We enter the third round of this mock draft and the Raiders have looked to the brains of the offense and defense thus far in adding quarterback Johnny Manziel with the fifth overall pick and middle linebacker Chris Borland in the second round. With that, they move to the trenches and select...
Third round (67 overall): Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Measurables: 6-1, 297 pounds
2013: 14 games, 14 starts, 48 tackles, 16 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 3 PD
2012: 12 games, 12 starts, 63 tackles, 25 TFL, 13.0 sacks, 5 PD, 3 FF
2011: 13 games, 12 starts, 33 tackles, 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 PD
2010: Academically ineligible
2009: 12 games, 2 starts, 17 tackles, 4 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 FF
2013: Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year. First team All-Pac-12 Team. First team All-American recognition by the Associated Press, CBSSports.com, USA Today. Second team recognition by Athlon Sports. Honorable mention recognition by Sports Illustrated.
2012: First Team All-Pac-12 defensive lineman by the Pac-12 head coaches and CBS Sports. Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year. Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year by CBS Sports. Consensus College Football All-American by American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press, Athlon Sports, CBSSports.com, Lindy's Sports, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated. All America second team by FoxSportsNext.com (formerly Scout.com) and Walter Camp Football Foundation. Co-winner of the Morris Trophy, by vote of the Pac-12 conference's offensive linemen.
2010: Hard Hat Award for work in off-season strength and conditioning.
Last year around this time, Sutton was seen as a surefire first round pick. His 2012 season was elite, earning spots on nearly every first team All American team in the nation. He was a dominant force on the defensive line, with 25 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks from the interior defensive line.
At the time he weighed in at 275 pounds. But for whatever reason, he opted to return to Arizona State for his senior season and packed on some 40 pounds. At just 6-1, carrying 315 pounds was not ideal at all. And his play suffered for it. He was no longer wreaking havoc on opposing offense's backfield as he had his junior season when he was considered among the best in the country.
With his drop-off in play as a senior and his lackluster workout numbers this off-season, it's possible he drops farther in the draft than the top of the third round. Then again it's also possible he doesn't drop this far.
His draft status is dependent upon which Will Sutton NFL teams think they would be getting.
Since the end of his senior season, he has been steady taking back off the weight he gained last season. He understands it was a mistake that hurt his stock and his best bet is to get back closer to his weight when he was unstoppable as a junior.
I am more of the mind that he is closer to the player he was in 2012 than 2013. Not only was he too heavy in 2013, but opposing offenses double and sometimes triple teamed him to try and take him out of the equation. He clearly still commanded a great deal of attention and that is what a defensive line needs.
Getting back to his previous form is not something that can be done in a few months time. He disappointed at the Senior Bowl in late January still weighing close to 310 pounds. He was also not great in workouts at the combine weighing 303 pounds. He had gotten down to 297 by the time his pro day rolled around.
With each weigh-in, his performance and numbers improved. Between the combine and his pro day, he improved his 40-yard dash from 5.36 to 5.31, his 20-yard shuttle from 4.82 to 4.57, and his three-cone from 7.93 to 7.30.
He likely gained the weight by request of his coaches. And gaining 40 pounds is not as easy as it seems. Taking it back off (or most of it) is also not a simple task. It takes a great work ethic - a quality for which Sutton has been known his entire college career.
If you want proof of his work ethic, you need only look at his Hard Hat Award for his work staying in football shape during his 2010 sophomore season in which he was unable to play due to academic ineligibility. You could also look at the fact he has won the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year the past two seasons as proof. Even in his down senior season, he was still recognized as the top defensive player in the conference.
What he could do for the Raiders is split time with Antonio Smith in the short term and hopefully replace the 32-year-old defensive lineman in the long term. And if the Raiders think he is still the dominant player he was in 2012, he is well worth a pick in the third round.