DRAFT 2007: Profiles of the top players by position Print
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Thursday, 19 April 2007 20:47
NFL Headline News

 NEW YORK (AP) -Notable offensive players in the NFL draft, grouped by projected NFL positions. All are seniors unless noted.
QUARTERBACK
Position Outlook: After the much-hyped JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, there's one polished player from a mid-major and a lot of QBs who look like projects right now. Kevin Kolb (pronounced ``cobb'') has pretty much all the tools, but after him, most of the QB prospects will probably get familiar with a clipboard and baseball cap on game days.

JAMARCUS RUSSELL, junior, 6-foot-6, 263 pounds, LSU: The mammoth Russell has incredible arm strength and above-average accuracy, especially on long throws. Makes good decisions, both pre- and post-snap, but occasionally will force balls into coverage. He's not a running quarterback by any means, but his speed is good and his size and strength make him a tough QB to bring down. Throws well on the run. Occasionally puts too much zip on short passes. Has everything he needs to become a star.
BRADY QUINN, 6-3, 226, Notre Dame: Having thrived the past two seasons in a pro-style offense, Quinn's draft stock solidified. He's put up good numbers, except in games when his offensive line left him scrambling for cover. Good arm strength and accuracy. He's shown excellent touch, especially on seam routes. Needs to lead receivers better on crossing routes. Will occasionally get too anxious in the pocket, and either get happy feet or take off and run. Does not throw well on the run, but shows some ability to elude tacklers when running.
KEVIN KOLB, 6-3, 220, Houston: Good arm strength and accuracy, his mechanics are almost perfectly sound. He saw a lot of action in college, starting for four years and racking up numbers in a short-passing system. Still has plenty of accuracy and arm strength. Is elusive in the pocket and makes good throws on the run.
JOHN BECK, 6-2, 216, BYU: Nice, quick release, but lacks elite arm strength and struggles on deep balls. Smart player who doesn't throw bad interceptions or have fumbling problems. Could slip due to less-than-ideal size.
TROY SMITH, 6-1, 213, Ohio State: Despite lack of ideal height, Smith's arm strength, accuracy and leadership skills can compensate to a degree. Excellent field vision, he checks down well and finds the open man. A good decision maker, he's dangerous when forced to improvise. Occasionally has a slow release. Elusive and tough to bring down in backfield, but not much of a running threat.
- MATT MOORE, 6-3, 193, Oregon State: Potential sleeper who really helped himself with a strong senior year. Strong arm, needs to work on technique, especially with feet.
- DREW STANTON, 6-3, 235, Michigan State: A bit of a project. Stanton is big and tough and athletic, and an accurate short-to-intermediate passer who would benefit from a situation into which he can grow.
- JORDAN PALMER, 6-6, 231, UTEP: Will draw attention for ideal size and because brother Carson Palmer is an NFL starter. He set records at UTEP, but also struggled with interceptions.
- JARED ZABRANSKY, Boise State: The folk hero of the Fiesta Bowl could be a flyer pick at best, due to his inconsistency and lack of big-school pedigree. He could be a dangerous scrambler and runner, but is likely to struggle with game management.
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RUNNING BACK
Position Outlook: Running backs are asked to do almost everything. They have to be able to run routes, pick up blitzes, get open on broken plays, sell play-action and, oh yeah, tote the ball. There's plenty of choice in this year's draft for teams who want zippy, versatile runners rather than 30-carry punishers.

