'09 NFL Draft: Which prospects to watch during college bowl season
December 31, 2008
With the college bowl season underway, SI.com's draft guru Tony Pauline has identified potential NFL prospects playing in all the games. Below are all the games from Jan. 1 on. For the previous bowls, click here and here.
Jared Cook/TE/#84/4Jr: Cook is a terrific pass catcher reminiscent of the tight ends used by Steve Spurrier throughout his coaching career. He's an exceptional athlete who easily gets downfield and creates mismatches in the secondary. Cook is expected to enter the draft and a number of NFL decision makers feel he could be the second tight end selected, somewhere during the bottom half of round one.
Jamon Meredith/OT/#77/5Sr: Meredith has had an up and down senior season, and struggled with an ankle injury besides being moved around the offensive line. He still grades out as one of the better pass blocking tackles in the senior class. Meredith is first-round material but will likely slide into the middle part of round two based on his inconsistent performance this year.
Emmanuel Cook/S/#21/3Jr: South Carolina's leading tackler the past two seasons, Cook is a hard hitting run defender who seeks out contact from his safety position. His ball skills are only average and Cook lacks classic centerfielder size. He's academically ineligible for the Outback Bowl and is expected to enter April's draft, where he'll be chosen in the late part of round two.
Captain Munnerlyn/CB/#1/3Jr: Munnerlyn is a speedy cornerback with terrific ball skills. Opposing quarterbacks purposely throw away from Munnerlyn as he offers blanket coverage. He barely touches the tape at 5-foot-9, which will depress his draft stock. Munnerlyn is another USC junior thinking hard about entering April's draft, where he grades as a second-round pick.
Eric Norwood/DE-OLB/#40/3Jr: The Gamecocks top pass rusher posted a team leading nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss this season. He's a college defensive end who measures 6-feet, 262 pounds but possesses the physical skills necessary to make a transition to outside linebacker.
Shonn Greene/RB/#23/3Jr: The Iowa junior surprised Hawkeye nation by posting career numbers this season (1,729 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns) after sitting on the sidelines in '07. Greene is a big, powerful back with enough speed to beat defenders into the clearing then run to daylight. Scouts love his physical skills but are concerned about Greene's ability to handle the workload over the long haul. He will be 24 next August and Greene is expected to enter the draft where he will be selected in the middle of round two.
Mitch King/DT/#47/5Sr: King is a four-year starter and multiple All Conference selection who consistently ranks as one of the Big Ten's leaders in tackles for loss. He's a quick and explosive defender with a non-stop motor. King's measurables (6-2 and 280 pounds) will push him into the draft's middle rounds yet he has enough skill to have a long career in the NFL.
Dan Doering/OG/#74/4Jr: Doering is a well-sized guard (6-6, 300) who may eventually develop into an offensive tackle as he physically matures. He's plays a smart brand of football and offers a good degree of upside potential.
Brandon Myers/TE/#83/5Sr: Myers comes off a career season (30 receptions, 392 receiving yards) and has shown great improvement in his game the past two years. He has potential as a second tight end in the NFL if he continues his path of progress.
C.J. Spiller/RB/#28/3Jr: Spiller, one of the nations most explosive ball carriers, answered a number of questions scouts had about his toughness and willingness to run north/south. Unfortunately the Clemson ball carrier was slowed in the middle of the season with a hamstring injury and criticisms about his ability to carry the load have blossomed. He's a specialty player who would be effective as a ball carrier, pass catcher and return specialist. Spiller, who is likely to enter the draft, grades out as a second-round pick.
Jacoby Ford/WR/#6/3Jr: Clemson's big play receiver possesses 4.4-speed and the ability to stretch the field. He's also a well rounded receiver who consistently comes away with the pass in underneath coverage. Ford has displayed steady progress and the junior presently grades as a mid-second round choice.
Ricky Sapp/DE/#7/3Jr: Sapp has been branded as the next great draft eligible pass rusher from the Clemson program. He was hobbled with injuries from the start of the season, including a partially torn ACL that required surgery in the middle of December. Even after missing two games Sapp tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (2). He presently grades as a second-round choice but could move into the top half of round one with a productive and healthy senior campaign.
