|“There’s enough teams that play 3-4 (defense),” one scout said, “there’s enough people that like to build their defenses inside out, that you can stop the run with seven in the box instead of eight, that someone is going to turn a blind eye because of (Raji’s) physical gifts.”|
|One personnel director said that if Raji tested positive at the combine his team wouldn’t take him at No. 9 overall, but he wouldn’t criticize someone who did, in part because the coaches at Boston College recommend Raji.
“If you can get by that (possible positive test) you would have to (take him),” he said, “especially if you’re playing a 3-4 defense, because there’s not many (nose tackles), just a handful. It’s going to come down to that (test). That would be a real tough call. We heard he might go five to Cleveland or four to Seattle (without a positive test).
“There could be some issues there, but everything they said (at Boston College) is the guy’s a good kid. They said the guy was real humbled by what happened to him with the screw-up with his academics, that sitting out that year flipped a switch and he was a completely different kid, a really good kid.”
|"The first game I saw him against USC, he did not look good. I did not like him. But we took an early game, a middle game and a late game to look at. As the season progressed, he got a lot better. I thought he was a good 3-4 outside linebacker. He does all the things you want him to do. He's easier to evaluate than the other guys (who played defensive end). He reminds me a lot of Joey Porter. I don't think he's as good, but he will become like that. I don't know if he's as fast or quick (as Porter was). It's big for the coaches and scouts that you can evaluate him as a linebacker. If you play a 3-4, you can see him do the things he needs to do. Is he a great player? No. But he might become one. He's got upside."|
|Pros: "He's a very instinctive player, a team leader. The guys in the locker room really respect him. He's a great worker. All football. He can run. He can flip his hips. He could play the Tampa 2 'Mike' position and get a lot of depth on his drops. I think he's going to be a very versatile guy. He's much like A.J. Hawk in that he's into his body and watches what he puts into it. He'll be a very solid pro. He'll be there all the time. He'll be a durable guy. He has a natural feel for the game. He can play wherever he wants except he's not ideal for a 3-4 outside linebacker. He can play "Mike" or "Sam" or "Will" in a 4-3."
Cons: "There aren't a lot of negatives with him. I don't think he'll be the dynamic player you're looking for in the first round. But I think he's a safe pick. There aren't a lot of holes in the guy on or off the field. He may be a guy who's too in-tune with his body, but it's not like he didn't suck it up and play in games. Will he be stout enough to be considered someone who can take on people? That could be a negative."
|"We did a study on receivers," said Eric DeCosta, the Baltimore Ravens' director of player personnel. "If you're a junior receiver and you come out, there's a high bust potential."
In the last 12 drafts, 40 wide receivers have been selected in the first two rounds. By subjective analysis, eight became exceptional players whereas 17 turned out to be wasted picks.
The list of busts taken with top-10 choices included Troy Williamson and Mike Williams in 2005, Reggie Williams in '04, Charles Rogers in '03, David Terrell in '01, Travis Taylor in '00 and David Boston in '99.
Among the underclassmen hits were Randy Moss in 1998, Andre Johnson and Anquan Boldin '03, Larry Fitzgerald in '04, Santonio Holmes in '06 and Calvin Johnson in '07. However, vice president Tom Modrak of the Buffalo Bills pointed out that Calvin Johnson's rookie season in Detroit was something less than stellar.
"Just in general terms, receivers are a lot tougher than people think to get into the system quick," Modrak said. "It always seems so simple to the fan. And with underclassmen it's magnified."
From DeCosta's vantage point, the only receivers without flaws are Crabtree and Ohio State's Brian Robiskie, the leading senior and a solid second-round choice. DeCosta said he wasn't worried about Crabtree's surgery March 4 to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, but others fret not having a confirmed 40-yard dash time.
"That's part of the whole evaluation process," an AFC personnel director said. "You think it will be in the 4.5s but you don't know."
Eighteen scouts with national perspectives were asked to rank the wide receivers on a 1-to-5 basis, with a first-place vote worth five points, a second-place vote worth four and so on.
Crabtree led with 16 firsts and 86 points, followed by Maclin with 62, Florida's Percy Harvin with 50, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey with 36, North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks with 15, Rutgers' Kenny Britt with 13, Robiskie with 5½, Louisiana State's Demetrius Byrd with 2 and Florida's Louis Murphy with a half.
"As weak as the position was last year, this year it is one of the deeper positions," former Cleveland general manager Phil Savage said. "You're going to get a pretty good wide receiver probably in the 20s."
Then 18 personnel people were asked to name the player they felt had the best chance to bust.
Heyward-Bey led with six votes, followed by Harvin with five, Nicks with 4½, Britt with two and Maclin with a half.
"Look at history," said Trent Baalke, San Francisco's director of player personnel. "The underclassmen, that's why the bust factor is so high. Not always, but a good majority of the time you've got a lot of questions to answer."
Another AFC scouting director was more optimistic. He hailed his top four wide receivers as worthy of top-10 selections, and said the group looked like it might be the best since the all-time first round in 1988 containing Tim Brown, Sterling Sharpe, Michael Irvin and Anthony Miller.
It should be noted, however, that Brown, Sharpe and Miller all were seniors and Irvin played three full seasons for Miami before declaring a year early.
Nicks has been compared to Irvin and Boldin. But maybe he'll eat his way out of the league, as Boston did.
Heyward-Bey is a big man with blistering speed. Williamson and Rogers, along with underclassmen disappointments like Ashley Lelie and Yatil Green, were very similar.
Britt has the exact same size and speed of Terrell, who flamed out after four years in Chicago.
Harvin is a rare player, a dynamo equally at home running or receiving, but he's regarded by some teams as a major character risk. Maclin has a propensity for big plays but his base position is just the slot.
"The thing I struggle with on a lot of receivers is character," said Shemy Schembechler, a scout for the Washington Redskins. "Inherently, some receivers are selfish, and when they don't get the ball they become inconsistent and frustrated with their production. I learned that with David Terrell."
The closest to a sure thing among the receivers is tight end Brandon Pettigrew of Oklahoma State, who was compared favorably by several scouts to the young Bubba Franks.
Pettigrew got every first-place vote (for 45 points) from a panel of 15 scouts asked to pick their top three tight ends. South Carolina's Jared Cook and Southern Mississippi's Shawn Nelson tied for second with 16 points, followed by Missouri's Chase Coffman with seven, Wisconsin's Travis Beckum with four and Florida's Cornelius Ingram with two.
"It's really difficult to find (complete) tight ends today because teams don't run the ball," an AFC director said.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. MICHAEL CRABTREE Texas Tech 6-1½ 215 4.57 1
High school QB from Dallas who broke Larry Fitzgerald's two-year NCAA record for receiving TDs of 34 with 41. "He is an exceptional athlete with much fluidity in his route-running," Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff said. "He shows the ability to catch all around his body and make the acrobatic grab." Two-year statistics included 231 catches for 3,127 yards (13.5 average). "The only thing you don't see is great speed," San Francisco personnel director Trent Baalke said. "But there have been great receivers that don't have great speed, from Michael Irvin to Cris Carter. I think he has a natural feel. He does a good job with his limited experience at the position of understanding spacing and coming back to the football, playing the ball and not letting it play him." Has extremely long arms (34¼ inches) and uses them to attack the ball. Scored 15 on the Wonderlic intelligence test. Tremendous after the catch. "He's not Calvin Johnson but he's similar to Braylon Edwards," one scout said. "He's got a few things that are concerns. He's got to keep himself in physical condition, learn the work ethic, separate the entourage and get his foot healthy."
2. JEREMY MACLIN Missouri 6-0 197 4.44 1
Electrifying return specialist who caught 22 TD passes in two seasons and rushed for six more. "Very exciting, very legitimate," San Diego GM A.J. Smith said. "If he seizes the moment, and all indications are that he will, he's got all kinds of talent." Appears to have his ego in check. "Even though he has been ultra productive, he is one of the most humble young men you'll ever want to meet," Washington scout Shemy Schembechler said. "I think he's just happy to play, I really do." Led the top six receivers with 25 on the Wonderlic. Played in a simplistic passing game and will need time to adjust. "He doesn't run a huge route tree and will need a lot of work route-wise," one scout said. "He's a straight-line guy with speed but he doesn't play as fast as he timed. He gets tackled in space too much." Caught 182 passes for 2,315 yards (12.7).
3. PERCY HARVIN Florida 5-11 193 4.41 1
"Probably the best athlete in the draft," one scout said. "I watched him play running back, I watched him catch balls. He might be a back, he might be a wideout. But you better find out where the hell he's lined up." Finished with 133 receptions for 1,929 yards (14.5) and 13 TDs to go with 194 rushes for 1,852 yards (9.6) and 19 TDs. "When I first saw him I thought he'd be 5-9 and 170," another scout said. "But he's a much bigger kid. He's fast and he's tough. They hand him the ball as a running back and he goes roaring up in there. He doesn't care." A highly emotional person with a 12 on the Wonderlic; has been involved with authorities several times. "He's had injuries and other issues," a third scout said. "Con man. I don't trust him."
4. DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY Maryland 6-1½ 212 4.28 1-2
Fastest player in the draft. "He puts you somewhat in the picture of the big receivers of the past," Arizona scout Jerry Hardaway said. "Got a second gear. Not the polished route runner that Larry Fitzgerald was coming out. A good, veteran (WR) coach could mold this kid." Three-year starter with 138 catches for 2,039 yards (15.1) and 13 TDs. Posted his poorest numbers in 2008 and dropped too many balls. "In the NFL, the really good receivers are really good route runners who catch the ball and have a great feel," one scout said. "He is a project. I don't know any big, fast receivers who are really, really good who aren't skilled." Had 14 on the Wonderlic. "He could be like James Lofton," another scout said. "And he could be a bust."
5. HAKEEM NICKS North Carolina 6-1 218 4.55 1-2
Completed three years as a starter with dazzling performance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. "He was catching them behind his back, over his head, with people on him," one scout said. "He was a classic star in that game. But he doesn't have blowout speed." Tough and competitive. "To me, as a pure football player, I like him," former Cleveland GM Phil Savage said. "He may run 4.55 or 4.6 but he runs it on the field. Great with the ball in his hand after the catch. I know his weight went up and he ran slower at pro day, but this guy can play football." Added 14 pounds between the combine and pro day a month later. "You'd like to think he could demonstrate a little bit of discipline and not eat so much," another scout said. Wonderlic of 11. Had 181 receptions for 2,840 yards (15.7) and 21 TDs.
6. KENNY BRITT Rutgers 6-3 214 4.50 1-2
Productive three-year starter with so-so hands. "More natural than Heyward-Bey and more imposing," Baltimore personnel director Eric DeCosta said. "Speed is good, not great. Kind of reminds you of Braylon Edwards in spurts. He needs to develop his routes. He's got a lot of work to do." Finished with 178 receptions for 3,043 yards (17.1) and 17 TDs. "He's good with the post-slants, those type of deals," Seattle scout Charles Fisher said. "He can shield people. He's not 4.3 speed but he's got good speed and can stretch you down the field because he has height. He's strong getting underneath." Wonderlic of 21.
7. BRIAN ROBISKIE Ohio State 6-3 207 4.49 2
Started 32 of 51 games over four years. "I love him," Smith said. "Is he a lesser talent than some other people? Yes. Will he achieve more than a couple of those people? Probably. Runs better than people thought. True professional. Born and raised in the game." His father, Terry, played RB for Oakland and Miami from 1977-'81 and has coached in the NFL since '82. "He's the exact opposite of his dad," one scout said. "His dad was a power type guy. This guy is fast and smooth but he just doesn't have the deep burst. The best Terry ever ran was 4.7." Finished with 127 catches for 1,866 yards (14.7) and 24 TDs. "I think if his name was Ryan Smith people wouldn't be quite as high on him," another scout said. "When you take a second-round receiver you're hoping to get a Greg Jennings, someone who can become really a legitimate player. To me, he's a No. 3 or No. 4. He's been in training camps his whole life, which is all positive, but I don't know much is left there to develop." Wonderlic of 26.
8. LOUIS MURPHY Florida 6-2½ 205 4.35 2-3
Two-year starter. "He's like Javon Walker but probably better at the same stage," one scout said. "He's a vertical receiver with top speed and strength. In Urban Meyer's offense every receiver has a specific responsibility, and he was a vertical guy. He's got a little bit of stiffness like Javon." Finished with 77 catches for 1,245 yards (16.2) and 13 TDs. "He was a bit of an afterthought there with the exception of a few games," Savage said. "Teams would worry so much about those little backs and all of a sudden he'd kill you. There may be more in the tank than people realize." Wing-T QB in high school. Wonderlic of 22.
9. MOHAMED MASSAQUOI Georgia 6-1½ 208 4.57 2-3
Smart (30 on the Wonderlic) and fluid. "Solid inside possession guy," Hardaway said. "Flashes compete and effort. Good frame." Three-year starter with 158 receptions for 2,282 yards (14.4) and 16 TDs. "Solid, safe kind of pick," one scout said. "Nothing spectacular. Good size, good enough speed, good enough hands. About the same as Robiskie." Dropped too many balls. "People ding him on his hands but they're more concentration-related," DeCosta said. "He's trying to run with the football. He runs good routes and he's tough. He's underrated."
10. JUAQUIN IGLESIAS Oklahoma 6-1 209 4.49 3
Three-year starter with 25 on the Wonderlic. "Speed is better than what he shows," Tennessee national supervisor C.O. Brocato said. "He's got good hands and he'll go in there and take the hit." Finished with 202 catches for 2,821 yards (14.0) and 19 TDs. "Instinctive, catches well, very polished guy," one scout said. "He won't be dynamic or anything. Just a solid player. Probably your No. 3 receiver."
OTHERS: Ramses Barden, Cal Poly; Mike Thomas, Arizona; Demetrius Byrd, Louisiana State; Mike Wallace, Mississippi; Brandon Tate, North Carolina; Kevin Ogletree, Virginia; Patrick Turner, Southern California; Derrick Williams, Penn State; Jarett Dillard, Rice; Deon Butler, Penn State; Austin Collie, Brigham Young; Brooks Foster, North Carolina.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. BRANDON PETTIGREW Oklahoma State 6-5½ 264 4.82 1-2
"He can block, he can run, he catches the ball," Brocato said. "Really a complete guy." Four-year starter. "This kid is better than that," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said, comparing him to Bubba Franks. "Same kind of blocker but he's better in the passing game. If you want more of a receiver you go in a different direction." Finished with 112 catches for 1,450 yards (13.0) and nine TDs. "Franks probably was a little more accomplished as a receiver and maybe a little flashier coming out of Miami," Savage said. "But Franks ran horribly during the predraft stuff. Pettigrew is maybe a little tougher. Has a little bit of an edge to him."
2. SHAWN NELSON Southern Mississippi 6-5 241 4.54 2
Four-year starter who gave serious consideration to declaring last year. "H-back in a pass-oriented system," Hardaway said. "He's got competitive speed." Finished with 157 receptions for 2,054 yards (13.1) and 16 TDs. "Heck of an athlete," one scout said. "Kind of a flex guy. Never blocks anyone." Earned praise from scouts by going to the Senior Bowl and sticking his nose in as a blocker. "If somebody's expecting him to be a run-block-catch tight end they may end up being a little disappointed," another scout said. "Not necessarily a bad kid but I don't know how smart he is, how into it he is. But if he's used in the proper fashion he could be a legitimate threat. He stood out at the Senior Bowl as an athlete running down the field." Wonderlic of 24.
3. JARED COOK South Carolina 6-4½ 248 4.51 2
Opened eyes at the combine with a 41-inch vertical jump, a blazing 40 and arms measurement of 35¾ inches. "I think he's probably the best overall receiver," St. Louis VP Tony Softli said. "He was a former receiver moved in. At some point they will want him in-line hitting somebody. I think he has that inner toughness to do that." Just a one-year starter. Despite a Wonderlic of 25, he has a hard time with assignments. "He's just an athlete," one scout said. "He's either going to be big-time or a bust. You would think at SC he would score more than three touchdowns this season and seven for his career." Finished with 73 receptions for 1,107 yards (15.2). "He's a specialty item," another scout said. "If you have the imagination and ability to use him properly, which teams do have, you can do it. But by the time he's a blocker we're liable to be wearing different colors."
4. CHASE COFFMAN Missouri 6-6 246 4.8 2-3
Established an NCAA record for receptions by a TE (247); finished second in yards (2,659, 10.8) and TDs (30). "His hands are probably as good as Crabtree's," one scout said. "He has made great catches. He's sort of a loping runner, a Boyd Dowler type. He's really a big wideout." Used almost exclusively from the slot. "People see him as a skinny-framed receiver but he can really catch and he's pretty good with the ball in his hands," Savage said. "He will do enough as a blocker." Father, Paul, was 3 inches shorter and 10 pounds lighter during his Pro Bowl career as a TE for the Packers. Suffered a broken bone on the final play of the Alamo Bowl and still hasn't worked out. Compared by some scouts to Jay Novacek and Jason Witten. "If you look at his combine picture he's not even developed yet," Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. "He can get bigger and stronger." Wonderlic of 23.
