Players who will have a better NFL career than many
selected higher than them in the draft
caught my eye during Senior Bowl practices and also played a
nice game. He is a heady quarterback who has a better arm
than many think. One moment that caught my eye during
Senior Bowl practice was the coaching staff stopping a drill
and telling the quarterbacks to throw the ball high at the
back of the end zone so either a receiver catches it or it goes
out of bounds. Brown then went out and performed extremely
well (others did not) taking in the coaching and showing good
accuracy. Brown may not look pretty performing his trade,
but can move in the pocket, improvise, and make plays. He
will not be an All Pro quarterback, but at worst he will be a
solid backup, and at best, a quarterback a team can win
with. After the big three and Pat White, Brown is the
quarterback I would draft, especially if employing the West
the quarterbacks after the big three plus Pat White, Brandstater
has the most upside. However, he is no sure thing.
Brandstater is a big kid with a big arm, and better mobility
than it appears. If on the surface that sounds like Big
Ben and Baltimore Joe, well, it does. However, unlike
those two, Brandstater makes too many plays that make you
scratch your head, and at times overthrows his receivers.
So who will Brandstater be down the line in the NFL?
Will he grow into the quarterback he looks like when he is very,
very good; or will he be a tease and a coach killer? Since
I have a fourth round grade on him, not a sixth or seventh like
most, I'm betting he will be a good NFL player. However, I
tagged him a round four value, behind Nathan Brown, not a round
two value because I recognize the risk.
your looking for a small school sleeper, look no further than
Jason Boltus. He's got good size, is a strong kid (lifted
the bar 26 times at the Combine), has a strong arm, is mobile
and a leader. The two major concerns are that he did not
face top competition in college and that until his senior year
completed passes under 55% (was around 60% as a senior).
Still, Boltus has the base skills that NFL teams like and could
be a late round pick as a developmental quarterback. And
while the probability that "developmental
quarterbacks" grow into starters is not high, I like Boltus'
chances more than most.
like Donald Brown's NFL potential more than I like Knowshon
Moreno's, the top running back in the draft on many draft
analysts' boards. Brown is an instinctive runner who is a
top athlete and has good speed and quickness. While not
the top name at running back, it wouldn't surprise me if he
isn't the top producer from this draft class over the long run.
I read one more analysis of Ringer that ends with a play where he
gets tracked down from behind, I'm going to hurl. Ringer
was a highly productive back in college and while yes, he
doesn't have top speed, he is fast enough to make some big plays
in the NFL. However, it is his quickness (blistering 3.72
short shuttle on his Pro Day) and change-of-direction skills
that set Ringer apart from most backs. He could be this
draft's Steve Slaton.
North Carolina St
is a big, strong back with sneaky speed, and excellent
hands. He is also an effective blocker. Brown could
be a better NFL player than he was college player. Brown
looked very good during Senior Bowl practices and could, worst
case, be a two-way third down back. He could be both a
short yardage back and a shotgun back because he can catch,
block and is a load to bring down.
Johnson is a poor man's Chris Johnson, Tennessee's first round
pick of last year. No, he is not as fast; but who
is? Still Johnson ran a 4.38 forty, lifted the bar 26
times, and displays, both on the field and in workouts, good
quickness and cutting ability. However, it is Johnson's
ability to split out wide and be an effective downfield receiver
that draws comparisons to Chris Johnson. Ian Johnson will
go mid-to-late on day two, and the team that drafts him will get
a player that will contribute in a variety of ways on offense.
small school back to keep your eye on is Bernard Scott. He
tore it up at Abilene Christian rushing for over 2100 yards,
averaging over 8 yards a carry, and catching 47 balls for 826
yards (an average of almost 18 yards a catch, unheard of for a
running back). With that production, his workout was
important to see if he had the athletic ability to transfer
those skills to the NFL. He then proceeded to finish
8th in the forty, 4th in the broad jump, 1st in the three-cone,
and 1st in the short shuttle (tie) amongst
running backs at the Combine . Scott may need time to get acclimated, but
this is a kid to watch as he hits the NFL.
really looked good during the Senior Bowl game. He had
some very nice runs showing he could accelerate quickly and read
his blockers. He also had a good kick return, caught a
screen pass and I saw at least one special teams tackle.