James Davis/RB/#1/4Sr: The Tigers reliable running back saw a decline in his production this season, posting the lowest rushing totals of his Clemson career. He's a durable and reliable ball carrier with no dominant feature to his game. Davis projects as a third-round pick who would be best served as a rotational player in the NFL.
Thomas Austin/C/#65/4Jr: Austin has been a two year starter at both guard and center for Clemson. He offers the size (6-3, 312), power and intelligence to play at the next level. Austin submitted his paperwork to the NFL Advisory Committee, seeking an opinion on where he will be drafted if he opts for the NFL.
Michael Hamlin/S/#25/5Sr: Hamlin is a superb athlete that showed flashes of brilliance the past four years as a starter for Clemson. He's an intimidating force in centerfield with a well rounded game. Hamlin teases scouts who feel he could play at a higher level on a more consistent basis. He possesses first round physical skills but is likely to fall into the third round.
Suh Ndamukong/DT/#93/4Jr: Ndamukong comes off a brilliant season, leading the Cornhuskers defense in tackles (68), tackles for loss (15) and sacks (5.5) besides intercepting two passes. He's an athletic lineman with terrific size and growth potential. Ndamukong will only become more dominant as he physically matures and is a future first round pick.
Larry Asante/S/#4/4Jr: Asante displayed great progress the two seasons he's been with the Huskers since transferring from junior college. He's another black shirt defender with the size and athleticism to eventually start in the NFL.
Marlon Lucky/RB/#5/4Sr: Nebraska's all purpose ball handler, Lucky rushed for 517 yards besides posting 22 receptions this season. He's perfectly skilled to be a third down back in the NFL and will receive draft consideration in the later rounds.
Javon Ringer/RB/#23/4Sr: Ringer, a Heisman Trophy candidate during the first half of last season, posted personal bests of 1,590 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior. He carried the ball 370 times this season but scouts question whether his 5-9, 203-pound frame is built to take the pounding of an every down ball carrier on the NFL level. Ringer improved his draft stock this year, no doubt, but he is unlikely to be selected until the middle section of round two at the earliest.
Otis Wiley/S/#21/4Sr: Wiley has been a productive player with the first team since his sophomore season. He's twice led the defense in interceptions besides topping the tackle charts once. Wiley is a nice-sized safety best making plays between the hashes. His skills are suited for a zone system and his knack for making plays on the ball could help him eventually see starting action in the NFL.
Brian Hoyer/QB/#7/5Sr: The Spartans starting signal caller the past two seasons, Hoyer is an efficient pocket passer with a good head for the game. He's a late round pick who effectively manages the game, shows a strong arm and stays away from bad mistakes.
Knowshon Moreno/RB/#24/3So: Georgia's feature ball carrier has been a dominant presence in only two seasons on the field for the Bulldogs. Moreno is a lethal combination of size, speed and running back skill. He has the strength to churn out yardage on the inside yet is fast enough to beat defenders around the corner. Moreno is expected to enter the draft where he'll be a top ten selection.
Matt Stafford/QB/#7/3Jr: Stafford possesses a gunslinger's mentality, taking chances on the field and challenging the vertical game. He's a playmaker who comes up big when the offense needs him. Stafford also possesses an NFL arm which enables him to make all the passes. He too is likely to enter the draft and will be the first signal caller selected, somewhere in the middle of round one.
Geno Atkins/DT/#56/3Jr: Atkins is an explosive one-gap penetrator who consistently blows plays up behind the line of scrimmage. He moves well on his feet and chases ball handlers out to the flanks to make the tackle. His size (6-1, 289) is a limiting factor and will knock Atkins off a few boards around the league. He's already committed to staying at Georgia for one more season even though he presently grades as a first-round pick.
Dannell Ellerbe/OLB/#33/4Sr: Ellerbe is another Bulldog best suited for a one-gap system in the NFL as his game is also characterized by quickness and speed. He possesses the skill to be used at a variety of linebacker positions and Ellerbe has shown himself to be effective defending the run and covering the pass. Ellerbe comes of a slightly disappointing senior season and his draft stock has dipped. Originally graded as a possible second round choice, Ellerbe is likely to hear his name called no earlier than the middle of the third frame.
Mohamed Massaquoi/WR/#1/4Sr: The Bulldogs leading receiver comes off a season in which he posted career bests for receptions (57), receiving yards (910) and touchdowns (8). Massaquoi has improved his draft stock more than any other senior receiver in the nation. He presently holds a third round grade yet fast times in workouts before the draft will push him into the second frame.