5. CORNELIUS INGRAM Florida 6-4 246 4.69 3
Blew out his knee in practice Aug. 5 and missed his senior season. "Mystery man," one scout said. "On the field he looked like a Greek God. You have to go back to his junior year and they flexed him out. He is an unknown. Great looking kid and prospect but he's never really done it." Flunked one team's physical because the cadaver's ligament used in the knee repair was found to be loose. "There will be teams that ignore that and take him and say, 'We'll play him until it pops,' " another scout said. "That could happen." Started just seven of 29 games. Finished with 64 catches for 888 yards (13.9) and eight TDs. "He's built like Godzilla but I've never seen him really have to block somebody," a third scout said. "Former quarterback. Terrific athlete. Just find out how healthy he is."
6. TRAVIS BECKUM Wisconsin 6-3 240 4.63 3-4
"He's always been hurt," Savage said. "I think he's a talent. He may go a little further down the list but ultimately becomes a good value, or he might wash out and we never hear from him again." Finished with 159 catches for 2,149 yards (13.5) and 11 TDs in 40 games (20 starts). "He could be a good blocker but he's not," one scout said. "He's such a horribly untechnical blocker. I think it's more in his head than anything. He was a linebacker coming out of high school and played some defensive end for (John) Palermo. Part of me thinks he's never actually bought into (tight end), especially the blocking part." Led combine TEs by bench-pressing 225 pounds 28 times. Wonderlic of 16. "People that have interviewed him at the combine, as we did, he didn't knock it out of the park," another scout said. "Kind of struck out. You kind of worried about him a little bit mentally and as a person. He was a little shaky on his off-the-field issues, confidence issues, that kind of thing. But you turn on the film and he's got pretty good hands and speed and athletic ability."
7. JAMES CASEY Rice 6-3 244 4.76 3-4
Pitched in the White Sox's minor-league system for three years before retiring from baseball in 2006. Played LB and DE initially before shifting to QB and later to TE and FB. "He's like Owen Daniels," one scout said. "He's unbelievable, that guy. Catches everything. Really heady. Gets open. Smart." Playing all over the formation, his two-season totals were 157 receptions for 1,914 yards (12.2) and 17 TDs. "He's the ultimate hybrid," another scout said. "He could be a better blocker, which is why he's not a pure tight end." Will be 25 in September. "Never be an in-line blocker," a third scout said. "Small. There are a lot of people who like him."
8. RICHARD QUINN North Carolina 6-4 260 4.87 4
Declared a year early after starting 19 of 34 games. "I think they almost ran him off," one scout said. "Then they realized, 'Wait a minute. He's a pretty decent player.' By that time it was too late. He'd be categorized as someone who blocks." Caught merely 12 passes for 124 yards (10.3) and two TDs. "He can play physical, he can catch and he can run after the catch," Hardaway said. "You didn't see the true blocking because he has this bad hand that he played with most of the year."
9. ANTHONY HILL North Carolina State 6-5 261 4.86 4-5
Three-year starter. "He's a point-of-attack blocker," Buffalo VP Tom Modrak said. Finished with 79 catches for 852 yards (10.5) and five TDs. Sat out 2007 after blowing out a knee and is off at least one team's board for medical reasons. "Durability has been a big question," one scout said. "But he has the frame and the play speed to possibly be an every-down tight end.
10. JOHN PHILLIPS Virginia 6-5½ 249 4.80 5
Started 27 of 49 games. "They all share time at Virginia but they all stuck in the league as the No. 3 tight end," Fisher said. "He'll stick. He blocks and he catches. He's been coached well. He's ready to play." Easily could add 20 pounds. "He'll give you what he can, and you'll like it," Modrak said. Finished with 69 catches for 670 yards (9.7) and five TDs.
OTHERS: Bear Pascoe, Fresno State; Cameron Morrah, California; Kory Sperry, Colorado State; Dan Gronkowski, Maryland; Davon Drew, East Carolina; D.J. Johnson, Arkansas State; Kevin Brock, Rutgers; Marquez Branson, Central Arkansas; Zach Miller, Nebraska-Omaha; Rob Myers, Utah State.
|A Journal Sentinel poll of 18 personnel men suggested that the pecking order is established. Each was asked to list his favorites 1-2-3, with a first-place vote worth three points and so forth.
Stafford had 11 first-place votes and 46 points, followed by Sanchez with five and 39 and Freeman with two and 21. Rhett Bomar and Pat White each had a third-place vote.
"It's not the great year," Buffalo vice president Tom Modrak said. "You can find flies on all these guys. It gets to be a dilemma because there's certainly a year or two of training. But if the quarterback doesn't come in by mid-October you're in trouble with everyone."
Stafford, whose arm strength has been compared to that of John Elway and Brett Favre, is looking to become the first quarterback from Georgia to do much in the NFL since Fran Tarkenton left Athens almost 50 years ago.
Sanchez' 16 starts are about on a par with Ware, but at least Ware threw 1,074 passes at the University of Houston from 1987-'89 before flopping as the No. 7 pick in Detroit. Sanchez attempted 487.
And, Freeman went a mere 14-18 as an erratic 32-game starter in the Big 12.
"Sanchez is probably the riskiest," St. Louis vice president Tony Softli said. "The other guys have been starting since they were freshmen so they got three years in. He has 16 games. That's really scary."
The 18 scouts also identify the next-best bet to one day become a starter. Bomar led with five votes, followed by Stephen McGee with 2½; Curtis Painter, Davis and White, each with 2; John Parker Wilson, 1½, and Chase Daniel, 1. One scout withheld his vote, saying no candidate deserved it.
Not only must Davis overcome his status as a third-year junior but also widespread concern about his ability to handle an NFL playbook. Davis has acknowledged that he is learning disabled, and so it was not a shock when he scored merely 11 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test.
Although his score isn't that far off from the NFL average of about 19.5, it is extremely low for a quarterback. In the last 15 years, the only starting quarterbacks with scores of 15 or below have been Vince Young (15), Donovan McNabb (12), Charlie Batch (15) and Kordell Stewart (15). Seattle backup Seneca Wallace had a 10.
"(Davis) has a Freeman arm and he was more accurate than Freeman," said Shemy Schembechler, a scout for the Washington Redskins. "I mean, he can throw it. But it will be a different learning process with him that some offensive coordinator is going to have to adjust to if he's going to play for you."
|"This draft is different than any I've seen in 20 years of doing this," a personnel director for an AFC team said. "There's one player that is on top of everybody's board, and that's (Aaron) Curry. Then you have differences of opinion on the next 30 guys. It's like everybody has a hole, a flaw.
"If Detroit could they'd pass three or four times because the money is so high on top and there's not that great value. You might not see any trades in the top 10."
Another personnel director for a team in the top eight said: "It's a second- and third-round draft. I would try to move down. I told (the team's owner) I would try to gamble and get seconds. You can get really good players in the second."
In late February, New England coach Bill Belichick was jabbed by pundits for accepting Kansas City's offer of a second-round pick (No. 34) in the trade for quarterback Matt Cassel. It was pointed out that he might have picked up a first-round choice in a three-way deal with other teams if he had waited.
More than likely, Belichick already knew the draft board was weak on top and wanted no part of a salary structure-wrecking high choice. Last year, the average guarantee was $11.9 million for a first-round pick, just $1.9 million for a second-round pick.
Obtaining another cheap second-round pick was the perfect way to go.
"Jake Long had a good year but they paid him more than any tackle that ever played the game," one scout said. "You really don't want a top-10 pick. It really hampers you if the guy ends up not being a player. Even if he does, he generally doesn't become worth that value you have to pay him."
Take A.J. Hawk. As the No. 5 choice in 2006, Hawk's guaranteed money totaled $15.59 million. Hawk has played 90% of the defensive downs and at least is near the mid-point of starters playing his position. But knowing Hawk's average salary per year is higher than their own might have annoyed players such as Charles Woodson, Aaron Kampman and Nick Collins.
Jamal Reynolds (No. 10 in 2001) collected $6.7 million in guaranteed money back when the salary cap was $67 million, not $127 million as it is today. The contract of Justin Harrell (No. 16 in 2007), which contains $6.547 million in guarantees, has locker-room ramifications now and will affect the cap if he ends up being jettisoned.
As Thompson and associates begin final deliberations, they're looking at a first-round board dominated by unpredictable underclassmen and few game-changers.
This month, the Journal Sentinel surveyed 20 personnel people with a national orientation and asked them to name the best player in the draft.
Curry, the linebacker from Wake Forest, has been built up to be No. 1 since he worked out and interviewed well at the combine. Yet, in a bit of a surprise, the men who know best don't think he's the least bit dominating. Depending on the scout, he's rated about on a par with Hawk coming out.
"He's not a violent football player," one personnel man said. "He's talented. Plays disciplined. But he's not a first-to-the-pile guy."
Furthermore, he's not much of a pass rusher.
Curry did win the poll but by merely a 9-7 margin over Michael Crabtree, the sophomore wide receiver from Texas Tech who remains on crutches after undergoing foot surgery last month.
Four players received one vote: Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Southern California middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, Baylor tackle Jason Smith and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. MATTHEW STAFFORD Georgia 6-2½ 225 4.82 1
Best attribute is his powerful right arm. “In the pre-game warm-up, this guy will absolutely wow you with his ability to throw,” former Cleveland GM Phil Savage said. “He’s big enough, he really throws the ball well and he was well-liked at Georgia.” Beat out a senior in the middle of his freshman year and went on to start 34 straight games, winning 27. “I see things that remind me a lot of Troy Aikman,” one scout said. “He didn’t have as much talent as the guy at USC did. He’s got one of the best arms to come out in a long time.” Finished with an NFL passer rating of 85.6 in Georgia’s simplistic offensive system. “The offensive linemen are going to like him,” San Francisco personnel director Trent Baalke said. “He’s a guy who will go drink a beer with them and they will respond to him.” Compared by others to Jeff George and even Brett Favre, both of whom took chances with their superior arm strength. “I wouldn’t want to take the guy,” another scout said. “He’s got a big arm and he’s big, but he just doesn’t have the moxie, the savvy, the feel, the accuracy. He’s not a great locker-room guy. He’s a Lions’ kind of guy, like all those busts they’ve had.” Hails from the affluent Dallas suburb of Highland Park. Scored 35 on the Wonderlic intelligence test.
2. MARK SANCHEZ USC 6-2 227 4.94 1
Declared after one year as a starter. “He’s very athletic, makes a lot of throws on the move and has got a little toughness to him,” Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. Posted passer rating of 103.9. “Stafford has more pure ability than Sanchez but you get to see Sanchez do more,” Savage said. “He dropped back 3, 5, 7 steps, he did play-action, he did bootleg, he threw from the ’gun, he did screens. He just looks more accomplished than Stafford at this point. When I turned the tape off on Sanchez, I liked him better than (Matt) Leinart. He’s not as talented as Carson Palmer. I thought he fit somewhere in-between.” Third-generation Mexican-American, he grew up in Mission Viejo, Calif., as the son of a firefighter. “I still think he would have benefited from another year but I’d take him over Stafford,” one scout said. “He has that other stuff, the stuff you can’t teach. He’s a playmaker, he’s tough and he plays with a swagger.” Wonderlic of 28.
3. JOSH FREEMAN Kansas State 6-5 1/2 250 4.95 1-2
Became the starter five games into his freshman season and finished 14-18 overall. “He’s not a Donovan McNabb or a Daunte Culpepper, but if you’re looking for a quarterback to groom I would say this is the guy,” St. Louis VP Tony Softli said. “He’s got the size, the arm strength, touch. He can run with the ball. Very articulate and very smart (27 on the Wonderlic).” Operated a spread shotgun offense with marginal effectiveness, finishing with a passer rating of 81.0. Passed for 8,078 yards, breaking Lynn Dickey’s school record of 6,208. “You can’t pull any tape out and say you feel good about how that guy plays,” one scout said. “He’s bad. Raw talent but he has no clue. He has no vision. Very inaccurate. Their offense was one of the most inept I’ve seen. Him trying to run it, it was hard to watch.” His father, Ron, played in the United States Football League. Grew up in Kansas City. “He’s raw with footwork and release points,” another scout said. “Very inconsistent accuracy. He’s got some underachiever in him. Even though he’s smart enough he’s got some laziness about him.”
4. PAT WHITE West Virginia 6-0 200 4.58 2-3
Started 42 of 49 games, also becoming the first NCAA QB to start and win four bowl games. “He’s exciting,” San Diego GM A.J. Smith said. “Terrific athlete. I know he wants to be a quarterback. He will be carried probably as the last quarterback and will contribute.” Labeled as the “perfect wildcat quarterback” by one scout. Projected at WR by some teams, the position that he committed to play at LSU before the Mountaineers came on the scene. “I’ve known him since he was in ninth grade and used to come to my football camp every summer,” Savage said. “He’s a winner. In ’07, when Paul Warfield went to West Virginia and took a peek at him, he thought he would be a fantastic wide receiver. I always thought he was a little shaky as a passer, but having seen him in the bowl game, the Senior Bowl (where he was MVP) and the combine, I have to say that as a role-playing QB somebody will take a big bite of that apple. My concern is if he is really going to withstand the pounding as an every-down quarterback.” Compiled a passer rating of 99.8 in a spread offense and rushed for 4,480 yards, an NCAA record for a QB. Compared by one scout to Kordell Stewart, by another to Bert Emanuel. Wonderlic of 23.
5. STEPHEN McGEE Texas A&M 6-3 223 4.65 3-4
Two-year starter (rushed for 1,800 yards) in the freeze-option offense of Dennis Franchione but lost his job as a senior due to a shoulder injury and his fit in Mike Sherman’s West Coast attack. “He got caught between a rock and a hard place with two different coaches, two different styles,” one scout said. “He was a runner, then Mike Sherman wanted him to be more of a drop-back passer. He’s a big ol’ guy who can run and throw. Just real raw right now. He could be like that kid Kyle Boller. Similar type athlete. Could be a sleeper.” Started just three games in 2008. Finished with a passer rating of 84.5. “He’s got more talent than 80% of the quarterbacks out there,” another scout said. “He’s tough. Had some bad luck with injuries.” Wonderlic of 25.
6. RHETT BOMAR Sam Houston State 6-2 225 4.72 4
Started 11 games at Oklahoma in 2005 as a redshirt freshman but was kicked off for his role in a summer job scandal. Suspended by the NCAA for ’06, then started two years at Sam Houston State. “He could be a starter,” Tennessee national supervisor C.O. Brocato said. “Somebody put some money in his back pocket and he took it. He’s got size, he’s tough and he’s got a good arm.” Finished with a passer rating of 83.1. Had a poor week at the Senior Bowl. “I don’t think he’s accurate or a leader,” one scout said. “I don’t think he knows how to play the position.” Scored 27 on the Wonderlic. “Really good arm and quick release,” another scout said. “Just needs to refine some things.”.
7. JOHN PARKER WILSON Alabama 6-1 1/2 217 4.49 4-5
Started all 40 games from 2006-’08. “Smart kid (28 on the Wonderlic) who has played and produced, which is important to me,” one scout said. “Not real big physically but he knows the game. He has been before 100,000 people.” Passer rating of 80.0. “He has a baseball pitcher’s motion and the ball flies on him a lot,” another scout said. “He’s really inconsistent in his accuracy (56.6%). Accuracy is the most important thing for a quarterback. Not a bad athlete. Not an NFL starter.”
8. NATE DAVIS Ball State 6-1½ 220 4.97 5-6
Went 22-12 as a three-year starter for a team that was 27-63 in eight seasons before his arrival. “He’s got kind of a Favre arm,” Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said. “He flicks the ball and he’s accurate.” Looked like a first-day pick but fumbled eight times in season-ending defeats against Buffalo and Tulsa. Then showed up overweight at the combine and interviewed poorly. “I sat in on the interview and you came away with wondering if he can grasp the pro game,” one scout said. “If a lot of things are flying around will he be able to process and do what you want in an NFL game?” Has a learning disability and scored 11 on the Wonderlic. “(Offensive coordinator) Stan Parrish told me he restricted everything that he did,” another scout said. “He didn’t try to overburden him, and the kid worked at it and studied film. He took an average team in Ball State and they won a lot of games because of him.” Despite finishing with passer rating of 100.4 (74 TDs, 22 interceptions), Davis had just one team (nearby Indianapolis) attend his pro day in Muncie. “The NFL is going to eat him up, just spit him out to the wayside,” a third scout said. “I think that’s going to be sad.”.