ADRIAN PETERSON, junior, 6-2, 218, Oklahoma: A scintillating runner for most of his college career before he broke his collarbone. Peterson has excellent speed, strength and field vision. He has good acceleration, but is happier to run over defenders rather than juke them. Most of his yards come after contact. Runs a bit more upright than is ideal, but the biggest negative is durability. In addition to the collarbone, he had a dislocated shoulder and an ankle sprain in earlier seasons. Not much experience as a receiver, but he's shown soft hands and seems able to pick it up.
ANTONIO PITTMAN, junior, 5-11, 195, Ohio State: Not a 30-carry kind of back, Pittman is nevertheless a fast, tough runner both between the tackles and outside. Athletic and quick, he reads the field well and can run through defenders. Needs to add some size though, as he's not the kind of player who can push the pile. He's an adequate outlet as a receiver.
MARSHAWN LYNCH, junior, 5-11, 217, California: An elusive, nimble runner who sees the field well, especially cutback lanes. Occasionally will get too high in his runs, but can be devastating with the correct pad level. Occasionally trusts his moves a bit too much, but is excellent at avoiding the initial tackler. Has soft hands and is a good receiver.
KENNY IRONS, 5-11, 195, Auburn: Not a pile-pusher, but his acceleration and quickness gives him an advantage at the line of scrimmage. He's an accomplished pass blocker, rarely missing his man when picking up blitzes. Needs to add size, especially with durability concerns about him, as he's struggled with minor injuries.
- MICHAEL BUSH, 6-3, 253, Louisville: Missed almost all of 2006 season with a broken shin. Agile runner with great vision and nice hands. A bit lacking in speed and explosiveness. Adept receiver.
- KENNETH DARBY, 5-10, 213, Alabama: Tough and savvy, but not super strong. Can be dangerous with room to run.
- CHRIS HENRY, junior, 6-0, 228, Arizona: Size, speed and athleticism will tempt teams to overlook the fact he never started for a full season. A former track star with lots of talent that needs to be focused.
- LORENZO BOOKER, 5-10, 193, Florida State: All the tools - speed, quickness, excellent receiving skills - to be a dangerous third-down back.
- BRANDON JACKSON, junior, 5-10, 210, Nebraska: Great vision, but needs to develop some aggression and leg drive.
- TONY HUNT, 6-0, 230, Penn State: Good burst, but lacks the speed to be a home-run threat. Gets too high in his stance too often and lacks polished receiving and pass-blocking skills.
- GARRETT WOLFE, 5-7, 177, Southern Illinois: Excellent field vision, hands and quickness. Size and durability are obvious concerns, but he could flourish in the right system. Led nation in rushing.
- BRIAN LEONARD, 6-1, 238, Rutgers: A versatile fullback who has lots of experience catching passes.
- LE'RON MCCLAIN, 6-0, 257, Alabama: Also projects as an H-back or TE due to his above-average receiving skills.
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WIDE RECEIVER
Position outlook: Prepare to read about all the wideouts taken in the first round of the draft. Calvin Johnson is a rare talent who wouldn't be a stretch at first overall. After him, Ted Ginn Jr., Aundrae Allison and Dwayne Bowe could all come off the board before Mel Kiper's between-rounds coffee break. After that, there will still be plenty of teams picking receivers, as some bona fide college stars (Meachem, Jarrett, Smith) find themselves in the second and even third rounds.