Sheets has some off the field concerns, but his speed and all
around ability cannot be questioned. Sheets could be a
later round steal if he gets into a camp, works hard, and does
everything his coaches ask him to do.
really impressed me during the East West Shrine Game. He
is a strong kid with better speed than you'd think.
Williams will not be a starter in the NFL, but he could be a
very good short-yardage, goal-line back, who could break off the
occasional long run if he pops through the hole against a
is a small back with good third down and return ability. Moore
is fast (4.35 forty), strong (28 bench presses) and an explosive
athlete (10'9" broad jump). He could be a very useful
player as a team's number three running back.
is one of the best fullback prospects I've encountered in a long
time. He is very strong; is an excellent blocker; has good
speed and quickness for a man his size; and has very good hands
and run after the catch ability. If your team selects him
higher than you thought a fullback should be picked, know you
drafted a very special player.
felt a lot more comfortable with Nicks on this list prior to him
showing up heavy for his Pro Day and running a disappointing 4.43 in
the short shuttle. Nicks has good moves and good
hands. His speed is adequate, but he will develop
into a reliable, go-to receiver; a player his quarterback will look for
on critical third downs.
value started to decline after the Combine where he ran a poor
forty while battling the flu. Williams rebounded with a
solid Pro Day but could still be drafted below where I have him
valued at the top of round two. Williams starred during
Senior Bowl practices where he was the best receiver on the
displaying great hands, good ball adjustments, and good speed and
came into Senior Bowl practices with a rep for being
inconsistent catching the ball. However, before leaving
with an injury, Massaquoi was a highlight reel of exception
catches. He showed the separation and hands to be a very
good NFL receiver, and that is exactly what I expect him to be.
was the player who caught my eye more than any other during the
post-season. He was the best player (in my opinion) during
the East West Shrine Game (including skying high to make one
grab). His performance at the Shrine Game earned him an
invite to the Senior Bowl where he looked very good during practices, showing
exceptional speed and quickness and the ability to escape jams at
line. Thomas, a small receiver with good return skills,
reminds me of a more-athletic Wes Welker. His stats in the
NFL will vary depending upon the offense that drafts him.
He will either be a very good slot/return guy, or, if drafted in
a New-England-type of offense, he will be a major contributor,
maybe even a star.
is a player I have rated more highly than most. He has
good size, great speed and is a terrific deep threat.
What was most impressive, however, was that he displayed
reliable hands in Senior Bowl practices and showed superb
athleticism and explosion in workouts. Initially, Wallace
will help on returns, but in year three he will be a dangerous
offensive weapon. He reminds me a bit of Joey
plain and simple, is a football player. He consistently
gets open and makes incredible catches. While on the short
side, Dillard routinely out-jumps defenders and comes down with
the ball. While not a speed/quickness workout stud,
Dillard is a receiver whose quarterback will quickly discover
that he loves to throw to him.
could be a steal in the draft. He was very productive at
Abilene Christian, displaying good hands and route
adjustments. Then he showed top speed during
workouts. Knox has the tools to be a good starting wide
receiver in the NFL.
is fast, an explosive athlete, and was highly productive at
Duke. He will be a very good kick returner and will help a
team initially as a #3 or #4 receiver. He is also not one
of those diminutive speed burners. At almost 6'3"
with a 40" vertical, Riley is a unique physical
specimen. He could be a nice surprise down the line as a
solid starter for the team that drafts him.
is one of the physically gifted receivers in the entire draft
class. His speed, quickness, athleticism and
change-of-direction skills are quite impressive. He does
need some work in the weight room. Two years ago Underwood
caught more balls at Rutgers than potential first round pick
Britt. His production dropped last year, but he is still
an intriguing second day pick.
