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    Vic's picks

    Vic's Picks
    By Vic Carucci
    National Editor, NFL.com


    Quarterbacks
    1. Matt Leinart, USC

    Matt Leinart's southpaw delivery might give some potential suitors some pause.
    Matt Leinart's southpaw delivery might give some potential suitors some pause.
    Positives: Perfect size (6-foot-4 and 224 pounds) for an NFL quarterback because he is tall enough to easily seeover linemen and has a chance to hold up to physical punishment resulting from poor protection and rookie mistakes in picking up the blitz, etc. ... Large hands and long arms are also plusses. ... Very good accuracy, especially on touch passes. ... Excels at reading coverages and quickly finding open receiver. ... Better footwork than one might expect for his large frame, and is quick to set up for throws. ... Strong leadership; doesn't rattle easily vs. pressure or when faced with adversity.

    Negatives: Arm strength unspectacular, but good enough that it shouldn't prove a major problem. ... As a lefty, will force team that drafts him to focus on putting best pass-blocking tackle on the right, which is uncommon. ... Long throwing motion could give defensive backs an edge on anticipating where his passes go. ... Poor mobility, but is a talented enough passer to overcome that and be the first quarterback selected.
    2. Vince Young, Texas (underclassman)

    Vince Young is being compared to Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper.
    Vince Young is being compared to Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper.
    Positives: Exceptional combination of size (6-5 and 230 pounds) and off-the-charts athleticism make him an extremely rare talent. ... Outstanding speed and mobility make him a constant threat to run, and will keep defenses occupied with mainly trying to minimize the damage he can do with his feet. ... Quick enough to avoid pressure in the pocket and keep a play alive, but strong enough to break tackles when he does run. ... Showed tremendous poise in leading the Longhorns and scoring his winning touchdown run for the national championship in the Rose Bowl, the biggest football stage this side of the Super Bowl.

    Negatives: Stories of poor results on intelligence test at the Scouting Combine were overblown, but could prove damaging to what once seemed like a surefire top-three (or top) pick. ... Sidearm delivery makes throws vulnerable to being knocked down. ... Overall passing mechanics are raw and need work. ... Patience and decision-making in the pocket.
    3. Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt

    Jay Cutler won big points with the scouts when he worked out at the Combine.
    Jay Cutler won big points with the scouts when he worked out at the Combine.
    Positives: Strong arm and overall strength emanating from solid, 6-2, 223-pound frame. ... Makes every kind of throw, but is especially impressive on deep outs and squeezing the ball through small openings. ... Intelligence, patience in the pocket, and progression reads. ... Took advantage of having stage all to himself during Scouting Combine workouts, in which Leinart and Young did not participate, with mostly impressive performance.

    Negatives: Occasional overconfidence with arm strength can lead to gambles that backfire. ... Has some work to do on overall mechanics and getting rid of the ball quicker. ... Wasn't tremendously accurate during Combine throwing drills.
    4. Omar Jacobs, Bowling Green (underclassman)

    Positives: Size (6-4 and 224 pounds), strength, and athleticism. ... Strong arm, large hands. ... Puts plenty of zip on deep outs and is able to get the ball into tight spaces ... Wonderful accuracy and touch on short and intermediate throws.

    Negatives: Tends to pull down the ball and run too soon; needs to become more comfortable working from the pocket. ... Throwing mechanics require work. ... Field vision, ability to read defenses.
    5. Brodie Croyle, Alabama

    Positives: Strong arm, nice touch. ... Quick release that is enhanced by exceptionally fast throwing motion. ... Reads defenses well. ... Makes good decisions throwing from the pocket. ... Leadership.

    Negatives: At 6-2, faces a challenge seeing over linemen, and 205-pound frame could make him susceptible to injuries. NFL stock already has been hurt by injury-filled collegiate career. ... Accuracy and touch on shorter routes. ... Pocket awareness and ability to avoid pressure.


    --------------------------

    Runningbacks
    1. REGGIE BUSH, USC (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Reggie Bush has been compared to Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders, Tony Dorsett and Marshall Faulk.
    Reggie Bush has been compared to Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders, Tony Dorsett and Marshall Faulk.
    Positives: Has enough physical gifts to become one of the very best and most complete players ever at the position. ... Tremendous speed makes him a threat to go the distance each time he touches the ball, and almost impossible to catch from behind once he reaches the open field. ... Superb body control and elusiveness allow him to instantly bounce outside or find cutback lane. ... Great vision to find the right hole. ... Superior receiving skills, including ability to recognize coverages, run routes, create separation quickly, and make difficult catches. ... Although smallish frame (5-foot-10 and 201 pounds) limits ability to push the pile, still has enough power to be effective running between the tackles and can add bulk through diet and weight-training.

