While the Arizona State Sun Devils and head coach Todd Graham had a good season on the field, it didn’t translate necessarily to the seniors leaving the program and their likelihood of hearing their names called during the 2013 draft.
In fact, there’s a real chance no Sun Devils will feel the exhilaration of that moment.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of prospects that could end up on NFL rosters, and I do think there are two players that could be fortunate enough to end up as late-round draft picks.
Here are the three Sun Devils that could break through and hear their names called.
Keelan Johnson, S, 6-0, 209 lbs
Johnson is the prospect for ASU that is generating the most buzz in draft analyst circles, and for good reason.
Johnson brings the unique ability to line up at both safety spots, and looks just as comfortable dropping into coverage as he does coming down and lining up in the box and making plays in the running game.
Johnson has shown the ability to line up in the slot in a one-on-one situation with wide receivers and shows a good ability to flip his hips to turn and run in coverage.
Where Johnson truly excels is as a ball hawk, where he has a knack for making big plays.
Johnson will have some work to do in coverage techniques and understanding how to correctly diagnose and attack plays, but his ability to line up at different spots on the field will make him coveted, whether that means in the draft or as a priority free agent.
Johnson is the new type of safety that is making their way to the NFL and should be an intriguing pick for a team later on day three. He could possibly be a guy that matches up with the new age NFL tight ends.
Cameron Marshall, RB, 5-11, 223 lbs
Marshall is the Dan Buckner of the Sun Devil draft prospects, as he started the season with early day three talk and an opportunity to move up into a day two prospect with a solid senior season.
Instead, he is likely to land outside of the draft and become a priority free agent.
Marshall is a compact, thickly-built power runner, but isn’t a special athlete when it comes to getting to and through the line of scrimmage.
When he is hit in the backfield he can push forward and typically falls forward, but Marshall doesn’t show a great ability to get back up to top speed. And even when he breaks tackles he often will get tackled by the secondary defenders.
Marshall offers an excellent ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and knows how to follow and set up his blockers in the screen game.
Where Marshall will struggle at the next level is creating something out of nothing. He is heavily reliant on his offensive line opening up holes, while lacking creativity in his runs and a burst to take things outside when he gets into trouble in the backfield.
Teams will like what Marshall offers as a one cut, downhill runner, but his lack of burst and ability to make plays when they aren’t there will send him tumbling down and possibly out of draft day consideration.
Brandon Magee, OLB, 5-11, 223 lbs
Had injuries not beset Magee, I believe his career arc would have turned out slightly different.
A productive college linebacker, Magee is the type that fits into the 4-3 weak side linebacker role. He is a good enough athlete to play in the run game and compete in the passing game week in and week out.
He shows a good nose for the ball and understands angles when tracking plays. Magee also explodes to and through the ball carrier.
Where Magee struggles is taking on blocks, as his small frame causes him to get washed out of plays run at him too often. When he does attack the blocker it is often trying to get around, instead of taking them head on, stopping their movement and then shedding them to make a play (stack and shed).
When he runs around, he will get himself out of position and miss an opportunity to make a play near the line of scrimmage, but his athleticism and non-stop motor allow him to get back into and usually make a play downfield.
Magee will need to show the ability to be at least a special teams contributor early and often while working towards getting an opportunity at cracking the defensive rotation, but he has the ability to do both.
His athleticism, albeit with injury concerns, and playmaking ability in the open field make him an attractive late-round flier or quality priority free agent.
While the three talked about above are the most likely, and I use that term loosely as I wouldn’t be shocked to see none of the players drafted, they aren’t the only ones who will get calls from teams after the draft.
CB Deveron Carr, P Josh Hubner, WR Jamal Miles and WR Rashad Ross are all players I expect to draw interest as undrafted (priority) free agents after draft weekend 2013 ends, and sometimes that works out better for players. See Burfict, Vontaze.