9. LANCE PAINTER Georgia 6-3 224 4.89 5-6
Started 32 games. “He didn’t have a good year but, boy, I saw his pro day and he threw the ball just as well as Kyle Orton did,” Tennessee scout Johnny Meads said. “He’s got a strong arm. He’s not that fiery kind of guy but he has size and knows where to go with the ball.” Regressed as a senior and was benched late in the season. Finisher with passer rating of 82.1. “The biggest question I have is his leadership ability,” one scout said. “He’s an extremely soft-spoken kid. I’m not confident how he handles the huddle. If you’re not a leader as a quarterback, you’re going to have problems.”
10. MIKE REILLY Central Washington 6-3 213 4.81 6-7
Walked on at Washington State out of Kalispell, Mont., in 2003 before transferring to the ranks of Division II. “He was a four-year captain,” one scout said. “Great intangibles. Very smart (31 on the Wonderlic). He’s got a little bit of a funky delivery but it’s quick enough. He broke all of (Jon) Kitna’s records there. He’s quite athletic and very competitive.” Passer rating of 103.5. “Is he as good as Orton?” another scout said. “Yeah, probably. He could be workmanlike.”
OTHERS: Brian Hoyer, Michigan State; Hunter Cantwell, Louisville; Cullen Harper, Clemson; Tom Brandstater, Fresno State; Graham Harrell, Texas Tech; Chase Daniel, Missouri; Nathan Brown, Central Arkansas; Drew Willy, Buffalo; Mike Teel, Rutgers; Chase Patton, Missouri.
|Now here comes another draft and, just like last year, four left tackles might go off in the first 15 selections. The need certainly is there. But is there the talent to spawn the next Pace or the next Roaf?
No, say general manager A.J. Smith of San Diego, former Cleveland GM Phil Savage and Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield, among many other scouts.
"In another draft none of these guys would be top five," Seattle Seahawks scout Charles Fisher said. "They're good players, but I wouldn't consider any of these guys as pure franchise cornerstones. Branden Albert is more athletic than all these guys."
Nineteen scouts with a national perspective participated in a Journal Sentinel survey asking them to rank the five best offensive linemen. A first-place vote was worth five points, a second was worth four and so on.
The results were exceedingly close, at least among three of the Big Four left tackles.
Baylor's Jason Smith gained a slight edge over Virginia's Eugene Monroe in points, 74-70. However, Alabama's Andre Smith, who was third with 64 points, had six first-place votes compared with seven for Jason Smith and only three for Monroe.
It's an indication that scouts either really like Andre Smith or don't like him at all, and that enthusiastic endorsement of Monroe is hard to come by.
Meanwhile, Mississippi's Michael Oher had the other three first-place votes but was a distant fourth in points with 38. Four voters left him off their ballots entirely.
"The tackles, you can find reasons why all of them will struggle," an AFC personnel director said. "One with weight (Andre Smith), one with anchor (Jason Smith), one with passion (Monroe) and one with intelligence (Oher)."
A personnel director for another AFC team recalled just how simple it was evaluating Ogden and Boselli and Roaf.
"When I saw Jason Smith during the fall, yes, I thought he'd be a solid first-round pick for somebody," Savage said. "But I never dreamed people would be talking about him as the first pick in the whole draft. You've got to be kidding me."
In a draft minus great prospects, the top 10 is going to include some players who would have been taken in the mid- to late teens or even the 20s in a more typical year.
Nobody is saying this class of offensive linemen will approach 1986, when four of the seven first-rounders (Brian Jozwiak, James FitzPatrick, Mike Haight and Mike Schad) went down as busts. Then again, no one is saying that it won't.
"I like the group," said Trent Baalke, San Francisco's director of player personnel. "But it's like the wide-receiver group: There's something in each one of them that makes you uneasy. The safest of the group is Monroe."
When the hemming and hawing was over and scouts were ready to declare which player had the best chance to bust, the vote on the Big Four fell this way: Andre Smith 8, Oher 6, Monroe 1 and Jason Smith 1.
Others getting bust votes were tackle Will Beatty, 1½; tackle Phil Loadholt, 1, and guard Duke Robinson, one-half.
"Jason Smith's got everything but he never run-blocks," another scout said. "I don't know if he can blow guys off the ball. My God, he's from Baylor! There's no solid guy in that grouping. Alex Mack is probably the safest pick."
Mack, one of three highly regarded centers, accumulated 13 points in the voting for best offensive lineman. Center-guard Max Unger had 14 and center Eric Wood finished with eight.
Rounding out the voting was tackle Eben Britton, three points, and Beatty, one.
"One thing about tackles, the reason they go in the first round is the value," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said. "Not necessarily because they're the 25th-, 26th-best player in the draft. It's the value of the position. That's what speaks volumes."
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. JASON SMITH Baylor 6-5 308 5.19 1
Baylor hasn't had a first-round draft choice since DT Daryl Gardener in 1996. "I think he can be (a great player)," Tennessee national supervisor C.O. Brocato said. "Great feet. He's still got a lot to learn." Started eight games at TE (six receptions) in 2005 before moving to RT in '06. Then started at LT in 2007 and '08. "I went to practice on a Thursday and he was out there getting everyone lined up," one scout said. "The one thing that really stands out about him is his leadership. (Michael) Oher was the last guy out for practice at Ole Miss and the last guy in line for drills. Jason Smith is the first guy out for practice and the first guy in line." Extremely mature. Scored 22 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. "He's not a great player," another scout said. "Honestly, I'd have a hard time taking him in the top 10. He played hard and all that stuff, but he's a little stiff and is not a great run-blocker." Played most of his time in a two-point stance. "He's the most overrated from a physical standpoint," a third scout said. "He lacks hip and lower-body flexibility in general along with base and balance. I don't think he can pass-block at left tackle. I think he's a right tackle. He can't get leverage."
2. EUGENE MONROE Virginia 6-5½ 312 5.20 1
Backed up D'Brickashaw Ferguson in '05 before starting 30 games at LT. "(Andre) Smith is more of that dominating, ass-kicking finisher," St. Louis VP Tony Softli said. "Monroe is more finesse. He's not overly powerful but he is explosive and has strong hands. He's like a young (Orlando) Pace. There's a lot of guys that don't pancake you and drive you into the ground and get the job done." Smart (26 on the Wonderlic), consistent and an average run-blocker. "He's a pretty good pass protector and a true left tackle," former Cleveland GM Phil Savage said. "But he doesn't play with the force of Jason Smith." Bench-pressed 225 pounds 23 times whereas Jason Smith did 33, Oher did 23 and Andre Smith did 19. Several scouts said Monroe was "just not real physical." Said Arizona scout Jerry Hardaway: "If Andre Smith's body was as defined as Eugene's is, hell, we'd be talking about him into tomorrow. Eugene has nifty feet with ability to sustain at the point of attack and adjust and counter in space. This guy has a little bit more up side than D'Brickashaw at the same stage in the sense that he's much stouter."
3. ANDRE SMITH Alabama 6-4 325 5.29 1
Started 38 straight games at LT, including all 13 as a freshman in '06. "My God," one scout said. "Just put the film in. The (expletive) guy can play football." That fact has become overlooked in the midst of his recent misadventures. First, he was suspended for the Sugar Bowl for dealing with an agent. Second, he left the combine half a day early without telling anyone. Third, he turned in less than auspicious numbers at his pro day. "The character, the weight stuff, the non-working stuff . . . he's got a lot of ways he can screw it up," another scout said. "He's just lazy. Takes the easy way out. He plays that way." Hails from a strong two-parent home in Birmingham, Ala. "The kid's a great kid," a third scout said. "He's just very country." Often compared to Shawn Andrews (6-4, 345, 5.48), who became an all-pro guard for the Eagles. At the very least, scouts say he should excel at guard. Almost all love his ability to knock people off the ball. "The onus is on him to become more disciplined and get his body firmed up," Hardaway said. "Willie Roaf's body was way better than this guy's. But he's got the feet, the wing span (35 3/8 -inch arms, longest by far of the leading tackles). The athletic movements put him in the level of Chris Samuels. But he ain't a great player by no stretch of the imagination." Wonderlic of 17.
4. MICHAEL OHER Mississippi 6-4½ 307 5.28 1
His mother, Denise, was addicted to crack cocaine. His father was murdered. Homeless at 16 and not even playing organized football yet, he was adopted by another family after a chance encounter on the streets of Memphis. Later, he became the central figure in Michael Lewis' book, "Blind Side." "I think he was always overhyped because of the book," one scout said. "He looks the part. He was average at the Senior Bowl. He got jolted around a little bit against LSU. There's too many questions." Described as a visual learner; scored 19 on the Wonderlic. The woman who was hired to guide/tutor him later on in high school was hired by Ole Miss to serve the same role during his studies in the field of criminal justice. "He's not a bad kid," another scout said. "The family kind of spoiled the heck out of him. He has an entourage of people that are very protective. The coaches at Ole Miss say he's kind of selfish. They said that if he quit football after he signed his contract they wouldn't be surprised, or he could play 10 years. Kind of a lazy guy. You talk to him, you just don't get a great feel. But on the flip side, he plays every week. You're going to be happy with him because he has the ability and can do it immediately." Started at RT in '05, then at LT from 2006-'08. Became more physical down the stretch in '08. "He's a thick lower body kind of guy," Savage said. "He has more left tackle qualities than Andre Smith but I didn't think he finished plays quite as well. Does he love the game, or what comes with being in the game? Well, he showed up at the Senior Bowl when other guys didn't. He's on track to be a pretty good player."
5. EBEN BRITTON Arizona 6-6 310 5.16 1-2
Fourth-year junior. "He's got a chance to be a heck of a football player," San Diego GM A.J. Smith said. "All on the up side." Started at RT in 2006 and '07 before moving to LT in '08. Athletically, he is viewed by most teams as best suited for RT. "He had stiffness to him," one scout said. "They (Arizona coaches) didn't think he was a real tough guy." Hails from a distinguished family from Burbank, Calif. Wonderlic of 31. "He can go in, learn a system pretty quickly and be a nice player," Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. "I don't know if he will be a dominant player but he he'll play eight, nine years. Great body, great frame. Short arms (32¾), but there are tackles that get away with that like (Mark Tauscher) and (Michael) Roos. He understands the game."
6. WILL BEATTY Connecticut 6-6 307 5.08 1-2
His mother and father are pastors in York, Pa. ""He might be the best athlete of all of them (top tackles)," one scout said. "Really good feet. He's just a little soft and behind technique-wise. I don't know if he has a love for the game. He will need a year or two to come along." Started 35 games at LT. "Not a real physical guy," another scout said. "I'm not sure what will happen to a finesse guy from the Big East when one of those crazy (guys) lines up over him and tries to knock his head off. I never really saw him drive-block anybody off the line and try to finish a block, but he's got a lot of talent." Wonderlic of 19. "He's an athlete, and everyone loves an athlete," a third scout said. "I usually do, too, but with that kid I don't see it. People will draft anything these days. He needs to add a lot of strength. I think Beatty will bust."
7. JAMON MEREDITH South Carolina 6-5 304 5.01 2
Made 38 starts, including 19 games at LT, 11 at RT and eight at RG. "His strengths are height, arm length (34½), foot quickness, leverage, speed, pulling, second level," one scout said. "He comes up short in production, compete and functional strength. The kid certainly has the look of an NFL starter. Then you dig and start to understand the inconsistencies. Noncompetitor. Very little passion for the game." Some of the Gamecocks' coaches told scouts he was a "locker room lawyer" who was hard to coach. "Probably the best athlete in this linemen group," another scout said. "They got on him saying he wasn't dedicated but he was one of the better workers there. Great kid."
8. PHIL LOADHOLT Oklahoma 6-8 332 5.48 2
Junior-college transfer who was the Sooners' LT in 2007 and '08. "He's big, tough, uses his hands well and has long arms (36½)," one scout said. "But as a left tackle he just doesn't have the range. He's a right tackle, an in-line guy. Get your hands on you." Compared by one scout to Pittsburgh's Max Starks, who started for two Super Bowl teams. "Big stiff guy but he ain't bad," another scout said. Scored 23 on the Wonderlic but isn't a quick study. "He's a load," a third scout said. "No question in my mind he'll make a team if he can learn. Some of those big guys never learn the game."
9. GERALD CADOGAN Penn State 6-5 310 5.07 3-4
Made 26 starts at LT and five at LG. "I don't see him as a guard and I don't know if he's strong enough to be a right tackle," Seattle scout Charles Fisher said. "He's a decent athlete. He's definitely not a strong, physical guy." All-around singer-entertainer who has released two gospel/R&B CDs. "I'm not a big Cadogan fan," one scout said. "His numbers are better than his play. I think he's a sixth- or seventh-rounder. But with his numbers somebody will have a hot flash. I will have to grin and bear it that day."
10. SEBASTIAN VOLLMER Houston 6-7½ 312 5.21 3-4
Born and raised in Germany, where he played soccer as a youth. "Big ol' boy who's on the come," Brocato said. "He wasn't even on the list when you went in there (last fall). He had a great workout there and his stock keeps rising every day. He speaks broken English. Very smart kid (23 on the Wonderlic). Reliable and all that." Weighed 230 upon arrival in '04. Two-year starter at LT. "He's athletic enough, really strong (32 on the bench press) and a tough guy," one scout said. "The offense there is the spread but in the East-West Game he did a nice job down in a stance and angle blocking." Added another scout, "He's terrible."
OTHERS:Lydon Murtha, Nebraska; Troy Kropog, Tulane; Xavier Fulton, Illinois; Dan Gay, Baylor; Fenuki Tupou, Oregon; Gus Parrish, Kent State; Garrett Reynolds, North Carolina; Seth Olsen, Iowa; Alex Boone, Ohio State; Jose Valdez, Arkansas; Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech; Ramon Foster, Tennessee.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. ANDY LEVITRE Oregon State 6-2½ 306 5.35 2
Started at RT from 2005-'07 and at LT in '08. "He's not a left tackle athlete or size-wise but he's good," one scout said. "Great use of hands. Plays on his feet. Not a quick-footed athletic guy but he really knows how to play. He's got to be a guard." Extremely smart (36 on the Wonderlic). "He's a tough guy," another scout said. "Little short-armed (32½)." Might be best at center. "He's not a super power kind of player but he's a really good positioner and technician," a third scout said. "He has a lot of good qualities. He's consistent."
2. MAX UNGER Oregon 6-4½ 307 5.29 2
"He played center and left tackle at Oregon," Softli said. "Went to the Senior Bowl and played guard and center. I think he found a home at guard. He can be a swing man." Played LT in 2005 and '06 and center in 2007 and '08, starting 52 straight games. "His numbers are not special but when he plays the game he's athletic," Buffalo VP Tom Modrak said. "Not strong but he gets on blocks and he runs his feet and he stays on it." His versatility was compared by one scout to that of Minnesota's Ryan Cook. "You like his toughness," one scout said. "Little stiff. Doesn't have really good strength so he can't play guard."
3. DUKE ROBINSON Oklahoma 6-5 330 5.34 2-3
Three-year starter at LG. "He is one of the few power guards in this draft," San Francisco personnel director Trent Baalke said. "He's coming off a year in which he was plagued by an ankle injury. His inconsistency on film, his inability to dominate on a consistent basis, is a concern. If he decides he wants to be a pro, then he's got a good chance to develop." Appears to tire and then takes downs off. Frequently overextends in protection. "He's not fat," one scout said. "He's a terrific athlete who had a great year as a junior. He's not real bright." Grew up in the toughest sections of Atlanta. Doesn't fit teams with a zone-blocking scheme. "He's completely overrated," another scout said. "They rotate him in and out of there. He's huge and has some athletic ability, but he's out of control. He doesn't move his feet. He falls on the ground all the time. He's lazy. He's a mess."
4. KRAIG URBIK Wisconsin 6-5 328 5.32 3
Four-year starter, including 34 games at RT and 16 at RT. "He looked like the typical Wisconsin lineman," Savage said. "Solid player. Probably will have a seven-, eight-, nine-year career." Compared by one scout to former Badgers G Dan Buenning. ""He's just a big guy," one scout said. "I never really saw the explosion that Wisconsin linemen usually have. Maybe it's quickness, or tenacity. It kind of bothered me. I'm sure he'll make it because he's a big guy and in those zones schemes he'll just have to step." Wonderlic of 28. "Not a real pretty guy," another scout said. "I think he knows how to play. He can square up to people. I just wish he would finish a little more. In some games, he does. In others, you want him to do a little more."
5. ANTOINE CALDWELL Alabama 6-3 310 5.29 3-4
Started 48 games, including 34 at center, 12 at LG, one at RG and one at RT. "Not that he wouldn't start at center but at the very least he's a swing guy," Modrak said. "Plays hard. They come off the ball. They know how to play down there." Graduated in less than three years. "Really smart and very physical," one scout said. "He doesn't fit what we do (zone blocking scheme). He's going to be a power football player."