Brannan Southerland/FB/#36/4Sr: Southerland got off to a slow start this season, missing the first four games of the year while recovering from surgery to repair a fracture of the navicular bone in his left foot. He's still a quality NFL prospect who does the dirty work as a lead blocker. Southerland should be the first fullback drafted next April, somewhere in the fourth round.
Derrick Williams/WR/#2/4Sr: Williams made an immediate impact for the Nittany Lions as a freshman in '05 and has been a productive player ever since. The speedy skill player has produced as a receiver, return specialist and ball carrier when asked to run reverses. He's a downfield threat with good size and a prospect with a high upside. Expect Williams to have his name called at the start of round two in April's draft.
Aaron Maybin/DE/#59/3So: Maybin was the dominant pass rusher in the Big Ten, leading the conference with 12 sacks while also adding 19 tackles for loss. He's a tall, slender speed rusher that is tough to stop. Maybin's best position could be rush linebacker in a 3-4 alignment and the sophomore will develop into an early first round pick if he continues to prove himself as an impact defensive player.
Evan Royster/RB/#22/3So: Penn State's leading rusher had a breakout season, almost tripling his totals from one year ago. Royster is a well built back who runs underneath his pads, carrying the ball with quickness and speed. He's another sophomore with a big upside and great future.
Jared Odrick/DT/#91/3Jr: Odrick is another Nittany Lion coming off a big campaign, improving all his tackling categories during his junior season. He's a large tackle with growth potential. He grades out as a third round pick yet could be selected sooner if he stays in school and plays well as a senior.
Mickey Schuler/TE/#82/4Jr: Like his father, former Penn State tight end and NFL All Pro Mickey Shuler Sr., the next generation to wear the Nittany Lion uniform has great hands and makes plays in the secondary with regularity. He ranks as a late round pick and needs to elevate his productive as a senior.
A.Q. Shipley/C/#57/5Sr: Shipley, considered a free agent by NFL scouts at the start of the season, has made a big leap up draft boards. He's a workmanlike blocker with a great head for the game and a late round choice who should be a quality back-up in the NFL.
Rey Maualuga/ILB/#58/4Sr: The Trojans dominant middle linebacker has been a three-year starter awarded All Conference and All American honors since his sophomore campaign. He's a forceful run defender who tortures quarterbacks on the blitz. Maualuga is a terror on the field and a defender opposing coordinators must game plan around. He's poised to be an early first round choice in April.
Taylor Mays/S/#2/3Jr: Mays is another in the long line of game changing safeties developed in the USC program. He's a complete defensive back who intimidates ball carriers and has quarterbacks thinking twice about throwing in his direction. Mays, expected to enter the draft, will be another early first round choice.
Mark Sanchez/QB/#6/4Jr: Sanchez put the pieces together this season, his first as a full time starter. He shows command of the offense and has the arm to make all the throws. Sanchez is first round material, whether he enters next April's draft or opts for the 2010 event.
Brian Cushing/OLB/#10/4Sr: Cushing is another Trojan defender who gives opponents nightmares. He's proven himself to be a terrifying pass rusher out of a three point stance and has also developed his game to where he is now a three down defender at linebacker. Cushing is the fourth Trojan who has the ability to break into the first round next April.
Fili Moala/DT/#75/5Sr: Moala is a bit of an enigma for NFL scouts. He can be a dominant, game controlling defensive tackle at the top of his game yet disappears for stretches. Moala is likely to be chosen in round two but has the skills to be a productive NFL player for a long time if he decides to consistently play at a high level.
Damian Williams/WR/#18/3So: Williams was the favorite target of Sanchez and a big play threat who topped a very crowded field of talented USC pass catchers. He offers the size and speed to be a number one receiver in the NFL and will be an early draft pick in the future.
Clay Matthews/OLB/#47/5Sr: Matthews was formerly the Trojans top utility defender, playing a number of positions in the defensive front seven. He did much the same as a senior except this time as a starter and major contributor. Matthews, rated as undraftable by NFL scouts coming into the season, has elevated his stock to the point where he'll receive consideration in the third round.