NW Louisiana State
for a late round/free agent player who could develop into a
contributor? How about Dudley Guice. Guice is a
physical wonder. At 6'2.4", 209 he ran 4.39 forty, a
4.01 short shuttle, a 6.61 three-cone and had a 39"
vertical and a 10'5" broad jump. With those
measureables at his height you can't help but take notice.
Guice, however, only caught 17 balls last year. He did
look very good at the Texas vs the Nation All Star Game showing
that he has potential.
is one of the better special team players available in the
draft. He has very good return skills and is strong for
his size so will be good on coverage units as well.
However, Chery makes this list because reports from the Texas vs
the Nation All Star Game indicated that he caught everything
thrown his way in practice so he could surprise as a
contributor in multiple receiver sets down the line as well as
on special teams.
know I'm not alone in praising Nelson's skills, however, it is
deserved. I am the only one (or one of the only ones) that
has Nelson on the top of his tight end board. The
kid can catch, has the speed to get open down field, and blocked
better than I expected during Senior Bowl one-on-one blocking
drills. He did look more advanced blocking in pass
protection rather than run blocking.
I watch James Casey another player comes to mind, Frank Wycheck.
Casey is a tough kid who has very reliable hands. There is
a quiet confidence surrounding Casey. Whether it's making
a key block or catching a clutch pass, when Casey is involved
you just expect positive results.
is an interesting story. Miller started out as an option
quarterback for Nebraska. After his coach was fired he transferred
to Nebraska-Omaha where is was a successful
running-quarterback. After his senior year Miller was
invited to the Cactus Bowl, the Divison II All Star Game, but
not as a quarterback, but as a tight end. After one week
of practice as a tight end, Miller had 5 receptions for 116
yards in the game. On his Pro Day, Miller put up numbers
that would have placed him at the top of the "official
board" in the forty and vertical jump. Miller is an
intriguing developmental prospect who could also be a wildcat
quarterback in addition to a receiving tight end.
may be the most physically gifted tackle at the top of the
draft. He needs some work in the weight room, but will be
one of the best tackles to come out of this draft class.
Beatty is one of the better run blocking left tackle prospects
in the draft and more than held his own against speed rushers
during the one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl.
looked good in during the one-on-one blocking drills during
Senior Bowl practices. He followed that up with an
impressive Combine. Fulton's workout numbers across the
board are all in the top third of offensive tackles.
Fulton is a former defensive end who still needs to work on his
technique, but he has the tools to be successful. After
the tackles go at the top of the draft, Fulton could be targeted
by a team that anticipates a need a left tackle in a couple of
played at a top level throughout his career at Fruman. At
times things came easy for him so on tape he shows some signs of
sloppy play, but I do not believe that will be a problem in the
NFL. Bell has a great combination of size, quick feet and
athleticism and is a good developmental player.
is an explosive athlete with very quick feet. He has great
size for a tackle and may be the first offensive lineman not
invited to the Combine that gets drafted. Vollmer is a
physical specimen who is a hard worker. His vertical was
the same as receivers Percy Harvin and Brian Robiskie and would
have placed in in the top third of running backs.
is my top rated guard. He looked like the best offensive
lineman on the field during one-on-one blocking drills during
Senior Bowl practices, dominating Ziggy Hood, not an easy thing
to do. Urbik will never win the workout award, but gets it
done on the field at a high level. he will be a top
caliber starter in the NFL for years.
caught my eye during the East West Shrine Game. He
will be a very good run blocker, especially for a drive-blocking
team where he can get out in front of the ball carrier and seal
is a good run-blocker who proved to have better feet and be more
athletic than originally thought. Olsen had a solid East
wets Shrine Game and I have him rated higher than many other
from Texas Tech often struggle adjusting and excelling in the
NFL because of the system used there. However, few lineman
have the combination of strength, movement skills and
athleticism of Vasquez. He may need time to acclimate, but
Vasquez will become a quality NFL starter.
top center on most boards early was Mack, and more recently was
Unger. wood is the top center on my board. Wood is
not someone who excels in drills, however, he is terrific in
games. For instance, Wood played a superb Senior Bowl Game
blocking well sealing off holes for runners, leading runner thru
holes and pass blocking. Wood is very strong, has good
speed for a 300 pound guy and has quick feet.
is a player I like more than most. I loved the way he won
his one-on-one battles with massive Ron Brace during Senior Bowl
practices. Shuman has quick feet and uses leverage well.
