Gamecocks in the NFL Draft: The Winners and the Losers

South Carolina had a quite a day in this year's draft with a total of seven players hearing their names called. Here are my thoughts about who today's big winners--and by that I mean guys that have reason to be happy about how things went down today--and losers--and by that I mean the guys that must be disappointed.

The Winners

Jasper Brinkley - Fifth Round to Minnesota

Before his knee injury in 2007, Brinkley was considered one of the country's top prospects at ILB, so it has to be kind of disappointing to Jasper to see his stock fall due to injury. However, he has to be feeling good about his successful rehabilitation. Plus, he's joining his old buddy Sidney Rice on the roster of a solid NFL franchise. Not too shabby.

Kenny McKinley - Fifth Round to Denver

While McKinley didn't go in the high rounds and walks into an uncertain situation in Denver, I can't help but think that this is a guy that has really overachieved to get drafted at all. He lacks the kind of size that NFL teams want in WRs these days, but his quickness, hands, and football smarts will help him. I'm not sure if he'll ever be a primary receiver, but he has a good future ahead of him as a slot receiver.

Stoney Woodson - Seventh Round to New York Giants

Most folks were unsure on whether Woodson would hear his name called, so he's gotta be happy that New York--one of the league's most successful franchises--chose him. He'll have to fight an uphill battle to make the roster, but NFL scouts apparently see more potential in him than his defensive-backfield buddy Emanuel Cook (see below). Good for him.

Ryan Succop - Seventh Round to Kansas City

Succop is this year's Mr. Irrelevant as the the very last selection of the draft, but for a guy that plays his position, that's good news. If I'm not mistaken, he was one of only two placekickers selected, which is quite an accomplishment. Although he needs to get his head screwed on a little straighter, I've always thought Succop--who has range that is well above average, even for an NFL kicker--could make it in the NFL. Kansas City's choice to use a pick on him suggests that NFL scouts see his potential.

The Losers

Jared Cook - Third Round to Tennessee

Cook was, unsurprisingly, the first Gamecock off the board, so I hesitate to call him a draft-day loser. He did, though, fall further than I thought he would. I thought Cook's unique combination of size, speed, hands, and route-running ability would make him a second-round selection. I probably underestimated, though, the extent to which NFL scouts would at his questionable blocking ability, lack of true TE size, and Spurrier's tendency to line him up wide. The NFL puts a (sometimes unreasonable, I would say) premium on guys that fit the mold of what they think a player at a certain position should look like, and, despite his obviously valuable abilities, Cook just isn't exactly what teams want in a TE. This all makes me wonder if he could have improved his stock by staying another year, putting on some weight, and working on his blocking abilities. You would have to think that if he did those things effectively, he might have a chance to cash in on a first-round paycheck next year. Still, I think Cook made an acceptable decision. He'll sign a nice contract and shouldn't have much trouble getting his hands on a roster spot. Cook didn't do as well as we had hoped today, but he did OK. He also gets the luxury of joining a pretty good team. Could be worse, right? He could have been drafted by the Lions.

Jamon Meredith - Fifth Round to Green Bay

I expected Meredith to go on the first day or early in the third round, but questions about his run blocking abilities apparently made scouts pretty uneasy. Jamon is a good kid and his athletic ability makes him a valuable prospect, but at the end of the day falling as far as he did can't sit well with him.

Captain Munnerlyn - Seventh Round to Carolina

After choosing for an early entry, Munnerlyn saw his stock--which was already questionable after a sub-par 2008 season--fall like a rock as teams expressed concern over his lack of elite size and his possible character issues. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think Munnerlyn made a grave mistake by leaving early. He didn't have the kind of year in 2008 that's made to impress NFL scouts, and if he had come back, worked hard, and had a good 2009, he could have gone much higher in next year's draft. His chioice not to is going to cost him a lot of money. Plus, as a seventh-round selection, his status with Carolina is hardly secure. He'll really have to fight just to make the roster. I wish him luck and thank him for the good things he at times did here, but I really wish he would have made a smarter decision on this. At least he'll get to be close to home if he makes the Panthers' roster.

Emanuel Cook - Undrafted

What do you call declaring early entry and not getting drafted at all? A boneheaded decision of epic proportions. Cook's stock plummeted during the week's leading up to the draft as questions about his athletic ability in the wake of poor workouts supplemented  the existing concerns about his character and maturity. I still think Cook may have a place in the league--his success as a college player and physical style indicate that he has what it takes to do well in the NFL--but he's going to have to work for it harder than he decided to work on his classes late last fall. I wish Cook luck and hope he gets a spot as a free agent but can't say that I feel all that sorry for him.

Mike Davis - Undrafted

Not many folks expected Mike to hear his name called, so I hesitate to call him a loser, but in the end, he didn't hear his name called. Like Cook, I hope he gets his shot as a free agent. Mike doesn't have the kind of speed most teams would like, but he's a hard, tough runner, can catch the ball, and blocks well. Some teams could certainly use a guy like that.

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