    Negatives: Not many for the presumptive top overall choice, but you can always find flaws even with the most talented players. ... Lack of size and sharing rushing load at USC with LenDale White raise questions about his durability. ... Needs work on pass-protection techniques, especially gaining leverage when taking on larger defensive linemen.
    2. LAURENCE MARONEY, MINNESOTA (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Once Laurence Maroney sees a hole, he doesn't waste time.
    Once Laurence Maroney sees a hole, he doesn't waste time.
    Positives: Shows superb vision and patience to allow blocks to develop. ... Decisive, usually runs with authority and won't dance too much. ... Despite relatively small frame (5-11 and 217 pounds), running style reflects surprisingly good power and explosiveness. ... Breakaway speed in the open field and outstanding body control. ... Excellent ball security.

    Negatives: Could develop greater toughness as a blocker and become more willing to engage in contact. ... Must have better awareness in picking up blitzes. ... Receiving skills need plenty of work in every respect.
    3. LENDALE WHITE, USC (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Positives: Excellent size (6-1 and 238 pounds) to be a steady, every-down, power back. ... Won't hesitate to go through defenders rather than around them, but has enough body control and quickness to be highly effective running outside. ... Shows good patience to allow blocks to form and is a decisive runner. ... Excels in short-yardage and goal-line situations. ... Excellent ball security.

    Negatives: Not very elusive and doesn't have breakaway speed. ... Needs to improve blitz recognition and blocking technique in pass protection. ... Must work on receiving skills.
    4. JOSEPH ADDAI, LSU

    Joseph Addai is tougher than his size would indicate.
    Joseph Addai is tougher than his size would indicate.
    Positives: Exceptional speed, giving him the ability to go the distance on any carry. ... Tougher and more physical runner than one would expect from a back that stands 5-11 and weighs 215 pounds. ... Superb footwork. ... Natural receiver who not only runs precise routes and can catch the ball in full stride, but also has the ability to recognize coverages. ... Size is no impediment when it comes to picking up the blitz; willing to take on defensive linemen and results usually are favorable.

    Negatives: Although he was healthy the past two seasons, has a history of knee injuries. ... Not particularly elusive. ... Lack of size could be a drawback when needing to move the pile in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
    5. DEANGELO WILLIAMS, MEMPHIS

    Positives: Good burst and quickness. ... Superb change-of-direction skills, body control and balance. ... Despite smallish frame (5-8 and 208 pounds), can power through defenders and be effective in short-yardage and goal-line situations. ... Reliable hands and ability to make catches in full stride makes him a strong threat as a receiver out of the backfield.

    Negatives: Lack of height, which causes problems in picking up the blitz. ... Although fast enough to outrun linebackers, does not have genuine breakaway speed. ... Durability; has a troubling history of injuries in college.

    -------------------------------

    Wide Receivers
    1. SANTONIO HOLMES, OHIO STATE (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Santonio Holmes has been compared to Steve Smith and Santana Moss, but might not be as fast.
    Santonio Holmes has been compared to Steve Smith and Santana Moss, but might not be as fast.
    Positives: Dependable, sure-handed player who easily is the draft's best player at his position. ... Will make tough catches over the middle and can grab passes thrown over his head in full stride. ... Runs crisp, precise routes. ... Gets good separation once he is in his pattern. ... Outstanding footwork that allows him to make quick starts and stops. ... Has explosiveness to quickly get upfield after the catch and be a legitimate threat to go the distance whenever the ball is in his hands.

    Negatives: Must reduce number of passes that he catches with his body, rather than strictly with his hands. ... Smallish frame (5-foot-10 and 198 pounds) creates some difficulties when it comes to releasing from the line of scrimmage. ... Needs to learn how to make better use of hands to escape defenders trying to jam him.
    2. CHAD JACKSON, FLORIDA (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Florida's Chad Jackson had 88 catches last season, but for only 900 yards.
    Florida's Chad Jackson had 88 catches last season, but for only 900 yards.
    Positives: Superb concentration on the ball. ... Makes difficult catches in traffic. ... Excels at running underneath routes, but has speed and burst to turn them into long gains. ... Has size (6-1 and 201 pounds) and strength to fight off jams at the line. ... Runs precise routes.

    Negatives: NFL teams don't know how effective he can be on deep routes because he didn't run many of them in college. ... Must improve blocking technique and develop a more aggressive attitude toward making contact.
    3. SINORICE MOSS, MIAMI

    Positives: Great speed and a threat to score on every catch. ... Makes good adjustments to poorly thrown balls. ... Works particularly well against zone coverage. ... Comes out of breaks quickly and gets good separation once he is in his routes.

