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Combine preview: Players to watch as scouting showcase kicks off | Top 64 prospects
Top 64 prospects: Who's hot, not on the path to the draft
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2009 NFL SCOUTING COMBINE
Top 64 prospects: Ranking the best players available in the draft pool for April
Combine preview: Players to watch as scouting showcase kicks off | Top 64 prospects
Yahoo! Buzz Digg Newsvine Reddit FacebookWhat's this?By Frank Cooney, Special to USA TODAY
In keeping with the focus of the country at large, NFL teams are looking for an immediate bailout for their shortcomings as they head into the draft.
Last year's draft offered an immediate return on investment with such outstanding rookies as QBs Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, RBs Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Steve Slaton, OTs Jake Long and Ryan Clady, WRs DeSean Jackson and Eddie Royal and LB Jerod Mayo.
COMBINE PREVIEW: Who needs a big week in Indy
But NFL teams will need to lower their expectations overall this year as they evaluate the realities of supply and demand related to the 2009 draft class.
Thanks to an infusion of talented underclassmen — who are among five of the top 10 and 15 of the top 32 overall prospects — teams will certainly be able to enlist top-shelf talent.
1. * Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech, 6-3, 214, 4.54, 1: The quickest way to understand Crabtree's potential is to consider the possibility that he is the next Larry Fitzgerald. There, it's said. He has nothing left to prove in college, where he had 231 receptions for 3,127 yards, 41 touchdowns and two Biletnikoff Awards, given annually to the nation's best receiver. Crabtree already seems to have a grasp of the nuances that most players take years to hone. His skills are eye-popping, including start-and-stop, body control, hand-eye coordination, positioning and aggressive run-after-catch ability. He does all this so fluidly that he makes it all look easy. To make this even better, Crabtree comes complete with a great team attitude. He might not impress with his time in the 40-yard dash. But neither did Fitzgerald or Jerry Rice.
2. Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest 6-2, 246, 4.62, 1: This four-year standout wants to lay down the law on and off the field. An aggressive enforcer on the field, Curry also plans to attend law school even as he pursues a football career. He gets everything right mentally and physically, showing he understands how to read, diagnose and react quickly. He uses his long arms and strong hands to control blockers. Best suited to play strong-side linebacker, Curry can still drop into pass coverage and can be effective in space. He appears more tight than fluid while changing direction but shows an instinct for finding and reacting to the ball in the air, as evidenced in 2007 when he returned three interceptions for touchdowns. Still, his strength is strength, which he uses to manhandle blockers and ball carriers while making a slew of plays behind the line of scrimmage. He won the 2008 Dick Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and has been compared to Keith Bulluck of the Tennessee Titans.
3. Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia, 6-5, 315, 5.23, 1: Monroe learned to compete while growing up in a family of 16 that included 10 brothers. He's still not a finished product but battled back from a 2007 knee injury and showed impressive durability in 2008. Monroe has a prototype build to play tackle, with good height, long arms and a strong base, but some scouts have noted that he might carry too much weight in his midsection. Still, he shows excellent footwork, balance and the ability to mirror a defender to maintain his position as a ro in pass protection. On running plays, he is nimble enough to take one effective block at a defensive lineman and then hustle to take on a linebacker.
4. Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State, 6-0, 200, 4.45, 1: "Shutdown" or "lockdown" are common terms used in the lowdown on Jenkins. Despite being rated as a first-round pick by the NFL Advisory Committee in 2008, he returned for his senior season and won the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. He has rare abilities that show up in tight man coverage and as a free safety, where he has good ball reaction. His quickness and explosion are conspicuous. To be consistently effective at the next level, Jenkins will need to become smoother in his backpedal and show more urgency in close-coverage ball reaction.
5. * Andre Smith, OT, Alabama, 6-4, 340, 5.28, 1: This huge athlete stood out when he played, and his absence in the 2009 Sugar Bowl was equally obvious when Alabama was handled in a 31-17 loss to Utah. Arguably Alabama's MVP last season, Smith was suspended from postseason play because of interaction with an agent. That didn't prevent him from winning the Outland Trophy as the country's top lineman. Until his suspension, Smith started and excelled in every game since he was a freshman. He is a dominant run blocker who has surprising agility as a pass protector. He is alert in recognizing defensive tactics and is effective picking up blitzes.
