On Monday, we took a look ahead to the 2013 NFL Draft and which Sun Devils are the early top prospects. It's now time to review the past: the spring and summer days of 2011.
After having four players drafted and another three signed as undrafted free agents in 2010, April of 2011 was hardly a banner year for former Sun Devils. Just one player, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, was drafted, and that wasn't until the 233rd overall pick in the seventh round. It was the first time since 1990 that only a single Sun Devil was drafted. Four other players ended up signing undrafted free agent deals and went to camp.
Now one year later, let's take a look at this rather underwhelming class of five Devils.
Guy burst onto the scene in 2008, when as a freshman he made several All-Freshman teams. He followed that up by a very promising sophomore year in which he the team in sacks with 4.5 from his defensive tackle spot. That provided a lot of hype coming into 2010. Unfortunately, it was largely a disappointment, which made his decision to leave ASU early and enter the draft puzzling.
Nevertheless, Guy had good size (6'5", 300 pounds) and skills to project into the NFL. Sadly, he lasted into the final round, being the 233rd of 254 drafted players. Fortunately, he was taken by the reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, who shifted him to defensive end for their 3-4 defense.
His rookie season was over before it began. On August 3rd, Guy sustained a concussion. He later returned to play in one of the Packers' preseason games, but after his concussion symptoms returned, he ended up on injured reserve for the duration of the year.
Now healthy, Guy will look to earn a rotation spot at defensive end, a position the team addressed via free agency by signing Anthony Hargrove (however, Hargrove will miss eight games due to his BountyGate suspension) and in this year's draft with the selection of another converted collegiate defensive tackle in Jerel Worthy in the second round.
Joining Guy in Green Bay's training camp was wide receiver Kerry Taylor. Signed after the draft as a free agent, Taylor caught seven passes for 56 yards during the preseason but was was cut after training camp. He then spent 11 days with the New England Patriots but was again cut on September 16th.
The Sun Devils' leading receiver in 2010 then was signed by the San Francisco 49ers for their practice squad on October 12th. This had some personal significance for Taylor as his uncle John Taylor was a star for the great 49er teams of the 1980s. However, he barely unpacked his bags, as six days later he was cut.
His odyssey continued up north, as on October 26th, he was signed to the Minnesota Vikings practice squad and remains there, currently a member of the offseason active roster.
The Vikings receiving corps has many question marks, so the chance for Taylor to finally latch on is present.
Each year only a handful of kickers get drafted, and after his Lou Groza Award-winning freshman season, many thought Weber would be among them. But three very uneven years later, he went--like most--down the path of the undrafted.
He signed with the Cincinnati Bengals on July 28th and saw action in camp and throughout the preseason against incumbent kicker Mike Nugent. He made both of his extra point kicks and was used on kickoffs, but did not attempt a field goal.
He was cut on September 3rd, but made enough of an impression on the Bengals as to be signed by them on January 6th of this year, setting up another battle with Nugent.
Cornerback and return specialist LeQuan Lewis latched onto the Tennessee Titans roster last July 29th. He saw action on defense and special teams throughout the preseason, making a total of two tackles.
Lewis was released on September 3rd and is still trying to find his way back into the league.
Despite making just 10 receptions over his four seasons in Tempe, Smith managed to get a shot in the NFL. He missed out on the initial wave of undrafted free agent signings, but the Seattle Seahawks added him midway through training camp on August 16th.
Smith saw action in Seattle's final two preseason games but did not make any receptions. He was among the team's cuts on August 30th, and like Lewis, has been off a roster since.
As with any draft class, any definitive evaluations should be withheld for about three years, but with such a less-than-stellar performance thus far, it's hard for ASU fan's to not be slightly discouraged by the 2011 class.
Conversely, the promise held by the 2012 players--notably Osweiler and Bolden--should help to make an impact in the league sooner rather than later.