A writer for The Washington Post, Neil Greenberg, was way ahead of the curve with his 2016 Mock Draft for the Baltimore Ravens.
In it, Greenberg had Praise Martin-Oguike, a defensive end from Temple, being drafted in the sixth round. There was only one problem with that. Praise Martin-Oguike was already committed to playing for Temple next season.
Oguike will be one of a number of Temple Owls, in our mind, drafted in the 2017 real NFL draft and we think he will go in the fourth, not sixth, round. Hanging around a former position NFL coach like Phil Snow for another year can only help his draft value.
Here are five Owls we think could be drafted and which rounds they will go to if they play up to their potential:
Jahad Thomas, Seventh Round
This is all incumbent on the Owls splitting Thomas out and using him at his position on the next level, which will be slot receiver. One of P.J. Walker’s problems in a sophomore slump, was that he was without his crutch and cosmic partner, Robby Anderson. With Anderson gone, he will need another receiver to mind meld with and Thomas—who has even better run-after-catch potential than Anderson—could be that guy. This will be their eighth year of football together. There is not a demand in the NFL for 5-10, 170-pound running backs. There is one for 5-10, 170-pound elusive slot receivers.
P.J. Walker, Sixth Round
There were three quarterbacks drafted in the sixth round by the NFL this season and none of them had as good a touchdown-to-interception ratio in their final year as P.J. Walker did in his penultimate year. (Michigan’s Jake Rudock, Arkansas’ Brandon Allen, and Louisiana Tech’s Jeff Driskel were the three. ) After tossing 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions as a sophomore, Walker improved those numbers to 19 and 8 as a junior. More importantly, he improved the wins from six to 10. He will leave Temple with every QB mark. He might be short, but he makes up for that with tremendous accuracy and he is very mobile and can get out of trouble to make plays downfield. If he can improve the wins from 10 to 11 or more, he will get noticed. Wins, that will be his most important draft number. If it’s 15 wins, he could go in the first round. Right now, we’ll settle for 11 and 6.
Praise Martin-Oguike, Fourth Round
This defensive end has all of the physical tools to be a dominating NFL player. For him to be drafted, though, he will have to stay on the field and have at least double-digit sacks. With guys like Greg Webb, Averee Robinson, Haason Reddick and Sharif Finch collapsing the pocket (not even mentioning what Karamo Dioubate’s roll could be), he could get those numbers. If he does, look out.
Sean Chandler, Third Round
This prediction is made only if he is allowed to take his superior vision and route-jumping skills to the middle of the field, where he can come up with a lot of interceptions. So far, so good because it looks like Artrel Foster, Kareem Ali Jr., Nate Hairston could have the requisite ability to hold down the other corner positions. How many people know that Chandler is one of only two players in the nation to have multiple interception returns for touchdowns a year ago? Surely, the NFL knows. If he is able to duplicate that and add a half-dozen interceptions, he becomes a candidate to do exactly what Bernard Pierce did on the other side of the ball—get drafted in the third round and come out a year early.
Dion Dawkins, First Round
The guy who stands in the middle of the pre-game huddle and is a natural-enough leader to get the team around him when he does is “I play for; I play for; I play for …. TEMPLE” chant will be playing for a first-or second-round NFL payday this season. He is the perfect size, speed and strength to be an NFL tackle and has the kind of nasty-knock-them-back attitude the league is looking for on draft day. How much he knocks back the Penn State line on Sept. 17 will be his most important film of the season.
Wednesday: For Pete’s Sake