Malcolm Jenkins – Ohio St.
Mike Mickens – Cincinnati
Alphonso Smith – Wake Forest
Darius Butler – Connecticut
Kevin Barnes – Maryland
This is a deep year at CB. Jenkins is one of the most talented corners to come out in a while. He has everything you look for in a corner. He’s a lock for the top 10. There are some concerns about Mickens’ size and speed but make no mistake, he’s a legitimate cover corner. He’s a lock for round 1 unless he has a poor season. Butler and Barnes have great size and great speed but need to learn to be more physical. Both are good bets for round 2 and possibly round 1 if they have big seasons. Smith is undersized but makes up for it with aggressiveness and attitude. He’ll need a big season to climb into round 1 but round 2 or lower is more likely.
Sleeper seniors: Dominique Johnson- Jackson St. and Victor “Macho” Harris – Virginia Tech
Junior to watch: Vontae Davis – Illinois
William Moore – Missouri
Courtney Greene – Rutgers
Nic Harris – Oklahoma
Derek Pegues – Mississippi St.
Michael Hamlin – Clemson
This is another group that I would classify as solid but unspectacular. Moore has outstanding potential but must prove he’s more than a 1 year wonder at Free Safety. If he does, he’s a lock for round 1. Greene is a fierce, tackling machine who needs to improve his coverage skills if he wants to play Free Safety in the NFL. He’s a safe bet for round 2 and could creep up into the first with a very strong season. Harris and Hamlin are big, strong, aggressive Strong Safeties in the mold of Roy Williams. They’ll need to prove they’re not liabilities in coverage and if they do, they both could jump into round 1. Pegues is undersized but is like a QB in the defensive backfield. He could either play Free Safety or play CB for a Cover 2 team. That kind of savvy and versatility help his stock. He could go anywhere from late round 2 to late round 3 based on production and workout numbers.
Sleeper Senior: C.J. Spillman – Marshall
Junior to watch: Myron Rolle – Miami
This 2009 Inside Linebacker class makes the 2008 class look soft. Ray Maualuga may be the top
overall player in the country. He’s a violent hitter with prototypical size and athleticism. He’s a lock for the top 10 regardless of how he performs in 2008.
Laurinaitis is blessed with great size and athleticism and compares favorably to Bears MLB Brian Urlacher. He does all the little things well, and should get a look from Tampa 2 teams. He’s a lock for the top half of round 1.
Ellerbe and Beckwith are athletic, aggressive LBs who will get looks on the Weak Side in the NFL.Tampa 2 teams will give both a look due to their athleticism and excellent coverage ability. Ellerbe could definitely jump up into the 1st with a big season and good workouts while Beckwith looks like a solid 2nd rounder. Mauga is a classic 2-down thumper who is a great tackler but has suspect coverage skills. Mauga should get a look from 3-4 teams as an inside man.
Ray Maualuga – Southern Cal
James Laurinaitis – Ohio St.
Dannell Ellerbe – Georgia
Darry Beckwith – LSU
Josh Mauga – Nevada
Sleeper Senior: Jason Phillips – TCU
Junior to watch: Gerald McRath – Southern Cal
The 2009 Senior DE class is full of potential and ‘tweeners. Johnson has amazing size and burst but is thin and lanky. He’ll be in the first half of round 1 with a big season but without one, he could fall a little like former Miami DE Calais Campbell did in 2008 (probably not that far though).
Orakpo and Egboh have shown flashes of talent which is enough to propel them into Day 1 but they need to show more to rise into round 1. Orakpo has great size and ability to get at the QB but he needs to prove he’s more than just a flash in the pan. Egboh will be an interesting guy to watch. Stanford switched to a 4-3 and he blossomed. With a big season, a 3-4 team will look at him early round 2 and possibly higher to play DE. Shaughnessy must overcome an injury plagued career and prove he can be an every down DE to make it into Day 1. He’s a little light and may not have a true position in the NFL but he’ll get a look from 3-4 teams as an OLB. Jackson will definitely get looked at by 3-4 teams as a DE but he has the ability to be an interior pass rusher in a 4-3. He’s not a natural pass rusher off the edge, which is why his sack numbers are low, but he’s a very versatile and talented player.
Tyson Jackson – LSU
Michael Johnson – Georgia Tech
Brian Orakpo – Texas
Matt Shaughnessy – Wisconsin
Pannel Egboh – Stanford
Sleeper Senior: Cyril Obiozor – Texas A&M
Junior to watch: George Selvie – South Florida
With the college football season only a few days away and the 2009 NFL Draft only about 240 days away, the hardcore draftniks will be watching the highly touted players closely and begin making their prospect profiles. Here’s a look at some of the top Seniors at each position in the country and how each position looks heading into the ‘08/’09 season.
Quarterback: Curtis Painter – Purdue (pictured), Cullen Harper – Clemson, Todd Boeckman – Ohio State, Chase Daniel – Missouri, Graham Harrell – Texas Tech
I look at this group as unspectacular but solid. Certainly Harrell is going to put up the big stats in the Chuck ‘n Duck (thank you Buddy Ryan) offense that Mike Leach runs but ultimately he doesn’t have the skill set for the NFL like every other QB that has come from that offense. I can’t imagine he’ll get drafted. Daniel is a gutty, tough QB who can get it done on Saturdays but he really doesn’t have the size or skills to be a pro signal caller. I would expect him to be draft in the mid/late rounds as a backup to an established QB. Boeckman, Painter, and Harper all have the skills to succeed in the NFL with Painter definitely being the most talented. Good, productive seasons from all 3 should solidify them as Day 1 picks and a big season from Painter could boost him into round 1.
Sleeper Senior: Stephen McGee – Texas A&M
Junior to watch: Matthew Stafford – Georgia
Click the link below to view breakdowns on the rest of the offensive positions.