    Negatives: Inconsistency when it comes to catching the ball. ... Won't always make the tough catch in traffic. ... Smallish frame (5-7 and 183 pounds) makes him vulnerable to be knocked off routes by larger and more physical defensive backs.
    4. JASON AVANT, MICHIGAN

    With Braylon Edwards leaving for the NFL, Jason Avant achieved a 1,000-yard season.
    With Braylon Edwards leaving for the NFL, Jason Avant achieved a 1,000-yard season.
    Positives: Highly productive college career that probably would have received greater attention had he not been overshadowed by Braylon Edwards, whom the Browns made the third overall pick of the 2005 draft. ... Outstanding hands. ... Able to make every catch an NFL receiver needs to make -- long, short, over the middle. Runs excellent routes and shows considerable burst in and out of cuts. ... Good size (6-0 and 209 yards) and strength. ... Superior athleticism ... Reads coverages well. ... Shows tremendous determination to get open. ... Aggressive blocker.

    Negatives: Doesn't have top-level speed. ... Durability issues.
    5. DEREK HAGAN, ARIZONA STATE

    Positives: Intelligent route-runner with more savvy than one would expect from a young receiver when it comes to getting open against zone and man-to-man coverage. ... Superb footwork and change-of-direction ability. ... Excels at recognizing coverages. ... Strong leadership skills.

    Negatives: Tends to avoid going over the middle for tough catch. ... Doesn't have great speed, which limits ability to get separation. ... Needs to work on getting release from the line.


    ------------------------------

    Tight Ends
    1. VERNON DAVIS, MARYLAND (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Vernon Davis was a first-team All-Amercan this past season.
    Vernon Davis was a first-team All-Amercan this past season.
    Positives: Off-the-charts performance in Scouting Combine drills only enhanced the status of a player already widely regarded as the draft's best at his position. … Has a staggering combination of outstanding size (6-foot-3 and 254 pounds), speed (ran 40-yard dash at Combine in 4.38 seconds), strength (best bench press showing of any tight end at the Combine), and athleticism (impressive vertical leap of 40 inches). … Dependable hands. … Excellent route-runner with knowledge to find openings against zone- and man-to-man coverage, and necessary burst to create separation in his patterns. … Capable of consistently turning short catches into long gains.

    Negatives: Needs to work on his blocking skills. … Despite strength, doesn't seem to know how to use hands properly when engaging with linebackers.

    2. LEONARD POPE, GEORGIA (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Positives: Tall target (6-7 and 250 pounds) with large hands and long arms that he uses well to keep defenders at bay. … Impressive athletic display at Scouting Combine. … Superior speed that is capable of stretching coverage. … Shows strong explosion off the line of scrimmage. … Excels at finding soft spots in zone coverage.

    Negatives: Needs to add some bulk, which figures to be fairly easy given his frame. … Has problems sometimes with defenders who are able to get their hands on him near the line.

    3. ANTHONY FASANO, NOTRE DAME (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Anthony Fasano was the third option for the best Irish team since 2002.
    Anthony Fasano was the third option for the best Irish team since 2002.
    Positives: Catches the ball well in traffic and on the run. … Tremendous intelligence allows him to consistently find openings against zone and man-to-man coverage. … Worked well in a pro-style offense that should enhance his readiness for the NFL. … Good initial burst helps compensate for general lack of speed. … Displays solid blocking technique. … Superior hustle and work ethic.

    Negatives: Lack of speed and athleticism. … Doesn't make many would-be tacklers miss and is not particularly effective on seam routes, where tight ends usually make their greatest impact.

    4. MARCEDES LEWIS, UCLA

    Marcedes Lewis was to UCLA's passing game what Maurice Drew was to the running game.
    Marcedes Lewis was to UCLA's passing game what Maurice Drew was to the running game.
    Positives: Concentration when catching the ball. … Makes good use of 6-6 frame, particularly on jump balls. … Good route-runner. … Solid blocker.

    Negatives: Doesn't get much explosion off the line. … Has problems releasing on the snap. … Lacks a natural running stride.

    5. JOE KLOPFENSTEIN, COLORADO

    Positives: Nice combination of height (6-5) and speed. … Runs good, crisp routes. … Will battle for the ball. … Intelligence. … Durability. … Strong work ethic.

    Negatives: Doesn't consistently get good release from the line. … Must add bulk and strength to 250-pound frame to become a more effective blocker.

    ------------------------

    Full Backs
    1. GARRETT MILLS, TULSA

    Positives: Former standout pass-catching tight end in college. ... Considerable athleticism, speed and play-making ability. ... Blocks well in the open field. ... Has all of the qualities necessary to develop into an effective H-back rather than a traditional fullback.