6. HERMAN JOHNSON Louisiana State 6-7 356 5.59 3-4
Weighed 382 at the Senior Bowl but didn't look overweight. "I'm not saying he can't play," one scout said. "I'm saying there's a bust factor if he's 400." His arms measured 36½, his hands 11 3/8 . Weighed 15 pounds 14 ounces at birth, an unofficial Louisiana record. "If you're a 240-pound linebacker, and that's a big linebacker, and he pushes you, you fly 10 yards," another scout said. "I love to watch him play. He's so huge and he can run." Three-year starter. Wears a size-17 shoe. "He's like Leonard Davis," a third scout said. "Once he gets on top of you it's over." Not very strong (24 on the bench press) and isn't cut out for a zone scheme. "He is a huge man that just cannot move his feet," a fourth scout said. "And for a big guy like that he's not very powerful."
7. CORNELIUS LEWIS Tennessee State 6-3½ 334 5.31 4
Started three games at RG for Florida State in '05 before being kicked out of school in '06. "Big body guy," Softli said. "Long arms (33½). Moves his feet real well. There's not a lot of guards. He'll get a chance early." Made 23 starts at Tennessee State, all at tackle. "He doesn't dominate at that level," one scout said. "Big and thick like you like 'em. But I think the speed of the NFL game is going to catch him. You've got people talking about him early but I wouldn't be jumping on the table to touch him until somewhere around the fifth round."
8. ROBERT BREWSTER Ball State 6-4 324 5.29 4-5
Started seven games at RG in '05 and the last three years at RT. "He's got good feet and is a pretty good competitor," Washington scout Shemy Schembechler said. "Coming from a small school, he's not sure how good he can be. He's better off playing guard." Overcame a serious weight problem early in college. "Big, strong, heavy guy," one scout said. "Tough kid. Kind of slow-footed."
9. T.J. LANG Eastern Michigan 6-4 312 5.21 4-5
Moved from defensive line to offensive line in '06, starting at RT that year and at LT in 2007 and '08. "Very strong guy," one scout said. "Tough kid. Runs well enough. May end up at guard because of the height. Can anchor. Little stiff. Problem with change of direction. Doesn't have really good feet." Wasn't invited to the combine from a program that has been down for a long time. "Great kid, good worker but a terrible space player," another scout said. "He should be a guard, but if you're running a pull system or a zone scheme he's going to struggle. Not a very good balance athlete. Too stiff for me."
10. TREVOR CANFIELD Cincinnati 6-4½ 308 5.32 5-6
Made 42 starts, all at guard. "He's a mauler type," Baltimore personnel director Eric DeCosta said. "I could see him eventually becoming a starter because he is a tough, physical guy. Good mentality." Wonderlic of 16. Short arms. "Run-blocker," one scout said. "Tough guy. He won't test great." Added another scout: "Tight as a drum. He's on the ground more than not. He's a limited guy."
OTHERS: Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech; Tyronne Green, Auburn; Andy Kemp, Wisconsin; C.J. Davis, Pittsburgh; Roger Allen, Missouri Western State; Jaimie Thomas, Maryland; Paul Fanaika, Arizona State; Anthony Parker, Tennessee; Rich Ohrnberger, Penn State; Brandon Walker, Oklahoma; Travis Bright, Brigham Young; Ryan Stanchek, West Virginia.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. ALEX MACK California 6-4 309 5.17 1-2
Three-year starter. "I think he's going to be a great player," one scout said. "He's the best player at his position but it's not a position people think is all that critical. It's conceivable Mack could be taken after a guy like Beatty or Loadholt. It's a joke. He's twice as good a player, but he plays center instead of tackle." Rugged, brawling type of player. "He's always running around trying to smack somebody and he winds up in a pratfall every once in a while," another scout said. "Little bit overextended. On the ground more. You can coach him out of that a little bit." Smart (24 on the Wonderlic) but didn't fare well in bench-press testing (20). "He's a guy that people feel is safe," a third scout said. "Is he a top athlete for the position? No. Is he overpowering at the position? No. Does he have a huge up side? No. What you see is what you get, and if you're comfortable with that then you make the pick."
2. ERIC WOOD Louisville 6-4 310 5.22 2
Parlayed impressive showings at the Senior Bowl and combine into a higher draft position. "He will be the keeper," Hardaway said. "He's tough, physical, competitive. The good thing, he plays with a passion." Started all 49 games, including three seasons in front of Brian Brohm. "There's something missing with him," one scout said. "He works out well but there's something wrong with his balance. He struggles adjusting and ends up on the ground too much. He'd have a chance at guard." Wonderlic of 29. "What makes these centers unique is they're naturally 300-pound guys," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said. "Potentially, you could see them going in the first because they're big men."
3. JONATHAN LUIGS Arkansas 6-3½ 300 5.16 4
Started seven games at RG in '05 before becoming the No. 1 center for the next three seasons. "Strength is the issue with him," one scout said. "He has really fine movement skills, awareness, know-how, quickness, tenacity, finish, motivation." Projected as a better fit for zone teams. "He's not dominating but he blocks everybody," another scout said. "He's not a ripping, snarling, get-after-you guy." Wonderlic of 32. "He's always about encouraging his teammates," a third scout said. "He's a leader. He's got short arms (31¼) but he has a knack for moving his feet. I thought he'd get totally blown up and destroyed by (Terrance) Cody of Alabama. A couple times he did but other than that he did a good job."
4. A.Q. SHIPLEY Penn State 6-1 305 5.21 4-5
Backup DT in '05 before becoming the starting center in '06. "You can compare him to (Scott) Wells in Green Bay size-wise," Fisher said. "This kid is tough, he's smart, he battles. It's going to be hard to get him out of the lineup if he gets in there. He's got some quicks. He's strong, but he won't drive people off the ball. He can hold his anchor. He's a position blocker with the best of them. He is not afraid. His strength shows when he throws people. He can throw." Put up 33 repetitions on the bench press but arms were measured at just 29¾. "He's the exact same guy as Wells," one scout said. "I think he's a really good college player but he has some limitations."
5. EDWIN WILLIAMS Maryland 6-2½ 308 5.45 5-6
Three-year starter with 20 on the Wonderlic and really long arms (34½). "Shipley is a lot better," one scout said. "Williams was good for them in the sense that he held everything together. He made the calls and all that stuff. But he's a short-area guy with below-average athletic ability."
OTHERS: Blake Schlueter, Texas Christian; Robby Felix, Texas-El Paso; Rob Bruggeman, Iowa; Cecil Newton, Tennessee State; Brett Helms, Louisiana State; Alex Fletcher, Stanford; Jon Cooper, Oklahoma; John "Ryan" Shuman, Virginia Tech.
|He's much like A.J. Hawk in that he's into his body and watches what he puts into it. He'll be a very solid pro.|
|Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells of Ohio State, the leading running backs, symbolize the overriding theme of the 2009 National Football League draft.
After sizing up this group of running backs, director of player personnel Trent Baalke of the San Francisco 49ers put it this way: "There's value to be had throughout. There's just no superstar."
Moreno, 5 feet 10 1/2 inches and 213 pounds, is an energetic, attacking type of ball carrier who scored 32 touchdowns in his two years at Georgia.
"He's Walter Payton," said one AFC personnel man who was scouting when "Sweetness" came out of Jackson State as the No. 4 pick in 1975. "He looks like Payton, his attitude is just like Payton's and he's got Payton's balance and leaping ability."
Wells, 6-1 and 237, put up 30 touchdowns in his three seasons for the Buckeyes, breaking long run after long run with his see-you-later speed.
"Just like your Larry Johnson, your Steven Jackson," Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo said. "In that mode. Very gifted. He's got great feet for a big man."
Surely, then, both players must be ticketed for the first five or 10 picks in a draft that's so weak at the top?
It sure doesn't look that way four days before the drafting begins.
The problem, at least according to many personnel people, is that each player has a major flaw hindering his chance to become a game-changing back.
Moreno doesn't have great speed. Wells hasn't been durable amid whispers that he isn't tough.
"I thought this group was going to be better," another longtime scout said. "Then when they ran and didn't perform as well as they should . . . it's a very average group. But one of these guys will be the star."
|"(Moreno) runs hard, he's patient behind his blockers and he's explosive," another AFC scout said. "But do I think he will be all-pro? No. He doesn't have great speed or great size."
Moreno finished No. 1 in a Journal Sentinel survey of 15 personnel men with a national orientation. Each was asked to rate the top five backs, with a first-place vote worth five points, a second worth four and so on.
In a close vote, Moreno edged Wells, 67-64, although each player had seven first-place votes. The other first went to Connecticut's Donald Brown, who totaled 37 points.
Following, in order, were: Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy, 32; Iowa's Shonn Greene, 19; North Carolina State's Andre Brown, four; and Alabama's Glen Coffee, two.
The top five vote-getters all are underclassmen, a trend that is becoming stronger. All seven backs taken in the first round in the last two drafts were underclassmen as well.
Running backs know better than anyone else that they only have so many hits in them. Since the NFL first welcomed large numbers of juniors in 1990, 31 of the 63 (49.2%) first-round backs have been underclassmen.
Wells was called "kind of a drama queen" by one personnel man who grew tired of watching him come on and off the field because of nagging injury. He didn't miss any games until last season, when a toe injury in the opener knocked him out of the next three games.
Without Wells, the Buckeyes were annihilated by Southern California, 35-3.
"I think that really dinged him in the minds of many," one AFC personnel man said. "But the people at Ohio State that I talk to seem to think it was pretty legitimate. They liked him."
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. KNOWSHON MORENO Georgia 5-10 1/2 213 4.54 1
Joined Herschel Walker as the only Georgia players to gain 1,000 yards in two straight seasons. "He's an attack runner," Buffalo VP Tom Modrak said. "He's (always) the first one up, too. That doesn't mean he always comes through things with his size, but he doesn't back down. He's a downhill runner who can make moves without gathering, without slowing it down. He can cut it back. He'd be a great screen runner." Plays with incredible energy and will even hurdle tacklers. "He dances around. He has fun," one scout said. "He just makes play after play after play. Excellent receiver. He's excellent on the goal line because he can dive like Walter (Payton) did. He blocks. He's the whole thing . . . but he's not explosive. He doesn't make long runs." A third-year sophomore who finished with 498 rushes for 2,734 yards (5.5-yard average) and 30 TDs along with 53 catches for 645 (12.2). "He's not a great big guy and he's not a real speed merchant," another scout said. "He seeks out tacklers as opposed to eluding them. Is he big enough to take the constant pounding?" Scored 13 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. First name is a combination of his parents' names, Freddie "Knowledge" and Varashon.
2. CHRIS "BEANIE" WELLS Ohio State 6-1 237 4.46 1
Third-year sophomore from Akron, Ohio. "Eddie George could create," St. Louis VP Tony Softli said. "This kid is a little bit stiffer. He needs that lane to get going. Once he gets that head of steam, I mean, watch out. Not only will he run you over, but he's probably got the most powerful stiff-arm I've ever seen. It's almost like a punch. He's a hell of a running back in space. He just runs away from people." Finished with 585 rushes for 3,382 (5.8) and 30 TDs plus 15 receptions. "His physicalness comes from his size, not from his explosiveness," former Cleveland GM Phil Savage said. "He'll get tackled and fall forward, but he doesn't really explode through people." Fumbled 10 times, losing eight. Missed three games in '08 with a toe injury, adding to his reputation as a soft player. "My question is, how durable is he and how much of a competitor is he?" one scout said. "Sometimes 'Beanie' runs out of bounds, but Franco Harris ran out of bounds, too, and he was pretty good. And I've never seen him catch the ball to be a really good player." Wonderlic of 22. Led RBs at the combine with a 10-8 broad jump. "I think he will keep getting hurt," another scout said. "Just his run style. He's upright and straight-line. Can't protect his legs, can't protect his body."
3. DONALD BROWN Connecticut 5-10 210 4.49 1-2
Led the nation in rushing in '08 with 2,083 yards. "He's really a complete back," Baltimore personnel director Eric DeCosta said. "Vision. Toughness. Great hands. Good pass pro. Runs good routes. Great kid. Tremendous intangibles." Fourth-year junior with a 41 1/2-inch vertical jump and a Wonderlic of 24. "Maxes out on every play, just about," said Modrak. "At the end of the day, he always had 100 yards. He does everything pretty well." Finished with 698 rushes for 3,800 (5.4) and 33 TDs along with 48 receptions for 276 (5.8). "He's the hot man now for a lot of people," Seattle scout Charles Fisher said. "More so because of his personality and who he is as a person. He is a tough runner and a very smart runner." Split time until '08. "I'm torn," one scout said. "He just doesn't look like he plays big. I don't see him breaking tackles. I see him being elusive and quick. I see him being a guy who comes in a game and does some good things and goes back out. I don't see him as being your bell cow."
4. LeSEAN McCOY Pittsburgh 5-10 1/2 204 4.51 2
"I have no idea why he's fallen off the map," one scout said. "He's electric. He has change-of-direction and burst. He's shifty, fast, strong. Catches the ball. He's the best of all of them." Third-year sophomore who turned in pathetically low efforts in the vertical jump (29) and broad jump (8-11) at pro day. "It shows you what you see on tape," another scout said. "He's not an explosive guy. He's not a darter. He can't stick his foot in the ground and go the other way." Two-year player with 584 rushes for 2,816 (4.8) and 35 TDs along with 65 receptions for 549. His quickness reminded one scout of Reggie Bush. "He's very unique and really, really good," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said. "He gets that ball upfield north and south. Fun to watch." Wonderlic of 11 but is fine on assignments. "It wouldn't have surprised me several months ago if he went in the top 15," said Savage. "Then he didn't run as fast as people thought he would. He does have some spectacular runs." Acquired the nickname "Shady" as an infant.
5. SHONN GREENE Iowa 5-10 1/2 227 4.58 2
Fourth-year junior. "He turned around that team single-handedly," Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. "He had a big-time year." First Big Ten player since Curtis Enis in 1997 to surpass 100 yards in every conference game. Sixth in Heisman Trophy voting and Big Ten MVP in the Big Ten after carrying 307 times for 1,850 (5.9) and 20 TDs. "He's got excellent vision and short-area burst," Washington scout Shemy Schembechler said. "I think he will pound like Ladell Betts. Maybe a little more burst than Ladell coming out, but in a lot of ways they're similar." Academically ineligible in '07, he moved furniture before being reinstated in '08. "He's one of those guys who hammers the line and pretty soon somebody stays on a block for an instant and he breaks an arm-tackle and he's got eight or 12 yards," one scout said. "I like the durability factor. But he doesn't have great speed." Iowa's first consensus All-American RB since Nile Kinnick in 1939. Just 11 receptions. "That (passing game) will be the thing that holds him back," another scout said. "Got to still sub him. Maybe he'll get a little bit better but he's not a good catcher." Wonderlic of 18. Has small hands (8 1/2). "I felt like I was shaking half a hand," a third scout said. "Short, stumpy looking guy. I was disappointed after seeing him play and then seeing him physically."
6. ANDRE BROWN North Carolina State 6-0 226 4.45 2-3
Should be the first senior RB selected; Matt Forte (44) was the first in 2008, Kenny Irons (49) was the first in '07. "Great measurables," one scout said. "He's a little bit lacking in top-level toughness. They expected big things from him and he did OK for them but he never broke out to be the guy they really wanted him to be. He's got the size and speed." Rushed 523 times for 2,539 (4.9) and 22 TDs along with 70 receptions for 631. Wonderlic of 11 but is said to learn well. "I have questions about his durability," another scout said. "He's been hurt a lot and he doesn't really play through that stuff. I could see a team getting really frustrated with him."
7. GLEN COFFEE Alabama 6-0 1/2 209 4.53 2-3
Fourth-year junior. "If Denver gets him they will lead the league in rushing next year," one scout said. "He has the NFL run style. One cut, get downhill and go. Doesn't waste time. Not elusive or anything. He sees a hole and hits it hard." Rushed 410 times for 2,107 (5.1) and 14 TDs and caught 42 for 351. "He averaged 6 yards a carry last year," said Savage. "He could be a surprise for somebody." Led the top backs on the Wonderlic with 27. "Early on, he was a young kid that had all the answers," another scout said. "But he kind of matured and grew up. He's helped himself. He's got some stiffness in his lower body but he's going to run hard. I don't know if he's got that second burst, and he may be a fumbler (seven, lost four)."
8. JAVON RINGER Michigan State 5-9 204 4.54 3
Played on a bad knee in 2008, had arthroscopic surgery in January and worked out at 80% at the combine. "I like him, but not as a marquee guy," San Diego GM A.J. Smith said. "Just a solid running back who could be part of your mix and probably help you win. Tough guy. Doesn't have the great speed." Rushed 843 times for 4,398 (5.2) and 34 TDs and caught 96 for 719. "He's like (Brian) Calhoun, but better," Tennessee scout Johnny Meads said. "Even though he doesn't have the size, he played more like a banger this year." Tremendous worker and high-character person, but injuries and number of carries might drag him down. "He's the Mike Hart of this year's class," one scout said. "A million carries but small and slow. You can't be small and slow in the NFL."
