Draft Gems: Brace hoping to emerge from Raji's shadow;COYE FRANCIES too

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    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    Draft Gems: Brace hoping to emerge from Raji's shadow
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    Enlarge By Kim Klement, US Presswire

    Ron Brace (60) played in the shadow of more highly-touted prospect B.J. Raji at Boston College.

    USA TODAY takes a weekly look beyond the obvious first-round choices in the NFL draft to find Draft Gems, players who are not household names but who have a chance to make an impact for their new teams once the April 25-26 draft is over.
    Matt Forte, a second-round pick for Chicago, was among our Gems last year before he ran wild as a 1,000-yard rusher for the Bears. Then again, past performance does not guarantee future results. Here are two more Gems:

    MOCK DRAFT: Our analysts project the first round

    RON BRACE, Boston College DT

    • Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 330

    PHOTOS: Best defensive linemen available
    VIDEO: What makes Brace and Raji so good

    • Key statistics: Started 37 consecutive games on the defensive line.

    • College highlights: Although he was overshadowed by fellow tackle B.J. Raji at Boston College, was nonetheless a mainstay for Eagles. Named to All-ACC second team after recording 27 tackles as a senior. Made 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage to go with three sacks. Ranked third on club with 7.5 tackles for a loss in 2007.

    • Upside: Very big man with the kind of run-stuffing ability many teams are searching for. Is extremely difficult to move off the line of scrimmage. Able to push the pocket in pass-rushing situations.

    • Downside: Benefited from Raji's presence because opponents focused on handling his teammate. Critics have questioned whether he plays with enough of a mean streak to excel in the trenches. Conditioning needs improvement.

    • Projected round: Third

    • What they're saying: "He's a very big man but very athletic for his size. He is extremely light on his feet, quick and athletic. I think he still has room to improve as far as maturing and understanding what it takes." —Frank Spaziani, Boston College head coach and former defensive coordinator

    MORE DRAFT GEMS: Stephen McGee, Mike Reily, Lawrence Sidbury | Connor Barwin, Gerald Cadogan | Rashad Jennings, Zack Follett

    COYE FRANCIES, San Jose State CB-FS

    • Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 185

    • Hometown: Rancho Cordova, Calif.

    • Key statistics: Ranked second on club in both tackles (69) and interceptions (three) in 2008.

    PHOTOS: Best defensive backs available

    • College highlights: Participated in Senior Bowl after being a second-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection. Produced interceptions against Fresno State, Hawaii and Stanford. Started all 12 games as one of four captains for Spartans.

    • Upside: Teams will be attracted by his size and versatility. Showed ability as return specialist and wide receiver at San Jose State despite playing with a sprained thumb and a rib injury. Has good height for a cornerback without losing fluidity. Excellent upper-body strength makes him a force at stopping the run. Welcomes contact.

    • Downside: Was arrested in June, 2007 for possession of a loaded firearm. Charges were dropped the next month but he was dismissed from Oregon State, leading to transfer to San Jose State. Poor 40-yard dash times included one 4.72 clocking at combine. Will need to become more consistent if he's to handle the step up in competition.

    • Projected round: Third

    • What they're saying: "Coye has established himself to me as an outstanding pro prospect. He's an outstanding hitter and a terrific athlete. I have no question he'll be a success in the NFL." —San Jose State coach Dick Tomey

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