    Negatives: Doesn't have enough size (6-foot-1 and 248 pounds) to fill the traditional fullback role as a powerful lead blocker or short-yardage/goal-line runner. ... Needs to develop skills as a ball carrier.
    2. MATT BERNSTEIN, WISCONSIN

    Look for Matt Bernstein to get the ball only in short-yardage situations.
    Look for Matt Bernstein to get the ball only in short-yardage situations.
    Positives: Probably the best blocking fullback in this year's class. ... Runs with power and keeps himself low, which is how fullbacks are supposed to run. ... Will battle for tough yards and continue to make progress after initial contact.

    Negatives: Needs to work on pass-protection and receiving skills. ... Almost no big-play threat due to limited speed and athleticism.
    3. GILBERT HARRIS, ARIZONA

    Gilbert Harris scored seven touchdowns for the Wildcats last season.
    Gilbert Harris scored seven touchdowns for the Wildcats last season.
    Positives: Despite a lack of size (6-1 and 223 pounds) and bulk, is a remarkably powerful inside runner. ... Excellent in short-yardage and goal-line situations. ... Natural runner with superior vision and cutback skills. ... Solid receiver out of the backfield.

    Negatives: Too small to be a traditional fullback and hard to project him as an H-back. ... Durability. ... Ability to protect the ball while running.
    4. NAUFAHU TAHI, BRIGHAM YOUNG

    Positives: Straight-line runner who packs a fairly good punch despite his relative lack of size (6-0 and 230 pounds). ... Should be able to add bulk and strength that would allow him to potentially make a decent impact in short-yardage and goal-line situations. ... A solid receiver out of the backfield, he is adept at running both short and intermediate routes. ... Good blocker at the point of attack.

    Negatives: Lacks speed and athleticism. ... Needs to work on making blocks in the open field.
    5. LAWRENCE VICKERS, COLORADO

    Lawrence Vickers can make yardage, but will need to work on his blocking.
    Lawrence Vickers can make yardage, but will need to work on his blocking.
    Positives: Powerful runner who will take on tacklers, but has enough athleticism to avoid them. ... Effective in goal-line/short-yardage situations. ... Has good patience to allow blocks to develop and hits the hole quickly. ... Solid pass catcher.

    Negatives: At 5-11 and 239 pounds, relatively small to be a traditional fullback. ... Doesn't have the bulk or strength to hold his own in one-on-one blocking situations.

    -------------------------------

    Offensive Tackles
    1. D'BRICKASHAW FERGUSON, VIRGINIA

    D'Brickashaw Ferguson has been projected to go as high as No. 4 in the draft.
    D'Brickashaw Ferguson has been projected to go as high as No. 4 in the draft.
    Positives: Universally regarded as one of the most dominant tackles to emerge from the college ranks in recent years. ... Tremendous size (6-foot-6 and 312 pounds), upper-body strength, arm length and punch. ... Amazingly quick out of his stance and in setting up for pass protection. ... Shows considerable athleticism for his size. ... Great hustle and balance.

    Negatives: Lacks lower-body power and explosiveness, but should be able to improve that by adding bulk (he played at 290 pounds last season) and being committed to an NFL team's strength-and-conditioning program.
    2. WINSTON JUSTICE, USC (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart owe a lot of thanks to Winston Justice.
    Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart owe a lot of thanks to Winston Justice.
    Positives: Excellent size (6-6 and 319 pounds), upper-body strength, and arm length. ... Superior athleticism, especially when it comes to adjusting to an inside rush. ... Has had advanced development of pass-protection skills in a pro-style offense. ... Takes good blocking angles. ... Superb footwork, especially when blocking for the run.

    Negatives: Despite being athletically gifted, he occasionally has problems handling ultra-fast outside rushers. ... Needs to work on developing greater explosion and taking better advantage of his massive frame.
    3. MARCUS MCNEILL, AUBURN

    Positives: Amazing combination of abundant size (6-7 and 336 pounds) and speed. ... Ability to consistently dominant defenders. ... Does a good job of utilizing long arms and strong hands. ... Sets feet quickly and has footwork to handle speed rushers. ... Bulk and strength allow him to take on bull rushers with little problem.

    Negatives: Must work on improving technical aspects of his game, especially maintaining good leverage. ... Concerns over his ability to keep his weight under control.
    4. ERIC WINSTON, MIAMI

    Eric Winston has overcome a learning curve and a serious injury to become a possible first-rounder.
    Eric Winston has overcome a learning curve and a serious injury to become a possible first-rounder.
    Positives: Former collegiate tight end brings considerable athleticism to the position. ... Impressive performances in Scouting Combine drills and at the Hurricanes' Pro Day on May 4 figure to do wonders for his draft stock. ... Shows good football temperament and physical style of play that matches the mentality of his opponents. ... Good size (6-6 and 310 pounds) and strength. ... Long arms and strong hands. ... Superb body control and footwork.