9. CEDRIC PEERMAN Virginia 5-9 1/2 213 4.38 3-4
Compact, tough inside runner. "He's a traditional Virginia single-back type," Fisher said. "His M.O. is to run hard. He's strong. He's not a big shake guy." Carried 382 times for 1,749 (4.6) and 15 TDs; caught 67 for 344. "More of a straight-line guy," one scout said. "Tough. Hard-nosed." Bounced back from Lisfranc foot surgery in '07. "Not a starter but catches the ball well," another scout said. "Reliable. Smart. Lot of positives."
10. RASHAD JENNINGS Liberty 6-1 231 4.61 4-5
Transferred from Pittsburgh after one season in which he gained 411 yards for the lower level of play at Liberty. "Everybody says, 'Level of competition,' " one scout said. "I say, 'Well, the linemen at Liberty weren't the best, either.' He ran through tackles. Backs come from everywhere. It's like (Matt) Forte. He played at Tulane, and everybody said, 'Well, Tulane.' Hell, (Forte) was one of the best backs in the NFL as a rookie." Carried 719 times for 4,044 (5.6) and 43 TDs; caught 48 for 557. "Kind of a straight-line, upright guy," another scout said. "Big question marks would be toughness and durability."
OTHERS: Marlon Lucky, Nebraska; James Davis, Clemson; Mike Goodson, Texas A&M; Kory Sheets, Purdue; Ian Johnson, Boise State; Jeremiah Johnson, Oregon; Javarris Williams, Tennessee State; P.J. Hill, Wisconsin; Aaron Brown, Texas Christian; Joshua Vaughan, Richmond.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. TONY FIAMMETTA Syracuse 6-0 242 4.59 3
Two-year starter. "Love him," one scout said. "He can do everything. He's tough, competitive, smart (26 on the Wonderlic), he can catch, block. He'll be a starter." Finished with 16 carries for 89 (5.6) and 28 catches for 202. "Really great kid," another scout said. "He can catch the ball a little bit. He's a try-hard blocker. Doesn't have a lot of pop to him but he tries." His father spent 24 years in the Marines. Has a brother at the U.S. Naval Academy.
2. QUINN JOHNSON Louisiana State 6-1 249 4.79 4-5
"Finally there's a fullback," one scout said. "Best blocking fullback I've seen in a couple years. He was a linebacker that they moved (in '06). He doesn't ever run the ball or catch the ball but he's powerful." Backed up Jacob Hester for two seasons before starting in '08. Finished with 16 carries for 34 (2.1) and three TDs and five catches for 54. "Big man," another scout said. "He attacks you and has some power."
3. BRANNAN SOUTHERLAND Georgia 6-0 244 4.71 4-5
Started 25 of 47 games as Moreno's blocking back. "Does some good things," one scout said. "He's got a big body. He runs well. He's got some run skill. But my guess is he's going to flunk some physicals." Underwent shoulder surgery in 2005. Also, he has had two operations on the same foot in the last 18 months. "Super smart (26 on the Wonderlic)," another scout said. "He can do a lot of things in your offense from the standpoint of motion. You don't ever have to worry about this kid." Finished with 83 rushes for 171 yards (2.1) and 17 TDs and 35 receptions for 287.
4. EDDIE WILLIAMS Idaho 6-1 247 4.75 6
Started 11 games in '08 before blowing out his knee. "He's got three months to go on an ACL repair, so that will hurt him," one scout said. "He's a West Coast fullback or H-back." Far from a heavy-duty blocker. More of a finesse player who is smart (28 on the Wonderlic) and catches everything. Finished with 19 carries for 195 (10.3) and 100 receptions for 1,205 (12.1) and 11 TDs.
5. GARTRELL JOHNSON Colorado State 5-10 219 4.71 6-7
Every-down back with 472 carries for 2,471 (5.2) and 18 TDs and 45 receptions for 396. "Football's important to him," one scout said. "Team-first guy. One of the toughest guys on the team. He's just a rough, rugged, north-south runner. But teams won't be fired up about having a guy who ran in the mid-4.6s as their No. 1 back. He'd be a good No. 2 back." Might even be too slow for that, so he could project to FB, the position at which he started five games in '07. "Runs with an attitude," another scout said. "I thought he had a really good East-West Game and his bowl game was really dynamic. He wore Fresno State out (285 yards rushing)."
OTHERS: Brock Bolen, Louisville; Marcus Mailei, Weber State; Chris Pressley, Wisconsin; Jason Cook, Mississippi; Eric Kettani, Navy; Chris Ogbonnaya, Texas.
Darryl Richard, DT, Georgia Tech - Brilliant student and campus leader with a 37 on the Wonderlic. Also plays an intelligent game but might not have enough raw ability.
Khalif Mitchell, DT, East Carolina - Has had all kinds of academic and attitudinal problems, which led to his departure from North Carolina after two seasons. Still, he's 6-5, 318 and can run. Surely, someone will take a chance on a wayward player with first-round ability.
PACKERS' PICK TO REMEMBER
Vonnie Holliday, DL, South Carolina - First-round selection in 1998. . . . Played five seasons for Green Bay (32 sacks), two for Kansas City (5½) and the last four for Miami (17½). . . . Waived by the Dolphins on March 2. . . . One of the two or three best veteran D-linemen on the street.
QUOTE TO NOTE
AFC personnel director: "I draft defensive tackles before I draft pass rushers. I can manufacture a pass rusher but not a defensive tackle. When I first came in the league this old scout told me there's only X number of big people on this earth. If they can move around, draft them."
|Twenty personnel men with national orientation were asked by the Journal Sentinel to rank the defensive tackles on a 1-to-5 basis, with a first-place vote worth five points, a second worth four and so forth.
Raji was first on 15 ballots and finished with 95 points. After Mississippi's Peria Jerry (four firsts, 74½ points) and Missouri's Evander "Ziggy" Hood (one first, 65½), the supply of capable inside players grows thin.
Also getting votes were San Jose State's Jarron Gilbert (16 points), Southern California's Fili Moala (15), Boston College's Ron Brace (14), Auburn's Sen'Derrick Marks (10), Purdue's Alex Magee (six), Texas' Roy Miller (two) and two players, LSU's Ricky Jean-Francois and Clemson's Dorell Scott, each with one.
When Sapp came out as the 12th choice in 1995, he was 6-1, 280 and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds. Later, he would play much heavier. Raji's 40 time was 5.15.
"Raji has a low center of gravity and can move up and down the line of scrimmage," Savage said. "I was really impressed with him."
None of the three nose tackles currently atop their position was a top-10 pick, however. Casey Hampton (6-1, 321, 5.25) went 19th in 2001, Wilfork (6-1, 323, 5.13) went 21st in '04 and Haloti Ngata (6-4, 339, 5.13) went 12th in '06.
An NFC scout brought up Cortez Kennedy (6-1½, 295, 4.93), the 13th pick in 1990 who made eight Pro Bowls and registered 58 sacks. Polian compared Raji to Gilbert Brown (6-2½, 330, 5.12), a third-round pick in 1993.
"This guy is more athletic than Gilbert Brown," Polian said. "He gets tired but he can rush the passer when he's geared up and fresh. He's a freak. But keep in mind that he's got a weight problem and it's always going to be there."
Jackson, who has a 4.96 clocking in the 40, was compared by scouts to Ty Warren (6-4½, 307, 5.07), the 13th pick in 2003, and Vonnie Holliday (6-5, 296, 5.09), the 19th pick in '98.
Several personnel people said Jackson had a similar style to Kevin Williams (6-5, 304, 4.85), the ninth pick in '03, but wasn't as good.
"A much better Aaron Smith," said one AFC personnel director, comparing Jackson to the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting left end for the last nine years. "You're going to get pass rush out of a 3-4 defensive end, which is hard to find.
"He doesn't run great and some of his instincts I worry about, but he's certainly heavy enough to play the run."
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. TYSON JACKSON Louisiana State 6-4 296 4.96 1
Ideally suited for DE in a 3-4. "Take him right off the shelf, plug him in and go," Indianapolis President Bill Polian said. "He's kind of a power 4-3 end but he's big enough and tough enough and strong enough to play right end in a 3-4. Johnson has not yet learned to be a beat-you-over-the-head pass rusher. He tries to dance around people, which probably isn't his strength. But if he gets a good coach, they'll remake him a little bit as a rusher." Started 38 of 53 games, finishing with 18½ sacks and 122 tackles (27 for loss). "I'd take him over any D-lineman," one scout said. "This guy is a physical presence. Long arms. He's a beast against the run. As a pass-rusher, he'll get pressure. He's a perfect left end, and then when you move him inside (on nickel) he could make a killing in there." Raised some eyebrows by bench-pressing 225 pounds only 20 times. "He's not a dominating defensive lineman," another scout said. "He uses his hands pretty well. The only thing I don't like about him is he is a little stiff." Scored 16 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test.
2. AARON MAYBIN Penn State 6-4 250 4.73 1
Just a third-year sophomore. Redshirted in 2006, backed up in '07 and wasn't starting in '08 until Maurice Evans was suspended after three games. "He plays hard but he's not experienced," Baltimore personnel director Eric DeCosta said. "He's raw with a lot of his techniques. He's not physically as mature strength-wise. He's undeveloped." Finished '08 with 12 sacks, giving him 16 in two seasons. "His first three steps are like Jevon Kearse," one scout said. "The closest I've seen to Kearse. He doesn't run as well as Derrick Thomas. But he's not real heavy in there and his weight gain in a short period of times scares me a little bit." Played the Rose Bowl at 226, then was 250 at the combine. Classy individual with 25 on the Wonderlic. "He's a player that will be reckoned with," Arizona scout Jerry Hardaway said. "You've got to get him stronger. Sometimes you see him all out, sometimes he isn't. Athletically, he'll fit a 3-4 or a 4-3. He could be as good as he wants to be." Vertical jump of 40 inches.
3. ROBERT AYERS Tennessee 6-3 272 4.80 1
Played three years in a rotation before becoming a starter in '08. "The other (hybrids) have a chance to be great rushers," one scout said. "But of the DE's he's the one guy with a chance to be a really good run-down player and have some pass rush. He's strong, heavy and a tough guy." Played end but is being considered for LB by 3-4 teams. "He's like (LaMarr) Woodley in a lot of ways," another scout said. "I don't know if he has great speed but he has great quickness. He played really well against (Alabama's) Andre Smith." Finished with nine sacks and 113 tackles (31½ for loss) in 48 games (14 starts). "One year-production but really, really talented," a third scout said. "To me, Ayers and (Brian) Orakpo are the two most talented guys but they have holes in their game based on production and competitiveness game to game." Wonderlic of 25.
4. EVERETTE BROWN Florida State 6-1 1/2 256 4.66 1-2
Latest in the Seminoles' list of speed rushers, including Jamal Reynolds. "If Green Bay takes him, it might be the same thing all over again," one scout said. "If he gets on the edges he can be effective. But small and weak against the run. Plays small. He's not a bull rush." Two-year starter with 23 sacks and 100 tackles (46½ for loss); Reynolds had 23½ sacks. "Reynolds was more finesse," former Cleveland GM Phil Savage said. "Everette Brown is probably a little more physical. The thing with Brown, he is tough and he will compete. I don't see him as an outside linebacker. To me, he's more of an end in a 4-3." Fourth-year junior with 21 on the Wonderlic. "Those FSU guys have been notorious for being one-dimensional because of the way they're coached by (25th-year defensive coordinator) Mickey Andrews," another scout said. "Just go sic 'em. If they get stalemated, they're nullified. Big linemen are going to get their hands on him and it's going to be over."
5. MICHAEL JOHNSON Georgia Tech 6-7 266 4.69 1-2
"Athletically, you watch him hurdling guys, you say, 'What the hell was that?' one scout said. "He can do whatever he wants. But he disappears." Reminded one scout of Jason Taylor but didn't become a starter until '08, backing up somebody named Adamm Oliver. "When I did him I kept getting madder and madder," another scout said. "It's not as important to him as it should be. But I think he has the most potential." In 49 games (15 starts), he had 19 sacks, 107 tackles (30½ for loss) and forced 10 fumbles. "He's first round in flashes," a third scout said. "He's got the ostrich-like neck and the long limbs and all that. There's a lot there that scares me." Wonderlic of 27 and vertical jump of 38½.
6. CONNOR BARWIN Cincinnati 6-4 253 4.58 2
Played TE until '08, catching 31 passes as a junior. "I don't think they liked him as a blocker," one scout said. "It's amazing. As a defensive player he plays his (butt) off but as a blocker he wasn't very good." Played DE as a senior, posted 11 sacks and blew out the combine with a vertical jump of 40½. "He's not Kyle Vanden Bosch but he has the potential to be," Hardaway said. "Everybody's talking about him. He is athletic. But if he was such a great rush end they'd have played him there. The coaches at Cincinnati are smart and want to eat, too." Also played 41 games for the Bearcats' basketball team in two seasons, scoring 45 points. "I've seen him do stand-up drills and he moves around well," Seattle scout Charles Fisher said. "He's just not strong or built big enough to be an every-down end. I'm not quite sure he won't be a tight end. He shows burst and has good hands."
7. PAUL KRUGER Utah 6-4 1/2 261 4.82 2
Spent two years on a Mormon mission and played two seasons, finishing with 10½ sacks and 124 tackles (24 for loss). "His speed bothers me," Polian said. "But he will play, and play well. He will be like Chris Kelsay in Buffalo." Underwent four hours of emergency surgery in January 2008 after being stabbed in the stomach when a gang jumped him and some friends. "If Michael Johnson had this kid's motor, he'd be a bear," one scout said. "He's like the kid for the Titans, Vanden Bosch. He's relentless." More of an effort rusher. High-character player with 25 on the Wonderlic. "I think he's going to get big," DeCosta said. "He's going to be 280-285 and be an (Aaron) Kampman guy. You build him up and he ends up being good for you."
8. LAWRENCE SIDBURY Richmond 6-2 1/2 265 4.56 3
Made a name for himself with four sacks in the FCS championship game against Montana and with an impressive combine. "He played down but I think he's a 3-4 outside backer," St. Louis VP Tony Softli said. "He runs well enough. He holds the point. He plays well with his hands. He's got good chase. But a lot of people will put his hand in the dirt and try to rush him, and he can do that, too." Finished with 20½ sacks and 145 tackles (38 for loss) in 52 games (31 starts). "But his temperament is the thing that worries me," one scout said. "There ain't no fight. You want a guy with a lot more tenacity and consistency. Do like the kid." Has long arms (35 5/8 ) and scored 22 on the Wonderlic.
9. DAVID VEIKUNE Hawaii 6-2 257 4.79 3-4
Redshirted at Colorado in '04, spent a year at a junior college and then three years for the Rainbow Warriors, finally starting in '08. "Great, great effort," one scout said. "He has natural rush skills. A pursuit-effort player." Finished with 18 sacks and 118 tackles (28 for loss). "I like him," another scout said. "Hard player. Not as flexible on the corner as you want. Smart (20 on the Wonderlic), tough, versatile. He's not a true 4-3 end or a true 4-3 backer. I think he's a 3-4 player."
10. KYLE MOORE Southern California 6-5 272 4.84 4
Started at RE in 2007 and '08. "Good athlete but a little bit undersized," Tennessee national supervisor C.O. Brocato said. "I don't think he can bulk up. That worries me. They moved him down inside some but he's more of an outside rush type guy." In 50 games (24 starts), he had seven sacks and 76 tackles (13 for loss). Has the frame and long arms that 3-4 teams seek for DE if he can gain 20 solid pounds. "He could do it," one scout said. "He lacks some strength but he's a big body guy."
OTHERS: Henry Melton, Texas; Brandon Williams, Texas Tech; Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin; Zach Potter, Nebraska; Maurice Evans, Penn State; Will Davis, Illinois; Michael Bennett, Texas A&M; Pannel Egboh, Stanford; Stryker Sulak, Missouri; Orion Martin, Virginia Tech.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. B.J. RAJI Boston College 6-1 1/2 330 5.15 1
Started 37 of 49 games, finishing with 12½ sacks and 105 tackles (32½ for loss). "He's got special to him," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said. "He's probably better than (Vince) Wilfork because Wilfork was kind of fat. This kid is not fat. He's big, like (Haloti) Ngata. And he's really good. Quickness. Explosion. Nothing not to like." Scored 21 on the Wonderlic but was declared academically ineligible in '07. "He's going to have to get his stuff together," Softli said. "It's about growing up. Do you want to make some money and play in the league? Or do you want to sit back and be happy? He'll figure it out." Son of Pentecostal pastors. "It's not like he's this shoo-in to be this dominant player," one scout said. "No way is he as good as Ngata. You couldn't move Ngata. This guy, you can see him get rolled up at times. You can see him have trouble with the double team. He has skill, but he doesn't have the combativeness that the real good ones have. He wasn't consistently dominant vs. the ACC, a league that historically doesn't put out a bunch of NFL-caliber linemen." Had 33 reps on the bench press. "He's really a soft-body guy," another scout said. "He's a bright guy and I like him personally, but as he gets older he's going to have some big problems (with his body). Raji will have a weight problem."
