Rob Malara

NFL Draft: The Ones that Got Away


The 2013 NFL Draft saw two players who attended high school in Phoenix, Dion Jordan and Markus Wheaton, get their names called within the first two days of one of the biggest days on the football calendar.  Dion Jordan one of the most prized prospects in last years’ draft went third overall to the Miami Dolphins while Wheaton was selected 79th overall by the Steelers in the third round.

The enigma that is locally based talent has stirred up bitter opinions by fans recently for two reasons.  Sun Devil fans have either criticized the program for its inability to lock up local talent and prevent high school players from chasing the dream of college outside state boundaries.  On the other hand, some have felt cheated by the under-development of talent transitioning from the college to pro level as represented in the number of selections in the NFL draft.

In the last three draft years a grand total of three Sun Devils have had the honor of having their names called (Brock Osweiler, Omar Bolden, and Lawrence Guy), or thirty percent of ASU players invited the February NFL Draft Combine.  We’ll discuss the draft potentials of former Sun Devil standouts like Will Sutton, Carl Bradford, and Marion Grice later in the week.  But before we do that, let’s first take a trip down memory lane to look over those players that chose not to go to school in Tempe that could have their names called sometime between Thursday and Saturday.

Taylor Lewan / Michigan : Left Tackle (Chaparral)

The former four star offensive tackle out of Cactus Shadow, before transferring his senior year to Chaparral High, was ranked by Rivals as the fifth best player out of Arizona in the 2009 recruiting class.  After signing on with the Michigan Wolverines (while being heavily recruited by six other schools in the conference not named ASU) he went on to start 39 games in his college career while picking up the Rimington-Pace Award the past two seasons, awarded to the best offensive lineman in the Big 12 as voted by its coaches.  Scouts love the athleticism he exhibits for his size and see him protecting quarterbacks blind-sides for the next decade at an above average level.

Draft Projection: 1st Round – could be first offensive tackle taken. Position Rank: 3


Trent Murphy / Stanford : Outside Linebacker (Brophy)

A multi-sport athlete in high school where he was recruited by Stanford as a 3-star defensive end.  Like his former teammate Shayne Skov, he showed incredible instincts as captain of the Cardinal defense this past season finally filling out from the lanky kid that walked on to campus his freshman year.  More of a mauler than an explosive outside player, Murphy has to show teams that not only is he one with high football IQ as a three year starter but someone who is flexible enough at his projectable size and weight to handle either defensive end or outside linebacker.  His statistics in 2013 speak for themselves: 14 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss on a team that won a lot of games during his career.  Scouts project the 2013 All-American to be a second day pick, part of a departing Cardinal class that could see as many as ten players drafted by the end of Saturday.

Draft Projection: 3rd Round – could be selected earlier by teams looking to develop him as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Position Rank: 8


Devon Kennard / USC: Outside Linebacker (Desert Vista)

Hailed by publisher Chris Karpman to be one of the best defensive recruits to ever come out of the state when he signed with USC as a five star defensive end in 2009 thanks in part to his connections with fellow Trojan recruits at the time like Matt Barkley.  As a five star defensive end he heavily recruited by Dennis Erickson but ASU failed to make it to his final three selections.  What might have been seeing him play with the likes of Sutton and Bradford?  NFL teams can’t get their hands on enough projectable, rangy and athletic edge rushers and Kennard fits the bill, especially one that was asked to play end, outside linebacker and even Mike on occasion for the Trojans under multiple defensive coordinators during his collegiate career.

Draft Projection: 5th Round – he has the pedigree and bloodlines to succeed on the next level following the footsteps of his father Derek, and 11 year vet and Super Bowl winner with the Cowboys. Position Rank: 17


Marquis Flowers / Arizona: Outside Linebacker (Millennium)

Recruited out of high school as a four star free safety who played nearly everywhere as a prep he was the prize catch in the Cats 2010 recruiting class, and the best player rated in Arizona.  He added bulk to his frame as transitioned from safety early on to an outside linebacker under defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.  Killed it on his Pro Day running 4.5 in both his 40-yard times.  Linebackers with that type of speed and starting experience in college don’t end up undrafted free agents.

Draft Projection: 7th Round –He has good search and destroy ability as a weak side linebacker at the next level. Position Rank: 20


It should also be noted that while running back Ka’Deem Carey didn’t attend a local university (Canyon del Oro), he put up eye popping stats in both high school with an output of nearly 4,500 yards and 71 touchdowns on the ground in high school and in college as a Wildcat.  He’s rated as a top ten running back in the draft thanks to the terror he reigned on college defenses in his three years in Tucson, and a player that should see his name called by the end of Friday.

About Rob Malara

Rob Malara

Rob Malara is a 2002 Sun Devil grad having spent the majority of his time in Tempe as a football, basketball, and baseball season ticket holder and front row inhabitant. A member of the Football Writers Association of America, he hosted the ASU Devils podcast and was its sub-optimal technical producer through its lifespan. Currently the president of the ASU Alumni Association's Northern Colorado Club, he is part of a family of maroon and gold residing in Fort Collins with his Sun Devil wife and nearby Sun Devil sister.

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