Victor Harris/CB/#1/4Sr: "Macho" Harris is the latest Hokie cornerback with NFL potential. He's an aggressive defensive back with good size and ball skills. Harris could end up in the second round of April's draft if he runs well at the combine.
Kam Chancellor/S/#17/3Jr: Chancellor combines linebacker size with defensive back speed. He's an intimidating force in centerfield, finding ball carriers then aggressively laying his pads into them. Chancellor possesses first round size/speed number but must complete his game and improve his ball skills before NFL decision makers use an early selection on him.
Sergio Render/G/#70/3Jr: The Hokie's starting guard the past three years, Render is a mountain mover who drives opponents off the ball into oblivion. His skills in pass protection are also effective and the junior presently grades as one of the nations better guards.
Orion Martin/DE/#90/5Sr: Martin is an undersized college defensive end who makes a lot of plays up the field. He's a solid pass rusher and mid round choice who's likely to stand up over tackle in the NFL.
Connor Barwin/DE/#5/4Sr: Barwin was a special teams standout and reserve tight end before moving to defensive end as a senior. Awarded All Conference honors last season, his first as a starter, Barwin led the Bearcats in tackles for loss (15) and sacks (11). He's a superb athlete that previously played with the Bearcat basketball team, and shows signs of developing into an impact defensive player. Barwin was graded as a free agent before the season but now ranks as a potential top 60 choice.
Brandon Underwood/DB/#8/5Sr: Underwood began his college career at Ohio State before transferring to Cincinnati. Since breaking into the starting line-up this season he has shown himself to be one of the most versatile defensive backs in the Big East. Underwood is an intelligent prospect who can effectively play cornerback or safety. He's efficient in all areas of the game and is another Bearcat who has elevated himself from free agent to potential first day pick.
Mike Mickens/CB/#21/4Sr: Cincinnati's starting cornerback the past four years, Mickens displayed himself as a quality cover man with good ball skills. He was considered a fringe first round pick coming into the year yet a disappointing senior season, in part due to injury, has caused his draft stock to tumble. Mickens now grades as a late second round choice.
DeAngelo Smith/CB/#6/5Sr: Smith is a well sized cornerback who also impacts the game as a return specialist. He's a feisty defender who volunteers to stop running or screen plays. Smith offers solid physical skills but struggles making plays with his back to the ball and may be best off in a zone system where he can face the action.
Trevor Canfield/G/#76/5Sr: Canfield is a mean, nasty lineman that's started at right guard the past three years. He's a wide bodied blocker who does not give up an inch to defenders yet a marginal athlete who is limited in the number of blocking schemes he would be effective in.
Kevin Huber/P/#47/5Sr: Huber is the best punter in next April's draft and a big league kicker who can flip the field or punt his team out of a jam. He averaged near 50-yards per punt the past four years and has not had one blocked to date. Huber could be drafted as early as the third round next April.
Michael Crabtree/WR/#5/3So: College football's most dominant receiver has all the skills to be a productive number one wideout on the NFL level. Crabtree is big, athletic and football smart. He's favorably compared to Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson and would be a top five pick if he enters the draft, as Johnson was.
Brandon Carter/OL/#76/4Jr: Carter is a massive lineman whose 6-6, 350-pound frame could be used at guard or tackle. He plays with great power and a mean streak. Carter is likely to stay for his senior season. If so, he should grade out as a top 100 pick in 2010.
Louis Vasquez/G/#74/4Sr: Three times an All Conference selection, Vasquez is another powerful Red Raider blocker with outstanding size. He effectively pass blocks for Texas Tech's high powered offense while also showing skill as a run blocker. Vasquez could slide into the third round of April's draft.
Graham Harrell/QB/#6/5Sr: Harrell comes off another terrific season in which he once again took advantage of the passing system and put up mind-boggling numbers. He has the intelligence and poise to be a passer in the NFL, yet may not possess the true arm strength to be a fulltime starter.
Darcel McBath/S/#7/5Sr: He led the defense with six interceptions and posted 70 tackles, second best on the team. He's an adequately sized safety with good speed. He offers value in the middle rounds.
Peria Jerry/DT/#98/4Sr: Jerry has watched his draft stock soar this season as he's been a one man wrecking crew. His quickness and hustle give him an advantage over opponents. Jerry has the intensity and style NFL coaches love to see from a defensive lineman. Considered a middle-round pick at the start of the year, Jerry has moved into the late part of round one.
