Posted on: April 24, 2009 10:04 pm
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Posted on: April 10, 2009 6:34 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2009 6:36 pm

Frank Cooney: Top OL Prospects

Starting with Baylor's talented Jason Smith, as many as five offensive tackles are expected to be taken in the first round, including four of the top 15 picks, according to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com.

Smith is a former tight end with great athletic ability and tremendous upside. On the other hand, Virginia's Eugene Monroe has been playing tackle since he first put on a high school uniform and will continue to do so next year with somebody's NFL uniform.

The center position adds a little more talent to the draft than usual with a pair of proven Pac-10 stars -- California's Alex Mack and Oregon's Max Unger, both of whom should be taken before the middle of the second round.

A mediocre group of guards is topped by Oklahoma's massive Duke Robinson, a road-grading-type blocker who should be especially helpful with some team's running game.

Here is a closer look at the offensive line prospects:

1. Jason Smith, Baylor, 6-5, 309

He is just coming into his own as an offensive lineman after converting from tight end to offensive tackle in 2006. NFL teams love his combination of athletic ability and hustle. Teammates nicknamed him Smooth for the way he moves. He has excellent speed and can pull, trap and track down a defender in space. Smith missed some time in 2007 with a knee injury but seemed fine in 2008 and finished his career with 39 starts in 42 games, playing 24 at left tackle, seven at right. According to coaching stats, he allowed only three quarterback pressures and 4.5 sacks in his 24 games at left tackle the past two years. At the combine, his best time in 40 yards was 5.09 and he had 33 reps with 225 pounds on the bench.


Frank Cooney is an analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: April 10, 2009 4:30 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2009 6:29 pm

Frank Cooney: Top WR Prospects

"Not only are there a lot of receivers of first-round ability, but they have a variety of qualities to consider such as size, speed, agility," said San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary. "There are different types of excellent receivers to consider, just a lot of talent."

According to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com, as many as five receivers may be taken in the first round -- all underclassmen -- and 10 in the first two rounds.

Topping the list is Texas Tech's extraordinary Michael Crabtree, who is expected to overcome recent foot surgery in time to perform his artistry as a rookie in the NFL. After him there is Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, a danger whenever the ball is in his hands, and Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, who can cover about 20 yards in the time it takes to pronounce his name.

Here is a closer look at the wide receiver and tight end prospects:
Wide Receivers

1. *Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, 6-2, 215

A bone scan at the combine in February found a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery to insert a screw, but NFL teams seem comfortable that he will heal in time for this season and be ready for a great career. After only two years of college, Crabtree had nothing left to prove. He had 231 receptions for 3,127 yards and his 41 touchdowns shattered the previous NCAA two-year record of 34 by Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh (2002-03).

Crabtree understands the nuances that most players take years to hone. His combination of abilities and instincts is shocking and reminiscent of Fitzgerald -- including start-stop, body control, hand-eye coordination, positioning, aggressive run-after-catch and some that defy description. And all this talent comes in a wide receiver who has a great team attitude. He may not impress with his clock time in 40 yards. But neither did Fitzgerald or Jerry Rice.


Frank Cooney is an analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: April 10, 2009 3:18 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2009 3:19 pm

Frank Cooney: Top RB Prospects








That list is topped by Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells, both of whom have spent a lot of time since the end of the season trying to get stop watches to confirm the speed scouts saw on film. They are followed by Connecticut's Donald Brown, who ran so effortlessly in games that he didn't appear fast, then he smoked through 40 yards at the combine in 4.48 seconds.

Following a trend, talented fullbacks are again few and far between and none are expected to be drafted in the first day. Here is a closer look at the top running backs and fullbacks in this year's draft (players' heights and weights are listed; *denotes underclassmen):

1. *Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, 5-11, 217

Many scouts think Moreno could be an instant difference-maker in the NFL because he parlays power and elusiveness to consistently move the ball, sometimes in large chunks. His quick, jump-cut moves are sometimes reminiscent of Barry Sanders or LaDainian Tomlinson, but his lack of elite speed will probably keep him out of top 10.

His best 40-yard dash time at the combine was only 4.58 seconds, and during his pro day he was ran even slower (4.60) because he was ill, thereby offsetting whatever improvement he had hoped to gain by working out hard at the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center. He also weighed 210 pounds at his pro day, seven lighter than at the combine, and looked very good as a receiver in positional drills.


Frank Cooney is an analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com