Some Senior Day speculation -- is it also the last home game for Evan Royster and Navorro Bowman?
Bowman and Royster might not be in Maybin's class, but both of them are clearly NFL-caliber players. Both would go very high in next April's draft.
Todd McShay, a well-regarded talent evaluator who works for ESPN and Scouts, Inc., ranks Bowman as the 13th-best player in college football. He has Royster ranked 50th.
Bowman and Royster should at least think about leaving early.
They should think about it, yes. There's something to be said for Penn State's deficient offensive line and Royster's lack of success this season, but Royster can't be totally excused for his performance in 2009. He hasn't been the same cerebral, decisive runner we saw in 2008, even when given solid running lanes. Bob Flounders makes a hell of a point in that column, though -- just wait until you see opposing teams load up against Penn State's running game next year with Kevin Newsome under center.
Royster won't be a combine sensation and if McShay thinks he's the 50th best player on the board, it's further proof that McShay is certifiable. With so many NFL teams going to a by-committee approach to their backfields, only the true superstar running backs are going to be selected in the first two rounds. Royster is a fine player, but isn't in that class. If he projects as a 3rd or 4th round pick, is that enough for him to make the leap?
As for Bowman, he's a guy with a tough background who could be enticed by NFL money, but his play has severely declined this season. Coming into 2009, he seemed to be a sure-fire first or second round draft pick, and most of us had assumed that he'd be elsewhere in 2010. Legal troubles hampered him in the off-season and a groin injury slowed him down this fall. He still looks a few steps slower than in 2008, and was actually a weak link in the defense against Northwestern and Ohio State. Whether that's because of conditioning and other lingering effects from the injury, nobody outside of Lasch really knows. If he decides to declare for the NFL, he'll have to prove to scouts that he's fully recovered and can stay out of trouble.
They're both coin flips at this point. Royster may want to avoid the inevitable beating he'll endure behind a still-developing offensive line. Bowman may decide to get out before another lower body injury takes away his speed, or he runs into legal trouble again in Happy Valley. Both could easily justify going the Justin King route and trying to get a one-year head start on their second NFL contracts, where the big money really is for non-first rounders.