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Mel's Big Board

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by cowboys4life, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. cowboys4life

    cowboys4life Member

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    Updated: Feb. 21, 2005

    By Mel Kiper Jr.
    ESPN Insider

    The Senior Bowl is long gone and the NFL combine is yet to come, but that doesn't mean things can't change on the Big Board. Players are still moving up and down, and in some cases onto and off the board.

    Georgia defensive end David Pollack is back on my list of the top 25 NFL prospects at No. 20, replacing Oklahoma wide receiver Mark Clayton, while USC wideout Mike Williams is back in the top 10 after holding the top spot for a large portion of the college season.

    Eight of the top 10 spots on the latest Big Board are held by offensive players, but defensive players occupy 10 of the next 15. Defensive line is by far the most-represented group with eight on the board, with wide receiver a distant second at four players. There are three running backs on the list and two each from the quarterback, linebacker and defensive back positions.

    1. Cedric Benson, RB, Texas (5-10½, 222) | previous rank: same
    Benson is a strong, tough runner who was incredibly productive in his four years in Austin. He rushed for 1,000 yards in each season, and his ability to block and catch the ball makes him a complete back. Benson has tremendous vision and quick feet, and thanks to his powerful lower body, the first tackler rarely brings him down. He is not flashy but put up big numbers against top competition.

    2. Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan (6-2½, 210) | previous rank: same
    Edwards has been steadily moving up based on a tremendous overall season in 2004, when he took over games and showed off his unbelievable athletic skills. He has the size, athleticism and overall pass-catching skills to dominate cornerbacks and corrected the problems he had with concentration lapses and dropped balls. Without question, he's the top wideout on the draft board.

    3. Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn (6-0, 230) | previous rank: same
    Brown showed against Tennessee earlier in the year that he is one of the most complete backs in the nation, running and catching the ball with equal skill. He averaged over six yards per carry this season and had 34 catches. Brown has the size, instincts, power and quickness to put up unbelievable numbers and would have been a Heisman candidate if he had been the clear-cut No. 1 on the depth chart. An explosive powerhouse and a complete back.

    4. Alex Smith (jr.), QB, Utah (6-3, 207) | previous rank: same
    A mobile quarterback who rushed for 631 yards and 10 touchdowns, Smith is also a very efficient passer who completed 68 percent of his attempts with 32 TDs against only four interceptions. He is tremendously intelligent and will pick up an offensive system quickly at the next level, but the one knock is that he's somewhat of a finesse passer who did not have to muscle a lot of throws into tight spots in college. Smith has very similar ability to California's Aaron Rodgers but gets the nod because of his height advantage.

    5. Aaron Rodgers (jr.), QB, California (6-1½, 205) | previous rank: 7
    Don't put too much stock in Rodgers' performance in the Holiday Bowl, where he was without his top three receivers. A smart, accurate passer with good athletic ability, Rodgers completed 68 percent of his passes this season. His arm strength is good enough and his release is quick, and the fact that he seems a bit mechanical at times is simply a product of the way Cal head coach Jeff Tedford coaches his quarterbacks to hold the ball at shoulder level. Rodgers is a better prospect than former Golden Bears QB Kyle Boller, now of the Baltimore Ravens. Rodgers and Alex Smith have very similar abilities.

    6. Dan Cody, DE, Oklahoma (6-4, 265) | previous rank: 5
    Cody continues moving up the board because of his impressive overall body of work this season. He has been utilized as both a stand-up outside linebacker and a defensive end with his hand on the ground, in much the same way as former NFL standout Kevin Greene. This year Cody finished with 42 tackles (17 for loss, including 10 sacks) and 12 QBH.

    7. Adam "Pac-Man" Jones (jr.), CB, West Virginia (5-9½, 191) | previous rank: 6
    Jones is lethal not only as a cover man but also as a kick and punt returner. He is a little raw technically, but he's still an outstanding cover corner. He has tremendous closing speed and is more than willing to give up his body in run support. In today's NFL, where the rules are tilted in favor of the receivers, with corners unable to become true lockdown defenders, that tackling ability in the open field will be just one more asset to combine with his speed, aggressiveness and special teams skills.