How many times do you see a center be a workout warrior.
However, he ran a 4.79 forty, the only forty (as of this
write-up) for centers below 5.05; ran a 4.28 short shuttle
(better than receivers Kenny Britt and Hakeem Nicks, and only
0.02 slower than Jeremy Macklin); and had a 35" vertical
jump, second best amongst all offensive lineman as of this
write-up. He will need to bulk up, but he was a three-year
starter and was selected All Mountain West three straight years.
Connor Barwin (olb)
is shooting up draft boards but he is landing a lot higher on
mine than on most others, all the way up to the bottom of round
one. Barwin is a great athlete who will, most likely, be
an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense who can put his hand on
the ground and rush from a defensive end position in the
nickel. Just as exciting is that he is a top five tight
end in the draft as well, the position he played prior to his
senior year. Barwin is the next evolution of Mike Vrabel.
really jumped out during Senior Bowl practices. He
was a pass rushing demon. Of the many hybrid speed rushers
in this class, I believe Veikune is one who can keep his hand in
the dirt (rather than converting to 3-4 outside linebacker) and
eventually be a three down defensive end in the NFL.
Although a bit small for a defensive end, the kid is very, very
hustle, and more hustle. Oh yeah, and skill too.
King won't wow you during workouts but on the field he is always
around the ball making tackles. I believe King is a great
candidate to play end in a 3-4 defense. If you draft this
kid, you'll like what you get.
isn't going to be a player that gets noticed a lot watching TV
on game day. However, he is a very effective football
player. He can play inside on a defense that values
quickness and speed inside, or can play end in a 3-4 defense.
Jr. will probably skyrocket up draft boards the closer you get
to draft day. Why? Because the kid has excellent
speed and can rush the passer. What many overlook,
however, is that he has good skills and measureables while
carrying sufficient weight to play defensive end full time, and
that is what I eventually expect him to do.
finally, a player on this list mainly because of his
Long will catch on either as a nickel rusher or outside
linebacker in a 3-4 defense. What I like about Long is
that he is strong as well as fast, quick, and a superb
athlete. Oh, he was also a pretty good player at Michigan
State where he was All Big Ten honorable mention. He had
5.5 sacks as a senior.
is an intriguing prospect. A converted running back,
Melton is fairly new to defensive end. Melton is a good
athlete with good size who will be a special teams standout
while he continues to develop at defensive end.
is a quick, penetrating defensive tackle, who also has a good
bull rush, and who dominated all comers during the one-on-ones
during Senior Bowl practices. He is a great fit inside for
a team that plays a 4-3 defense. He is one of those rare
defensive tackles who can play the run and rush the passer very
Ziggy, Ziggy, where to start. Yes you have a very good
spin move, but sometimes, you try it a bit too much; good coaching will control that. However, no
coaching is needed to correct Hood's potential and
ability. Hood has an amazing mix of speed, quickness,
strength and athletic ability for a 300 pound man. And he
also had solid production at Missouri.
is a player I like more than most. Most of the comments
you hear draft analysts say about Miller is that he is an
effort-guy that gets the most out of his ability. However,
he is more than that. Miller is very strong. Miller
has good speed for a tackle, which combined with his all-out
effort is why he is in on a lot of plays. And Miller is
more athletic than he appears. Miller is a player I would
draft for my team.
is a player who showed the athletic ability in workouts to
overcome some of the flaws scouts saw on tape. He is a
big, strong kid who will need coaching, but could pay big
dividends for the team that drafts him.