    Negatives: Suffered a torn knee ligament that ended his season in 2004, although pre-draft workouts have put to rest many of the lingering concerns. ... Pass-protection technique needs work. ... Must improve lower-body strength.
    5. JEREMY TRUEBLOOD, BOSTON COLLEGE

    Positives: Ultra-large frame (6-8 and 316 pounds), arm length (34½ inches), and hand size (10½ inches). ... Better athlete than size might indicate. ... Good quickness and footwork. ... Takes good angles on blocks and finishes well.

    Negatives: Plenty of work needed on techniques, especially when it comes to preventing defenders from getting under his pads and maintaining balance. ... Needs to develop better lateral movement and body control in the open field. ... Could add some lower-body strength.

    -------------------------

    Centers
    1. NICK MANGOLD, OHIO STATE

    Nick Mangold, left, and A.J. Hawk might be the first players drafted at their respective positions.
    Nick Mangold, left, and A.J. Hawk might be the first players drafted at their respective positions.
    Positives: Good size (6-foot-3 and 300 pounds) and upper-body strength. ... Shows considerable toughness and will battle to the whistle. ... Possesses intelligence to recognize stunts and blitzes, and consistently makes proper line calls. ... Takes good angles on blocks. ... Does a nice job of pulling and trapping. ... Sets up quickly in pass protection, which gives him an edge vs. speedy inside rushers.

    Negatives: Must enhance lower-body strength to deal with massive, bull-rushing tackles. ... Needs to work on change-of-direction skills to become better able to block defenders on the move.
    2. MIKE DEGORY, FLORIDA

    Positives: Excellent size (6-5 and 305 pounds) and arm length. ... Superior technique in pass protection. ... Excellent overall strength. ... Great desire to improve his game, as reflected by steady development throughout his collegiate career. ... Shows a great deal of intelligence and savvy in stunt and blitz recognition, and consistently makes proper line calls. ... Willing and coachable enough to work at guard and center, which will make him a more valuable backup early in his NFL career.

    Negatives: Athleticism. ... Needs to improve body control and balance when making blocks in the open field.
    3. GREG ESLINGER, MINNESOTA

    Greg Eslinger won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman last season.
    Greg Eslinger won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman last season.
    Positives: Good size (6-3 and 292 pounds) and athleticism. ... Superior techniques. ... Outstanding footwork that allows him to get consistently good leverage. ... Makes excellent use of hands to separate from defenders. ... Shows superb recognition of stunts and blitzes and consistently makes proper line calls. ... Perfect fit for any zone-blocking running scheme.

    Negatives: Needs to develop more lower-body strength. ... Although he is built just right for lateral movement in a zone-blocking scheme, he could benefit from adding some bulk and strength, especially when he has to take on a power-oriented inside rusher.
    4. JASON SPITZ, LOUISVILLE

    Positives: Good size (6-3 and 313 pounds), speed and toughness. ... Makes good use of hands to gain separation. ... Solid run blocker. ... Good recognition of stunts and blitzes. ... Versatility, with more experience at guard than center.

    Negatives: A converted guard who still is learning the center position. ... Must work on improving change-of-direction ability and maintaining balance when blocking on the move.
    5. RYAN COOK, NEW MEXICO

    Positives: Tremendous size (6-6 and 328 pounds). ... Good upper-body strength. ... Considerable arm length allows him to consistently lock up pass rushers.

    Negatives: Needs to add lower-body strength. ... Has work to do in gaining better stunt/blitz awareness. ... Must do a better job of maintaining leverage and adjusting to make blocks in the open field.

    ------------------------------

    Offensive Guards
    1. MAX JEAN-GILLES, GEORGIA

    Max Jean-Gilles, center, won't be overpowered in the NFL at 6-3 and a sturdy 355 pounds.
    Max Jean-Gilles, center, won't be overpowered in the NFL at 6-3 and a sturdy 355 pounds.
    Positives: Packs tremendous bulk in a 6-foot-3, 355-pound frame. ... Won't often be overpowered. ... Long arms and good use of hands to lock onto defenders. ...Shows good body control and balance, especially in the open field. ... Impressive footwork and quickness off the snap as well as laterally. ... Establishes leverage quickly.

    Negatives: Athleticism leaves something to be desired and stamina and conditioning need work. ... Needs to improve speed on pulls and traps.
    2. DAVIN JOSEPH, OKLAHOMA

    Positives: Plays with considerable power that allows him to consistently rock defenders with hand punches. ... Does a good job of maintaining leverage. ... Shows an aggressive mentality, especially in pass protection. ... Superior mobility and body control allow him to pull and trap well, and make blocks in the open field.

