Scouting is an inexact science, but it is also a very thorough science. So much goes into the evaluation of college prospects, who will be taking part in NFL minicamps in just a few short weeks.
After scouting games in person, watching hours and hours of game tape, checking out players at the combine and pro days around the country, draft boards are taking shape. Of course, draft boards vary from team to team. As I've always said, some people like rocky road ice cream and some people prefer vanilla.
Here is my attempt at identifying the first 100 players I think will be selected at the April 25-26 draft. I look at the prospects' most important individual characteristics, position specifics, along with height and speed to formulate this order. Playing experience (i.e., long-time starter vs. one-year wonder) is something I value. Injuries must be taken into consideration. Three players not on this list -- Missouri TE Chase Coffman, TCU LB Jason Phillips, North Carolina WR Brandon Tate -- would have been in the 51-100 area if they were medically cleared.
Rather than ranking the players from 1-100, I have broken them into 10 tiers of 10 and listed them alphabetically within the tiers. Nobody can predict exactly where every player is going to get drafted. The point here is to pinpoint the range in which a prospect is likely to go.
It's entirely likely that a big offensive or defensive lineman can move up, considering those players are harder to find. It's much easier to find a successful running back or receiver later in the draft than it is a lineman.
Here is my "Hot 100" --****Remember players are in ALPHABETICAL order in tiers.....
Tier One (1-10)
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech:
Crabtree was a high school quarterback who caught 231 passes for 41 touchdowns in just two seasons as a receiver at Texas Tech… Holds the NCAA freshman record for most receptions, yards and TDs (134-1,962-22)… Had foot surgery in late February, but has been given a clean bill of health… Very soft hands.
Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest:
Started 48 games in four years for the Demon Deacons… In 2007, he tied the NCAA record for linebackers with three interceptions returned for touchdowns… Ran a 4.55 40-yard dash at the combine at 254 pounds.
Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State:
Tall (6-foot-5 ¾) with a big arm… Passed for 38 TDs over the last two seasons… Started eight games as a true freshman… Smart with great work habits… Father played in the USFL… Ran for 400 yards and 14 TDs in 2008 on a poor team… Risk-reward type of player.
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU:
A former high school defensive player of the year in Louisiana in 2003… Started 39 games for LSU and recorded 24.5 sacks… Ran 4.97 at 296 pounds at the combine… A very good athlete with long arms (34 ¾ inches).
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri:
After missing 2006 with a knee injury, he started the last two seasons… Set NCAA record for freshman in 2007 with 2,776 all-purpose yards… Caught 182 passes in two seasons for 22 TDs… Excellent return specialist.
Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia:
Played as a true freshman in 2005… Has started at both guard and left tackle over last three years for Cavaliers… Strong, good athlete… Comes from family of 16 children, including 11 boys.
Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas:
Ran a 4.63, had a 39 ½-inch vertical jump and did 31 bench press reps at the combine… Very athletic… Had 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss in 2008… Good burst makes him an effective pass rusher… Needs to play more consistently.
Andre Smith, OT, Alabama:
Only seven players in Alabama history have started a season opener as a true freshman; Smith started 13 games at left tackle as a true freshman… This is a very good football player who performs much better then his speed and bench press numbers suggest… Has very long arms (35 3/8 inches)… Will be a Pro Bowl player if he stays in shape.
Jason Smith, OT, Baylor:
Smith started eight games at tight end in 2005… Moved to tackle, starting on the right side in 2006, and at left tackle the last two seasons… He is a good pass protector, with good punch and footwork… Had 33 bench-press reps at the combine, and then 38 at his pro day workout… Very smart, great character.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia:
Started 34 games in three years at Georgia… As a true freshman in 2006, he recorded wins over the 5th-, 14th- and 16th-ranked teams in the nation… Smart player, with a very strong arm and outstanding athletic ability… Ran under 4.9 at the combine at 225 pounds.
TIER 2 (11-20)
Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee:
Started only two games prior to 2008, but has emerged after a solid season and a great Senior Bowl week… Plays with quickness and body control.
Everette Brown, DE, Florida State:
Plays with great effort… Ran under 4.7 at the combine at 266 pounds… Had 20 sacks the last two seasons.
Brian Cushing, LB, USC:
Started four games as a true freshman… Plays with reckless abandon… Did 30 bench press lifts at the combine to go along with 4.74 speed… Also had the best time for LBs in the three-cone drill (6.87).
Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State:
Started four games as a true freshman for the Buckeyes, lining up as nickel back… Ran 4.54 at the combine and had very good short shuttle (4.11) and three-cone drill (6.59) times… Has very good instincts.
Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi:
Has started 22 games over the past two seasons… Had six sacks in 2008… Has great first-step quickness and plays with great effort… Is already married and will turn 25 in August.
Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State:
A good natural athlete who led the Big Ten in 2008 with 10 sacks… Very good pass rush ability… Check out the Wisconsin game tape from 2008 to see his skills.
Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi:
One of the great all-time stories in college football: Didn't play football until his junior year of high school, and the subject of a best-selling book… Started 10 games as a true freshman… Has very good feet and long arms (34 inches)… An outstanding person who will play well in the league for many years.
B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College:
Did not play in 2007 due to an academic issue… Has good strength (33 reps at combine) and quickness… Has short arms (32 inches) but big hands… Plays hard on every play.
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC:
Has very good athletic ability, and the ability to throw on the run… Good quickness to avoid the pass rush… Good accuracy… Has been well coached and will be a good NFL quarterback… Played great vs. Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, Ohio State:
Three-year player with great speed and quickness needed for the position… Good blocker… Did 25 bench-press reps at the combine… Needs to work on catching the ball… Top person.
Tier Three (21-30)
William Beatty, OT, Connecticut:
Beatty might be a little bit of a reach this high, but he can play left tackle in the NFL… Has long arms (34 ¾ inches)… Started 35 games at left tackle for UConn… Slim, basketball player build… Good quickness to handle speed rushers.
Eben Britton, OT, Arizona:
Three-year player who started 2006-07 at right tackle and moved to left tackle in 2008… Very good competitor… Has good feet… Very smart… Needs more upper-body strength.
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois:
Brother of 49ers tight end Vernon Davis… Very good athlete with lots of talent… Not real easy to coach… Strong (25 lifts at combine) and will tackle… Will remind you of DeAngelo Hall as both a player and a person.
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida:
Harvin has as much talent as any player in this draft… Has great speed and a burst… Comes from same area as Michael Vick, and has had character problems in the past… He can be a dynamic player if he can get his act together.
Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech:
Has outstanding athletic ability and outstanding pass rush ability… Long arms… Not very good vs. the run… Needs to improve stamina.
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State:
Three-year starter for Ohio State who is very smart and very competitive… Can play all three linebacker spots in the 4-3… Great character person; his father was a professional wrestler and his sister is a hockey player… The first high school player from Minnesota to play at Ohio State in 75 years will have a long NFL career.
Clay Matthews Jr., LB, USC:
His father Clay played 15 years with the Cleveland Browns (1978-93) and uncle Bruce is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame… Was a walk-on at USC… He weighed under 200 pounds as a high school senior… Moves well, and can drop into coverage or rush the passer… Plays with intensity.
Rey Maualuga, LB, USC:
A middle linebacker with great physical ability… Has problem keeping his weight down… He's very strong and a great leader… Played okay in space in college, but may have a problem in the NFL… Has had some character problems.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia:
Redshirted in 2006, then played RB for just two seasons… He is a complete player -- will block, can catch passes and runs with power… Has strong legs, can elude tacklers and will not fumble… Has good, not great, speed, but should be an outstanding player.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State:
Not a speedy pass-catching TE, but he can be a dominant player… He's a better football player than he is an athlete… Has long arms and big hands… Ran 4.88 at the combine at 266 pounds… Has good work habits.
Tier Four (31-40)
Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers:
Three-year player is the Big East's all-time leader in receiving yards… He has inconsistent hands, most likely from lack of concentration… Works hard and is very competitive… Should develop into a top player with the right quarterback.
Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut:
Brown was recruited by bigger schools, but they wanted him to play defensive back. Like Marshall Faulk (San Diego State), Brown chose to play RB at a smaller school… Ran for over 2,000 yards in 2008… Has very good instincts… Had a 41 ½-inch vertical jump at the combine.
Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois:
A four-year starter who was the first-ever player to be named MAC Defensive MVP in consecutive years… Very competitive and athletic enough to play in space… Had 18.5 sacks the past two seasons… Plays faster than his timed speed.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland:
Ran 4.33 at the combine… Very athletic, with long arms and rare speed… He only caught 42 passes for 5 TDs in 2008, but he needed a better QB… Catches the ball well and has lots of upside.
Evander "Ziggy" Hood, DT, Missouri:
Played as a true freshman in 2005 and started the next three years… Had 15.5 sacks… Strong (34 lifts at the combine) with 4.89 speed and 33 ¾-inch arms… Good numbers for a DL.
Alex Mack, C, California:
Did not work out at the combine but was outstanding at Cal's pro day… An outstanding high school wrestler, if he gets his hands on you, you're in trouble… Very smart player who will perform at a high level for a long time.
Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina:
Weighs 307 pounds… Had a very good pro day workout… Will be best in a zone blocking scheme… Can play tackle or guard… Has 4.9 speed in the 40 and long arms (34 ½ inches).
Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State:
Son of former NFL receiver Terry Robiskie, who is currently WR coach for the Falcons… Outstanding competitor with great hands… If you need someone to make a catch to win the Super Bowl, he is the player… Solid player with great character.
Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest:
All-time ACC leader in interceptions (21)… Very instinctive… Has great quickness and technique… Makes big plays… Size hurts (5-foot-9, 34-inch vertical jump).
Max Unger, C, Oregon:
Started 51 career games for the Ducks -- 25 at left tackle and 26 at center… Plays with intensity… Smart, but needs to get stronger.