    8. Mike Williams (jr.), WR, USC (6-5, 230 pounds) | previous rank: 12
    Williams dominated the collegiate game for two full years before his bid to join the NFL draft as a sophomore was ended by the courts and he was declared ineligible by the NCAA. Williams will be eligible for the 2005 draft, though. If Williams can keep his weight at or below 230, he should ultimately be a top-15 pick. Williams likely would have been a top-10 pick last season because his size, strength and toughness make him a tremendous package who can use his body control and hands to go after the ball over smaller defenders. His two-year totals at USC: 176 receptions, 2,579 yards and 30 TDs.

    9. Derrick Johnson, OLB, Texas (6-3, 233) | previous rank: 10
    Johnson led the team in tackles each of the last two seasons, totalling 255 stops and a team-high 39 tackles for loss in that time. A great athlete who has a nose for the ball and is all over the field, Johnson forced nine fumbles this year and also had nine interceptions over the last three years.

    10. Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn (5-10½, 207) | previous rank: 8
    A very creative and deceptively strong runner who has few peers in terms of pure running skills. Williams does not have imposing size but can still get tough inside yards, a skill that contributed to his 1,307 rushing yards and 17 TDs in 2003. He needs to work on catching the ball out of the backfield, but that's about it. Williams carried 239 times for 1,165 and 12 TDs last season.

    11. Heath Miller (jr.), TE, Virginia (6-4½, 255) | previous rank: 9
    Miller is a precise route runner with tremendous body control and great hands. He has three seasons of outstanding productivity under his belt, including 70 receptions in 2003. His yards-per-catch average has improved steadily during his career, and Miller is also a willing, reliable blocker who does a nice job augmenting the running game along the offensive line. One of the top overall prospects in the nation, Miller should end up being a top-15 selection.

    12. Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State (6-4, 292) | previous rank: 11
    Has improved significantly from where he was last year. Johnson has been dominating offensive linemen all year and has spent a lot of time in opposing backfields, collapsing the pocket or getting penetration against the run.

    13. Marcus Spears, DE, LSU (6-4, 295) | previous rank: 16
    Will not turn into a 10-12 sack performer at the next level because he lacks great closing speed, but Spears looks like a five-sack guy who will be an outstanding run stopper and disruptive to the passing game because of his size and long arms. He is a great athlete who began his career as a tight end and because of that will be able to play in any defensive structure and should be a solid pro. Boosted his stock with a terrific showing at the Senior Bowl.

    14. Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin (6-4, 260) | previous rank: same
    James missed most of last season with a hip injury but had a great showing in fall camp and carried that momentum over to the regular season. He nursed an ankle injury late in 2004 but still commanded double-team blocks. An outstanding pass rusher who is also strong against the run, James has dropped because of his injury history and must still prove his durability.

    15. Shawne Merriman (jr.), OLB, Maryland (6-3, 255) | previous rank: same
    A combo guy on the edge who will test the charts. Merriman benches 385, squats 590 and has a 41½-inch vertical jump that is the best ever for a Maryland defensive lineman. But don't forget his production, as he led the Terrapins with 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Merriman could play outside linebacker in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, or put his hand on the ground and play end in a 4-3.

    16. Alex Barron, OT, Florida State (6-7, 325) | previous rank: 17
    Athletically gifted with great footwork as a pass blocker, Barron started 30 games during his career.

    17. Troy Williamson (jr.), WR, South Carolina (6-1½, 200) | previous rank: 13
    Williamson can flat-out fly and will likely end up being the fastest wide receiver in this year's draft. He put up 19.4 yards per catch this season in a non-passing offense. With his size/speed ratio, Williamson should continue to zoom up the draft board.

    18. Roddy White, WR, UAB (6-1, 205) | previous rank: 23
    Runs a consistent 4.42 in the 40, giving him a size/speed combination in the elite category. White averaged 21.6 yards per catch last year and scored seven TDs, and this season he finished second in the nation in receiving yards per game (121.0) while averaging 20.0 yards per catch. White also held his drops to a minimum this year.

