This is the end of the line for Joe Haden, Maurkice Pouncey and Tim Tebow. Tonight, the three Gators will likely be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, changing the first line on their resume to one of the greatest professions in the world; NFL player.
In the case of Haden, a slow 40 time could have cost him millions, sliding him from the top-10 and into the 20s. Lockdown corners are a luxury, but lockdown corners don't run 4.5 forties. Haden shouldn't be too upset with falling deeper into the draft. He will still be a first round guy, with first round money, on a better team. Haden will be the only Gator in Radio City Music Hall tonight.
Interior linemen won't get the money left tackles deserve, but new defenses that rely on disguising packages have placed a premium on centers who can manage the line. That is why Pouncey could be a first rounder tonight too. Pouncey's experience at guard helps too, as a team could develop him before making him a starter. However, don't discount the possibility of Pouncey becoming a starting rookie center. The New York Jets cut All-Pro Kevin Mawae to make way for 2006 first rounder Nick Mangold. Mawae is still very good with the Tennessee Titans, but Mangold has been to two Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro last season. Mangold was the 29th pick in 2006.
Haden and Pouncey can be pretty confident they will be first rounders. Tebow cannot. Tebow has always said he only needs one team to think he will be an NFL quarterback, so maybe he isn't worried about where he goes in the draft. Maybe he knows who will pick him. But no one else does. As much as Tebow has been a storyline heading into tonight, so has the unpredictability of the draft. As of this morning, the St. Louis Rams were still getting calls for the first pick because they haven't stated who they wanted. All of it makes for great television, but heartburn for Tebow fans. Where Sam Bradford falls determines where Jimmy Clausen goes, which could determine how far Tebow goes. Clausen and Tebow are not the same style quarterback, but if Clausen falls out of the top-10, that could slide Tebow into Friday's second round. You can be sure this was part of the reason why Clausen and Tebow will not be in New York for the draft.
We will be back at
7pm 7:30pm to live blog the NFL Draft first round. See you then.