By Jared Fields, Sports Editor
Saturday at the NFL Draft, former all-American Danieal Manning will find out what team he’ll play for next year. Manning, with family and friends, will watch the draft from home in Corsicana.
As a junior, Manning caught NFL scouts’ attention, and then decided to skip his senior year at ACU to enter the draft. Since declaring for the draft and signing an agent, Manning’s stock and reputation have only grown. He was invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game in January with some of the best players in the nation. From there, Manning received an invite to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. After the combine and other workouts with teams, people outside of the NFL community have learned about Manning.
Before the combine, many experts ranked Manning as close to the 100th overall best player. After his performance in the combine, however, Manning shot up the draft boards to the 50s and 60s range.
Mel Kiper Jr., a draft analyst for ESPN, predicts Manning to be a second round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in his mock draft. Kiper has spoken of Manning many times on TV and radio, and ranks him as the fifth best safety in the draft.
Other draft experts say Manning will be drafted high, anywhere between the middle of the second to the third round.
Regular people are even catching on to the buzz that has surrounded Manning. Message boards on NFL team Web Sites discuss the possibility of drafting Manning. The Steelers, Patriots, 49’ers, Bengals, Jaguars, Buccaneers and Colts, just to name a few, have posts about drafting Manning in the second or third rounds.
Manning’s agent, Russell Hicks of Coast 2 Coast Sports Management in Houston, said many team’s have shown interest. Hicks said the latest team to contact Manning were representatives from the Steelers, who came to visit Manning on Wednesday.
“Right now, everything is just playing by ear,” Hicks said. “My best bet is that’ll he’ll go [in the draft] anywhere between the middle of the second round, to the third. Someone may even draft him who hasn’t really shown any interest.”