6. B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College, 6-2, 334, 5.15, 1: After sitting in 2007 for failing to fulfill academic obligations, Raji performed with a vengeance in 2008 and seemed unblockable at times. Despite facing constant double-teams, Raji might have been the most dominant defensive lineman in the country with 16 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Scouts were impressed at the Senior Bowl practices, where Raji might have been the most consistently impressive player. According to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, the Cincinnati coaching staff was so impressed with Raji that he became a candidate for the team's first pick — No. 6 overall.
7. Jason Smith, OT, Baylor, 6-5, 300, 5.14, 1: Smith converted from tight end to tackle in 2006, and although he has shown plenty of talent, he still has a ways to go to play to his potential. He missed time in 2007 with a knee injury, seemed fine in 2008 and finished his career with 39 starts, playing 24 at left tackle, seven at right tackle and eight at tight end. According to coaching staff stats, he allowed three quarterback pressures and 4½ sacks as a left tackle. Smith has excellent speed and knows how to use it pulling, trapping and leading the way on screens.
8. * Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia, 6-3, 236, 4.78, 1: Stafford has shown the natural ability expected of a pro quarterback going back to his high school days. He is entering the draft after a disappointing junior season for his team, but Stafford played well enough to complete 235 of 383 passes for 3,459 yards and 25 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He has the instincts, vision, footwork, arm and take-charge attitude necessary to play in the NFL. Stafford has enough speed to get away from most pass rushers and the ability to focus downfield and make accurate passes on the move. He finished his career 564-for-987 for 7,731 yards and 51 touchdowns with 33 interceptions and added another 598 yards and six touchdowns as a runner.
9. * Everette Brown, DE, Florida State, 6-4, 252, 4.65, 1: An explosive pass rusher, as evidenced by his 21½ tackles for loss and 13½ sacks last season. When pure speed isn't enough, Brown uses his hands, arms, quick footwork and excellent balance to frustrate blockers. He will need to add bulk to be as effective in the NFL. Scouts want to see more as they ponder whether he is able to make an immediate impact as a pass-rushing end in the 4-3 alignment or a rush linebacker in the 3-4.
10. * Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern California, 6-3, 225, 4.85, 1: When he passed up his senior season, many thought he should have stayed in school, including his coach at USC. Pete Carroll uncharacteristically and publicly chided his quarterback for making the decision to go pro. Carroll hoped Sanchez would play his senior year the same as Matt Leinart did, and he noted that Sanchez started 16 games for USC and needed more experience. In his only full season as a starter in 2008, Sanchez led the Trojans to a 12-1 record. He has all the physical, mental and emotional tools needed by a quarterback, but a recurring knee injury is a concern. Sanchez maximizes his ability with great anticipation, accuracy and good velocity. Last season he completed 214 of 366 passes for 3,207 yards and 41 touchdowns with 16 interceptions.
11. Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas, 6-4, 260, 4.73, 1: He won the Lombardi, Hendricks and Nagurski awards last season to make him the most honored defensive lineman in college. He demonstrated a rough, tough and competitive style of play. Although he lacks an impressive burst or an array of effective moves, he manages to bully his way into leverage position most of the time. However, many scouts are not convinced his many trophies are a measure of his production. They think his intensity isn't consistent enough and that he hasn't played up to his abilities. He also missed time each of the past two seasons with knee injuries.
12. Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi, 6-5, 309, 5.22, 1: There is a diversity of opinion surrounding Oher (pronounced "oar"), but none of it has to do with his elite athletic ability. A naturally quiet, reserved man, Oher speaks loudly on the field, where he has demonstrated the ability to absolutely out-quick, outmuscle and manhandle opponents. But there is concern that he will struggle to grasp sophisticated concepts in the NFL. That has led to numerous roundtable discussions among scouts who alternately question or rave about his upside in the pros. Some say he is so physically gifted that he will be a standout, while others are concerned that he might not be able to understand the complexities of his position, which could endanger the quarterback. Oher was highly visible coming out of high school as a USA TODAY All-America selection and a subject in the book Blind Side.
13. * Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia, 5-11, 208, 4.48, 1: He could be an instant difference-maker because he can consistently move the ball, often in big chunks of yardage. He has a rare combination of elusiveness and power. His quick, jump-cut moves are often reminiscent of Barry Sanders or LaDainian Tomlinson. Moreno's lack of elite speed is the only reason most teams aren't rating him in the top 10. As he gets ready for pre-draft evaluations, Moreno is addressing that issue by working out at the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center, whose namesake was the world's fastest man in the 200 and 400 meters in the 1990s. In his two years at Georgia, Moreno carried 498 times for 2,859 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also caught 53 passes for 645 yards.