    Negatives: At 6-2, lacks ideal height, although 311-pound frame is plenty wide for an NFL guard. ... Blitz and stunt recognition.
    3. CHARLES SPENCER, PITTSBURGH

    Charles Spencer is a little raw as a converted defensive tackle, but his skills are impressive.
    Charles Spencer is a little raw as a converted defensive tackle, but his skills are impressive.
    Positives: Good size (6-4 and 352 pounds). ... Highly athletic, which allows him to be effective in small areas as well as in the open field. ... Explodes out of stance and gets to linebackers and safeties quickly. ... Good arm extension and powerful enough to rock defenders with hand punches. ... Remarkable progress since switching from defensive tackle as a junior, and impressed many NFL scouts during Senior Bowl workouts.

    Negatives: Lack of offensive line experience. ... Must work at taking better advantage of size and strength when run-blocking at point of attack.
    4. ROB SIMS, OHIO STATE

    Positives: Toughness and strength, especially when it comes to locking onto defenders. ... Plenty of width in 307-pound frame. ... Quick feet. ... Takes good angles on blocks. ... Recognition of blitz and stunts. ... Versatility, with collegiate experience at tackle.

    Negatives: At 6-2, lacks ideal height. ... Agility. ... Must improve physical conditioning.
    5. KEVIN BOOTHE, CORNELL

    Positives: Good size (6-4 and 316 pounds). ... Nice combination of bulk and athleticism. ... Long arms and powerful hands that he uses well to knock back and lock onto defenders. ... Superior lateral movement. ... Intelligence and blitz/stunt awareness.

    Negatives: Durability after suffering ankle and hand injuries in high school and again in college. ... Lack of top-level speed is a concern, especially in terms of getting to linebackers and safeties in the open field.

    --------------------------------

    Defensive Ends

    1. MARIO WILLIAMS, NORTH CAROLINA STATE (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Mario Williams impressed scouts at the Combine with his size and quickness.
    Mario Williams impressed scouts at the Combine with his size and quickness.
    Positives: Great size (6-foot-7 and 295 pounds). … Superior speed and athleticism. … Excellent anticipation of the snap and quickness off the ball allow him to win most battles on his first step. … Outstanding closing speed. … Excellent footwork and change-of-direction skills. … Superb ball instincts. … Shows equal dominance rushing the passer or stopping the run. … Big hitter.

    Negatives: Despite tremendously long arms, needs to work at getting better separation from blockers. … Must improve technique rather than mostly relying on running around blockers.

    2. MATHIAS KIWANUKA, BOSTON COLLEGE

    Positives: Good size (6-5 and 266 pounds) and speed. … A former basketball player, he has plenty of athleticism. … Nice variety of moves. … Constant hustle allows him to often make plays in pursuit. … Shows excellent instincts that he enhances with considerable study that allows him to make accurate pre-snap reads of offensive linemen. … Solid containment on outside runs.

    Negatives: Tendency to play too tall and allow blockers to get under him. … Needs to work on utilizing more of his quickness to get a better jump off the ball.

    3. TAMBA HALI, PENN STATE

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    Positives: Explosiveness off the snap. … Battles non-stop to the ball. … Good pass-rushing moves. … Upper-body strength, which allows him to escape blocks and hold his own at the point of attack. … Shows great ball instincts. … Impressive performance in the Senior Bowl.

    Negatives: At 6-3, he does not have ideal height for the position. … Must develop better use of his hands to get separation from blockers.

    4. DARRYL TAPP, VIRGINIA TECH

    Darryl Tapp registered 10 sacks as a senior at Virginia Tech.
    Darryl Tapp registered 10 sacks as a senior at Virginia Tech.
    Positives: Outstanding strength that helps him to consistently get penetration. … Plays with good leverage. … Physical player who shows great intensity. … Superb instincts help him to often make plays in the backfield.

    Negatives: At 6-1 and 252 pounds, doesn't have ideal size for the position. … Limited athleticism and speed.

    5. MANNY LAWSON, NORTH CAROLINA STATE

    Positives: Excellent athleticism and speed. … Consistently zips around offensive tackles and has outstanding ability to close on the ball. … Impressive strength. … Great instincts. … Works at building a repertoire of pass-rush moves.

    Negatives: Smallish (241 pounds) frame, although has the skills that could allow him to be an outside linebacker in 3-4 alignment. … Lower-body strength. … Must improve his leverage.

    --------------------------------

    Defensive Tackles
    1. HALOTI NGATA, OREGON (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Positives: Great size (6-foot-4 and 338 pounds). … Amazing combination of phenomenal strength and great quickness off the snap. … Extremely hard to budge. … Had consistent success despite facing almost constant double- and triple-team blocking. … Besides tying up blockers, also has remarkable ability to shake free and make tackles. … Nice agility and athleticism that allow him to change direction well in open field and be effective when dropping into coverage in a zone-blitz scheme.