2. PERIA JERRY Mississippi 6-2 295 4.98 1
A 3-technique in a 4-3 or a DE in a 3-4. He is not a NT. "Real active," one scout said. "Quick. Explosive. Plays hard. Been hurt a lot. Worrisome. Not a smart guy (10 on the Wonderlic)." Came out of a tough background in rural Mississippi (Batesville). "He's married and has two kids," another scout said. "No off-field problems. Tough, intense, focused. All business. Football was the reason he was in school. He just learns OK." Finished with 12½ sacks and 132 tackles (37 for loss) in 38 games (29 starts). "They liked him there (Ole Miss)," a third scout said. "Leader. Captain. Quiet. Good worker." Not nearly as stout as Raji but plays harder and is more athletic than Ziggy Hood. "He wins with determination," a fourth scout said.
3. EVANDER "ZIGGY" HOOD Missouri 6-3 299 4.88 1-2
Labeled as an "underachiever" by one scout and as a "finesse player" by another. "He gets after people," San Diego GM A.J. Smith said. "Strong. Got a little quickness to him." Some scouts criticized him for excessive use of a spin move as a rusher. "He does have (pass rush) because he has good get-off," Washington scout Shemy Schembechler said. "He's stiff in the hips but plays hard. I love his motor. He will need polishing as a pass rusher. Runs well. For God's sake, he broke 5.0." Finished with 15½ sacks and 170 tackles (22½ for loss) in 50 games (35 starts). Not a power player. "He's the bell cow of that whole team," one scout said. "He's everything you want as far as a leader. The guys really follow him."
4. JARRON GILBERT San Jose State 6-5 286 4.82 2
"A workout warrior," according to Polian. Said Softli: "There were four, five games where he looked very, very good. Then there's a couple where you're going, 'What's " Gifted athlete with a 37-inch vertical jump and extremely long going on here?' arms (36¾). "But it's not a beauty contest," one scout said. "He doesn't do it all the time. He's got all the ability. What makes you think he's going to do it at the next level where the competition is 50 steps higher?" Finished with 21½ sacks and 144 tackles (42 for loss) in 48 games (38 starts). His father, Daren, was a backup tackle for New Orleans from 1985-'88. Wonderlic of 29. "I wrote him up as an offensive tackle because he's got good feet and movement," another scout said. "He kind of just stands and watches. But he's got long arms and big hands (10¾) and runs fast." Projected mostly as a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 3-technique.
5. FILI MOALA Southern California 6-4 301 5.11 2-3
"Little bit like Tyson Jackson," one scout said. "Little stiff. He's a 5-technique (3-4 DE), not a nose. Or a 4-3 guy." His father, Fili Sr., was a heavyweight boxer who fought Ron Lyle in 1979. "He's got initial quick, then he's straight up and watches," another scout said. "They get all excited with the initial quick. He plays too high." Started three seasons as DT on the weak side, finishing with 9½ sacks and 90 tackles (23½ for loss) on a star-studded defense. "He's pretty athletic, has good feet and has some quickness," Buffalo VP Tom Modrak said. "He gets away with being upright some because he's got good feet. If you could ever get him to keep his pad level down he's not a bad player."
6. RON BRACE Boston College 6-3 331 5.51 3
Started for two of the last three years alongside Raji. "He's a terrific nose tackle," Polian said. "He's 330 pounds. You put him on the nose and he'll beat the living daylights out of the center." Smart (24 on the Wonderlic), spent '08 in graduate school and is active in the arts as a participant. "He's a very difficult guy to block," one scout said. "He's very strong. But your nose has to be able to get in the A gap every so often and penetrate and force the quarterback out of the pocket. This guy doesn't get off the line of scrimmage and he runs 5.5." Finished with 5½ sacks and 85 tackles (23 for loss) in 49 games (40 starts).
7. SEN'DERRICK MARKS Auburn 6-1 1/2 303 5.06 3-4
Fourth-year junior. "He fits the Tampa and Indy schemes," Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. Both teams prefer smaller linemen with the speed to fire into gaps. "Very, very quick but not real physical," one scout said. Finished with 7½ sacks and 114 tackles (30 for loss) in 40 games (37 starts). "He's got a little athletic ability but he's not fast enough to beat anybody and he doesn't play with great strength," another scout said. "He was hurt most of the year, too." Played on two bad ankles.
8. ALEX MAGEE Purdue 6-2 1/2 286 4.82 3-4
Started at DT in 2006-'07 before moving to DE in '08. "He doesn't have that outside speed rush in a 4-3," one scout said. "But you go back to last year and you could see his athleticism. He's a different cat in there. He is quick." Best-suited for DE in a 3-4 or 3-technique in a 4-3. "Probably more disruptive in the running game than the passing game," Angelo said. Finished with six sacks and 117 tackles (14 for loss) in 50 games (33 starts). "I never saw him as a real tough guy," another scout said. "Little too much of a pass rusher's mentality. He's got talent, though. But he plays too high and his hands are sloppy.
9. DORELL SCOTT Clemson 6-3 314 4.94 4-5
Three-year starter at NT but probably projects best as a 3-4 DE. "He doesn't have the classic build and is a little knock-kneed," Savage said. "He does have some explosiveness. If you wanted just a blood-and-guts guy, yeah, he could do that." Started 38 of 47 games, finishing with nine sacks and 161 tackles (18½ for loss). "Underachiever," one scout said. "Doesn't move very well. He flashes stoutness."
10. ROY MILLER Texas 6-1 1/2 312 4.97 4-5
Major-college sleeper who didn't become a starter until '08. "He wasn't a name going into the year but he's a good player," one scout said. "More of a nose. He's powerful." Never-say-die mentality. Led the top DTs on the bench press with 36 reps. "Tough little football player," another scout said. "I don't think he's stout enough to be a nose. He's more like for a Tony Dungy type defense, teams that want a quick guy getting upfield." Had 10 sacks and 138 tackles (25 for loss) in 49 games (19 starts).
OTHERS: Chris Baker, Hampton; Corvey Irvin, Georgia; Ricky Jean-Francois, Louisiana State; Khalif Mitchell, East Carolina; Sammie Hill, Stillman; Terrance Knighton, Temple; John Gill, Northwestern; Desmond Bryant, Harvard; Clinton McDonald, Memphis; Myron Pryor, Kentucky; Darryl Richard, Georgia Tech; Mitch King, Iowa.
|Earlier this month, the Journal Sentinel asked 19 personnel men with national orientation to rate the best hybrids on a 1-to-5 basis. A first-place vote was worth five points, a second four and so on.
Penn State's Aaron Maybin (eight firsts) led with 71 points, followed by Texas' Brian Orakpo (six firsts), 55; Southern California's Clay Matthews (four firsts), 37; Northern Illinois' Larry English (one first), 30; Florida State's Everette Brown, 27; Tennessee's Robert Ayers, 21; Georgia Tech's Michael Johnson, 16.
Also, Cincinnati’s Connor Barwin, nine; Utah’s Paul Kruger, six; USC’s Brian Cushing, five; Richmond’s Lawrence Sidbury, four; Connecticut’s Cody Brown, two; and Virginia’s Clint Sintim, two.
|Twenty national scouts were asked to pinpoint the best pass rusher in the draft regardless of position. Maybin and Orakpo each had six votes, followed by Ayers with three, Johnson and Matthews with two and Everette Brown with one.
A total of 20 scouts also were asked to identify the four best pure linebackers.
In this survey, Wake Forest's Aaron Curry (16 firsts) easily won with 74 points. He was followed by USC's Rey Maualuga (three firsts), 47; Cushing, 37; Matthews (one firsts), 23; Ohio State's James Laurinaitis, 16; Sintim, two, and TCU's Jason Phillips, one.
Finally, 21 scouts agreed to rank USC's remarkable collection of linebackers on a 1-to-4 basis. The results were extremely close, with Maualuga (10 firsts) finishing with 67 points, Cushing (six firsts) with 62 and Matthews (5 firsts) with 60. Though a solid player, Kaluka Maiava was last on every ballot.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. AARON CURRY Wake Forest 6-2 255 4.55 1
"Just a good player," Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. "Very smart (24 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test). One of those guys who will play seven, eight years and you'll be very happy with him." Started on the strong side for four years but probably can play any LB position in any scheme. "He is the finished product," Indianapolis President Bill Polian said. "I don't know if he's a make-something-happen player but he's certainly a very, very, very good player." Finished with 332 tackles (45½ for loss), 9½ sacks and 14 turnover plays (interceptions, forced fumbles and recovered fumbles). "If they don't rush the passer they've got to be really special," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said. "If you go back 20 years or more, there were only two prolific linebackers, (Brian) Urlacher and Ray Lewis, that didn't rush the passer. When you look at linebackers, you pay the pass rushers." One scout said he would rate A.J. Hawk higher coming out. "Don't get me wrong," another scout said. "Curry's talented. Played disciplined. He's safe. But he's not a violent football player."
2. REY MAUALUGA Southern California 6-1 1/2 249 4.75 1
Might be the hardest hitter in the draft. "He's one of the few guys who can stack a guard in the hole and stalemate (him) right there and win," San Francisco personnel director Trent Baalke said. "When you look at linebacker play, one of the things that all the real good ones had in common was they changed the tempo of the game. What did (Dick) Butkus and all the others do? When they got on the field they played with some (expletive) and hit you. Rey plays the game like the old-school guys played it." Three-year starter in the middle with 273 tackles (22½ for loss), nine sacks and 10 turnover plays. "He's not what he's cracked up to be," one scout said. "His value really is more as a pass cover guy than a killer middle linebacker. I see him having problems on first down. He misses a lot of tackles and doesn't have a lot of punch. Nooooo, I know he's not (Ray) Nitschke." Had some off-field scrapes but seems to have matured. Wonderlic of 15. Compared by some scouts to Junior Seau, who also played a rather helter-skelter game. "If you make it real structured for him, it's going to be tough," Buffalo VP Tom Modrak said. "He runs under, over, around, all that kind of stuff. Sometimes that will drive people crazy. He's got to be a let-it-rip kind of guy."
3. BRIAN CUSHING Southern California 6-3 243 4.68 1
Started at RE in a 3-4 as a sophomore but played SLB the last two seasons in more of a 4-3 scheme. "He's a Jersey boy and a tough guy," St. Louis VP Tony Softli said. "Throwback. He has something you can't teach. That's heart and pedigree." Finished with 178 tackles (27 for loss), 8½ sacks and seven turnover plays. "He's a big, swollen-looking guy but a pretty good athlete for his size," one scout said. "Gets exposed some in space but he can run. Little stiff." Almost fanatic in his workout regimen. Has missed several games due to injury; reportedly has undergone four operations. "He's a multiple position guy and he's a tough sucker," Modrak said. "He's going to be good. I like everything about him except he's had some nicks. I worry about that. Some guys get too big for their body." Wonderlic of 23.
4. JAMES LAURINAITIS Ohio State 6-2 242 4.77 1-2
Three-year starter and two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. "A.J. Hawk is so much more of a talented athlete," Washington scout Shemy Schembechler said. "Laurinaitis outdoes Hawk in every intangible quality you can think of. He's a great leader. (Chris Spielman) is a good comparison. Laurinaitis isn't a great take-on guy. He's a get-you-down guy. Very smart (24 on the Wonderlic)." Finished with 375 tackles (24½ for loss), 13 sacks and 14 turnover plays. Hawk, also a three-year starter, had 394 stops, 14 sacks and 12 turnover plays. "He is not as athletically explosive as Hawk," Seattle scout Charles Fisher said. "But the ball is snapped and he knows where it's going, where to go and how to get there." His father, Joe, was the pro wrestler named "Animal" in the tag team known as Legion of Doom. Played at Plymouth Wayzata (Minn.) High School. "He's overrated, has been since his freshman year," one scout said. "He makes plays but he's not dynamic. He needs to be unblocked to make a play and that doesn't happen in the NFL very much."
5. SCOTT McKILLOP Pittsburgh 6-1 245 4.72 2-3
Two-year starter in the middle. "He might have the same type of career as Laurinaitis," one scout said. "He's a limited athlete but no more limited than James Laurinaitis. The kid is tough and smart (21 on the Wonderlic). I'd say McKillop has more pop than Laurinaitis." Finished with 345 tackles (28½ for loss), eight sacks and eight turnover plays. "Sure tackler," another scout said. "Very, very tough guy. Good nose for the ball. Gets busted up because he does have a good nose for the ball. The only problem is, I don't know if he can be a three-down linebacker."
6. JASON PHILLIPS Texas Christian 6-1 239 4.64 3
Son of a high-school football coach. "He's one of the better guys in terms of being able to run sideline to sideline making a ton of plays," Baltimore personnel director Eric DeCosta said. "He's around the football all the time. Very smart guy (24 on the Wonderlic)." Finished with 315 tackles (38 for loss), 7½ sacks and three turnover plays. Suffered torn knee cartilage at the combine and isn't quite ready. "Yeah, he's tough," Tennessee national supervisor C.O. Brocato said. "I just wish he used his hands a little bit better. He uses his shoulders and butts on people instead of trying to use his hands. He will be a heck of a special-teams player and he can learn how to play linebacker."
7. DARRY BECKWITH Louisana State 6-0 234 4.72 3-4
Weak-side starter in '06 before moving to MLB in '07 and '08. "Not very physical," one scout said. "But he's a very good kid. Smart football player. Just not a physical guy." Has had a lot of knee problems, too. "I didn't think he was as good a player as he was an athlete," another scout said. "He will hustle. Just an average tackler. Doesn't take on very well. Gets caught on blocks. Average instincts." Finished with 189 tackles (11½) for loss, 4½ sacks and three turnover plays.
8. JASPER BRINKLEY South Carolina 6-1 1/2 249 4.69 4
"He's huge," one scout said. "He kind of fits the 3-4 just because he's a big man. Limited athlete. Little slow." Spent two seasons at Georgia Military College and three seasons with the Gamecocks, starting the last two. "I think he's mechanical," another scout said. "He lacks quick twitch. He doesn't shed blockers real well, which is probably the most important thing." Finished with 193 tackles (20½ for . . loss), 7½ sacks and five turnover plays. "If you want a middle linebacker . that's all he's going to be," a third scout said. "They did use him as a pass rusher on passing downs but he was just a guy. A good college player."
9. DANNELL ELLERBE Georgia 6-1 237 4.66 4
Two-year starter, mostly in the middle. "He's got good toughness, but he's got some flaws," one scout said. "He's got some explosion and some short-area snap. Character needs to be investigated with him." In '06, he was arrested for drunken driving and giving police false information, leading to a three-game suspension. "He's certainly not what (ex-Bulldog LB) Odell Thurman was but there are some character issues that people will have to decide if they want," another scout said. "But he is fast and explosive." Finished with 148 tackles (21 for loss), 8½ sacks and six turnover plays. "He will hit you but he doesn't wrap," a third scout said. "He doesn't have strength. I wouldn't have him on my team."
10. ZACH FOLLETT California 6-2 238 4.72 4-5
Played behind MLB Desmond Bishop in '05, started at WLB in '06 and then at SLB in '07 and '08. "He's tough enough," one scout said. "There's no special quality." Registered 13 forced fumbles, third in Pacific 10 annals. Also had 245 tackles (51 for loss), 23½ sacks and 17 turnover plays in total. "He's tight-hipped," another scout said. Added a third: "He's versatile. Played a little outside and inside. Also played as a rush end."
OTHERS: Gerald McRath, Southern Mississippi; Tyrone McKenzie, South Florida; Worrell Williams, California; Stanley Arnoux, Wake Forest; Antonio Appleby, Virginia; Reggie Walker, Kansas State; Brit Miller, Illinois; Josh Mauga, Nevada.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. BRIAN ORAKPO Texas 6-3 262 4.65 1
Two-year starter played with his hand down but will stand up for 3-4 teams. "He's got great hips and he has a burst," one scout said. "He is talented and a terrific person. People expect more, but they play a team defense there. I called the defensive coordinator (Will Muschamp). They don't allow him to just chase the passer." Worked out exceptionally well at the combine and pro day (39½-inch vertical jump). "He's got everything you want as far as athletic ability," Brocato said. "A little lazy at times. He can make some plays and have a hell of a rush, then disappear for a few plays." Finished with 23 sacks and seven turnover plays. "He's a perfect 3-4 guy, but a lot of those Texas guys have kind of flamed out at the pro level," another scout said. "Strange place, man. They're coddled. He's like all those Texas guys. You don't know what you're getting." Wonderlic of 25. Led top linebackers by bench-pressing 225 pounds 31 times. "All he does is run straight lines," a third scout said. "Run, run, run. One-trick pony. He can't play the point at all. He doesn't have a natural feel for it. Not a really good space athlete."