14. Brian Cushing, OLB, Southern California, 6-3, 243, 4.75, 1: During Senior Bowl workouts, Cushing asserted himself as the best of USC's outstanding trio of linebackers. He established his versatility in 2006 when he played various linebacker positions to help the Trojans overcome a series of injuries. Cushing has explosive speed, which is evident when he moves forward, backward or laterally. His talents will allow him to be left in coverage on tight ends and some backs, to blitz or to read, react and flow to the point of attack. Scouts will take a look at his medical reports to evaluate high ankle, knee and shoulder problems.
15. * Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri, 6-1, 200, 4.38, 1: Maclin has plenty of speed to burn — and to burn anybody — but has a lot of work to do before he becomes a refined route runner. He returned from a serious knee injury in 2006 to perform impressively the past two seasons, including a 2008 campaign that included 102 catches for 1,260 yards and 13 touchdowns as a receiver and another 306 yards and two scores as a runner. He can help any team immediately as a returner.
16. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State, 6-5, 257, 4.82, 1: He might be more impressive in the pros than he was in college, where he never really refined his raw ability as a receiver but was obviously an adept pass catcher and great blocker. He can handle all phases of in-line play required to play tight end. As a receiver, he must be respected for his quickness off the line, sure hands and a knack for turning upfield quickly and decisively after the catch. Pettigrew shows a good feel for finding the soft spot in zones but must learn to run routes with more precision. In four years, he caught 112 passes for 1,450 yards and nine touchdowns, but those stats are far short from the measure of this man.
17. Rey Maualuga, ILB, Southern California, 6-2, 254, 4.74, 1: Maualuga is that rare, big, tough inside linebacker who has the athleticism to play all three downs. He plays with aggression and makes more than his share of tackles because he can shed blocks quickly and explode to the ball. He is a menacing bully whose only negative on the field seems to be over-pursuit. But Maualuga has also had some negatives off the field, including an arrest for misdemeanor battery after punching a student at Halloween party in 2005. Charges were dropped, but that and other off-field incidents concern teams.
18. Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi, 6-1, 290, 4.98, 1: Jerry gained attention with a surprising 2008 season in which he made many conspicuous plays and was selected SEC defender of the week four times. He was also a standout in Senior Bowl workouts. However, scouts are watching game tapes and workouts closely because Jerry was inconsistent over the past two years and comes into this draft already 24 years old. But he explodes off the line and is difficult to handle even with two blockers when he is intent on collapsing the pocket.
19. * Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State, 6-1, 237, 4.53, 1: "Beanie" is an impressive, north-south runner who explodes into and through the hole quickly, and if he can't use speed to get past a defender, he has the strength to run through him, perhaps with a devastating stiff-arm. He said he opted to enter the draft because he wants to earn money for his family, which includes 10 siblings. He has difficulty as a receiver and is an inconsistent pass blocker, so his immediate value must be as a runner. In three injury-filled seasons, Wells carried 585 times for 3,496 yards and 30 touchdowns.
20. * D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt, 5-10, 184, 4.45, 1: Moore's obvious athleticism and instincts would make him a top-tier cornerback in any draft, so there was no need to stay in college. He exploded onto the scene as a playmaker in 2007 with 83 tackles, six interceptions and an average of 25.7 yards on kickoff returns. In 2008, he added five more pickoffs and was used on offense, too. He is a natural in man coverage and is extremely aware of where everybody is in zone coverage. Moore is willing and aggressive in run support and makes sure open-field tackles.
21. * LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh, 5-11, 210, 4.49, 1: After spending one year at Milford Academy following high school, McCoy made the most of two seasons at Pitt, rushing for 2,816 yards and 35 touchdowns and catching 65 passes for 549 yards. For a dramatic comparison, note that former Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett rushed for 2,690 yards in his first two years at Pitt. McCoy is an elusive runner with lateral moves that are entertaining for fans and frustrating for defenders. As a receiver he runs great routes and has soft, sure hands.
