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CFB watch list for week 7 / 2011 NFL Draft open thread

What a wild week for college football and the NFL Draft.  My watch list now has seven full weeks of prospecting.  But first, some notes:

News and notes

 - What a wild year for UNC football.  It started with arguably the most hype the program has ever had, banking on the talents of a dozen strong NFL prospects.  But before the season could even get started, the NCAA was digging a grave for the Tar Heels' 2010 season.  The body might have been buried on Monday when DT Marvin Austin was dismissed from the team, and both DE Robert Quinn and WR Greg Little were declared "permanently ineligible" by the NCAA.  Over at MTD (more on the site itself in a moment, and for full disclosure, I've been brought on as a writer this season), Dan argued Austin had the most to lose from the sanctions.  Personally, it's not as interesting to me which player loses the most but the fact that all three will see their stock drop.  And yes, it will.  Consider Weslye Saunders.

  Many of you might not remember Saunders.  He was a standout TE on the South Carolina Gamecocks, and was highly thought of going into the 2010 season.  I say was, because in mid-September, Saunders was dismissed from the team himself.  In late April, Dan's top 75 had Saunders in at #40 overall (for reference, Quinn was 3rd overall, Austin was ranked #14, and Little was #62).  Already, the rumblings of Saunders' stock dropping are surfacing (not being on the field when your team beats the #1 team in the nation never, ever helps).  It doesn't matter that he hasn't been beaten on the field.  It's about the overall package.

  Remember the case of Tampa Bay's Mike Williams at Syracuse.  Williams was as naturally talented as any WR in his class, but his repeated off-field issues dropped him into the 4th round where he was taken by the Bucs.  Syracuse fans, more or less, wished him not "good luck," but "good riddance."  After week 5, Williams has 19 grabs for 238 yards and 3 TDs; compare that to Mark Clayton who, at the time of his season-ending injury, had 23 catches for 306 yards and 2 TDs.  Tampa got itself a productive talent on the cheap, but for how long?

  So as annoying and/or ignorable as these stories may be, keep them in the back of your minds, Ram fans.  Sometimes the character issues dissolve once you're being paid millions of dollars and you don't have to read books.  Other times, Lawrence Phillips.

 - Speaking of character issues, if you aren't a college guy, you might want to read up on the Chris Rainey saga at the U of F.  Rainey was arrest about a month ago after "stalking" a woman.  I use quotes, because the real story was that Rainey was arguing with a girlfriend and sent her a text message that read: "Time to die."  A month later, Rainey is back on the team, semantics be damned.  The question is how much an off-field incident like this matters.  Especially because Chris Rainey is near-4.3 fast.  Decisions...

 - Speaking of decisions and wacky NCAA stuff, if you haven't read agent Josh Luchs' tale of the shady dealings in the agent world, go read it now (huge link highlight intended to grab your attention so that you click the highlighted words and read what the article that the hyperlink open.  Click.).  It's nothing that should shock you, outside of the image of Jonathan Ogden being a giddy Janet Jackson fan.  If you didn't know agents are paying college players for random shit, lay down on the floor right now and stay there until I come to get you.  UPDATE: I'm not coming to get you.  Stay on the floor.

 - Julio Jones has undergone surgery for a broken hand.  For Rams fans who are hoping for a #1 WR, and Jones certainly fits the bill, this is worth monitoring.

 - On to MTD.  The draft push has officially started.  A scouting report for LSU CB Patrick Peterson here, one for Ohio St. DE Cameron Heyward there... If you're not heading over there once a day, you're missing out.  It has begun...

The watch list

 - Back to my watch list and some prospects.  Fun game tonight with West Virginia facing off against South Florida.  If you haven't seen Noel Devine yet, take a look.  He's an easy candidate for people hoping for a talented change of pace back to pair with AxJax.

  Another prospect that I think could be drafted by the Rams in April is Florida St. OG Rodney Hudson.  Despite the fact Jacob Bell is signed through 2013, he's an obvious candidate that could be cut to open up some money for the Rams to spend in free agency after the 2011 season.  Hudson is still underweight for a guard, but his footwoork, intiial push and lateral movement is stellar.  He's slightly behind TCU's Marcus Cannon on my OG big board.  Hudson's Florida St. Seminoles take on Boston College on Saturday.

  And I doubled up on some Big Ten action to round out the list this weekend; I'll highlight a pair of DEs of note: Iowa's Adrian Clayborn (who I mocked to the Rams in my lone 2011 mock draft, and incidentally, is from St. Louis, having attended Webster Groves High) and the aforementioned Cameron Heyward out of "thuh" Ohio St. University.  Feel free to check them out, but block out an hour for Turf Show Radio!