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Championship draft prospects

NFL scouts get a slight reprieve this week as the college schedule offers just a handful of regular season games and several conference title games. Still, the conference championships figure to offer scouts the best opportunity to see some of the nation's top prospects. Here's who they'll have their eyes on (* -- denotes underclassman).

Matt Ryan/QB/#12/Boston College: Ryan is in the midst of a Cinderella campaign, which at one point had him in the running for the Heisman Trophy. He's going against a tough Hokie secondary that he beat in the final seconds just a few weeks ago. But no matter how this game ends up, Ryan has elevated his draft stock to the point that he'll be a top-eight selection next April.

Gosder Cherilus/OT/#77/Boston College: He's having an up and down season since moving to left tackle. He struggled earlier this season against the Hokies, but a good game this week could secure him a spot in the middle of round one.

Brandon Flowers*/CB/#18/Virginia Tech: He's one of the better shutdown corners in the nation. His play last week against archrival Virginia was stellar. The junior grades as a top-40 pick.

Xavier Adibi/OLB/#11/Virginia Tech: The senior is having a career season, leading Virginia Tech in tackles and tackles for loss. One of the better linebacker prospects in the nation, he rates as a second-round selection.

DeJuan Tribble/CB/#27/Boston College: He's considered the top senior cornerback in the nation and a potential top-75 pick. His ability to contribute on special teams gives him added value. On Saturday he'll try to stop a solid group of Tech receivers, which goes four deep.

Chris Ellis/DE/#49/Virginia Tech: He's a disruptive pass rusher who harassed Matt Ryan earlier this season. Scouts project him as either a defensive end in a conventional alignment or as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense. His workouts prior to the draft will be pivotal.

Malcolm Kelly*/WR/#4/Oklahoma: The Sooners' big-play wideout has outstanding size and speed. He has led many observers to believe he'll enter the draft, in which case he'd be chosen in the middle of round one.

Phil Loadholt*/OT/#79/Oklahoma: He enrolled at OU last January and immediately made a big impact on the football program. He dominated many of the nation's top defensive ends this season. he's made overtures about leaving early. He'll be a first rounder if he does.

Duke Robinson*/G/#72/Oklahoma: Given his power and athleticism, he could be the top-rated guard if he opts for the draft.

Nic Harris*/S/#5/Oklahoma: He has linebacker size, which he uses to annihilate ball carriers, and defensive back speed, which is used to shut down pass catchers. He might go in the first round if he enters the draft.

Chase Coffman*/TE/#45/Missouri: He's been developing into a well-rounded prospect the past three seasons. NFL scouts grade him as a third-round pick.

Reggie Smith*/CB/#3/Oklahoma: He's versatile enough to play several spots in the secondary. He shuts down receivers in coverage while showing a good degree of toughness in run defense.

Martin Rucker/TE/#82/Missouri: Mizzou's leading pass catcher, Rucker is a receiver in a tight end's body. He needs to toughen up as a blocker, but his ability to create mismatches in the secondary could help him get drafted in the middle rounds.

Chase Daniel*/QB/#10/Missouri: He's one of the Heisman Trophy favorites, but lacks the great dimensions to be an NFL quarterback. Still, his ability to get the job done will entice a number of teams to take a long look at him.

Glenn Dorsey/DT/#72/LSU: Scouts rank him as the top senior prospect and he figures to be one of the first five players chosen in April. He's a penetrating tackle who plays sideline-to-sideline and wreaks havoc on opponents.

Ali Highsmith/OLB/#7/LSU: Highsmith has been the total package at linebacker this season. He's been a force in run defense and also efficient in coverage. His workouts prior to the draft will dictate if he remains in the top 45 selections.

Early Doucet/WR/#9/LSU: He started the season on a hot streak but a leg injury eventually put him on the sidelines. LSU's top senior receiver is still a game breaker with terrific size. He's a legitimate top-45 selection.

Erik Ainge/RB/#10/Tennessee: He has done a terrific job despite working with a brand new group of receivers this season and losing several key blockers. He's a terrific game manager with good accuracy. Round three is where he'll likely land next April.

Tyson Jackson*/DE/LSU: He's a talented junior who could be used as a two-gap lineman, but his disappointing campaign will push him into the late part of round one if he opts for the draft.

Chevis Jackson/CB/#21/LSU: He's an underrated corner who did a solid job defending a number of top receivers this season. He has starting potential at the next level and could come off the board early in round three.

Jason Jones, a Week 11 riser, continues to shoot up draft boards. Eastern Michigan's best defensive lineman is slated to play at the Senior Bowl, where he'll be looking to make a name for himself. Positive results could help Jones break into the late part of round one. Leodis McKelvin of Troy State is another small conference player quickly elevating his draft stock. The Sun Belt's top cornerback is also one of the nation's best punt returners, which only adds to his resume.

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