Michael Oher/OT/#74/4Sr: Oher has started on the Rebel offensive line since he was a true freshman, playing both guard and left tackle. The life story of the young man who overcame much adversity in his youth has been well-documented. He's an athletic blocker with great size, yet isn't the elite lineman some are casting him to be. He'll be selected in the first round, but more than likely it will be in the middle of the frame.
Greg Hardy/DE/#86/3Jr: One of the nation's elite athletes on the defensive line, Hardy is a developing prospect with great upside. He's still very rough around the edges and needs a lot of work to complete his game. Hardy could be an early first-round pick in the 2010 draft should he return to Mississippi for his senior season and continue to progress on the field. If he opts for the NFL after the Cotton Bowl, as many expect, he may end up in the second round.
Mike Wallace/WR/#2/4Sr: Wallace could be one of the nation's most underrated receivers and one of the few deep threats from the senior class. His 35 receptions averaged 20 yards per catch with six resulting in touchdowns. Wallace offers a lot of natural receiving skills and speed. He would be an attractive player as the third round closes out.
Jamarca Sanford/S/#13/4Sr: Sanford was Mississippi's leading tackler with a combined total of 80, three shy of his career best as a junior. He's a hard-hitting strong safety whose ball skills are not as polished as his abilities in run defense. Sanford is a quality late-round candidate who should play well on special teams.
C.J. Wilson/DE/#95/3Jr: The Pirates sack master the past two years, the 6-4, 270 pound end is developing into one of the nation's better pass rushers. He had 18.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and 64 tackles this season. Another good season in college could push him into the top 100 selections of the 2010 draft.
Davon Drew/TE/#3/5Sr: Drew has been a forgotten prospect with all the available talent at the position. He's possesses a stout build at 6-4, 260-pounds and soft hands to compliment the package. The late-round sleeper averaged 15.1 yards on 38 receptions last season.
Jay Ross/DT/#90/3Jr: Ross is a plugger on the inside yet also shows ability as a pass rusher. He has the body type to line up at tackle in a conventional system and offers a good amount of upside.
Van Eskridge/S/#4/4Jr: Eskridge is a well built, run defending safety who has compiled a lot of tackles as a three-year starter. His ball skills need to be improved. He projects as a late-round selection for a team that needs a traditional strong safety.
Trevard Lindley/CB/#32/4Jr: Lindley has shown flashes of being a dominant shut down cornerback the past two seasons. He offers terrific size/speed numbers and plenty of upside. Word around Lexington is Lindley is likely to enter the April's draft where he grades out as a second round pick. If he returns to Kentucky and completes his game he will be a first round pick in 2010.
Micah Johnson/ILB/#4/3Jr: Johnson is a terrific linebacker who makes a lot of plays in the box and up the field. He led Kentucky is tackles as well as tackles for loss this season and projects as a solid middle round choice in the future.
Marcus McClinton/S/#2/5Sr: The Wildcats athletic safety made a successful return after missing most of '07 with a fractured shoulder blade. He offers the size (6-feet, 1-inch, 210 pounds) and speed (4.47 forty) to be a starter in the NFL and is developing a complete game.
Jeremy Jarmon/DE/#99/4Jr: Jarmon is a slightly undersized yet athletic lineman with the ability to be used at several spots on the defensive line. Size limitations will depress Jarmon's draft stock yet his skills translate well to the NFL.
Andre Smith/OT/#71/3Jr: This large, wide bodied lineman has the ability to dominate the opposition. He moves well for a 340-pound blocker and can slide his feet laterally in pass protection with relative ease. Several scouts feel Smith may be best suited for the right tackle position. The consensus is he will be a very early pick, quite possibly the first selection of the entire draft. For the past several months it was well known Smith was leaning towards entering the draft and would announce his decision to do as much after the Sugar Bowl. He's since been suspended from the game, reportedly for improper dealings with an agent.
Terrence Cody/NT/62/3Jr: Cody made an immediate impact for the Tide this season after transferring from Gulf Coast Community College. He's a massive lineman at 6-4, 365-pounds. Scouts are concerned he may be a little too large for his age but have no doubt about his abilities. He is said to be leaning towards entering the draftm where he will be a first-round pick.