    Negatives: Occasionally too dependant on brute strength rather than techniques, which he still needs to develop. … Needs to work on ability to anticipate draws and screens.

    2. GABE WATSON, MICHIGAN

    Michigan's Gabe Watson recorded 40 tackles and two sacks last season.
    Michigan's Gabe Watson recorded 40 tackles and two sacks last season.
    Positives: Good size (6-3 and 339 pounds). … Ultra-powerful force that routinely commands double teams. … Quickness off the ball. … Instincts for the ball. … Shows good discipline by not over-pursuing against the run and by staying in rushing lane against the pass. … Made strong impression as a run-stuffer in the Senior Bowl.

    Negatives: Athleticism and speed. … Reputation for occasionally taking plays off.
    3. RODRIQUE WRIGHT, TEXAS

    Positives: Superb combination of large frame (6-5 and 300 pounds), excellent mobility, and considerable power. … Arguably the best athlete among players at his position. … Shows a wide variety of pass-rush moves and runs with greater fluidity than one would expect from a defensive tackle. … Enough versatility to be a good fit in an odd- or even-man front.

    Negatives: Must learn to use hands and take better advantage of long arms to escape blockers. … Reputation for not performing to full potential. … A 2004 ankle injury raises some concerns about durability.
    4. ORIEN HARRIS, MIAMI

    Orien Harris has the skills necessary to help any team looking to shore up its run defense.
    Orien Harris has the skills necessary to help any team looking to shore up its run defense.
    Positives: Initial quickness. … Upper-body strength. … Plays with good leverage. … Separates from blockers well. … Strong pursuit and knack for forcing fumbles. … Shows good polish and readiness for a promising NFL career.

    Negatives: At 6-3 and 301 pounds, doesn't have ideal size for the position. … Needs to work on overall techniques. … Knee and elbow injuries in 2003 raise some durability concerns.
    5. CLAUDE WROTEN, LSU

    Positives: Upper-body strength. … Explosiveness off the ball. …Body control and ability to make plays on the move. … Inside pass-rush skills. … Good ball instincts.

    Negatives: At 6-2 and 302 pounds, doesn't have ideal size for the position. … Needs to play with more leverage. … Must make better use of hands to separate from blockers against the run.

    -----------------------------------

    Outside Linebackers
    1. A.J. HAWK, OHIO STATE

    Positives: Tremendous speed and athleticism. … True throwback player who constantly hustles and is extremely aggressive at the point of attack. … Makes plays sideline-to-sideline. … Great instincts. … Outstanding explosiveness and closing speed on blitzes. … Strong pass-coverage skills. … Uses hands well to separate from blockers. … Impressive workout at the Scouting Combine.

    Negatives: Could add some bulk to be better able to handle offensive linemen.
    2. CHAD GREENWAY, IOWA

    Iowa's Chad Greenway has the speed and aggressiveness that makes him a legitimate first round prospect.
    Iowa's Chad Greenway has the speed and aggressiveness that makes him a legitimate first round prospect.
    Positives: Tough, aggressive, explosive player. … Excellent speed and lateral pursuit. … Great body control. … Superb vision and intelligence. … Big hitter who delivers a blow with authority.

    Negatives: Must add lower-body strength. … Needs to work on man-to-man pass-coverage skills.
    3. THOMAS HOWARD, TEXAS AT EL PASO

    Positives: Good size (6-foot-3 and 239 pounds), speed, and athleticism. … Outside pass-rushing skills. … Sideline-to-sideline playmaking. … Change-of-direction ability. … Plenty of room for growth physically and in general knowledge and awareness of playing the position at a much higher level of football.

    Negatives: Must add upper-body strength and make better use of hands to separate from blockers. … Too much reliance on speed and athleticism at mid-major-level college competition.
    4. DEMECO RYANS, ALABAMA

    SEC Defensive Player of the Year DeMeco Ryans is arguably one of the best LBs in the draft.
    SEC Defensive Player of the Year DeMeco Ryans is arguably one of the best LBs in the draft.
    Positives: Impressive display of techniques and instincts. … Shows good leverage and discipline in avoiding over-pursuit. … Quickness. … Use of hands to shed blockers.

    Negatives: At 6-1 and 236 pounds, doesn't have ideal size to hold his own at the point of attack. … Needs to add strength and bulk.
    5. BOBBY CARPENTER, OHIO STATE

    Positives: Good size (6-2 and 256 pounds) and speed. … Tough and instinctive. … Man-to-man pass-coverage skills. … Versatility to play any linebacker spot. … Strong work ethic.

    Negatives: Must add strength and learn how to play with greater leverage. … Suffered a broken ankle in mid-November.

    RamsFan16

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    Re: Vic's picks

    5 buckeyes!!!

