BOZICH | Louisville primed to leave another Strong NFL Draft foo - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville primed to leave another Strong NFL Draft footprint

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Charlie Strong scampered around left end and departed the University of Louisville for Texas more than 15 months ago. But the final numbers on Strong's four-season stay as the U of L head coach are still being written.

In fact, the latest rewrite is about to be filed.

Sports Illustrated has ranked the Top 300 prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft, which begins April 30 in Chicago. By logging the Sports Illustrated numbers, this is what I discovered:

*Louisville is one of five programs with five players ranked among the Top 150 prospects.

*The Cardinals have 10 guys ranked in SI's Top 300.

*For the second consecutive season, Louisville will produce at least one first-round selection.

That player will be receiver DeVante Parker, a prospect that SI ranks the ninth-best player in this draft. Parker has been invited to appear in Chicago for the first round.

A year ago, three Louisville players – safety Calvin Pryor, defensive end Marcus Smith and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater – were first-round picks.

According to the numbers at, when Parker is taken in round one it will be the first time in U of L history the program has produced first-round picks in consecutive seasons.

Credit Strong and his staff, which stuffed the program with talent, especially during their final three seasons. If 10 Louisville players are taken in the 2015 draft it will raise the total of drafted Cardinals to 14 over the last two seasons, another program record.

Parker, a product of Ballard High School, is ranked the third-best receiver, behind Kevin White of West Virginia and Amari Cooper of Alabama. SI says that scouts love his explosiveness and feel for the sidelines.

Any downside for Parker?

SI says this: “Not always able to hold his route when faced with body contact.”

In addition to Parker, the four other Louisville players ranked in the top 150 are:

*Safety Gerod Holliman, who led the nation with 14 interceptions last season. He's ranked No. 65 overall. Despite the interceptions, Holliman is ranked eighth among prospects in the secondary.

SI likes his speed. It does not like his tackling ability, saying, “doesn't tackle often, or do it very well.”

*Lorenzo Mauldin, an outside linebacker ranked 98th. It's a deep group of linebacker prospects. Mauldin is ranked 13th. He is praised for his combination of speed and strength. Mauldin is described as a “patient tackler.” The criticism? “Gets washed out by blockers too often.”

*Cornerback Charles Gaines, the 118th ranked prospect by Sports Illustrated. Ranked 25th in the secondary group, Gaines shows the ability to recognize routes because of his experience as a receiver. His negatives? “Thin-limbed; struggles at time with tackling.”

*Safety James Sample, who played one season for Louisville after he was recruited by Bobby Petrino's staff. Sample is ranked 141st overall and 30th in the secondary group. He is praised for his range and reaction time. The only con is a relative lack of experience.

The four other programs with at least five Top 150 prospects on the Sports Illustrated list are:

Florida State, which has 10 players; and Oregon, Oklahoma and Miami, which also have five.

The five other Louisville players who made the Top 300 are:

*Offensive lineman John Miller, No. 153 overall and 26th in the offensive lineman group. Miller is called a “mauler of a player.” But SI warns that “the game can look too fast for him. More creative D's give him problems.”

*Halfback Dominique Brown, No. 198. Ranked the 19th best running back prospect, Brown is billed as a guy who delivers around the goal line, but “rarely puts a hurt on defenders.”

*Offensive lineman Jamon Brown, No. 247. Listed at 323 pounds, Brown is ranked 43rd in the offensive lineman group primarily because of his size. He is marked down because Brown is “prone to overextend in pass protection, leaving him off balance.”

*Halfback Michael Dyer, No. 277. Dyer is ranked the 25th best back. His pros are precise cuts and willingness to take on contact. His cons: Dyer played at three schools, violating team rules. He also missed his final college game, the Belk Bowl, because of academic issues.

*Tight end Gerald Christian, No. 286. Christian is ranked 19th in the tight end group. He is praised for his strength, leading all tight ends in bench press reps at the scouting combine. He is marked down for his ability to catch the football.

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