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Risers and Sliders


The unpredictable 2006 college season continued as another undefeated team went down to defeat last week. And finally, several well known NFL prospects are starting to hit their stride and solidify themselves as early selections.

Chris Long/DE/Virginia: The son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long was unblockable against Maryland. Long posted 10 tackles and two sacks against the Terps. An early first-round selection, Long has totaled 50 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 10 sacks this season.

Sederick Ellis/DT/USC: The explosive interior defender was a prime factor as the Tojans shut down Notre Dame at home, limiting the Irish to just 48 yards rushing. On the first play from scrimmage, Ellis sacked quarterback Evan Sharpley, setting the tone for the game. Ellis is flying up draft boards and has situated himself as a top-12 pick.

Vernon Gohlston/DE-LB/Ohio State: Sometimes lost in the shuffle with all the terrific talent on the Buckeyes roster, Gohlston has been a defensive playmaker this season. Gohlston, who leads the team with five sacks, forced Michigan State's offense into a number of errors on Saturday. A junior said to be considering the draft, Gohlston fits into the middle part of round one if he jumps to the NFL.

Tijuan Underwood/WR/Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights' big-play receiver has been unstoppable this year. He leads the team with 39 receptions and six touchdown passes and averages more than 20 yards per reception. Almost 75 percent of his catches this season have resulted in either a first down or touchdown. Only a junior, he has the attention of NFL scouts.

Dorien Bryant/WR-RS/Purdue: The slippery pass-catcher recorded a career high of 167 yards receiving on nine receptions, two which resulted in scores, in the win over Iowa. Besides averaging more than seven receptions per game this season, Bryant is the teams top return man with a 29 yard average on kick returns.

Chris Williams/OT/Vanderbilt: Williams has a solid reputation in scouting circles. During Vanderbilt's upset victory over South Carolina the left tackle did an outstanding job protecting his quarterback against the Gamecocks' tough pass defense. With left tackle being a high priority position on draft day, Williams could slide into the late part of round one.

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Breno Giacomini/OT/Louisville: Even in the loss to Connecticut, Giacomini looked solid at his tackle spot. A good combination of size (6-feet-6 inches/300 pounds) and athleticism (he previously played tight end), Giacomini has established himself as a middle-round choice based on his play this season, his first as a starter.

Mike Fladell/G/Rutgers: The wide-bodied blocker kept South Florida's penetrating defense away from his quarterback. Besides protecting his passer, Fladell opened large holes for running back Ray Rice during the Knights' upset victory.

George Selvie/DE-OLB/South Florida: The pesky pass rusher has built up a cult-like following since he leads the nation in sacks. And while Selvie offers terrific potential for the future he was manhandled against Rutgers, proving the red-shirt sophomore isn't ready for the NFL.

Chad Henne/QB/Michigan: Many may be surprised that Henne, largely responsible for Michigan's comeback victory over Illinois, is slipping down draft boards. But big things were expected from the strong armed signal caller and he's failed to meet those expectations. His accuracy is in question, as he consistently miss open receivers.

Leslie Majors/CB/Indiana: Majors was victimized throughout the Penn State game as the Nittany Lions exploited him all four quarters. Playing opposite teammate Tracy Porter, a cornerback likely to be selected in the first day, has opponents throwing in his direction with success.

Jon Banks/LB/Iowa State: Though relatively productive , the Iowa State linebacker has looked confused this season and is often caught out of position.

The running back position has taken a few hits recently as a number of highly rated prospects have gone down with injury. Ryan Torain of Arizona State, a potential first-day pick, is out for the season with a Lis franc sprain of his left foot, which will deal a heavy blow to his draft stock. Georgia Tech's TashardChoice, who has watched his draft stock soar, will undergo an MRI on his injured right knee and could miss a significant amount of time.

The Senior Bowl, one of the most important pre-draft scouting events on the schedule, is still three months away, but event organizers are already hard at work. The top three senior passers including Brian Brohm of Louisville, MattRyan of Boston College and Kentucky's Andre Woodson have been invited to Mobile next January, as has Hawaii's Colt Brennan.

It is likely Erik Ainge of Tennessee will also be asked to attend as his play justifies an invitation and his SEC roots makes him even more attractive. That leaves a roster spot open at quarterback with Michigan's Henne, John DavidBooty of USC and Nebraska's Sam Keller still available. Will all the signal-callers invited show up and participate at the Senior Bowl? They should, considering how important this event has been for quarterbacks in the past.