22. * Percy Harvin, WR, Florida, 5-11, 195, 4.36, 1: Harvin was listed by many outlets as the top receiver and even top recruit coming out of high school in Virginia. His dazzling talent was used not only as a receiver but also on special plays designed to get him the ball as a runner. In three years, he had 133 receptions for 1,929 yards and 13 touchdowns and 194 carries for 1,852 yards and 19 scores. He scored at least once in 15 consecutive games, the longest streak in the nation. Harvin can explode out of a cut and create huge separation in one step. His durability is a concern.
23. James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State, 6-2, 240, 4.59, 1: A three-time All-American whose productivity began earning honors in 2006 when he won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the top defensive player in the nation, Laurinaitis has added another Nagurski Award plus the Dick Butkus Award as top linebacker and last year the Lott Trophy as best all-around defensive player. He is instinctive, rarely out of position and one of the best open-field tacklers ever to play college ball, which is why he collected 366 tackles in his historic career. He has natural athleticism but might need more bulk to maintain his incredible level of play in the NFL. He is the son of pro wrestler Joe "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis.
24. * Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois, 6-0, 204, 4.42, 1: This talented cornerback has the same off-the-chart athleticism as his older brother, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. Despite his talents, this Davis does not seem to play up to his potential. In man coverage, he can stay within short reach of any receiver but doesn't always finish the job as he loses focus too often and is inconsistent in reacting to ball. He plays with impressive aggression but lacks mental toughness to dominate in any phase of the game. Scouts are also concerned about off-field issues that led to two suspensions.
25. Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois, 6-2, 254, 4.76, 1-2: As a defensive end, his pass-rushing skills helped earn MAC defensive player of the year honors the past two years. At the next level, he is expected to be moved to linebacker, probably in the 3-4. He lacks the bulk and strength to line up as a defensive end in a 4-3 alignment. He relied mainly on straight-line speed to total 23 sacks the past two years. His agility might limit him in pass coverage, but he is working hard to improve his game and should be a willing student to learn the nuances necessary to survive as a pro.
26. Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest, 5-9, 193, 4.45, 1-2: Smith isn't big, but he is able to stand up to the competition thanks to great instincts, quickness and agility. On many patterns, he does a great job staying in position so he can track the receiver and watch the quarterback. He stood out at Senior Bowl practices, often running pass routes better than receivers he covered.
27. Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU, 6-4, 295, 4.89, 1-2: Jackson operated as an end in LSU's base 4-3 alignment but could be moved inside as a 4-3 tackle or as an end in the 3-4. He has excellent size and strength to make a pile at the point of attack and can be disruptive with initial quickness and ability to shed blocks. A fan of the Rocky movies, Jackson plays with tremendous hustle that often compensates for his marginal overall athleticism and agility.
28. * Eben Britton, OT, Arizona, 6-6, 310, 5.09, 1-2: Although Britton has the skills to become an excellent NFL tackle, he could have used another college season to hone his game. He was able to use sheer size, strength and athleticism to be a force, but he was often too upright and not consistently aggressive. He started all 37 games in which he played at Arizona, lining up at right tackle for the first 24 contests before shifting to left tackle in 2008. Britton is a high-character type and hard worker who was a team captain.
29. * Aaron Maybin, OLB, Penn State, 6-4, 248, 4.67, 1-2: Maybin was a productive defensive end for the two seasons he played in college thanks to tenacity and speed. That helped him lead the Big Ten with 12 sacks and make a total of 20 tackles for a loss last year. But scouts are certain that this third-year sophomore is too small to play defensive end in the NFL, so he must make the move to outside linebacker in a team's 3-4 alignment. Maybin is already focused on a high-protein diet and workouts that will help him add bulk and agility.
30. William Beatty, OT, Connecticut, 6-6, 291, 5.16, 1-2: He has the quick feet, agility and strength required to play left tackle in the NFL. He was the Huskies' anchor the past two years after making a comeback from a broken leg that ended his 2006 season. He allowed 6½ sacks in 689 plays over the past two years.
31. Clay Matthews, OLB, Southern California, 6-3, 246, 4.76, 1-2: Despite impressive family athletic heritage, Matthews joined the USC team as a walk-on before being awarded a scholarship in 2006. His father, Clay, was a linebacker with the Cleveland Browns; his uncle Bruce was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman; and his grandfather Clay Sr. was with the 49ers in the 1950s. But the here-and-now of this Matthews is that he didn't become a full-time starter until last season and his production has not yet matched his athletic skills.
32. * Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland, 6-2, 206, 4.37, 1-2: He has a rare combination of size, athleticism and feel for the game that might allow him to make an instant impact. He used blur-quick footwork and great body control to outplay most defenders in college but will need to refine his route running and maintain focus more often if he wants to become a major player in the pros. Heyward-Bey ended his career ranked second on Maryland's all-time list in receiving yards (2,089).
33. Alex Mack, C, California, 6-4, 312, 5.12, 1-2: Cal coaches call Mack, a hard-working student on and off the field, the complete package, with great intelligence and technique, tremendous vision and amazing awareness of his surroundings. He plays through the whistle on every down and is a team-first player who was the key to the Golden Bears' zone-blocking schemes. Mack worked long hours between 2007 and 2008 after struggling against the bull rush as a junior. With his added bulk and power, he was noticeably improved last season and during Senior Bowl workouts.
34. * Sean Smith, CB, Utah, 6-3, 210, 4.52, 1-2: Smith has extraordinary size that will come in handy against the tall and talented receivers in the NFL. He actually began his career at wideout. If scouts aren't convinced he has the quickness and agility to play corner, Smith certainly can take his big frame and aggression to safety.
35. * Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina, 6-1, 210, 4.57, 1-2: While there is concern about Nicks' lack of dazzling speed, many scouts think he has shown plenty of big-play potential. That was obvious in the first half of the Meineke Car Care Bowl against West Virginia when he had five catches for 181 yards and touchdowns of 73, 66 and 25 yards. Nicks set school single-season records last year with an ACC-leading 1,222 yards receiving and 12 scores.
36. Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee, 6-3, 273, 4.76, 1-2: He seemed to get his act together on and off the field last season after struggling in both areas in previous years. His improved work ethic resulted in a senior season that lifted his draft ratings dramatically. Ayers posted career highs in tackles (49) and tackles for loss (15½) in 2008 and earned first-team All-SEC honors.
37. * Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa, 5-11, 235, 4.58, 1-2: Greene is a tough guy to get your arms around as a defender and your head around as a scout. He was a backup in 2005 and 2006, totaling 388 yards rushing. He then spent 2007 at Kirkwood Community College to regain academic eligibility. Once back at Iowa last year, Greene exploded, finishing second in the country with 1,850 yards rushing while scoring 20 touchdowns. He is a strong runner who follows blockers well but has issues that concern scouts, including lack of great speed, poor pass-blocking ability and questionable hands as a receiver.
38. Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia, 6-3, 249, 4.70, 2: A productive player when he is on the attack, especially in a straight line, Sintim loses effectiveness when he has to break down and chase loose players. Such concern was dramatized when he struggled as an outside linebacker in practices at the Senior Bowl. Because of that, it shouldn't be a surprise if some teams see his future as an inside linebacker.
39. Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State, 5-11, 197, 4.43, 2: Obvious speed and excellent athleticism might make him a potential playmaker, but he has not been consistently productive, and that concerns scouts. His 40 catches for 451 yards and three touchdowns in 2008 are decent stats, but not those of an elite receiver. However, he also ran for 226 yards and three scores and had returns of 655 yards and three touchdowns last season. His durability has not been great, either.
40. Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech, 6-7, 258, 4.67, 2: He has shown more promise than production. He is blessed with height, long arms and burst that can generate an instant pass rush off the edge. He was selected first-team all-ACC as a senior after getting 17½ tackles for loss and nine sacks. But his play was inconsistent and undisciplined. Many of his stats came against poor competition, and scouts think he needs to bulk up.
41. Max Unger, C, Oregon, 6-5, 299, 5.24, 2: Unger does just about everything correctly, but there is debate about whether he does them well enough to be consistently good in the NFL. He earned all-conference honors in each of his seasons. Even more impressive is that he earned those accolades at two positions — left tackle in 2005 and 2006 and center in 2007 and 2008. Unger has an approach to the game that coaches love and shows great effort from snap to whistle, but he displays only average strength against power rushers and needs to improve consistency as a pass blocker.
42. Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut, 5-10, 178, 4.42, 2: He's a four-year starter and two-year captain with enough ability and instinct to be trusted in man or zone schemes. The main reservations about his potential involve his lack of elite speed. Size and durability are also a concern, especially after he missed the final two games last season with a sprained knee.
43. Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State, 6-3, 207, 4.49, 2: It's no coincidence that he handles himself like a pro because his father, Terry, is a long-time NFL receivers coach. He lacks dazzling speed but is an effective route runner and understands how to get separation from defensive backs. His hands are his best attribute as he consistently shows he can cleanly snatch the ball regardless of what angle he takes to arrive. He can help some as a punt returner.
44. Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri, 6-6, 252, 4.83, 2: An excellent receiver, he has surprising quickness off the snap and lateral agility that helps avoid the jam in press coverage. He makes tough catches in traffic and looks to get upfield. He has a bad habit of standing upright while blocking, thereby losing leverage and limiting his strength. Last season he caught 90 passes for 987 yards and 10 touchdowns. His father, Paul, played tight end for the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
45. Patrick Chung, SS, Oregon, 5-11, 207, 4.54, 2: A slick athlete with the unusual ability to play with agility and aggression, Chung displays natural instincts in coverage and run support. His tackling technique is textbook and devastating. This adds up to a player who can impact a game as an enforcer despite the fact that he is average as a ball hawk and sometimes is a step slow helping out over the top.
46. * Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers, 6-4, 215, 4.54, 2: After a junior year in which he became the Big East's all-time leading receiver (3,043 yards), Britt is going pro. He caught 87 passes for 1,371 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He lacks straight-line speed and has a history of dropped passes, but the tall, lanky receiver shows no fear over the middle.
47. Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma, 6-5, 335, 5.32, 2: A two-time All-American, he creates freeway-type access for runners. During his last two seasons, Robinson had 229 knockdown blocks and had a key block on 29 touchdowns. He is exceptional at getting into the second level and bullying linebackers and defensive backs, often to the point where he gets the attention of officials. He was penalized a dozen times in the past two seasons.
48. Herman Johnson, G, LSU, 6-8, 382, 5.47, 2: Johnson is the biggest man in this draft yet appeared to be in acceptable condition during Senior Bowl practices. If he locks onto a defender, Johnson usually has an easy time controlling the situation. But he often plays too high and is susceptible to being pushed back by a good, low-based bull rush. He is alert to twists, stunts and blitzes and has decent footwork in a small area. However, if he needs to go any distance to get into position against a moving target, Johnson looks pretty much like any other 382-pound guy — he struggles.
49. * Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon, 6-0, 205, 4.58, 2: He has quickness and agility but lacks top-notch speed, although he does show another gear for at least a short distance when reacting to a ball in the air. Byrd is a willing, sure tackler, but doesn't rattle teeth. His father is Gill Byrd, a former Pro Bowl cornerback.
50. * Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State, 6-6, 248, 4.86, 2: He joins the draft after a 2008 season in which he threw for 2,945 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 404 yards and 14 scores. Freeman has an arm that will allow him to make NFL throws. He stands tall and will step up in the pocket, keep his eyes downfield and deliver the ball to the secondary target. He has good, not great, quickness on release.
51. * Paul Kruger, DE, Utah, 6-5, 265, 4.68, 2: He will be a 23-year-old rookie because he spent 2005 and 2006 on a Mormon mission. In 2008, he had 61 tackles, 16½ for loss, and 7½ sacks. Kruger could use another 10 to 15 pounds of muscle in the NFL, but that should be easy compared to other physical challenges he has addressed. Kruger survived an incident in January 2008 when he was stabbed twice in the midsection, and he also lost one kidney as the result of a car accident as a child.
52.* Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut, 5-10, 210, 4.49, 2: He doesn't have a specific, special trait, but it's hard to think of something he can't do. His entry into the draft came after leading the nation with 2,083 rushing yards and scoring 18 touchdowns as a junior. He shows good speed through the hole, then uses vision and stop-and-start ability to find yards.
53. * James Casey, TE, Rice, 6-4, 235, 4.68, 2: It didn't take long for the former high school quarterback to establish himself as a dominant weapon at various positions. Casey lined up at seven positions in one game in 2007. Primarily a wide receiver last season, Casey caught 111 passes for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns and added 248 yards and six scores rushing.
54. Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina, 6-5, 289, 5.09, 2: He has the natural strength and athletic ability to play guard or tackle. He has a thick body and natural strength and was impressive during East-West Shrine practices, where his strong initial punch and excellent footwork were noted by scouts. Meredith graduated in May 2008 with a 3.7 GPA.
