Gosselin | NFL draft top 100

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    Rick Gosselin's NFL draft top 100

    Bush remains the No. 1 story

    11:56 AM CDT on Friday, April 28, 2006

    By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News

    Reggie Bush has been compared to Gale Sayers. But fellow Southern California alum O.J. Simpson is a better historical comparison.

    Only five times in the 39 years since the AFL and NFL merged drafts has a running back won the Heisman Trophy and been selected No. 1 overall by the NFL. Bush should become the sixth member of that fraternity – and the first in 20 years. The Houston Texans have the first pick of the 2006 draft.

    Not since Bo Jackson won the Heisman in 1985 and went first overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1986 draft has a player accomplished that double. O.J. Simpson was the first in 1969, followed by Earl Campbell in 1978, Billy Sims in 1980 and George Rogers in 1981.

    In the last week, The Dallas Morning News polled 26 NFL teams, asking them to identify the top player on their draft board. Bush was named the top player by 21 teams. North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams was named by four teams, and Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk by one.

    That unique double – a Heisman Trophy and first overall selection by the NFL – is a guaranteed formula for success at the next level.

    Simpson and Campbell became Hall of Famers. Injuries shortened the careers of Sims and Jackson, but not before both showcased themselves as Pro Bowl talents. Rogers also became a Pro Bowler and ranked among the NFL's top 20 all-time rushers with 7,176 yards at the time of his retirement in 1988.

    So put Bush, who averaged 8.9 yards per carry in 2005 and 7.3 yards in his three-year career, atop The News' Top 100 board. The Top 100 is compiled based on conversations with general managers, personnel directors, pro and college coaches and scouts. This is not a mock draft.

    Teams will skip around the board on draft day to make selections that fit their needs.



    No. Player Pos. School
    1. Reggie Bush HB Southern California
    2. Mario Williams DE North Carolina State
    3. A.J. Hawk OLB Ohio State
    4. Matt Leinart QB Southern California

    Of the three quarterbacks sitting atop this draft board, Leinart is the most ready to play. He started for three seasons at Southern California and played in three national championship games. He threw 1,245 passes, had a Pac-10-record 99 TD passes and won the Heisman, Unitas and Manning awards in his career. "I think I've been prepared the best you can be prepared," Leinart said. He won 37 of his career starts, including two national title games. "I've been a winner my whole career," Leinart said. "I lost two games [in college], both by six points. That's the most important thing – I win ... kind of like the Tom Brady-type. He's a winner."

    5. D'Brickashaw Ferguson OT Virginia
    6. Vernon Davis TE Maryland
    7. Vince Young QB Texas
    8. Michael Huff S Texas
    9. Jay Cutler QB Vanderbilt
    10. Brodrick Bunkley DT Florida State


    No. Player Pos. School
    11. Ernie Sims OLB Florida State
    12. Haloti Ngata DT Oregon
    13. Kamerion Wimbley DE Florida State
    14. Antonio Cromartie CB Florida State
    15. Chad Greenway OLB Iowa
    16. Manny Lawson DE North Carolina State
    17. Donte Whitner S Ohio State
    18. Bobby Carpenter OLB Ohio State
    19. Johnathan Joseph CB South Carolina

    The NFL loves Joseph's physical package. He's 5-11, 193 pounds and runs a 4.32 40. But he's flawed. So are the other top cornerbacks in the first round. Antonio Cromartie started only one game in his college career and didn't play in 2005 because of a knee injury. Jimmy Williams is almost too big at 6-2, 213, and his personality rubs NFL types the wrong way. His confidence borders on arrogance. Tye Hill is a shade on the small side at 5-9, and Joseph played only one season of college ball. Yet all four players are listed as the top cornerback on various NFL draft boards.