    19. Matt Roth, DE, Iowa (6-3½, 266) | previous rank: same
    A fiery and intense player who is a tremendous natural pass rusher, Roth is a nice complement to standout tackle Jonathan Babineaux. Roth led the Hawkeyes with eight quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles during the regular season and tied for the team lead with eight sacks. His 14 tackles for loss were second on the team during the regular season. The overall consistency of his body of work elevated Roth.

    20. David Pollack, DE, Georgia (6-2½, 265) | previous rank: unranked
    Not physically imposing, Pollack plays with incredible intensity and passion. He is quick off the ball, has great closing speed and wreaks havoc as a pass rusher, as evidenced by his 60 quarterback pressures over the last two seasons and 17.5 TFL (12.5 sacks) in 2004. Still, both Pollack and Matt Roth are going to have to prove their physical ability in workouts due to their lack of ideal size.

    21. Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami (6-0½, 200) | previous rank: 18
    Rolle has consistently proven his mettle against the top wideouts in the country. A perfect example of that came last year when he shut down former Pittsburgh wideout and eventual No. 3 overall draft pick Larry Fitzgerald. Teams did not throw his way this season, yet he was still a force for the Hurricanes with solid run support and tackles in the backfield.

    22. Shaun Cody, DT, USC (6-4, 288) | previous rank: 20
    A versatile performer who can play either end or tackle, Cody helped the Trojans finish first in the nation in rush defense at 79.4 ypg.

    23. Brodney Pool (jr.), S, Oklahoma (6-2½, 200) | previous rank: 21
    One of the top playmakers on a star-studded defense, Pool covers a lot of ground and shows very good anticipation. He is excellent in coverage and more than adequate in run support, diagnosing plays quickly and using his enormous physical gifts to get to the ball. A complete player who led the team with 92 tackles in 2004 while intercepting two passes and breaking up nine others.

    24. Anttaj Hawthorne, DT, Wisconsin (6-2½, 315) | previous rank: 22
    Very quick for his size, Hawthorne knows how to handle double-team blocks and can create tackles for loss. Add his strength and overall athleticism to that size and experience and you have an ideal tackle for a 4-3 scheme.

    25. Khalif Barnes, OT, Washington (6-5, 311) | previous rank: same
    A wrist injury cost Barnes the final six games of the season, but he was outstanding to that point. He has quick feet and good balance in pass protection, something he displayed in some outstanding one-on-one battles with Matt Roth at the Senior Bowl. Roth said afterward that Barnes is the toughest left tackle he faced all season. Barnes can also be effective in the running game and has all the necessary skills to be a good pro player.

    DROPPED
    Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma (5-10, 188) | previous rank: 24
    Clayton set OU records in 2003 with 83 receptions for a 17.2-yard average and 15 TDs. The best wideout after the catch we've seen in quite some time, Clayton led the Sooners in 2004 with 66 receptions and 876 yards. He also caught eight TD passes.
  2. JBRockBottom31

    JBRockBottom31 Member

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  3. cowboys4life

    cowboys4life Member

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    always trying to help a fellow cowboy fan :D
  4. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

    118,906 Messages
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    Man, oh man, Mike Williams or Derrick Johnson and then hope Antrel Rolle is there for us with the 2nd choice. I'd love that in a draft. Get Antaaj Hawthorne or David Pollack in the 2nd.
  5. Qwickdraw

    Qwickdraw Benched

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    No cornerback in the draft, please.
    It's not gonna happen and it would be foolish if it did. Have you seen how much youth we have in our secondary alreadyy? Have you seen the corners available in free agency this year?

    Thank you.
  6. Duane

    Duane Active Member

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    I could live with that and be happy as a lark. However, I get the feeling we sign one of the better corners in FA and take the BPA that isn't a corner with our second 1st round pick.
  7. ghosttown cowboy

    ghosttown cowboy Wyoming's #1 boys fan

    871 Messages
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    What the hell has Mark Clayton done since the Senior Bowl to drop out of the top 25? If he drops out of the first round he will be the steal of the draft!!! :skins:
  8. BigWillie

    BigWillie Well-Known Member

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    And that explains that! :D
  9. dmq

    dmq If I'm so pretty, why am I available?

    6,851 Messages
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    I would be happy w/ Travis Johnson.
  10. jamez25

    jamez25 Active Member

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    thanks for the update !

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