How does 47 bench presses, a 9'4" broad jump, and in the
top third in quickness and change-of direction skills for
defensive tackles sound to you? That sounds mighty fine to
me. Whether at tackle in a 4-3 or end in a 3-4 this kid
has to have some GM drooling. He is worth a shot late in
Aaron Maybin (de)
is debate about Maybin. Some have him as a second-half of
the first round prospect, others as a top-ten prospect.
Put me in the top ten category. Maybin will be a very good
pass-rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He is
fast and an explosive athlete.
is an overlooked linebacker in this draft. he could end up
being the best sideline-to-sideline WILL in the draft.
Freeman is fast, quick and has excellent change-of-direction
skills. Interesting, one knock some draft analysts have on
Freeman is that he lacks the strength to take on blockers.
However, he lifted the bar 30 times. Freeman will be
a star in the NFL.
is ideal for teams that value speed and athleticism in their
linebackers. He runs like a wide receiver. Williams
was a two-time All American at Western Illinois. Oh, and
for for those that will look at Williams as solely a chase and
tackle backer and not a hitter, he forced 14 fumbles and is one
of the stronger linebackers in this class.
is a solid football player who will not be making Pro Bowls, but
who can perform well in all aspects required of a SAM.
Follett is a sure tackler, can cover and can rush the passer.
is one of the many defensive ends projected to outside
linebacker in the NFL. However, based on his post-season
performance and measureables, he is one of the safest players to
project to linebacker. In fact, Brown has shown the skills
to play SAM in a 4-3 as well as outside in a 3-4.
played a very well at the East West Shrine Game. While, he
may never be a star (or even a full time starter), he will be a reliable
backup and top special teams player. Francois has good
speed, is a sure tackler and a very tough kid.
Maualuga is a top player on all draft boards, he is not getting
the attention he truly deserves. This is the type of kid
who can come in and be the centerpiece and identity for an
entire defense. He will be one of the best middle
linebackers in the league and will see multiple Pro Bowls before
his career is done.
is going to be a special player in the NFL. He has the
size to play inside in a 3-4, and the speed to play the middle
in a 4-3. Brinkley is a force against the run and is a
player I would target early if I needed an inside
linebacker. In fact, I wouldn't say anything negative if a
team selected him late in round one. That's how highly I
rate this player.
is not an exceptional athlete and is not very quick.
However, he has good instincts against the run, doesn't shy away
from taking on blockers, and has good football speed. He
will not be a three down linebacker, since he lacks the skills
to be effective in pass coverage, however, he will be a solid
starter on early downs.
was all over the field both on defense and special teams during
the East West Shrine Game. He has great instincts,
tremendous hustle, and while not very athletic or fast, has
excellent quickness and makes quick, sharp cuts. He is
also short, which is too bad, because his skill set is perfect
for a 3-4 defense. As it is he will be a top special teams
player and a solid backup in a 4-3 defense. If given a
chance, he has a similar look and game to Zack Thomas.
is an undersized corner with great cover and ball skills.
Smith can play in a man-to-man or in a cover-two scheme.
The team that drafts Smith will get a playmaker in addition to a
terrific cornerback. Smith will be a star in the
NFL. In fact, if I were a NFL GM, I would target Smith as
my guy, even over some of the more highly touted corners in the
a quick corner who may be best served with a team that plays
zone. Harris mirrors receivers very well, breaks well on
the ball, and is a sure tackler. Best of all, he has the
make-up of a successful corner. He will have a long and
successful NFL career.
has nice size and looked very good in drills during Senior Bowl
practices in press coverage. He did not look as effective
playing off his man. Lewis is an explosive
athlete. In addition, while some scouting reports
questioned his ability to play physically, Lewis lifted the bar
20 times so he has good strength. Lewis is higher on my
board than on many others, but I'm very comfortable with where I
have him graded.
is a very good prospect as a slot corner and return man.
