The NFL Draft and all its pre- and during hype is now a week into our rearview mirror. If you didn’t read any of the millions of post-draft team grades, you can find examples of this tired exercise here, here, here, and here. And those are just from the first page of the Google search. You could go on for days reading EXPERT analysis of the draft.
Well, you’re not going to get that kind of garbage here. You’re a Gamecock fan, and you’re going to get GAMECOCK garbage on this site baby.
So, without further adieu, the old Buckster is here to pass out career grades for all the Gamecocks football players who were either drafted or signed as free agents. I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me either, but I haven’t published anything in like, two weeks, so roll with me here.
These grades are not scientific. I’m not going back and researching numbers. It is just what it is.
(Note: Love all these guys. LOVE them for being Gamecocks. That’s my disclaimer.)
Stephon Gilmore (Round 1, Buffalo) – C+ – I know, I know. I have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t understand the game of football, and I have no idea what kind of impact Gilmore had on the field away from the ball. You got me. I just know #5 (on D) didn’t ever seem to be the suffocating, shutdown corner I expected him to be. I was expecting the second coming of Charles Woodson, and I never came close to seeing that. I don’t think Woodson would ever get beat by 20 yards by Darvin Adams on a hitch and go. I’m sure we’ll miss him. Probably a lot. But he was never quite the player – DB, QB, KR – I hoped.
Melvin Ingram (Round 1, San Diego) – A+ – Love. Love. Love. Everything you would ever want in a college football player. Also responsible for one of the greatest plays in Gamecock football history. That is all.
Alshon Jeffery (Round 2, Chicago) – B – As time passes I believe Alshon’s legacy is only going to grow and he’ll be seen as an all-timer, but as of today I’m going to give him a B. His freshman and sophomore years were things of beauty, and he was on track to shatter all kinds of receiving records. But something happened his Junior year that I don’t think we’ll ever be able to explain. Was he out of shape? Was it shoddy quarterback play? Did defensive coaches scheme to ensure #1 didn’t beat them? All of those theories have been floated. But there’s no question his sub-par season and essentially a no-show at the NFL combine cost him something fierce financially. Even so, I think he can, and will, eventually become an elite receiver in the league.
Antonio Allen – (Round 7, New York Jets) – A – The epitome of hard work. Allen was one of those guys that was just kind of “there” early in his career. You saw his name in the lineup, you saw him in on a few tackles, but you never expected him to be a breakout performer. But when he intercepted Kyle Parker for a TD to ice the 2010 CTU game – read, quick break, and then a cool loaf-of-bread cruise to the end zone – I thought “I haven’t been paying close enough attention, this kid is a player”. I was disappointed he fell so far in the draft. I think the Jets got themselves a good one.
Rokevious Watkins – (Round 5, St. Louis) – C+ – Good for the Rok, man. Another guy who took a long and somewhat winding road (GMC –> USC) to the NFL, you have to feel good for guys who make it after putting in their time. He never really stood out at USC, but he was a solid contributor and has the size and (hopefully) the skills to stick in the NFL for a while.
Travian Robertson – (Round 7, Atlanta) – B – I was really disappointed big Trav went this late (not that he was expected to go earlier), but I’m glad he landed with the Falcons. I think he has a shot to make the team and contribute. He was very highly regarded coming out of high school, had an unfortunate knee injury his sophomore year, but came back to be the cornerstone of one of the best defensive lines in USC history. He was often overshadowed by the likes of Norwood, Taylor, Ingram, and even Clowney, but Robertson’s presence helped free those other guys up to make plays.
Free agent signees:
Jason Barnes (San Diego) – D – I’m not sure exactly what my expectations were for #4, but I certainly expected more than what I got. He showed some flashes early in his career, especially in a 2008 win at Ole Miss in which he had seven catches and two TDs. But every Spring we came to count on him, and every Fall he disappeared. The fact he had basically no statistics over his last two years but was still invited to an all-star game and landed a free agent contract tells you he has measurables and skills. He just never used them at USC.
C.C. Whitlock – (Minnesota) – C - What an enigmatic career for C.C. He was huge pickup and the second coming of Syvelle Newton out of high school, but once he finally landed at cornerback he always seemed to be the odd man out. He started here and there due to injuries, and had a few picks to his credit, including two against Auburn last year. Unfortunately, one lasting memory of C.C. will be that he gave one of those right back to the Tigers in a tight game we would go on to lose.
Marty Markett – (Atlanta) – I - Great practice player by most accounts, Markett was never able to break through and make an impact on the field. Like Barnes, it’s impressive that he showed enough in workouts to even get a shot in an NFL camp. He’d be a perfect gunner in the league.
Terrance Campbell – (Washington) – B - TC finally used up his eligibility after first coming to USC in 1994. Well, that’s what it feels like. Campbell always felt like a “hole plugger”, one of those guys you had to use until someone more talented came along. Most of the time no one did, and Campbell responded by doing an admirable job for the ‘Cocks.
Others? What about #5 on offense you knucklehead?!? That’s right, I heard you. But obviously you missed the part where I said I was only grading draftees and free agent signees. But if you insist, my grade for Stephen Garcia – C+. No need to tread over ground that’s been plowed dozens of times over, so I won’t. I’ll just say he was the guy that was suspended five times and allowed his off-the-field antics to get him dismissed from the team. But he’s also the guy that led us to two of the most stirring wins in our history – at home against #1-ranked Alabama and the SEC East clincher over Florida in Gainesville. People outside of the program don’t understand why we defend him and why he’s so beloved. And screw them, we don’t owe them an explanation.
Time will be very kind to Stephen Garcia and his legacy. I can promise you that.
TRC BOD Meeting. That’ll pretty much do it for the sweep this week. Be sure to join us for the biannual TRC Board of Directors meeting next week Thursday through Sunday. We’ll be meeting at non-disclosed locations in the Greenville area. So how are you supposed to join us if the meeting locations are not disclosed? That’s your problem pal.
But if you are able to find us, beers on us!