Antoine Caldwell/C/#59/4Sr: He draws a variety of opinions from NFL scouts; some feel he's top 45 talent while others think he's a middle-round prospect. Caldwell has been very steady in the middle of the Tide's offensive line the past four years and has starting ability in the NFL.
Rashad Johnson/S/#49/5Sr: Johnson has been Alabama's playmaker on defense, coming up with timely tackles in run defense or interceptions when the game is on the line. He lacks the great workout numbers but is a terrific defender. Johnson could easily break into the early part of round two based on his performance this season.
John Parker Wilson/QB/#4/4Sr: Wilson significantly elevated his draft stock this season and showed himself to be a terrific game manager who makes the proper decisions in the pocket. He lacks the size and arm strength to be a starter in the NFL, but would be an effective backup for a ball-control offense.
Sean Smith/CB/#4/3Jr: Smith offers first-round size (6-2, 212 pounds) and speed (4.35 40) as well as the ability to play safety or cornerback. His upside is outstanding . Indications are Smith will enter the draft, where he could slide into the late part of round one.
Paul Kruger/DE-OLB/#11/3So: Kruger pieced together one of the most dominant seasons of any defender in college football, making 56 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and breaking up seven passes. He ranks as a second-round choice but is knocking on the door of round one if he enters the draft. NFL scouts were looking forward to Kruger's matchup against Alabama's Andre Smith and hoped to use it as a measuring stick. Smith's suspension nixed that.
Louie Sakoda/PK/#35/4Sr: He moves towards April as the top place kicker in the draft. He made 91% of his field goal attempts, including a best of 53-yards last season. Sakoda is also the team's punter, averaging almost 42 yards on 50 punts, the longest 81 yards. He has the leg strength to consistently send his kickoffs deep into the end zone and should be a top 75 pick.
Robert Johnson/S/#17/3Jr: Johnson is another well-rounded prospect. He's an athletic safety with the size needed to be a starting centerfielder in the NFL. Johnson is effective in run defense as well as pass coverage. He has a third-round grade, which could improve to a top 32 choice in 2010 if he returns to school and meets expectations as a senior.
Kao Misi/DE/#41/3Jr: Misi is not as dominant as his other Ute teammates, but is still a quality prospect in his own right. He offers top 100 potential if he has a big senior campaign in 2009.
James Starks/RB/#19/4Jr: The Bulls' record-setting back has broken the century mark the past two seasons, including 1,308 yards rushing this year. He's a big-bodied back who breaks the first tackle and picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact. Starks lacks the speed and open field running skills to be an every down runner yet offers potential in a power running offense.
Drew Willy/QB/#16/5Sr: He's a terrific game manager behind center, with great pocket awareness and field savvy. He lacks the big time arm yet could find a roster spot as a backup for a timing offense.
William Beatty/OT/#64/4Sr: Beatty entered his senior season with a reputation as a terrific pass protector. He moves towards the draft as a prospect on the rise after elevating almost every aspect of his game. Beatty is an athletic tackle with outstanding feet and solid size. He grades as a late second-round choice; don't be surprised if he makes a late move into the initial 40 picks.
Donald Brown/RB/#34/4Jr: He is a complete running back who has the strength and creativity to earn yardage on the inside and speed to beat defenders around the corner. He's also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. Brown is another prospect who has the potential to shoot up draft boards and challenge for a spot near the first round.
Darius Butler/CB/#1/5Sr: The Huskies multi-talented player has produced on defense, at receiver and as a return specialist. He's a big, strong, fast athlete, but needs to complete his game at cornerback.
Cody Brown/DE/#50/4Sr: UConn's undersized defensive end is omnipresent in opponents' backfields and makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Brown is also a bright defender who displays ability in space, diagnosing the action as it unfolds to defend the run or screen pass. He's a middle-round choice who will be used in a variety of ways at the next level.
Brian Orakpo/DE-OLB/#98/5Sr: Orakpo comes off a dominant season in which he changed the momentum of games from his defensive end position. He's a relentless pass rusher who is ever present in the opponent's backfield. Orakpo displays the speed to chase the action from behind and effectively makes plays in pursuit. NFL scouts are torn on whether the Longhorn defender is best served at defensive end or outside linebacker, but most agree he'll be a top 10 pick in April.