He is both fast and quick; is very strong for a kid his size,
and has no problem playing physically. An ideal player to
add to a team's roster, in addition to growing into a top nickel
corner, Munnerlyn will be a core special teams player as well.
had some great moments in the post-season and some okay
moments. He started a bit slowly during Senior Bowl week,
but came on strongly, showing the ability to play well both in
press and off coverage during one-on-one drills during
practice. During the Senior Bowl Game, Lankster made two
of the better plays. One was great coverage and a terrific
interception, the other was a great play coming up to stop a run
where he was very physical. Other than those two plays he
was okay in pass coverage except for a play at the end of the
second quarter where he let a receiver beat him deep when he
made a bad decision to jump a route. All-in-all I like
Lankster and expect him to be an important contributor on a
team's defense, whether in the base defense, or nickel or dime
packages is to be determined.
looked good in practices and during the game at the East West
Shrine Game. All he needed was a solid workout to sustain
that momentum. Bradley, who is a little over 6'0",
ran a 4.44 forty and had a 40" vertical, a10'7" broad
jump, and lifted the bar 20 times. Fletcher is an
intriguing prospect who will be either a good cover two corner,
or free safety.
is an interesting prospect. He is a small corner with
great speed and quickness who is a very good at man
coverage. He also has good strength and is a good prospect
as a return man as well. McClain is one of the better slot
corners available in the draft. He is a real sleeper.
William & Mary
6'0.2" corner with a 11'8" vertical who runs 4.39
forty and a 6.80 short shuttle and who was second team All
Conference. Two of his four interceptions last year were
returned for touchdowns. That's no surprise since he is a
dynamic return man.
is a terrific all around athlete. He has speed. he
has quickness. He is strong for his size. Lambert is
the type of kid who will be a better player in the NFL than he
was in college. Look for him to start off on special teams
and possibly be a dime back. In a couple of years he will
be a regular contributor on defense.
has a great combination of big time hitter, football instincts
and big-play ability. He can come up and make a big hit,
and can sit back in centerfield and make a key
interception. Delmas is a first round talent who may slip
to round two.
is a pure free safety who can read a quarterback's eyes and make
breaks on the ball. He is also a smart player who will
stay in position against the run rather than over-pursuing and
allowing big gains on cutbacks. He is also one of the
better return men available in the draft. I like the kid
and have him ranked higher than some other draft analysts.
was productive in college and proved to be faster, more
athletic, more fluid and stronger than originally thought.
He has tremendous physical skills and could be a very pleasant
surprise for the team that drafts him.
is a good athlete who, worst case is a nickel safety because he
has plus cover skills for a safety. Underwood is a heady
player who flows quickly to the ball and will grow into a
starter in time.
is a rare strong safety worthy of first round
consideration. He is strong and can play in the box to
stop the run. However, he showed in the post-season that
he has very good cover skills for a strong safety.
both on and off the football field should keep an eye on this
kid. A hard-hitting safety, Vaughn ran a 4.40 forty.
However, his speed is not just straight line. He also ran
a 4.12 short shuttle and a 7.03 three-cone. Vaughn is
ideal as an in-the-box strong saftey.
into 2008, Greene was a player NFL teams were keeping close tabs
on. However, he regressed in 2008, in part due to a new
scheme. Greene is a head-hunting hitting machine, who has
the speed to be decent in coverage but will need development in
that area. He will also need to concentrate on making the
tackle as well as delivering the big blow. Still, I can't
help feeling that a NFL coaching staff will get hold of this kid
and turn him into a special player.
looked great in the East West Shrine Game. he was
all over the field against the run, against the pass and on
special teams. Fitzhugh will not be selected as high as I
have him rated, but he will come into a camp, impress his
coaching staff and make the team. He will start off on
special teams, but in time will be a valuable player on defense
safety who possess great strength (29 lifts), terrific speed
(4.43 in the forty), good quickness and is tough kid who gives
great effort and makes tackles all over the field is a player
you'd think would be high on teams' boards. But here's the
rub. The kid is undersized at 5'9.7". However,
he will be a special teams terror and is the type of player who
if he gets a chance to play in the base defense because of
injury, may never leave the starting lineup.
has an excellent mix of size, speed, strength and
athleticism. Hall will be a terrific special teams player
while he hones his craft at strong safety.