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    Re: Vic's picks

    His omission of Broderick Bunkley from the list of top 5 DT's leaves a question of Vic's credibility in my mind.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Vic's picks

    1. D'QWELL JACKSON, MARYLAND

    Positives: Physical at point of attack. …Superb change-of-direction skills. … Good instincts and reads keys well. … Strong tackler and has a knack for forcing fumbles. ... Shows natural playmaking ability in pass coverage.

    Negatives: At 6-foot and 230 pounds, he does not have great size for the position, nor is he particularly fast. … Must add lower-body strength.
    2. KAI PARHAM, VIRGINIA (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Kai Parham led Virginia with 103 tackles last season.
    Kai Parham led Virginia with 103 tackles last season.
    Positives: Good size (6-3 and 256 pounds). … Excellent speed, body control and lateral movement. … Plays with considerable power. … Big hitter who can stuff the run. … Shows good pursuit. … Steady improvement in overall instincts, but especially in awareness on blitzes.

    Negatives: Must improve leverage. … Change-of-direction skills.
    3. ABDUL HODGE, IOWA

    Positives: Highly productive college player. … Hard hitter and exceptionally good tackler. … Toughness, strength, and speed. … Shows good technique and leverage. … Intelligence and instincts.

    Negatives: Change-of-direction skills. … Man-to-man and zone-coverage ability.
    4. FREDDIE ROACH, ALABAMA

    Freddie Roach was a second team All-SEC pick in 2004 and '05
    Freddie Roach was a second team All-SEC pick in 2004 and '05
    Positives: Strength and ability to shed blockers. … Excellent toughness. … Hard hitter. … Outstanding instincts and good technique. … Good footwork. … Versatile enough to play inside or outside.

    Negatives: Doesn't have great speed or athleticism. … Change-of-direction skills.
    5. DALE ROBINSON, ARIZONA STATE

    Positives: Big playmaker who always hustles to the whistle. … Hard hitter. … Lower-body strength. … Intelligence and instincts. … Good recognition of offensive keys and quick ability to process what he sees. … Toughness.

    Negatives: Doesn't have great size (6-0 and 231 pounds) or speed. … Struggles to shed blocks.
    RamsFan16

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    Re: Vic's picks

    1. TYE HILL, CLEMSON

    Positives: Tremendous speed. … Good instincts. … Excels in bump-and-run coverage. … Handles himself well in man-to-man and zone coverage. … Tough, physical player who is aggressive against the run. … Outstanding leaping ability.

    Negatives: At 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, he lacks ideal size and doesn't have much bulk. … Must work on improving his ability to read the eyes of the quarterback and overall technique.
    2. ANTONIO CROMARTIE, FLORIDA STATE (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Antonio Cromartie's versatility to play multiple positions makes him a hot prospect.
    Antonio Cromartie's versatility to play multiple positions makes him a hot prospect.
    Positives: Great size (6-2 and 203 pounds). … Outstanding speed, athleticism, and leaping ability. … Superb instincts. … Long arms and strong hands. … Provides strong run support. … Versatility with background as a receiver and kick-return skills.

    Negatives: Missed the 2005 season after undergoing major knee surgery, although he ran well in his individual workout for scouts. … Needs to work on anticipation of pass routes.
    3. JIMMY WILLIAMS, VIRGINIA TECH

    Positives: Excellent size (6-2 and 216 pounds). … Outstanding speed and change-of-direction skills. … Physical player with considerable strength. … Good hands and a threat to go the distance with every interception. … Could excel at safety, as well as at cornerback.

    Negatives: Poor individual workout for scouts leaves lingering negative impression given that he opted not to work out at the Scouting Combine. … Must become more focused on receiver he covers rather than devoting too much attention to the quarterback.
    4. ASHTON YOUBOTY, OHIO STATE (UNDERCLASSMAN)

    Ohio State has produced solid defensive backs and Ashton Youboty should add to that list.
    Ohio State has produced solid defensive backs and Ashton Youboty should add to that list.
    Positives: Good size (5-11 and 189 pounds). … Natural playmaker. … Excellent speed and athleticism. … Good intelligence and instincts. … Change-of-direction ability. … Solid in run support.

    Negatives: Lacks bulk and strength. … Needs to develop better play-recognition skills, which should happen as he gains experience and coaching.
    5. ANWAR PHILLIPS, PENN STATE

    Positives: Good size (5-11 and 190 pounds) and long arms. … Excellent leaping ability and ball skills. … Strength and aggressiveness allow him to hold up well against larger receivers. … Solid in run support.

    Negatives: Must work on play-recognition skills and get out of the habit of focusing too much on the quarterback. … Needs to develop better tackling skills in the open field.
    RamsFan16

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