Sergio Kindle/OLB/#2/3Jr: Kindle is an amazing athlete with a great amount of upside. He broke into the starting lineup this season and promptly produced 50 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He has NFL measurables at 6-4, 235 with 4.60 speed. He caught the eye of NFL scouts this season and is developing into a first-round pick.
Adam Ulatoski/OT/#74/4Jr: A three-year starter at both tackle positions, Ulatoski is a massive lineman who plays with great fundamentals. He presents himself as a dominant lineman yet at the same time plays an intelligent brand of football. Ulatoski is developing into a top 45 choice.
Colt McCoy/QB/#12/3Jr: McCoy comes off an impressive campaign in which he now has scouts believing he can be a starter on the NFL level. He's a terrific game manager who is always in control of the situation and makes proper decisions in the pocket. McCoy has said he will return to UT for his senior season, which is wise. He'll move towards the 2010 draft as a top 50 choice.
Quan Crosby/WR/#6/4Sr: Crosby went from draft afterthought to middle-round choice after a brilliant senior campaign. He's a well-rounded receiver with consistent hands. Crosby lacks the great size/speed numbers but has potential as a third receiver.
Chris Wells/RB/#28/3Jr: He struggled early with a foot injury, but there's no arguing he's one of the best running back prospects in the nation. He's the complete package who runs through defenders or creates yardage on the inside. Wells is likely to enter the draft and be a top 12 selection. How early he is drafted in round one will be determined by his 40 time.
Malcolm Jenkins/CB/#2/4Sr: Jenkins is the next in the long line of talented cornerbacks to come out of Columbus and possibly the best prospect since Shawn Springs. He's a shutdown cornerback in every sense of the term and would have been a top 10 choice had he left for the NFL last April. Instead, Jenkins is likely to break into the top five in 2009.
James Laurinaitis/LB/33/4Sr: He lives up to his nickname the "Little Animal" with intense play on the field. Laurinaitis is an instinctive defender who can play a variety of linebacker positions in a number of different defensive systems. He is a solid NFL prospect, just not the top five pick many have anointed him to be.
Marcus Freeman/OLB/#1/5Sr: Ohio State's other linebacker does not get the same notoriety as Laurinaitis but is also a quality prospect. Freeman is a three-down defender who can play over the tight end in coverage or forcefully move up field to stop the run. He comes off a somewhat disappointing senior season and has fallen into the second round.
Brian Robiskie/WR/#80/5Sr: His football background has helped him become one of the most polished receivers in the nation. He offers the size, skill and wherewithal to be a productive number two wideout in the NFL.
Kurt Coleman/CB/#4/3Jr: Coleman is another who gets little recognition on a very talented Buckeye defense. The well-rounded defensive back is always in a position to make plays. He grades out as a third rounder but could move up draft boards with another good season in Columbus.
Alex Boone/OT/#75/4Sr: Boone is a productive three-year starter who finds a way to protect his quarterback. He lacks the top footwork and athleticism to hold down the left tackle position at the next level but is a late-round candidate who will be tried on the right side or pushed into guard.
Nate Davis/QB/#13/3Jr: One of the most efficient signal callers in the nation, Davis finished his junior season with 3,446 passing yards and a touchdown-to-interception differential of 26-to-7. He has the arm strength, savvy and intangibles to be a starting passer in the NFL. He touches the tape at barely 6-2, so he's not a quarterback for everyone. Davis plays the type of game that will stamp him as a first-round prospect by a number of teams.
Robert Brewster/OT/#71/4Sr: The starting right tackle the past four years, Brewster is a large yet mobile lineman who controls opponents on the line of scrimmage or removes them from the play blocking in motion. He may be moved to guard in the NFL.
Darius Hill/TE/#88/5Sr: Hill is a natural pass catcher who plays like a tall possession receiver rather than a tight end. He makes the difficult reception look rather ordinary and rarely drops anything thrown in his direction. He grades as a middle-round choice in what looks to be a very crowded field of talented tight ends.
Brennan Marion/WR/#4/4Sr: One of the true deep threats available, Marion is a consistent receiver who averaged almost 28 yards per catch on 82 receptions the past two years. He's also a terrific story, having overcome much adversity in his youth, including homelessness early in his college life. Marion offers a good degree of upside. The arrow is pointing north for him.
