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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    GBN: Huff out of top ten?

    PRE-DRAFT POTPOURRI
    by Colin Lindsay
    April 10, 2006

    Cracking the Top 10… While there has been plenty of movement back and forth, the players ranked in the top 10 prospects for this year’s draft have been pretty static. In recent days, however, Florida State DT Brodrick Bunkley and Southern Cal junior OTWinston Justice have staked solid claims to be included in that exclusive group. Indeed, there is a bit of a buzz that FSU’s Bunkley could ultimately challenge fellow DT Haloti Ngata of Oregon for the top spot at that position. Bunkley is a rugged 305-pounder with excellent speed for a big man; indeed, he’s been timed in under 5.0 seconds for the 40. Bunkley is even quicker in a limited space with an explosive first step. Bunkley also has a great work ethic. For his part, the massive Ngata is no slouch, posting 40 times in under 5.15 seconds running at close to 340 pounds, but he lacks Bunkley’s expolsion. In fact, while he is almost impossible to move off the line of scrimmage, Ngata has never made many plays upfield.

    Meanwhile, while USC RB Reggie Bush made all the headlines, it was OT Justice who probably made himself the most money at the Trojans’ on-campus workout earlier this month. Indeed, Justice posted some almost ‘freakish’ numbers, at least for a 320-pounder, including a 39-inch vertical leap and a 5.15 40 time. Justice also has a huge wingspan, plus he’s also only 20 years of age having enrolled at USC as 17-year-old. And while he played RT at USC where he actually protected lefty QB Matt Leinart’s blindside, Justice certainly appears to have the athleticism to play LT at the next level.

    What makes all this even more interesting is that literally each one of the teams picking 7th through 10th - for the record, Oakland at #7, Buffalo at #8, Detroit at #9, and Arizona at #10 – have a need at least either OT or DT; indeed, a good case can be made that the Raiders, Bills and Cardinals have prime needs at both spots which should make Justice and/or Bunkley all that more popular on the 29th given the relative paucity of elite talent at both positions. Meanwhile, if either, or both, Justice and/or Bunkley indeed sneak into this year’s top 10, one player who could get pushed out is Texas DB Michael Huff. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with Huff, however, NFL are starting to think of Huff as a more likely SS than CB and safeties just don’t have the same value on draft day as cover corners.

    Movin’ on up… USC’s Justice and FSU’s Bunkley, however, are not the only players making late moves as the draft approaches. Colorado TE Joel Klopfenstein, for example, may be quietly putting some pressure on Georgia’s Leonard Pope and Marcedes Lewis of UCLA for the 2-3 grades at the position. Klopfenstein isn’t flashy – he’s also not a dominating run blocker – however, Klopfenstein is very smooth with excellent hands. Klopfenstein also has exceptional speed for a 6-5, 255-pouder, posting 40 times in under 4.6 seconds. UCLA’s Lewis, on the other hand, has been disappointing this off-season, struggling to break 5.0 seconds at times in the 40; meanwhile, the 6-8 Pope is a huge potential target, however, there are concerns that Pope may lack the flexibility and agility to dominate as he did in college. Indeed, no one should be shocked if a team like Chicago or Carolina looking to upgrade at TE with their late first-round picks calls out the name of Klopfenstein ahead of Pope and/or Lewis.

    Another receiver making a late run up draft boards around the NFL is unheralded Western Michigan WR Greg Jennings. There have never been any doubts about Jennings productivity at WMU where he had 228 receptions the past three years including 98 in 2005. For most of that time, though, Jennings had been thought of as more as a possession type receiver with only average speed; however, Jennings put those doubts to rest when he ran a blistering 4.40 40 at the combine. That combined with excellent receiving skills could vault into the mid to late second round later this month in a very down year at the position. Indeed, Jennings has been athletic enough that there have even been some rumblings that he could ultimately play densive back at the next level. Meanwhile, teams looking for an Anquan Boldin type receiver are taking another look at Central Florida WR Brandon Marshall. Marshall is a very physical 6-4, 230-pound receiver who averaged 16 yards per catch on 74 total receptions last fall for UCF. And while not a blazer, Marshall has better than average speed with a 40 time of just over 4.5 seconds; Marshall, though, is an even better athlete who actually led the team in tackles in 2004 when asked to play defense because of injuries in the secondary. A lot of pro teams have also taken long looks at small school receivers Miles Austin of Monmouth, a 6-2, 215-pounder, and 6-4.5, 224-pound Marques Colston of Hofstra. Like UCF’s Marshall, both have excellent size and 4.5 type speed. Meanwhile, Ohio State DB Donte Whitner may have worked himself into the top 20 this year. Whitner is a little on the short side at just 5-10, but has uncommon speed for a safety with a 4.4 40 clocking.