    20. Tye Hill CB Clemson


    No. Player Pos. School
    21. Winston Justice OT Southern California
    22. Laurence Maroney HB Minnesota
    23. Jimmy Williams CB Virginia Tech
    24. Nick Mangold C Ohio State
    25. DeAngelo Williams HB Memphis
    26. Santonio Holmes WR Ohio State
    27. Tamba Hali DE Penn State

    Understand how the NFL draft works – it's about measurables, not ability. It's about finding players with the ideal height, weight and speed. Hali represents an annual draft-day dilemma. He played himself into the first round last season when he led the Big Ten with 11 sacks. Scouts say he has the fastest first three steps in this draft. But he ran a 4.86 40-yard dash. First-round talent, third-round speed. So where does he get drafted? Not as high as he should. Watch the game tape, not the stopwatch. Hali will be one of the better first-round values.

    28. Jason Allen S Tennessee
    29. Marcus McNeill OT Auburn
    30. LenDale White HB Southern California


    No. Player Pos. School
    31. Eric Winston OT Miami

    The Miami Hurricanes are no longer No. 1 in the NCAA. They haven't won a national title since 2001. But Miami is still No. 1 in the eyes of the NFL with 21 first-round draft picks in the 2000 decade, 13 more than any other school. The Hurricanes also have a string of 11 years with a first-round draft pick – six years longer than anyone else. You'd have to go back to 1994 to find a draft that didn't include a Hurricane in the first round. Miami has two chances to extend that streak to 12 drafts Saturday: offensive tackle Eric Winston and wide receiver Sinorice Moss. Both hover in the 30-35 range.

    32. Joseph Addai HB LSU
    33. Chad Jackson WR Florida
    34. Marcedes Lewis TE UCLA
    35. Sinorice Moss WR Miami
    36. DeMeco Ryans OLB Alabama
    37. Mathias Kiwanuka DE Boston College
    38. Richard Marshall CB Fresno State
    39. Roger McIntosh OLB Miami
    40. Ashton Youboty CB Ohio State


    No. Player Pos. School
    41. Davin Joseph G Oklahoma
    42. Kelly Jennings CB Miami
    43. D'Qwell Jackson MLB Maryland
    44. Greg Jennings WR Western Michigan
    45. Daniel Bullocks S Nebraska
    46. Cedric Griffin CB Texas
    47. Thomas Howard OLB UTEP

    Athletically, Howard stacks up with any linebacker on this draft board. He's 6-3, 239 pounds with 4.42 speed. He also has the genes to play the position – his father, Thomas, was a second-round draft pick by Kansas City in 1977 who spent seven seasons with the Chiefs. But the younger Howard didn't play the same caliber of competition that A.J. Hawk, Chad Greenway and Bobby Carpenter played in the Big Ten, so all those linebackers project to be drafted a round ahead of him Saturday. But this is a thin outside linebacker board; only eight figure to be drafted on the first day. So Howard looms as an attractive second-round selection.

    48. Chris Chester C Oklahoma
    49. Leonard Pope TE Georgia
    50. Daryn Colledge OT Boise State


    No. Player Pos. School
    51. Taitusi Lutui G Southern California
    52. John McCargo DT North Carolina State
    53. Danieal Manning CB Abilene Christian
    54. Anthony Fasano TE Notre Dame

    There could be as many as four tight ends selected in the second round: Marcedes Lewis, Leonard Pope, Anthony Fasano and Joe Klopfenstein. Lewis won the Mackey Award last season as the best tight end in the college game. Klopfenstein is big (6-5, 255) and Pope bigger (6-7, 258 ). But maybe the most intriguing prospect is Fasano, who left his senior season on the table at Notre Dame to turn pro. He reminds NFL talent evaluators of another Notre Dame tight end – Mark Bavaro. "I pride myself on being an all-around tight end, a tight end who doesn't come off the field in any situation," Fasano said.

