Purdue’s 7-6 record in 2011 was the best of Danny Hope’s three-year run as Head Coach. The season ended with a victory over Western Michigan in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl. This year the Boilermakers return 15 starters, including their quarterback, and a player with his sights set on the top five of the first round of April’s NFL Draft. Here’s a look at Purdue’s top draft eligible players. Underclassmen are designated with an asterisk…
Kawann Short DT 6’3 315 – A three star recruit out of high school, Short took a redshirt season in 2008. In 2009, after noticeably bulking up, Short started all 12 games and recorded 48 tackles, four tackles for loss and even intercepted two passes. Short was second team All-Big 10 in 2010 when he collected 4.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, two blocked kicks and eight batted passes. Last year, he improved yet again, with 6.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss and another blocked kick. His efforts earned him the team’s defensive MVP award. After the season Short considered leaving school for the NFL, but decided to return with the hopes of becoming a top five draft pick. Short is incredibly strong and quick off the snap. He is versatile enough to line up all along the line of scrimmage, so he will have value in any NFL scheme. He doesn’t always fight off blockers the way he’s capable of, and even appears bored at times. He’ll need to give a more consistent effort this year to reach his lofty goal. Still, Short is a talented player with potential to dominate at the collegiate record. He should hear his name called in the first round of next April’s draft.
Josh Johnson CB 5’11 195 – Johnson starred on offense as a senior in high school but he was limited to special teams as a freshman for the Boilers. In 2010 he made 10 starts at corner and finished the season with an interception, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles. As a junior Johnson started every game, intercepting two passes and leading the team with nine pass breakups. He’s an intelligent player who’s been named All-Academic Big 10 two years in a row. He has good size for a cornerback and runs a 40 in the 4.4 range. Johnson is an aggressive player with good ball skills. He’s not an “island” corner, but he has potential to play on the boundaries in zone coverage. Until he develops he should be worth a pick on Day Three of the draft as a player who can handle some special teams duties, and play in nickel and dime situations.
Dwayne Beckford ILB 6’1 235 – Beckford was a backup and special teamer in 2009 as a freshman. Since the he’s appeared in 24 games and made 18 starts. Last season, Beckford was arrested for a DUI and suspended for the team’s bowl game. Then, on Monday, he was suspended indefinitely after apparently violating the terms of his probation and being arrested again. Beckford is one of the team’s most talented defensive players, and a legitimate mid-to-late round NFL prospect; but this latest misstep leaves his status for 2012 completely up in the air. It’s unclear whether he will set foot on a football field this season.
Also keep an eye on: Robert Maci DE 6’4 244, Caleb TerBush QB 6’5 225, Peters Drey C 6’6 302, Ralph Bolden RB 5’9 200