Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, obviously having spent some time in the NFL, thinks he knows a first-round pick when he sees one.
And as far as he's concerned, he saw one last Saturday in Ole Miss' Dexter McCluster, who torched the Vols for 324 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.
"I know what I saw Saturday, and I saw a first-rounder Saturday," Kiffin said. "He’s so difficult to deal with and so hard to tackle. With the long speed that he has, I would sure think that he would be a first-rounder based on what I saw. I assume the question of durability would come up because he’s not touched the ball like that throughout the year like he did in our game, but it didn’t seem to be an issue Saturday."
Kiffin thinks McCluster's 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine will be off the charts.
"I would think he would run comparable to Chris Johnson [of the Tennessee Titans], and you see what he’s doing in the NFL," Kiffin said.
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound McCluster is realistic about where he'll play in the NFL. He knows the chances of his being an every-down running back are remote, but he has no doubt there's a spot for him somewhere at the next level.
"I would say I'll be a slot back, maybe a return man," said McCluster, who's rushed for 591 yards in his last three games against SEC defenses. "But if they’re willing to put me back there at running back, I’ll be happy to jump back there, too.
"I might not be an every-down running back. But to throw a couple of wrinkles in ... I’ll be ready for that."