55. Evander Hood, DT, Missouri, 6-3, 298, 4.99, 2: His size, technique and tenacity — not his athleticism — are what make him an intriguing draft prospect. Hood's 2007 season included career highs in every category — 49 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles. But he was stymied in 2008 when offensive line schemes keyed on stopping him, and he collected 23 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks.
56. Rashad Jennings, RB, Liberty, 6-1, 234, 4.50, 2: Based on how he stacked up against large-school prospects at the Senior Bowl, he might have starred anywhere. After the 2005 season, Jennings transferred from Pittsburgh to Liberty to be closer to his father, who has diabetes. Last year Jennings ran 263 times for 1,526 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jennings could be a real steal after the first round.
57. Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan State, 5-09, 205, 4.53, 2-3: Although he showed toughness in 2008 by carrying Michigan State's offense with 1,743 yards and 22 touchdowns, scouts are concerned about his durability. He has torn multiple knee ligaments over the years and was not 100% much of last season. In January, Ringer had surgery to repair his right knee but expects to take part in the combine.
58. Coye Francies, CB, San Jose State, 6-0, 179, 4.47, 2-3: He impressed scouts at East-West Shrine Game workouts as an aggressive, albeit thin, cornerback with coverage and return skills. He has a spotty history that began well enough as an All-America Junior College player in 2005, when he had 11 interceptions at American River CC. He transferred to Oregon State and looked outstanding in three starts until he was arrested and charged with possession of a loaded firearm and dismissed from the team. Charges were dropped, but Francies transferred to San Jose State and last year earned all-WAC honors with 69 tackles and three interceptions.
59. Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma, 6-1, 204, 4.49, 2-3: Here is a savvy route runner who reads coverages well and has a feel for getting open. He has reliable hands, tracks the ball well over either shoulder and is adept and elusive as a punt and kick returner. He is not afraid to go over the middle and will fight for extra yardage. Iglesias has better quickness than pure straight-line speed, but he's hard to cover because of his surprising burst that creates separation. Last year he caught 74 passes for 1,150 yards and 10 touchdowns.
60. Pat White, QB, West Virginia, 6-0, 190, 4.48, 2-3: White is a big-play athlete. He is adamant about playing quarterback in the NFL, but scouts aren't convinced despite his MVP honors in the Senior Bowl. He made many highlight-reel, game-changing plays in college, but usually more because of his quick feet and extremely strong left arm than his ability as a true quarterback. He has excellent leadership skills but has not shown the technique or consistency that NFL teams want in a quarterback. Unless he convinces somebody otherwise, he will be headed for another position.
61. Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma, 6-8, 343, 5.38, 2-3: He has the size, strength and flexibility to be a dominant drive blocker in the running game. A left tackle for the Sooners, Loadholt lacks the quickness needed to go against top NFL pass rushers every week. That observation was confirmed at Senior Bowl practices, where he lacked the quick first step and agility to get into pass-blocking position.
62. Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati, 6-4, 253, 4.64, 2-3: Barwin became a prospect only after being moved from tight end last year. His stats for 2008 include 15½ tackles for loss, 11 sacks and seven pass breakups. He still has a lot of tricks to learn as a pass rusher, but he already shows the basic skills and instincts necessary to be a force. He lacks the size desired for NFL defensive ends and might get a look at outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.
63. William Moore, FS, Missouri, 6-0, 223, 4.49, 2-3: He exploded onto the scene in 2007, intercepting eight passes and establishing himself as an elite playmaker. He has a history of turning interceptions into touchdowns, with four of his 11 career picks returned for scores. Moore struggled early in the year before picking up his play, but then appeared too stiff for a safety in Senior Bowl workouts and scouts began discussing a possible move to linebacker.
64. * Sen'Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn, 6-1, 295, 4.93, 2-3: An all-SEC player in 2007, he enters the draft after a disappointing 2008. He is a squat player with surprisingly good footwork and the speed and tenacity to run down plays in pursuit. But he is inconsistent and appeared out of shape and unable to perform at his best in 2008 despite being rotated in and out of the lineup.
Cooney is publisher of NFLDraftScout.com
Last edited by cowboyjoe : 02-18-2009 at 04:54 PM.
Reason: editd to read easier for everyone