Tier Five (41-50)
Connor Barwin, DE/OLB/TE, Cincinnati:
All-Big East as a tight end in 2007, then all-Big East as a defensive end last season. Also played college basketball… Has very good athletic ability and gives top effort… Has quickness… At 256 pounds, ran a 4.61 and had a 40 ½-inch vertical jump at the combine… Also a good blocker… Needs to learn and focus on one position.
Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut:
Cousin and uncle both played in NFL… Had 11-foot, 2-inch broad jump and 41 ½-inch vertical jump at the combine… Has good quickness and athletic ability… Can play wide receiver… Thin, with narrow hips… Had trouble against Rutgers' Kenny Britt.
Patrick Chung, S, Oregon:
Started 51 games for the Ducks… Strong (25 reps at the combine), tough and aggressive player… Looked good at combine drills… Ran 4.51 at 212 pounds… Good special teams player.
Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan:
Has been a four-year starter… Tough, with good coverage ability… Had 37 ½-inch vertical jump and ran 6.71 three-cone drill… Good leader who will be a good special teams player.
Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State:
Father Daren played OT for the New Orleans Saints… Good combine numbers (4.85 40 and 35 ½-inch vertical jump at 288 pounds)… Has 36 ¾-inch arms… While he had 9.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss in 2008, he might have better upside as an offensive tackle… Does not go all-out on every down.
Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida:
Outstanding athlete who passes the eye test… Came to Florida as a quarterback… Missed the 2008 season with a torn ACL… Tough, with very good hands… Ran 4.65 at 245 pounds… Can gain 20 more pounds… Needs to learn how to block.
Phil Loadholt, OL, Oklahoma:
A big man (6-foot7 ¾) with long arms (36 ½ inches)… Plays hard and will not back down… Will be best at right tackle… Very good basketball player; his sister is a basketball player… Good person, though he did have a DUI in June of 2008.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina:
Started 35 games over three years… First player in North Carolina history to have 1,000 receiving yards (1,222 in 2008, on 68 catches)… Set 14 Carolina receiving records… Outstanding athlete who looks taller than his 6-0 ¾ measurement… Not great speed, but can find the open area… Was outstanding vs. West Virginia in bowl game.
D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt:
Three-year starter who is leaving school early… Good athlete, he was South Carolina's state high jump champion in high school… Not very tall (5-8 7/8) but has good ball skills… Has ability to close on the ball and flashes wide receiver skills… Can return kicks… Height is a disadvantage against tall receivers.
Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia:
Had 11 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2008… Can play with his hands on the ground or in space… Has good strength and speed… Some college opponents thought he was just as good in 2007 as former teammate and first-round pick Chris Long… Most likely better than my rating
Tier Six (51-60): Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina; Paul Kruger, DE, Utah; LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh; Fili Moala, DT, USC; William Moore, S, Missouri; Louis Murphy, WR, Florida; Shawn Nelson, TE, Southern Miss; Duke Robinson, OT, Oklahoma; Pat White, QB, West Virginia; Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State
Tier Seven (61-70): Kevin Barnes, CB, Maryland; Ron Brace, DT, Boston College; Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon; James Casey, TE, Rice; Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa; Rashad Johnson, S, Alabama; Sen'Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn; Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati; Sean Smith, CB, Utah; Eric Wood, C, Louisville
Tier Eight (71-80): Cody Brown, DE/OLB, Connecticut; Gerald Cadogan, OL, Penn State; Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma; Ricky Jean-Francois, DT, LSU; Alex Magee, DL, Purdue; Stephen McGee, QB, Texas A&M Richard Quinn, TE, North Carolina; Kraig Urbik, OT, Wisconsin; Chip Vaughn, S, Wake Forest; Donald Washington, CB, Ohio State
Tier Nine (81-90): Kevin Barnes, CB, Maryland; Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin; Andre Brown, RB, N.C. State; Marcus Freeman, LB, Ohio State; Michael Hamlin, S, Clemson; Andy Levitre, G, Oregon State; Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia; Lawrence Sidbury, DE, Richmond; Brandon Williams, DE, Texas Tech; John Parker Wilson, QB, Alabama
Tier Ten (91-100): Darry Beckwith, LB, LSU; Rhett Bomar, QB, Sam Houston State; Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina; Antoine Caldwell, G, Alabama; Anthony Hill, TE, N.C. State; Keenan Lewis, DB, Oregon State; Darcel McBath, S, Texas Tech; Sherrod Martin, S, Troy; Chris Owens, CB, San Jose State; DeAngelo Smith, CB, Cincinnati
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Gil Brandt's Top 100 Prospects By Tiers
Posted 07 April 2009 - 10:01 PM
Pay close attention to this man's rankings. He may be old as sh*t...but he knows his football quite well. And year in and out, he puts guys in his top 50......that the Kiper's of the world have as 4th - 5th rounders. And NFL teams pick these guys....and those "Kiper's" call them reaches
Brandt knows his shizz
Brandt knows his shizz
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