MSU's Sherrod hoping to go in first round of NFL Draft
MSU offensive tackle Derek Sherrod could be a top 30 pick in Thursday's NFL Draft. (AP photo)
During the months leading into the National Football League selection process, professional scouts almost try to talk themselves out of a prospect.
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Instead of the excitement and intrigue in taking a player, the personnel try to become their own private eye detectives in finding hidden information or what they refer to as "red flags" to deter them from staking their careers on a 20-22 year-old kid.
Since his final game in a Mississippi State jersey, a 52-14 victory in the 2011 Gator Bowl over Michigan, scouts are starting to realize Sherrod is about as clean as they come.
"I always say we are in the dirt business, that's what we try to do first, to see what's underneath that hood," Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said in his Thursday per-draft press conference. "(Sherrod) is impeccable in terms of his citizenship, his work ethic, he's very intelligent."
And so yes, that's the problem with the 6-foot-6, 305-pound left tackle â€“ he's too nice.
"He doesn't have that killer instinct to his play and is a bit passive," National Football Post scouting director Wes Bunting said. The Columbus native, who will try to watch the draft tonight in his hometown, was one of 16 players to win the storied National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Award, which included a post-graduate $18,000 scholarship. His off-the-field credentials include earning his degree in business from MSU with a 3.54 GPA and being a four-year member of the M-Club, MSU's student-athlete community service organization, which included spending considerable time with the youth of Mississippi.
And all of that is nice if NFL executives were convinced the man who enjoys laughing with the media and isn't shy to flash that child-like smile was willing to get mean and nasty on Sundays the minute he steps on the gridiron, which they are not.
"We're not looking for best friends or neighbors," Angelo said. "We're looking for guys who get it and come in here with good attitudes, good work ethics and are very passionate about football. If they have those things in common, I can personally get along with them. Particularly if they have talent."
Sherrod could become the first Mississippi State player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since 1996, which is the longest drought for a Southeastern Conference program.
The last time Mississippi State had a first round draft pick in the NFL was the duo of Walt Harris and Eric Moulds at 13 and 24 respectively.
Coaches, scouts and general managers have been constantly calling Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen trying to get the inside scoop to a player he never recruited but called "my best football player" during the 2010 season.
"Derekâ€™s the kind of player you build programs around,â€ť Mullen said.
In most mock drafts, Sherrod is projected to be a late first round pick and most frequently predicted to be the Chicago Bears future property at the 29th spot.
Angelo and Chicago head coach Lovie Smith previously took a offensive tackle with the 14th selection in 2008 from the SEC in Vanderbilt's Chris Williams.
"Physically, I'd say (they are) comparable in terms of intangibles, but Chris was a little better athlete in terms of his hip movement," Angelo stated. "Derek has longer arms in terms of his pass protection. Is there a big difference? We took Chris in the first half of the first round (No. 14), I don't think Derek is projected to go there."
Sherrod could switch to right tackle in the NFL and worked on both sides of the line for Chicago's offensive line coach Mike Tice at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
In 2010, the Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler absorbed in a career-high 57 sacks, which limited the teamâ€™s ability to reach the full potential of offensive coordinator Mike Martzâ€™s offensive scheme.
"I'll be happy wherever I go, because a lot of people don't get this opportunity," Sherrod told the Associated Press.
Either way after a Saturday scrimmage this spring, Sherrod said local fans that have grown up watching him in the area throughout his career will still see him in the offseason.
"I definitely plan on coming back because this is my home, the Columbus and Starkville area, so I definitely plan on showing my face around here often," Sherrod said.
Other teams in the first round that could be interested in the large offensive tackle position class could be the New York Giants (19th overall), Kansas City Chiefs (21st), indianapolis Colts (22nd), New England Patriots (28th) and the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers rounding out the first round at No. 32.
"I think he goes anyway from 20-30," Bunting said.