Manningham, Arrington latest of Big Ten’s early entries
Following in the footsteps of Indiana’s James Hardy and Michigan State’s Devin Thomas, Michigan junior WRs Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington have also elected to forgo their senior seasons and enter the draft.
Two square pegs in a round hole, namely head coach Rich Rodriguez’s run-oriented option offense, the decision comes as no surprise. A devastating combination of downfield speed, precise route running, and tremendous body control, Manningham emerged as one of the nation’s top receivers this season. Aside from his 97-yard TD vs. Wisconsin, in which he snared a Ryan Mallet fastball and raced up field for the score, Manningham may be best remembered for his acrobatic, game-winning TD catch to beat Michigan State.
He will be downgraded for his lack of size and ability to get off the line of scrimmage against larger, physical press corners, and his three drops vs. Ohio State are uncharacteristic of his otherwise reliable hands. Manningham is considered in the top tier of this year’s receiver class and a sure first-round pick.
Coming off a career best nine reception, 153-yard, two touchdown extravaganza vs. Florida in the Capital One Bowl, Arrington is riding a tremendous wave of “what have you done for me lately” into the draft. He must prove, however, that his incredible array of one-handed and diving catches are more than an anomaly. Until this breakout performance, Arrington had easily taken a back seat to Manningham in terms of pass catching ability.
However, with his masterful bowl performance fresh in the minds of talent evaluators, Arrington’s stock is certainly higher than it was entering the game, and he may get drafted higher than he otherwise would have, as teams may view his last game as a glimpse of what’s to come.
Not to be lost in the shuffle, though, are character concerns stemming from an October 2006 domestic violence arrest for which Arrington was eventually cleared. Arrington will have to satisfy scouts from a character perspective and run better than his projected high 4.5-40 yard dash time to improve upon his current forth round projection.