Rick Gosselin - Top 10 players / Risers & Fallers
Rick Gosselin - March 6, 2010
Highly respected Staff Writer Rick Gosselin ranks the top 10 players on the draft board coming out of the scouting combine:
1a. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska and 1b. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
The two Big 12 tackles are the most complete players at their position in this draft. Which one is better? It depends on what defensive system you play. Suh's game is power, McCoy's game is speed. The New York Giants would love Suh, the Indianapolis Colts would love McCoy. Suh is a better fit in a two-gap scheme in which the tackle must stalemate the blocker and read the play. McCoy is a better fit in a one-gap defensive scheme in which his initial quickness allows him to penetrate the backfield. The Detroit Lions are going to get an elite tackle with the second overall pick. They may have their choice of the two.
3. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Berry is the best safety to come along since Sean Taylor in 2004. He hits like a safety but has the speed (4.47 in the 40) of a cornerback. He's one of the top defensive playmakers in this draft, with 14 career interceptions and 494 return yards.
4. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco have proved in the last two years you can succeed with a rookie quarterback. Oklahoma listed Bradford at 223 pounds, but he checked into the combine at 236, hoping to show the NFL he has the size to absorb hits in the pocket.
5. Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
There's a premium in every draft on left tackles who can protect the blind side. Okung is NFL-ready, with 47 career starts and those 36-inch arms to steer speed rushers past the pocket. He has been compared with perennial Pro Bowler Walter Jones.
6. Derrick Morgan, DE, Ga. Tech
Morgan has the size to play end in a 4-3 defense at 6-3, 266 pounds. He's also the most polished pass rusher in this draft, coming off a 121/2-sack season. He decided to skip his senior season and get paid to rush the passer.
7. Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Expect the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State pro days this month to attract large crowds of NFL coaches, scouts, general managers and personnel directors. Five of the top 10 players in this draft hail from those two Big 12 schools.
8. Jimmy Clausen, QB, N. Dame
There are two quarterbacks with first-round grades. After Sam Bradford goes, Clausen's value will rise. He has spent the last three years playing in the NFL system of Charlie Weis.
9. C.J. Spiller, HB, Clemson
Maybe the most versatile player in this draft. Spiller runs (5.9 yards per career carry), catches (123 career receptions) and returns kicks (eight combined touchdowns). He also has speed in the 4.3s.
10. Dez Bryant, WR, Okla. State
Bryant hasn't been on a football field since last September, so he didn't help himself by not working out at the combine. But he remains the top wide receiver in this draft.
Five whose stock is rising coming out of the combine:
1. Taylor Mays, S, Southern Cal
Mays has the size to be a run-support safety at 6-3, 230. But box safeties have become dinosaurs. The question heading into the combine was could he cover receivers? He answered that with a blazing 4.43 40-yard dash. Size and speed are an attractive combination at any position.
2. Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
Despite just 17 career starts, Campbell opted to skip his senior season to turn pro. He's a physical specimen at 6-6, 314 pounds with 36 ½ -inch arms. When he ran a 4.78 40, he probably ran himself into the first round. As with Mays, his size and speed are an attractive combination.
3. Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale
Caliber of competition was a concern when the Tennessee Titans drafted Michael Roos with the 41st overall pick of the 2005 draft out of Eastern Washington. He started as a rookie and was in the Pro Bowl by his fourth season. Like Roos, Veldheer enters the draft with size (6-8, 312) and sterling small-college game tape.
4. Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson
The NFL invited 330 players to the combine. When you are the fastest player there, you raise eyebrows. Ford was the fastest player at this combine and the second fastest this decade. Ford ran a 4.28 40-yard dash. The only player to run faster in Indy was NFL rushing champion Chris Johnson, who clocked a 4.24 in 2008.
5. Clint Gresham, deep snapper, TCU
The NFL invited eight punters and kickers to the combine but only one deep snapper. Gresham got all the work during the drills, snapping for all the kickers, so the eyes of special teams coaches were on him. The combine is viewed as a job interview – and Gresham was the lone candidate at his position. It was a golden opportunity to sell himself.
Five whose stock is declining coming out of the combine:
1. Jonathan Dwyer, HB, Georgia Tech
The NFL loves Dwyer's college productivity. He started two years, was the Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2009 and averaged 6.2 yards per career carry. But his 4.59 clocking in the 40-yard dash left NFL talent evaluators scratching their heads.
2. Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Haden arrived in Indianapolis as the top-rated cornerback in this draft. He was a three-year starter at Florida and a 2009 Thorpe Award finalist who's skipping his senior season. In terms of size, Haden is a little less than what the NFL wants at 5-10, 193. In terms of speed, he's well below what the NFL wants and needs at the corner. He ran a 4.57 40 at the combine. He'll need to get into the 4.4s at his campus workout to restore the luster to his draft stock.
3. Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan
With top-three quarterbacks Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy not throwing at the combine, the Mid-American Conference MVP had the chance to move up the draft board by participating in the passing drills. LeFevour elected not to. If he's not one of the elite players at his position, it's in a prospect's best interest to work out in front of all 32 general managers, head coaches and offensive coordinators. LeFevour won't have that kind of audience at his pro day.
4. Selvish Capers, OT, West Virginia
Capers started for three seasons at right tackle, traditionally the power side of the offensive formation. But Capers didn't show much muscle in his bench press, throwing the bar up only 19 times at 225 pounds. Russell Okung, the top tackle on the board, punched out 38 repetitions at 225.
5. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
The school listed Bryant at 220 pounds. He showed up at the combine at 225 and then didn't work out. NFL teams wanted to see if he had stayed in shape during his five months away from football. Those questions went unanswered.