NFL Draft Holds Promise or Heartbreak for Former Sun Devils

sutton_vazThe NFL Draft is finally here and the first round is set to take place Thursday night at 5 p.m. PT from New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall. The three-day, seven-round bonanza is the culmination of a player’s lifetime of hard work and dedication, but as was shown after the 2013 Draft, nothing is guaranteed.

Arizona State had five players that had hopes on being drafted last season and a grand total of zero received the call, that’s right a big, fat goose egg. Team captains, linebacker Brandon Magee and safety Keelan Johnson were signed on as free agents after the draft was completed. Both are currently listed on team rosters, Magee with Cleveland and Johnson with Philadelphia, but nobody knows what effect this weekend’s draft will have on their roster spots.

Running back Cameron Marshall and wide receiver Jamal Miles were invited to training camps yet both were waived in pre-season by the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars respectively. Miles signed with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League but no word on Marshall’s status. Lindy’s and Sports Illustrated All-America punter Josh Hubner received nary an invite but is reportedly working and training in hopes for an invitation this year.

The Sun Devils’ outgoing senior class this year is hoping for a less tumultuous journey to fulfilling their dreams—let’s take a closer look at the players and if this weekend will bring promise or heartbreak.

Will Sutton

  • Will SuttonPosition: Defensive Tackle
  • Height: 6′ 1″
  • Weight: 300 lbs.

The two-time defending Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year saw a dropoff in production in his redshirt senior season and was battling reports of being sluggish and putting on “bad weight.” The consensus All-American and Morris Trophy winner in 2012 dominated the trenches and anchored the top-ranked Sun Devil defense.

It’s no question that Sutton will be drafted, the question is will he make an impact?

If he were to drop five to 10 pounds, I believe that Sutton could return to the form that he showed in 2012 when he could blow past offensive lineman without a second thought. Sutton set career highs that year with 13 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss and 63 total tackles—he weighed 270-275 at the time.

Prediction: Late third round or early fourth round

Carl Bradford

  • BradfordPosition: Linebacker
  • Height: 6′ 1″
  • Weight: 250 lbs.

Sutton’s partner in crime, brother in destruction and close friend will be battling for the honor of first Sun Devil drafted this weekend. The duo’s 44 tackles for loss in 2012 were the most in school history and they were also the first pair to post double-digit sacks in the same season since 1994.

In  his senior season, Bradford was named first team All-Pac-12, following an honorable mention nod the year before. Bradford led the team with 8.5 sacks and managed 61 tackles, 19 for a loss—another team best.

Bradford started every game of his final two seasons and made an immediate impact at the Devilbacker position anchoring the linebackers. His reckless abandon and aggressive play make him desirable but his hybrid play in college may have NFL scouts wondering how that will translate to play at the next level.

Prediction: Late third round or early fourth round

Marion Grice

  • gricePosition: Running Back
  • Height: 6′ 0″
  • Weight: 207 lbs.

The two-year running back from Houston, Texas dominated out of the Arizona State backfield and his name litters the school’s record books. The two-time All-Pac-12 back is fifth all-time with 39 career touchdowns, although he only played in 24 games. His 234 points scored is the most in school history over a two-year span with his 2013 total of 120 points tied with Terry Battle for second place in school history. Grice’s 20 touchdowns in 2013 is only the third time in school history the plateau has been reached and the 15th time in conference history.

Grice was sidelined in the Nov. 23 victory over UCLA with a broken fibula and thus missed the NFL Scouting Combine and ASU’s Pro Day. Grice held a personal Pro Day last month with scouts from 10 NFL teams in attendance. The threat that makes Grice most desirable is his duality as a running back as well as a receiver. Grice led all Division I running backs with 14 receiving touchdowns in his two years in Tempe.

Prediction: Late fourth round or early fifth round

Other possible draftees:

  • darbyAlden Darby – Safety
  • Chris Coyle – Tight End
  • Evan Finkenberg – Offensive Line

Free Agent Signees:

  • Osahon Irabor – Cornerback
  • Robert Nelson – Cornerback
  • Chris Young – Linebacker




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