    55. Darryl Tapp DE Virginia Tech
    56. Demetrius Williams WR Oregon
    57. Max Jean-Gilles G Georgia
    58. Ko Simpson S South Carolina
    59. Charles Spencer G Pittsburgh
    60. Maurice Drew HB UCLA


    No. Player Pos. School
    61. Joe Klopfenstein TE Colorado
    62. Brodie Croyle QB Alabama
    63. Clint Ingram OLB Oklahoma
    64. Derek Hagan WR Arizona State

    The second figures to be the "hands" round. If defense pushes offense down the board in the first round as expected, there could be five wide receivers who turn up in the second round along with all those tight ends. Chad Jackson, Sinorice Moss, Greg Jennings, Demetrius Williams and Hagan all figure to go here. Hagan is the Pac-10's all-time leading receiver with 258 catches. Jackson and Moss both have sub-4.40 speed, Jennings was the MAC Offensive Player of the Year and Williams caught 10 touchdowns passes in 2005 for Oregon. All are seniors except Jackson, who gave up his final year at Florida to turn pro.

    65. David Pittman CB Northwestern State
    66. Maurice Stovall WR Notre Dame
    67. Victor Adeyanju DE Indiana
    68. Travis Wilson WR Oklahoma
    69. Jerious Norwood HB Mississippi State
    70. Gabe Watson DT Michigan


    No. Player Pos. School
    71. Andrew Whitworth OT LSU
    72. Tony Scheffler TE Western Michigan
    73. Kyle Williams DT LSU
    74. Rashad Butler OT Miami
    75. Chris Gocong DE Cal Poly
    76. Brian Calhoun HB Wisconsin

    There are five running backs at the top of this draft board who could wind up in the first round: Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney, DeAngelo Williams, LenDale White and Joseph Addai. If you need a runner and don't get one of them, your options are limited in the first day. The last attractive option is Brian Calhoun, the Big Ten's leading rusher. The only knock on him is his size – 5-9, 200 pounds. "I think what sticks out about me is my durability," Calhoun said. "This past year I carried the ball 350-some times, I had one fumble and never missed a game. I played all four downs. That should prove that I'm able to carry the load in the NFL."

    77. Jeremy Trueblood OT Boston College
    78. Charlie Whitehurst QB Clemson
    79. Abdul Hodge MLB Iowa
    80. Darnell Bing S Southern California


    No. Player Pos. School
    81. Ryan O'Callaghan OT California
    82. Calvin Lowry S Penn State
    83. Tim Jennings CB Georgia
    84. Brandon Williams WR Wisconsin

    There is an elite class of return specialists in this draft. There are 20 players on the board who returned both kickoffs and punts in college and 19 of them scored touchdowns. There could be eight to 10 players in this draft who wind up returning kicks in the NFL. The run on return specialists figures to start at the end of the third round and steam into the fourth. Wide receivers Williams, Willie Reid of Florida State, Skyler Green of LSU, Cory Rodgers of TCU and Jeremy Bloom of Colorado plus defensive backs Devin Hester of Miami and Will Blackmon of Boston College all could be a part of that run.

    85. Paul McQuistan OT Weber State
    86. Kellen Clemens QB Oregon
    87. Ryan Cook C New Mexico
    88. Jason Hatcher DE Grambling State
    89. Parys Haralson DE Tennessee
    90. Jason Spitz G Louisville


    No. Player Pos. School
    91. Rob Ninkovich DE Purdue
    92. David Thomas TE Texas
    93. Babatunde Oshinowo DT Stanford
    94. Roman Harper S Alabama

    The strength of the safety board is in the middle rounds, where there's an abundance of three- and four-year starters plus all-conference picks. Charlie Peprah was a four-year starter at Alabama and Bernard Pollard (Purdue) and Eric Smith (Michigan State) both three-year starters. Harper was All-SEC at Alabama, and other all-conference selections who figure to get drafted in Rounds 3-5 include Greg Blue (Georgia), Darnell Bing (Southern California), Calvin Lowry (Penn State) and Nate Salley (Ohio State) and Anthony Smith (Syracuse). Harper made 300 career tackles for the Crimson Tide.

    95. James Anderson OLB Virginia Tech
    96. Freddie Keiaho LB San Diego State
    97. Anthony Smith S Syracuse
    98. Jonathan Scott OT Texas
    99. Isaac Sowells OT Indiana
    100. Willie Reid KR/WR Florida State

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