The deadline to declare for the NFL draft is just about upon us. By January 15th, draft eligible players must decide whether they will declare for the draft or return for their senior seasons.
Texas really only has two players that might realistically jump ship early for the draft - wide receiver Limas Sweed and defensive tackle Frank Okam. Both remain officially "undecided," though there are whispers that both are looking closely at the option.
Let's take a close look at each.
Heading into this season, there was speculation - here and elsewhere - that a monster year up front for Okam could rocket him up to the early first round of the draft - perhaps as high as the top five. He certainly didn't have that monster season that we expected, but Okam's potential is unquestionably high. Should he take his chances this season and let a team draft him on his potential? He certainly could, and he'd likely still be a first or second round pick, but when you're drafted on potential - and not performance - your draft stock takes a hit. So it depends what Okam wants. If he's comfortable just being drafted on the first day, leaving now is a perfectly justifiable decision. If he wants a shot at the big bucks, though - he'd be wise to come back to Texas with the goal of having a truly dominant senior season.
The case for Limas Sweed is more complicated. On the one hand, as Rivals.com's Gerry Hamilton pointed out, next year's draft class at receiver is positively loaded. On the other hand, Limas didn't have a good enough junior season to make NFL teams start drooling. The question is whether he ever can. I'm not sure what his ceiling is, but if he thinks he's a Sunday player, my advice to Sweed would be to return to Texas for another run. Sweed's got a better than even chance of being a finalist for some end of season receiver awards - his quarterback only stands to improve on what was a terrific freshman season. If Sweed can put up some gaudy numbers and continue to improve physically, I think he's got a lot to gain by coming back. Deciding whether to leave based on who else might be in your draft class next season strikes me as - in football anyway - a bad idea.
Update [2007-1-5 17:51:39 by HornsFan]: It's always nice to see that the players read, and listen. Okam will return in 2007. (Hat Tip: EOB) Terrific news for the 'Horns.