David Johnson/QB/#5/5Sr: Johnson stepped up as a senior, becoming a fulltime starter and leading Tulsa to the Conference USA title game. He has a good arm, yet must improve on the details of the position. He's a late-round pick who could be destined for the practice squad.
Jermaine Gresham/TE/#18/3Jr: Gresham is a terrific athlete who will draw comparisons to many of the greats selected in the first round at the tight end position. He's 6-5, 260 pounds with 4.65 speed in the 40. Gresham runs downfield like a wide receiver and dominates defensive backs in the secondary. His hands can be inconsistent, yet he holds an immense amount of upside. Gresham is expected to enter the draft and will be a top 12 pick.
Sam Bradford/QB/#14/3So: The Heisman Trophy winner comes off a brilliant campaign in which his passer rating hit 186.3 based on 4464 yards passing and a touchdown-to-interception differential of 48-to-6. Bradford is a very accurate signal caller with a great feel for the position. He is not NFL-ready just yet but offers starting potential once he learns to play in a pro-style passing attack.
Duke Robinson/G/#72/4Sr: Robinson is a big, dominant guard with great size. He mauls opponents and is strong enough to remove them altogether from the action. Robinson needs to improve the details of his game but is early second-round material.
Juaquin Iglesias/WR/#9/4Sr: Iglesias is a consistent pass catcher with adequate size. He's been productive and reliable for the Sooners, though he lacks any single dominant feature. Iglesias projects as a second-round pick and potential number two receiver in the NFL.
Gerald McCoy/DT/#93/3So: He's an explosive one-gap tackle who consistently penetrates the opposition and makes plays behind the line. He doesn't have great bulk, but his ability to fire off the snap gives him a decided advantage. McCoy already holds an early second-round grade.
Phil Loadholt/OT/#79/4Sr: Loadholt made a major impact on the offensive line the moment he stepped on campus in 2007. He's a mammoth blocker who moves well and can slide his feet in pass protection. Loadholt has early-round skills but must show up to the combine and other pre-draft workouts properly conditioned if he's to be a top-60 choice.
DeMarcus Granger/DT/#96/4Jr: The second-year starter has had a rough go of it this season, missing two games with a back injury before undergoing surgery in December to rectify the problem. Granger will not play in the title game as he rehabilitates. Moreover, this former first-round prospect must show scouts no ill effects from the ailment next season.
Percy Harvin/WR/#1/3Jr: The Gators' game-breaking skill player is a threat to score any time he handles the ball. He's a field-stretching receiver with 4.35 speed and is skilled running after the catch or handling the ball on reverses. He is likely to enter the draft and projects as a mid-first-round choice.
Brandon Spikes/ILB/#51/4Jr: Florida has put several productive middle linebackers into the NFL; Spikes is sure to be the next one. He's a fierce run defender with the athleticism to cover tight ends in pass defense. He is leaning towards entering the draft. He could slide into the late part of round one.
Tim Tebow/QB/#15/3Jr: Tebow offers a lot to like about his game; he athletic, smart and disciplined. He has the arm strength needed for the vertical passing game, the intelligence to manage the game and the body type NFL coaches want in a starting quarterback. Tebow needs work on his throwing fundamentals and must become more of a passer, rather than just a college thrower. He has an incredible amount of upside. A team could hit paydirt if he catches hold of an NFL system.
Louis Murphy/WR/#9/4Sr: He's a big receiver with home-run hitting speed who flashed dominance throughout his senior season. His production has been spotty the past two seasons, yet Murphy is another prospect who will offer a lot in return for the team that gets him running on all cylinders.
Jermaine Cunningham/DE/#49/3Jr: He's an undersized yet productive defensive end who shows a great deal of potential rushing the passer. He's fast off the edge and can quickly change direction to make plays in pursuit. Cunningham hits the tape at 6-2 and 248 pounds, which likely means a switch to outside linebacker.
Cornelius Ingram/TE/#7/5Sr: NFL scouts gave high grades to Ingram at the start of the season, just before a knee injury sidelined him the entire year. He's a terrific pass catcher who consistently beats linebackers down the field. The health of his knee will dictate where Ingram is drafted.
Jason Watkins/OT/#77/5Sr: Watkins is a well-sized tackle who started on the left side the past two seasons. He offers the versatility to be used at a number of blocking positions and is worth the investment of a late pick.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!