The floodgates are starting to open again, and the question is, how will the wave of juniors coming into the annual NFL draft affect what happens at the top?
Although it is all unofficial, the NFL fully expects Raghib "Rocket" Ismail of Notre Dame to file for admission to the draft after the league starts accepting applications Feb. 1. If he enters, Ismail would be the top-heavy favorite to be the first player selected.There were rumors last week about Southern Cal quarterback Todd Marinovich, a redshirt sophomore, opting for the draft. Quarterbacks carry a lot of weight in the draft, and Marinovich, even though he does not possess an exceptionally strong throwing arm, could go high.
But the one everyone is waiting on is quarterback David Klingler of Houston, who broke just about every passing record in the book last season. In the last 24 hours, word has started to filter out that he may forgo his senior season and opt for the draft.
"If Klingler comes out," said one personnel director whose team has a pick near the top, "that would change the whole picture. He would definitely be a nominee for the first player taken in the draft."
Although commissioner Paul Tagliabue has not made any statements about another apparent onslaught of junior eligibles, the NFL is clearly not happy with the prospect. Reportedly, the league office last week notified officials of the Senior Bowl that if they allowed underclassmen to play, the NFL would end its affiliation with the game. For years, the NFL has supplied the coaching staffs for the Senior Bowl teams because the game has provided one of the best opportunities for pro scouts to rate college players.
This year the people who run the Senior Bowl were ready to allow juniors to play.