2. CLAY MATTHEWS Southern California 6-3 245 4.61 1
Came out of Agoura, Calif., weighing 195 and with one scholarship offer (Idaho) in hand. Turned it down to walk on at USC, the alma mater of his father, Clay, and his uncle, Bruce. Clay was a terrific NFL LB for 19 years and Bruce made the Hall of Fame as a guard. "I'm a big guy on genes," one scout said. "He knows what it takes." Excelled on special teams for three years but had just 40 tackles from scrimmage and wasn't even on the so-called combine "list" entering the '08 season. "It's pretty unusual," former Cleveland GM Phil Savage said. "There was enough tape on Clay to see him (as a player) but not enough to say he was going to be a first-round pick." Moved ahead of sophomore Everson Griffen in Week 4 and had an exceptional year playing both up and down. "His dad was a great player but not nearly as athletic as this kid is," Polian said. "This guy does amazing things." Never been hurt. Wonderlic of 27. Tremendous worker. "He's got a chip on his shoulder and is out to prove to everybody that he's really good," another scout said. "Automatically that's a plus right there. Well-spoken and articulate." Still, scouts point to LB Bobby Carpenter, a first-round bust in Dallas with a father who was a 10-year NFL RB. "They said that stuff about Bobby Carpenter, too, dad's genes and all that," a third scout said. "The one year starting is a concern. I don't think he's a space athlete. He worked out better than he played." Finished with 96 tackles (13½ for loss), 5½ sacks and six turnover plays.
3. LARRY ENGLISH Northern Illinois 6-2 252 4.83 1-2
Four-year starter at RE. "You talk about a football player," one scout said. "He has the traits you want: physical, tough, hard-nosed. Similar to (LaMarr) Woodley, but I actually like this guy better. Little more burst. Nobody plays harder than this guy." However, he didn't run particularly well at the combine. "He's a 4.8 guy and the others are all 4.5, 4.6 guys," another scout said. "He is a hybrid. Rock solid." Named Mid-American Conference MVP in '07, first time in 25 years a defensive player was so honored. "Every play looks the same to me," a third scout said. "After you get past the effort, the toughness and first-step quickness, every play looks the same. Against marginal competition in a marginal league." Finished with 237 tackles (63 for loss), 31½ sacks and 12 turnover plays. "He can be a 3-4 linebacker," a fourth scout said. "He can drop. He's athletic. He's fast enough." Wonderlic of 22.
4. CLINT SINTIM Virginia 6-3 253 4.80 1-2
Only a handful of BCS teams use a 3-4 defense but, under coach Al Groh, Virginia remains one. Sintim started four years at SOLB. "It's not a projection," one scout said. "You see him dropping, you see him do what a traditional 3-4 linebacker is asked to do. And he did it at a productive level. We all get excited about making projections, but history is on the side of those already doing it." Finished with 245 tackles (39 for loss), 27 sacks and eight turnover plays. "He's got rush and he's really heavy at the point of attack," another scout said. "He can control an offensive lineman. He's not great chasing stuff. He does well enough in coverage." Comes across as almost too cocky. Wonderlic of 17. "He's still developing," Arizona scout Jerry Hardaway said. "His instincts have been the question because he's basically been a one-dimensional guy going forward as an edge rusher." Labeled an "enigma" by third scout. Added another: "I'm not big on the Virginia guys that came out of there recently. None of them have done anything. He kind of follows in that mode. If you don't give him too many responsibilities he might do well for you."
5. CODY BROWN Connecticut 6-2 244 4.78 2
Came across as a bit of a comedian and clown during interviews at the combine. "He's really athletic," one scout said. "Just an underachiever. His personality is like that. His work ethic. Everything. It's just innately in him." Started 33 of 42 games at DE, finishing with 150 tackles (45½ for loss), 24 sacks and eight turnover plays. "I really didn't care for him," another scout said. "Not a very big person. I think he has to be a linebacker but he will have a hard time because he's got some stiffness to him." Has very long arms (34½) but isn't a big effort player. "I thought he was a one-trick pony coming off the edge kind of like Everette Brown, but not as good," a third scout said.
6. MARCUS FREEMAN Ohio State 6-0 1/2 239 4.63 3
Played much of his senior season with ankle and knee injuries. "Played better as a junior," Angelo said. "Very athletic. Good toughness. Good talent." Started on the strong side in '06 and on the weak side the past two seasons. "I don't know what he does good, to be honest with you," one scout said. "Not really a great athlete, not very fast, not very physical. Kind of OK." Finished with 268 tackles (21½ for loss), six sacks and five turnover plays. Wonderlic of 21. "He's just a 'Joe College' guy," another scout said.
7. KALUKA MAIAVA Southern California 5-1 1/2 229 4.70 3-4
Size limits him to the weak side in a 4-3. "He gets a quicker start on the ball than Maualuga," one scout said. "He's not a throw-out. He will be a backup-special teamer and you'll be glad to have him." Was the fourth starter in the Trojans' star-studded quartet of LBs. A one-year starter, he finished with 164 tackles (15½ for loss) and four turnover plays. "He may have the best instincts of them all," another scout said. "He gets overshadowed by the other three but he makes all the plays. His only downfall is height." Added Polian: "You love him, but he's very, very small. I don't know how long he will play."
8. JONATHAN CASILLAS Wisconsin 6-1 229 4.61 3-4
Helped himself earlier in the week with a solid clocking in the 40. A knee injury had sidelined him for about four months. "Better athlete than football player," one scout said. "In the end he will be a 'will.' If he proves he can compete at a high level he could become a good player. He's (tough) when he wants to be." Started 36 of 48 games on the weak side, finishing with 246 tackles (28 for loss), four sacks and eight turnover plays. "He could play inside in a 3-4 only if you free him up and let him run around," another scout said. "Like the Packers used to use Johnny Holland. It's not that he won't take on. His size limits him a little bit. He gets a little undisciplined at times, but he did play hurt this year, which you have to give him credit for." Regarded as a major character risk by some teams for various incidents, including a disorderly conduct citation. "He's just a little guy," a third scout said. "He's fast but you've got to keep him free. He cannot beat a block at all."
9. JASON WILLIAMS Western Illinois 6-1 238 4.49 3-4
Small-school player didn't get combine invitation but was a big hit on pro day. "He's the hot guy in this draft," Angelo said. "He'll go third round because he ran in the 4.4s. Good player. He's tight. Plays on a straight line. He's a 'will' in both schemes." Three-year starter from Chicago DuSable High School with 289 tackles (42½ for loss), 15 sacks and 17 turnover plays, including 14 forced fumbles. "There's some intriguing things about him," said DeCosta. "I don't think he's really ready to play, but I like his size and speed. He's a raw guy that hasn't made a lot of plays." Vertical jump of 39 and Wonderlic of 21.
10. NIC HARRIS Oklahoma 6-2 1/2 232 4.86 4-5
Started at safety for three seasons. "His speed was bad," one scout said. "People are moving him to outside backer. He's a tough guy. He just doesn't have the speed to play in the back end." Finished with 233 tackles (20 for loss), 6½ sacks and 14 turnover plays. "I think he's further along than Cato June was at this point in his career," another scout said. "Some people are worried a little bit about his physicalness, but I think he's good enough there."
OTHERS: DeAndre Levy, Wisconsin; Ashlee Palmer, Mississippi; Victor Butler, Oregon State; Anthony Felder, California; Lee Robinson, Alcorn State; Mike Rivera, Kansas; Cody Glenn, Nebraska; Moise Fokou, Maryland; Stephen Hodge, Texas Christian; Russell Allen, San Diego State; Spencer Adkins, Boston College.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. MALCOLM JENKINS Ohio State 6-0 204 4.54 1
Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis called him the most competitive person he had ever met. "Everybody is watching the 40 and saying he doesn't have the speed," San Diego GM A.J. Smith said. "I'm not buying it. He's a football player who runs good enough and is very instinctive. The fact people are hammering him on this corner stuff, I like that. It's in his head." Compared by some to Arizona's Antrel Rolle, the No. 8 pick in 2005 who moved from CB to FS in '08. "He lacks elite corner skill but he's technically very solid, he's smart (23 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test) and he tackles well," Baltimore personnel director Eric DeCosta said. "I see it every year. The top juniors decide to come back and the next year they take on water. I've just kind of learned to disregard it. I think you could (draft him in top 10) if you're a Cover 2 team." Three-year starter with 11 interceptions. "You put him at corner and make him fail, then you move him inside," Arizona scout Jerry Hardaway said. "Sometimes you might not think he's playing hard but he does. Smooth athlete. Coming out of Ohio State, he knows how to win." Extremely long arms (34½) and timed very well in agility runs. "People are talking like it's an automatic that if he can't cut it at corner they'll put him at safety," former Cleveland GM Phil Savage said. "But he's never played back there."
2. VONTAE DAVIS Illinois 5-11 201 4.41 1
Third-year junior. "He's got as much talent probably as anybody in the draft. At any position," DeCosta said. "He just doesn't bring it all the time, which is a concern. He has the size. Explosive tackler. He can run, jump. He can do it all the time but his tape is uneven, and teams are trying to figure out why." His brother, Vernon, was the No. 6 pick in 2006. "When we talked to his brother, I liked Vernon a lot," one scout said. "I thought this kid was a real jerk. This guy seemed to have a big chip on his shoulder." According to another scout, "He just kind of does his own thing. He thinks he's better than what he is." Third-year junior with seven interceptions and 23 passes defended in 36 games (34 starts). "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane," a third scout said. "Just like his brother out in San Francisco. He gets beat a lot. Just like his brother, tested out of the gym." Managed to score 33 on the Wonderlic (Vernon had 20), leaving some scouts wondering how he did it. "It's a $1 million question," one said. Said another: "It is curious, but he did it at the combine and I don't know how you can cheat there. I will say this. All of his agent's (Todd France) clients scored extremely well."
3. DARIUS BUTLER Connecticut 5-10½ 183 4.45 1-2
"What jumps out at me is his burst to close," Smith said. "It's instant. That is really huge. Immensely talented." Pure cover man. "He's a little bit like James Williams that we took in Buffalo (1990)," Indianapolis President Bill Polian said. "He doesn't make a lot of plays on the ball but he runs like hell and is a good cover guy." Started 43 of 45 games, intercepted 10 passes and broke up 26. "He's got skills," Savage said. "But he'll miss a tackle here and there. He's more of an up-side player. You take a chance on him and maybe he'll develop. He may never pan out. I don't know how tough he is." Another scout thought his talent equal to Davis'. "He just isn't as physical or as big," he said. "He doesn't pack much of a punch and he gets stuck on blocks on occasion."
4. ALPHONSO SMITH Wake Forest 5-9 193 4.51 2
Finished with 21 interceptions, 10th most in NCAA history, and brought four back for TDs. "During the week at the Senior Bowl he must have got his hands on four or five balls during practice," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said. "He's got the best ball skills of any corner. He's not a press-man guy. He's kind of an off guy." Also had nine sacks and 23½ tackles for loss in 50 games (40 starts). "Plays bigger than his size," Hardaway said. "Yeah, he can run, and he is physical." Calls himself "a wideout on defense." Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe said he loved "the twinkle in his eye." Added one scout: "This kid is super sharp (17 on the Wonderlic), has a great outgoing personality and will be a coach on the field. But I don't care for him. He's small. He didn't run very well. And he gets beat."
5. SEAN SMITH Utah 6-3½ 209 4.50 2
Tallest drafted cornerback since Bobby Taylor (6-3, 1995) and Forey Duckett (6-3¼, 1994), although free agent Lenny Walls (6-4¼, 2002) played 64 games for three teams over six seasons. "If you watch him you don't walk away saying this guy is too tall to play the position," Savage said. "When you see all the corners in the 5-9, 5-10 range, he stands out because he does give you at least a fighting chance to go against the tall receivers." Fourth-year junior with nine interceptions and 16 passes defended in 39 games (22 starts). "He's a giant," one scout said. "Has to be a press guy. He struggles to change direction just because he's so big. When he gets on the line and jams people and runs with them, he's hard to beat. Not a run-support guy." Converted from WR to FS late in '06. "He's not the smartest thing," another scout said. "He's got kind of a free-safety body but he's not a good run supporter. He's got some hickeys in the way he plays."
6. BRADLEY FLETCHER Iowa 6-0 194 4.46 2-3
Didn't become a full-fledged starter until '08. "I like him a lot," Tennessee scout Johnny Meads said. "More of a Cover 2 corner. He doesn't have the fluid hip turn or the speed. He's not afraid of contact at all. Ball skills were a question but he was OK in the workout." Scored just 10 on the Wonderlic but has graduated. Compared by one scout to Charles Godfrey, a Hawkeyes CB in '07 who went to Carolina in the third round and started at FS as a rookie. "He's big and he can run," another scout said. "Everything with him is ahead of him." Had five interceptions in 47 games (21 starts).
7. JAIRUS BYRD Oregon 5-10 203 4.68 3
"Slower version of Jenkins," one scout said. "Can't run. I like him. Safety is where he might end up. He is a good punt returner." When his father, Gill, worked for Green Bay, the son played his first two seasons of high school football in nearby Pulaskia as a running back-defensive back-quarterback before the family moved to St. Louis. Jairus said his goal "was to be better than him." "I think he's a player," Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. "The problem is, he just ran so poorly. He could play safety, but you're kind of taking away what he really does best." Tremendous ball skills, evidenced by 17 interceptions and 53 passes defended as a three-year starter. Fourth-year junior with a Wonderlic of 15. "God, he ran terrible," another scout said. "People didn't think he was a great speed guy but it was really disenchanting to see his time. Really a tough kid. Maybe he can be a bump corner. A lot of people look past times."
8. D.J. MOORE Vanderbilt 5-9 187 4.58 3-4
Third-year junior. "Very smart, very instinctive," Beddingfield said. "Will play in the league for a long, long time. Good kid. You put him in a Cover 2 scheme, he fits really well. Man-to-man, he's going to get beat. He's well-built. But he's 5-9." Intercepted 13 passes and broke up 19 in 37 games (34 starts). "I don't know how physical he is," Hardaway said. "I'm worried about his height." Outstanding punt returner; also gained 219 yards as a rusher-receiver. "He's a shorter guy but, man, the guy does everything," one scout said. "Very good athlete. Quick. Tough." Grew up in Spartanburg, S.C.
9. KEVIN BARNES Maryland 6-0½ 185 4.47 3-4
Had six interceptions and 15 passes defended in 43 games (21 starts). "The guy has ball skills," Seattle scout Charles Fisher said. "He has height. He's not big or overly physical. He's not the smoothest guy in the world. He has some ability." Underwent surgery after seven games to repair a fractured shoulder blade. "Small boned," one scout said. "The majority of his stuff was off (coverage). He's going to have to learn how to play press. He's got long speed but I don't know if he's got the explosion and burst driving out of his pedal. He almost plays like a one-speed guy." Wonderlic of 22.
10. DONALD WASHINGTON Ohio State 6-0 199 4.53 4-6
Fourth-year junior. "Talented cover corner," Washington scout Shemy Schembechler said. "He's got instincts. Really a good athlete but you don't see it on tape all the time. He broke the combine record for the vertical jump (45). He's a little raw but a nice developmental prospect." Nickel back in 2006, starter in '07 and nickel back in '08 after losing his job. Suspended for first two games in '08 for violating team rules. Said one scout: "He made a mistake but they kind of vouch for him as a kid. Even though he doesn't have a vast background he is pretty big. And he runs well." Called "perplexing" by another scout because he's was benched and "doesn't have any production" given his talent level. "He's just got some off-field issues that tainted his potential of being somebody of note," a third scout said.
OTHERS: Victor "Macho" Harris, Virginia Tech; Brandon Underwood, Cincinnati; Mike Mickens, Cincinnati; Don Carey, Norfolk State; Gregory Toler, St. Paul's (Va.); Chris Owens, San Jose State; Asher Allen, Georgia; Coye Francies, San Jose State; Ryan Mouton, Hawaii; Brandon Hughes, Oregon State; Cary Harris, Southern California; Jerraud Powers, Auburn.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. LOUIS DELMAS Western Michigan 5-11½ 200 4.53 1-2
Born in Haiti, grew up in Miami and has no relationship with either of his parents. "He just had a tough upbringing and he will make it," one scout said. "You're not going to think he's very sharp (12 on the Wonderlic) but he plays smart." Started 44 of 45 games, finishing with 12 interceptions and 18 passes defended. "He's like Bob Sanders. He'll kill you," Angelo said. "Good straight-line speed. Good kid. He can run the show to a good enough level." Series of injuries might be related to his reckless style. "Bob Sanders is one of those guys who comes around in a blue moon," another scout said. "He's a Bob Sanders wannabe, which is not a knock on the kid. He's still undersized and he plays bigger than he is. Great kid. Pretty good hands. Sanders has had injury problems, too. I worry about him staying healthy." Started at CB in '05.
