during today's draft. Check it out! pic.twitter.com/KhWBnuja7d— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) April 15, 2015
Sixth Round: Defensive End
Black drafted junior Evan Panfil as the first defensive end. Gold then swooped in and grabbed Gelen Robinson as another extremely solid pick. Panfil and Robinson are the two guys expected to step up and perform after losing Ryan Russell and Jalani Phillips to graduation. The Purdue pass rush was pretty miserable in 2014 and registered just 20 sacks, which was just good enough for 13th in the conference. Russell and Phillips were good players but had disappointing seasons. The Boilermakers can't afford to let that happen again and need to get a lot more pressure from these two ends on a consistent basis.
Black next chose Antoine Miles, followed by John Strauser (Gold), Keiwan Jones (Black), Langston Newton (Gold), Ryan DeBusk (Black), and Conor Sweeney (Gold).
Seventh Round: Linebacker
Gold grabbed sophomore Ja'Whaun Bentley as the first linebacker taken. Bentley had a very solid freshman year and should be an anchor for the defense in 2015. After Bentley, Black drafted Jimmy Herman, followed by Danny Ezechukwu (Gold), Andy Garcia (Black), Evan Pulliam (Gold), Garrett Hudson (Black), Dezwan Polk (Gold), and Will Schott (Black).
There are no senior linebackers on the team but Purdue is still pretty deep at the position with two juniors, four sophomores, and four incoming freshmen. I'm interested to see who from this group emerges as a leader along with Bentley. Ezechukwu has reportedly had a very good spring so far and will be in the mix.
Eighth Round: Safety
This is another position for Purdue that doesn't appear to have a front-runner on the depth chart and is also void of any seniors. Black chose Leroy Clark first, followed by Robert Gregory (Gold), Brandon Roberts (Black), Evan Feichter (Gold), Tim Cason (Black), Austin Logan (Gold), Wes Cook (Black), and Jacob Theineman (Gold).
Ninth Round: Running Back
Gold picked up Keyante Green as the first running back taken, which was met by some surprised gasps in the audience as well as several players howling and yelling. I think that means that the running back battle must be heating up as the Boilers seem to be surprisingly deep and talented at the position. There are easily three guys that could end up getting a bulk of the snaps.
Black chose D.J. Knox as their first running back after learning from Coach Hazell before the draft that he was fully cleared to play after having to sit out lately due to an injury earlier in the spring. Gold then drafted Markell Jones, followed by David Yancey (Black) and Lane Beeler (Gold).
Green and Knox are reportedly 1 and 2 on the depth chart, but Jones had a huge game for the offense in last week's jersey scrimmage and should still see plenty of action this Saturday. Several players on the team have been very vocal about how good these running backs are. Senior defensive tackle Ryan Watson said that they chose Green because he "can't be tackled" and center Robert Kugler added that Green was a great back that "will run you over" and went on to say how surprised people are going to be with the quality of their running game.
Tenth Round: Wide Receiver
On paper, Purdue's receiving corps is deep, experienced, and talented. However, it was also all of those things last year and, for the most part, severely underperformed. Word on the street is that they are finally on the same page with their quarterbacks and have looked surprisingly sharp so far this spring.
Black started off by taking sophomore Trae Hart first, followed by DeAngelo Yancey (Gold), Bilal Marshall (Black), Cameron Posey (Gold), Greg Phillips (Black), Myles Norwood (Gold), Anthony Mahoungou (Black), Dan Monteroso (Gold), Alex Hilger (Black), Keenan Schon (Gold), and Alex Egurbide (Black).
Hart being the first receiver taken isn't a huge surprise. He led the team with 8 catches in last week's jersey scrimmage after catching just 9 passes for the season in 2014. I was surprised to see Monteroso fall all the way to 8th after he had such a huge game last week for the offense (7 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD). I think having a player that far down on the depth chart capable of putting up those kind of numbers really speaks volumes about the depth at receiver. I expect another huge day from this group as Purdue's secondary is really just about as razor thin and depleted as it can get right now.
Ultimately, this is just the Spring Game. I know there are still huge questions all over the place and they definitely will not all be answered on Saturday. However, these games are still a great way to get a pulse on where the team is at as they continue to develop and improve. September is still over four months away. I still expect a very high scoring game, although I'm hoping that the defense shows some huge improvements across the board from last week's beat down.
It's almost impossible to predict how these types of games will play out. Looking at the rosters, the only thing that stands out to me is that I believe the Gold team has the far superior defense. They have clear advantages with Bentley, Robinson, and Replogle. Offensively, both teams are pretty evenly matched everywhere except running back, where I think Gold has another advantage with Jones and Green. I predict the Gold team will win by at least three touchdowns. For what it's worth, Danny Anthrop agrees with me and assured the media on Wednesday that his Gold team "has no weaknesses" and he's very confident that they had the superior draft. I guess we'll see on Saturday.
Here are the final rosters:
Your 2015 Spring Game Gold Team. pic.twitter.com/05vozGsVrW— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) April 15, 2015