NFL Draft and the moments that follow worth keeping an eye on for KU fans
While the rest of the world watches to see where South Carolina stud Jadeveon Clowney, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and the rest this year's talented and deep NFL Draft class are taken in this week's draft, fans of Kansas University football find themselves in a familiar position — wondering if any former Jayhawks are relevant this year.
No Kansas fans ever will mistake the NFL Draft, which begins Thurdsay, a few weeks later this year, for the NBA Draft, which will unfold on June 26 in New York City, but that does not mean that a couple of former Jayhawks are not keeping one eye on the television and both ears on their cell phones.
Running back James Sims is the only Kansas player with so much as a prayer of being selected in this year's seven-round affair. The first round will begin and end Thursday night and Sims, the program's third all-time leading rusher, is free to go bowling, check out a movie or do some grocery shopping that night. Rounds 2 and 3 will take place on Friday, and Sims will be free to meet up with friends, catch up on some sleep or dive into some meditation to get his mind right for Saturday. That's when Rounds 4-7 will take place and if Sims is going to get drafted it almost assuredly will be in the final rounds.
KU coach Charlie Weis has said with conviction throughout the past two years that Sims will play on Sundays. Here's a quick look back at some of Weis' strongest points about why the NFL is in Sims' future.
"Do I think he'll be able to play on Sundays? Yes, I believe he will be able to play on Sundays.”
“There is a reason (former Denver Bronco) Terrell Davis was a sixth-round draft choice now. He was that slash one-cut runner with good vision, could run the ball inside very well, could run the ball outside OK, could pick up the blitz, is OK in the passing game. (Sims) doesn't have a glaring weakness. I can’t see one reason why he wouldn’t play on Sunday. I think he’s a nice, solid player. I’d want him on my team.”
“He can run inside and he can run outside and he can pick up the blitz,” said Weis of Sims. “He can run and he can catch. I don’t know what he can’t do. Does he run sub-4.5 (second 40-yard dash time)? No. But he’s a really, really good player. And if you’re a really, really good player here, there’s a better than even chance that you’re going to have a chance to be a really good player (in the NFL). His football will not end when he finishes up his senior year. His football will continue.”
If Sims is not drafted by the end of Saturday's selection process, he'll almost certainly land with an NFL team quickly.
As has been the case in the recent past for undrafted Jayhawks Chris Harris and Steven Johnson, who both played key roles in the Broncos' run to the Super Bowl last season, not being picked late actually wound up being the best thing that could have happened to them because it allowed them and their representation the freedom to look around the entire league and seek a deal with the team that gave them the best chance to make the roster.
Because of that, Sims sits in a win-win situation heading into this year's draft. Either he'll become the first Kansas player picked since Tanner Hawkinson in 2012 or he'll be able to pick the team he wants to go to camp with.
While Sims is far and away the headliner for KU's chances this NFL offseason, there are a couple of other former Jayhawks who also could land free agent deals following the draft. Here's a quick look:
• ST Josh Ford — Several teams have inquired about and studied Ford for his standout special teams play. He came to Kansas as a wide receiver but never made much impact there. But he's a big, physical guy with good quickness and the right demeanor to play special teams. He takes it personally on every unit, has a knack for blocking kicks and likes to hit. Making a roster could be tough because very few teams keep guys solely because of their special teams skills. But Ford should get a shot to prove he belongs.
• FB Nick Sizemore — True fullbacks are nearly extinct in the college game but NFL teams still value them tremendously. Remember, former KU running back Toben Opurum, who played defense during the final few years of his Kansas career is in the process of trying to make the Houston Texans roster as a fullback and was active for Houston's final regular season game last season. Sizemore has the, well, size to play the position and he showed good hands, decent speed and solid agility during pro day back in March. I've heard that a couple of teams asked for some extra details about Sizemore that day and his game film from 2013 won't hurt his cause.
• DL Keba Agostinho — I hadn't given much thought to Agostinho getting a shot but someone told me the other day that he was on the radar of at least one NFL team. The 6-foot-2, 277-pound defensive lineman had the best season of his career last year and looked much more active and showed he could make plays. But he's not fast enough to play linebacker, isn't dominant enough to be a true defensive end and doesn't have the size required to play inside. He might get invited to a camp and good for him if he does but making a roster is definitely a longshot.
• OL Aslam Sterling — I haven't heard much about Sterling and the NFL, but based on the body transformation he made from his junior to senior season alone and his ability to play tackle or guard, he might get a look as an undrafted free agent.