2. PATRICK CHUNG Oregon 5-11½ 210 4.51 2-3
Smart (20 on the Wonderlic), confident player who redshirted as a 17-year-old freshman in '04. "So he's still very young (21)," one scout said. "Nice player in a weak safety draft." Started all 51 games, intercepting nine and breaking up 26. "He was really a box safety," another scout said. "I see him as a John Lynch kind of guy." Born in Kingston, Jamaica, but grew up in California. "They're pretty well coached up there," Buffalo VP Tom Modrak said. "Pretty instinctive guy with decent speed. He will hit you. Not real big. He's not all things to all people."
3. WILLIAM MOORE Missouri 6-0 221 4.54 2-3
Intercepted eight passes in 2007 as a FS and just one as a SS and nickel back in '08. "When they played him at free safety he (showed) good instincts," Schembechler said. "I mean, he had eight picks in '07. That's impressive. He does have good hands." Much less effective in the box, partially because he played most of the season on an injured ankle. "He is an enigma," one scout said. "You look at him off his junior film and you said this guy is a no-brainer top-15 pick. He has all the physical tools to be one of those impact safeties. The year before, he was about as sure of an open-field tackler as I had seen at his size. This year, he missed a lot more tackles." Played the '08 season at 233 but was down to 221 at the combine. "Totally overrated," another scout said. "He looks like you want them to look but he misses a million tackles. He plays slow. No cover feel. Just out there, really, looking good in his uniform." Played 48 games (32 starts), finishing with 11 interceptions (four TD returns) and 22 passes defended. Wonderlic of 19.
4. RASHAD JOHNSON Alabama 5-11 195 4.51 3
Walked on as a RB for Crimson Tide because his best offers were from The Citadel, North Alabama and West Alabama. "Plays great," Angelo said. "Great character guy. Workaholic. Everybody will love him on your team. Running the show, he'd be the best fit (of the safeties). Just kind of a manufactured 200 pounds, and at that position you want them around 205." Played the season about 188, then bulked up to 195 at the Senior Bowl and 200 at the combine. "When I first saw him at Indy I said, 'Gee, there's a guy who has too much weight on,' " one scout said. "He was puffed up. But then he actually ran pretty well at that weight, which tells me he can carry it and do well." Finished with 11 interceptions and 19 passes defended in 50 games (31 starts). "I was turned off by his workout at pro day," another scout said. "He's a little stiff in the hips and you don't see a lot of burst and acceleration or change of direction." Added a third scout: "He's that guy every year who doesn't fit the size deal but he's the best safety out there as far as just playing. He throws his body around. He's just little."
5. Sherrod Martin Troy 6-1 198 4.49 3
Started 37 of 46 games, almost all at FS, but runs well enough to be regarded as a CB by some teams. "Little bit of both," one scout said. "More of an athlete than a hitter. He's really fast and athletic for a safety. Undersized for a safety so some people project him as a corner. Put him at corner and maybe he won't look as good." Finished with nine interceptions and 23 passes defended. "Leave him at safety," another scout said. "Not so much learning but instincts." Has had operations on both shoulders. "He's not (Leodis) McKelvin out of there last year," a third scout said. "Physical. Has range. Average awareness." Wonderlic of 11.
6. CHIP VAUGHN Wake Forest 6-1½ 220 4.47 3-4
Recruited as a WR. "Well-built kid," one scout said. "Smart (22 on the Wonderlic) who will support. I don't know about his coverage skill in space but he's a pretty good run defender on the back side." Two-year starter (24 of 51 games) with just three interceptions, an indication that he doesn't find the ball well. His speed is more on a straight line and he struggles breaking down. "Big, fast guy but doesn't play up to his measureables," another scout said. "Not really a physical guy for being such a big guy."
7. DAVID BRUTON Notre Dame 6-2 219 4.43 4
Led combine safeties in the vertical (41) and broad (11-0) jumps. "I think he's too leggy in space and struggles to break down," one scout said. "6-2, 220, 4.4. Those things get drafted. I don't think he's terrible but he's not my slice." Two-year starter with seven interceptions and nine passes defended. Wonderlic of 25. Exceptional gunner on special teams. "He can flat out run," another scout said. "He's a deep safety with a little bit of a ball-hawk mentality. More of a deep safety. He will get you down somehow most times but he's not a real smacker."
8. MICHAEL HAMLIN Clemson 6-2 211 4.60 5
Co-captain and team leader. Started 43 of 48 games, finishing with 14 interceptions and 22 passes defended. "Another big stiff guy," one scout said. "Not a space player. For a big guy, not very strong (bench-pressed 225 pounds 17 times)." Got run over several times in Alabama game. "He looks great," another scout said. "But he's straight-line and stiff." Directs traffic well and is a good communicator. "He can't run," a third scout said. "And he isn't always physical."
9. DARCEL McBATH Texas Tech 6-0½ 200 4.61 5
Three-year starter. "Terrible year for safeties," one scout said. "There's one good safety. Delmas." Finished with 12 interceptions (two TDs) and 20 passes defended. Backed up at CB in '05 before moving to FS. "Smart (27 on the Wonderlic) and instinctive," another scout said. "Knows how to play the game. Good tackler."
10. CHRIS CLEMONS Clemson 6-0½ 210 4.38 5-6
Overcame a tough background in Florida to earn a degree. "Give this kid credit for coming out alive and not being in trouble," one scout said. Fastest safety at the combine, prompting another scout to point out, "You can't coach 4.3." Started 39 of 51 games, intercepting five passes and breaking up 22. "Runs fast straight-ahead but stiff in the ankles and has a tough time breaking down in space," a third scout said. "But he runs and hits."
OTHERS: C.J. Spillman, Marshall; Curtis Taylor, Louisiana State; Glover Quin, New Mexico; DeAngelo Willingham, Tennessee; Kevin Ellison, Southern California; Courtney Greene, Rutgers; Jamarca Sanford, Mississippi; Emanuel Cook, South Carolina; Otis Wiley, Michigan State; Troy Nolan, Arizona State.
|Byrd, however, gained votes at both positions in a Journal Sentinel poll in which 19 scouts with national orientation were asked to rank the best cornerbacks and the best safeties on a 1-to-4 basis. A first-place vote was worth four points, a second three and so on.
At cornerback, Jenkins (11 first) led the way with 66 points, ahead of Vontae Davis (six firsts) and 47 points; Darius Butler (two firsts), 38; Alphonso Smith, 31; Kevin Barnes, Mike Mickens and Sean Smith, each two; and Byrd and D.J. Moore, one apiece.
At safety, Louis Delmas (14 firsts) easily won with 62 points, ahead of Patrick Chung, 39; William Moore (three firsts), 36; Rashad Johnson (one first), 22; Chip Vaughn, eight; Sherrod Martin, six; Byrd (one first), five; and Michael Hamlin, three.
Four players (David Bruton, Chris Clemons, Kevin Ellison, Darcel McBath) drew two points, and a 13th player, Glover Quin, got one.
Name School HT. WT. Rd.
1. DAVID BUEHLER Southern California 6-1 1/2 227 4-6
"He's a tremendous kickoff guy," said Eric DeCosta, Baltimore's director of player personnel. "He's raw on his techniques as a field-goal kicker." Booted 48 touchbacks in 88 attempts in 2008, an impressive 54.6%. Two-year FG kicker made 26 of 33 (78.8%). "Thing with him is, he just tries to kill the ball all the time," an NFC special-teams coach said. "He just needs to control his approach a little bit." Athletic (4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and strong enough (bench-pressed 225 pounds 25 times) to have played RB and LB in junior college before transferring to USC in '06. "He looks like a safety," one scout said. His uncle, George, was an outstanding guard for Oakland from 1969-'78. "Mentally, he's very strong," an AFC special-teams coach said. "He's not like a typical kicker. Very aggressive. Very focused. Built like the (Nick) Folk kid at Dallas. Really a solid character kid." The best kicker in USC's storied history is Cole Ford.
2. GRAHAM GANO Florida State 6-0 1/2 191 7
Born in Scotland and raised in Germany, where he excelled in soccer. "Really strong and a great athlete," one coach said. "Does a good job directionally." Kicked off from 2005-'07 (24.8% touchbacks), punted from 2006-'08 (42.1-yard average) and kicked FGs in '08, making 24 of 26. Suffered knee cartilage damage in mid-August practice and had to sit out first two games of his final season. "I like him as a punter-kickoff guy," another coach said. "He'd be a great camp guy with the 80-man roster."
3. LOUIE SAKODA Utah State 5-8 1/2 175 FA
Kicked off in 2005 (20.6% touchbacks), punted all four years (42.1) and kicked FGs for last three years (57 of 66, 86.4%). "This guy has a great history of field goals," one coach said. "But his size and his body strength will hurt him. He will really struggle on kickoffs because he's not very big. He also punted but I don't know that anybody sees him as a punter." Popular former walk-on who has made a slew of pressure kicks.
OTHERS: Jose Martinez, Texas-El Paso; Brooks Rossman, Kansas State; Ryan Succop, South Carolina; Pat McAfee, West Virginia; Sam Swank, Wake Forest.
Name School HT. WT. Rd.
1. KEVIN HUBER Cincinnati 6-1 221 4-6
Two-year starter. "He's one of the strongest guys coming out," a special-teams coach said. "Able to get the ball over 5 seconds hang time. So does Morstead. It's a tossup who's first and who's second." Punted 124 times for a 45.5 average. "He's got great control," a special-teams coach said. "He can move the ball right and left, especially in the pooch area. And he's a left-footed guy, which is a bonus. Guys are experts now at catching it but still, it's just a little bit different." Excellent holder.
2. THOMAS MORSTEAD Southern Methodist 6-4 225 6-7
Handled punting and FG duties from 2006-'08. "He has the most up side," one coach said. "Great size. Pretty strong. Fairly consistent drop. Physically, he is what you want." Averaged 43.4 on 166 punts and made 69.8% of FGs (37 of 53). Has never been a holder but began training to do it this winter. His hands are considered questionable. Scored 37 on the Wonderlic intelligence test and can be a little hard to be around. "Just talking to him, I was expecting more," another coach said. "I guess I was a little disappointed."
3. JUSTIN BRANTLY Texas A&M 6-3 247 FA
Four-year starter with average of 44.4 in 203 punts. "Not as explosive as Shane Lechler when Lechler came out (of Texas A&M in 2000) but kind of patterns himself after him," one coach said. "Strong enough to compete. Down side is the ability to get consistent hang time. He'll have to learn how to have better control of his directional punting. Very good holder."
OTHERS: Tim Masthay, Kentucky; Jake Richardson, Miami (Ohio); Britton Colquitt, Tennessee; Aaron Perez, UCLA.
Name School HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash Rd.
1. JAKE INGRAM Hawaii 6-3 230 4.97 7
Three-year starter who began as a walk-on. "Little bit small," one coach said. "OK velocity and accuracy. Average cover skills. He's a very, very, very good blocker. His weakness is his size." Coaches detect some weaknesses in his stance and delivery.
2. JAMAR HUNT Texas El-Paso 6-6 259 4.90 FA
Started 18 of 47 games as a tight end, providing two-position versatility that's a rarity today. "Shows the skills to do it," one coach said. "Not real polished. Like his length. He can bend as a snapper." Caught 91 passes for 978 yards (10.8) and seven TDs. Nothing to write home about from scrimmage but could contribute as a No. 3 TE. "He's big, so you worry about his feet a little bit as far as being able to protect," another coach said.
3. SEAN GRIFFIN Michigan 6-1 1/2 241 5.08 FA
Former junior-college player who started two years for Michigan. "He snaps really well but he's limited as an athlete," Seattle scout Charles Fisher said. Wasn't asked to block in the Wolverines' scheme. "You just don't step into our place and not be able to block," one coach said. "He's going to need time to see if he can do that. He tried to do it in the Texas vs. the Nation all-star game and was very marginal."
OTHERS: Nick Sundberg, California; Dave Peck, Wisconsin.
Name School/Pos. HT. WT. 40-Yd. Dash
1. JEREMY MACLIN Missouri/WR 6-0 197 4.43
Devin Hester left Miami as a third-year junior in 2006 having averaged 15.6 on punts, 25.5 on kickoffs and scoring six TDs. In two seasons, Maclin averaged 12.0 on punts, 24.1 on kickoffs and scored five TDs. "I think Maclin is Devin Hester quality," an NFC special-teams coach said. "You watch when he gets in the league. He's your starting punt and kickoff returner right now. He's got a burst and great ball skills. As a returner, he is better than DeSean Jackson." An AFC special-teams coach insisted Maclin wasn't in Hester's league. "I like him but there aren't many Devin Hesters," he said. "You never really see the guy put the foot in the ground and make guys miss even though he's a good athlete. He's a little bit more straight-line than short area (quick)."
2. BRANDON TATE North Carolina 5-11½ 180 4.50
"He's not as talented as Maclin," Tennessee scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield said. "He is a solid all-around player. He's not special by any means, but he could do it and score one for you every year." Returned both punts and kickoffs for 3½ seasons before blowing out a knee in Week 6 last year. "Very explosive and experienced," one coach said. "I see him quicker than fast. Fast enough." Returned 79 punts (10.6, three TDs) and 109 kickoffs (24.7, three TDs), setting an NCAA record for combined return yardage (3,523).
3. MIKE THOMAS Arizona/WR 5-8 193 4.32
Main kickoff man in 2007 and '08, returning 41 for 23.5. Assumed punt-return job in '08 and scored two TDs, averaging 13.0 in 30 runbacks. "He's a small, compact guy that's all rocked up," one coach said. "More of a straight-line, explosive guy than a short-area, elusive guy." Has struggled fielding punts. "I watched him warm up catching punts," Minnesota personnel consultant Jerry Reichow said. "It looked like he was fighting that a little bit. Little guy but he's a studly built guy. And he's a hell of a lot faster than the time we had on him initially."
4. MIKE WALLACE Mississippi/WR 6-0 1/2 196 4.33
Returned kickoffs the past two season, bringing back 60 for 23.2 average and two TDs. "I mean, he has fast vertical speed," one coach said. "Bang. More straight-line. He's a one-guy cut, but that's all you want there." Not a punt returner. Vertical jump of 40 inches.
5. DERRICK WILLIAMS Penn State/WR 5-11 1/2 198 4.56
Returned 50 kickoffs from 2005-'08 for 21.9 average and two TDs, and 66 punts the last three years for 11.0 and three TDs. "You cannot argue with the kid's production," one scout said. "Everybody's concern will be his ball skills. The biggest question will be his hands, his consistency." Ran faster on pro day after clocking merely 4.65 at combine. "Oh God, no," another coach said. "I don't like him at all. He's not an NFL returner. He just doesn't have the burst."
6. D.J. MOORE Vanderbilt/CB 5-9 187 4.58
Declared a year early. "Quicker than fast guy," one coach said. "Consistent production. No touchdowns." Returned 55 kickoffs for 22.8 average and 20 punts for 12.6.
7. QUAN COSBY Texas/WR 5-9 198 4.52
Tough little starting WR. "Really good quickness," one coach said. "Got good ability to cut on the move. Not great long speed. Kind of what you look for in a punt returner." Returned 73 kickoffs for 23.7 average and one TD and 33 punts for 11.3 and one TD. Exceptional character. Will be a 27-year-old rookie after playing minor-league baseball for four years out of high school.
8. DARIUS BUTLER Connecticut/CB 5-10 1/2 183 4.43
Returned kickoffs in 2005 and again in '08. Finished with 34 returns for 25.9 average and one TD. "Not the size you really want but pretty good running skills," one coach said. "Showed some toughness." No punt-return experience.
9. TRISTAN DAVIS Auburn/RB 5-9 1/2 212 4.43
Kickoff returner only. Handled 55 returns in last three seasons, averaging 26.5 yards and scoring two TDs. "Real tough," one scout said. "Hasn't played a whole lot for whatever reason as a running back. No hesitation. Strong runner. Good vision and cut on the move guy. Short stride."
10. TRAVIS SHELTON Temple/WR 5-9 1/2 189 4.55
Strictly a kickoff returner from 2005-'08. Led the NCAA in '08 with 31.3 average and one TD in 23 returns. In all, brought back 97 for 25.9 and two scores. "He's got a great burst," one coach said.
OTHERS: Sammie Stroughter, Oregon State, WR; Patrick Chung, Oregon, S; Victor Harris, Virginia Tech; Jairus Byrd, CB-S, Oregon