    Iffy forecast for Hurricanes… There is also a story brewing at Miami where the Hurricanes streak of having at least one player selected in the opening round for 11 straight years is very much in doubt this spring. Miami does have several prospects with near first round potential in OT Eric Winston, WR Sinorice Moss and CB Kelly Jennings, but none of the three is a lock to be a first rounder selection. While the Hurricanes’ 2006 draft class lacks its usual star power, Miami does have impressive depth with a number of players who haven’t gotten their due to date this spring. OLB Roger ‘Rocky’ McIntosh, for example, has been quietly having around just behind this year’s solid second tier group of OLBs including the likes of DeMeco Ryans of Alabama and Ohio State’s Bobby Carpenter. McIntosh has nice size at 6-2, 237 combined with very good 4.63 speed. Meanwhile, CB Marcus Maxey and OT Rashad Butler are also very good second-tier prospects who haven’t gotten much ink. Maxey in particular has a very nice size (6-2, 198)/ speed (4.50) ratio. On the other hand, Butler is a tad undersized at barely 295 pounds, but he’s very athletic.

    New questions about top QB… The $64K question in the early going at this year’s draft will be how quickly QBs Matt Leinart of Southern Cal, Vince Young of Texas and Vanderbilt’s Jay Cutler are selected. In fact, we probably won’t know for sure how the NFL really feels about the trio until the opening round is half over. And just like the real experts we have been all over the place in how we rate the three, each of whom has strengths, but each of whom also questions.

    USC’s Leinart still appears to be the consensus leader of the three QBs, but it is hardly a lock. Indeed, recall at this time last year, most people still figured that California QB Aaron Rodgers would be the first player picked at the 2005 draft. Rodgers, of course, ultimately went 24th overall to Green Bay after the San Francisco took Utah QB Alex Smith with the #1 pick. What has pro teams like Tennessee and the Jets with very early picks at this year’s draft are some growing questions about just how badly Leinart wants ‘it.’ Choosing not to run at the Trojans’ on-campus workout earlier this month was just one more clue in a line that goes back all the way to last winter that has raised doubts among personnel people about Leinart’s commitment to the game. More than a few eyebrows were raised last winter, for example, when Leinart opted not to enter the 2005 draft despite the fact that he appeared to be a cold stone lock to be the #1 pick taken. At the time, there were rumblings that one element of Leinart’s decision was the fact that he was having such a good time living the life of a celebrity in Los Angeles. (Of course, the fact that Leinart also had surgery on his throwing shoulder a few days after he announced he was staying school also may have played a major role in his decision.) That combines with the fact that there were already concerns about Leinart’s arm strength, although there are no questions about his accuracy, quick release, ability to read the field and pocket poise.

    There are also questions regarding Leinart in that during his Southern Cal tenure the Trojans were so dominant that he was seldom really tested. Indeed, in such a scenario we also like to use the ‘Vandy rule.’ That is, how would a player from a top program be rated if he had played a lesser school. And, in fact, it would be tough to answer “absolutely” to the query “would Matt Leinart be considered for the 3rd pick at this year’s draft if he had played at Vanderbilt rather than USC?” Leinart still would have been a good player, but… In contrast, it is a lot easier to figure that Texas’ Vince Young would have starred at any program in the country, although that still wouldn’t necessarily translate into success at the next level as his athletic skills are so unique. Meanwhile, answering the question where Vanderbilt’s Cutler would rate if he had played at Vanderbilt kind of answers itself!


  2. #2
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    Re: GBN: Huff out of top ten?

    Its a strong possibility that if either Bunkly/Justice or both moves into the top ten that Huff would be the one to fall right to us.

  3. #3
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    Re: GBN: Huff out of top ten?

    I hope he is there. But if he isn't there I sure wouldn't complain about Chad Greenway
    RamsFan16

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    DaRamsBaby is offline Registered User
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    Re: GBN: Huff out of top ten?

    huff's top ten in my list, lol, but it would be great if he did fall out of the top ten and fall right to us..

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    Re: GBN: Huff out of top ten?

    This will get Ram Fans even more excited about the Draft!!!! Its already gotten me excited even more

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    Re: GBN: Huff out of top ten?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rampage39
    Its a strong possibility that if either Bunkly/Justice or both moves into the top ten that Huff would be the one to fall right to us.
    I'd love that.
    Ourlads had Bunkley going to Buffalo at 8 but they also have Huff going to San Fran at 6.

  7. #7
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    Re: GBN: Huff out of top ten?

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan16
    I hope he is there. But if he isn't there I sure wouldn't complain about Chad Greenway
    I don't think we would get the most value if we took Greenway at #11. I think he can be had probably in the mid-to late teens. Btw you're such a hawkeye homer.

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    Re: GBN: Huff out of top ten?

    Alot of people would take Greenway. Dude I said I hope Huff is there. But if he isn't I wouldn't complain about grabbing Greenway.
    RamsFan16

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