CALVIN JOHNSON, junior, Georgia Tech, 6-4, 237 : Simply the most jaw-dropping talent in the draft. His size and strength let him close off defenders in traffic, though he's not quite as stellar at jump balls as he could be, despite his height and long arms. Ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Can defeat press coverage and outrun most defenders. Tough to bring down after the catch, though he's more strong and fast than elusive. Good awareness against zones and where the sidelines and first-down markers are, but slow to adapt when the QB scrambles. Put up ridiculous college numbers despite a sub-par QB. Excellent work ethic.
TED GINN JR., junior, Ohio State: Explosive and speedy, he is a major threat on long balls as well as after the catch on shorter passes. Compensates for slight build by being able to dodge a jam and take off. Needs to improve his hands and route-running. Also a serious return threat.
AUNDRAE ALLISON, 6-0, 202, East Carolina: A fast and smooth player who can shake tacklers in the open field. Excellent hands, but needs to work on some technique and add some upper-body strength to fight off press coverage.
DWAYNE BOWE, 6-2, 217, LSU: A tough, long-legged receiver who overcomes his relatively slow acceleration by overpowering his defender. Needs to improve his technique and ability after the catch. Tough player who isn't afraid to go over the middle.
- ROBERT MEACHEM, 6-3, 211, junior, Tennessee: Big and fast playmaker, but needs to get better at going over the middle and blocking.
- JASON HILL, 6-0, 210, Washington State: Good route-runner with excellent hands and instincts. Speed and explosiveness are average.
- SIDNEY RICE, junior, 6-4, 202, South Carolina: Raw, athletic player whose measurables are enticing. Needs to improve technique and strength.
- STEVE SMITH, 5-11, 199, Southern California: Savvy player who sniffs out soft spots in zones and hangs on after the catch.
- DWAYNE JARRETT, junior, 6-5, 213, Southern California: Size and ability are pluses, but speed and elusiveness are negatives. Aggressive runner and blocker.
- ANTHONY GONZALEZ, 6-0, 195, Ohio State: Speedster with good hands who occasionally looks upfield before securing the ball. Struggles against physical coverage, though. Hard worker.
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TIGHT END
Position outlook: Unlike last year's bumper crop, the worthy tight ends in 2007 are few and far between. Two underclassmen in Zach Miller and Greg Olsen lead the pack, followed by a couple others who project to be solid contributors. The hegemony of elite TEs like Antonio Gates, Alge Crumpler and Kellen Winslow is probably not going to be threatened by anyone from this year's crop.
ZACH MILLER, junior, 6-5, 259, Arizona State: Along with Miami's Greg Olsen, the best of a thin TE class. Miller has adequate speed and size, to go with soft hands. Precise route-runner who is willing to sacrifice his body for a catch or extra yards. Is a good blocker in the open field, but could lack the leg strength to hold off big men in pass protection. Is a hard worker in the weight room and may not be able to add much bulk to his frame. Some history of injury concerns.
GREG OLSEN, junior, 6-4, 252, Miami: Athletic player who can catch the ball if it's near him. He's fast and explosive enough to force safeties to cover him. Not great at breaking tackles, but tough enough. His blocking is a liability, both in the running game and especially against the pass rush.
- BEN PATRICK, 6-4, 270,Delaware: Big and physical, he's got good hands and is a great target in traffic and on hot reads. Has decent speed and the ability to read zones. He needs to improve his aggressiveness and technique in blocking.
- MATT SPAETH, 6-7, 267, Minnesota: Long arms and his impressive height should make him an asset on third-down and goal-line situations. Great hands, but he's not going to stretch the field at all. When he maintains technique, can be a punishing run blocker, clearing out LBs at the second level.
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OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Position Outlook: A good left tackle is hard to find. And after some lucky team hires Joe Thomas to protect its QB's blind side, the pickings get slim quickly. Top centers and guards aren't going to be common, either.

TACKLE
JOE THOMAS, 6-6, 313, Wisconsin: A near-prototypical NFL left tackle, Thomas is big, but light on his feet. He's quick enough to slide with fast end rushers, but strong enough to wall them off, too. Has greatly improved his technique with his hands, although they could be a touch quicker. Has some injury history. Although left tackles are all about protecting the blind side, Thomas showed plenty of ability in the rushing game. Excelled in the classroom.
LEVI BROWN, 6-4, 328,Penn State: Has all the physical skills to hold down a job as a left tackle, but his aggressiveness and technique are wanting. He beats himself on speed rushes with his poor footwork, but is excellent in the running game.
TONY UGOH, 6-5, 301, Arkansas: Agile and big, he's consistently struggled with technique. A bit better run blocking than pass blocking. Needs to improve strength and footwork to be able to fend off the NFLs' top DEs.
- JOE STALEY, 6-5, 302, Central Michigan: A former tight end who is seriously explosive and quick off the line. Shows good footwork, though he sometimes stands up tall and loses his base of stability. An upside pick.
- RYAN HARRIS, Notre Dame: An athlete whose technique and drive could hinder his development. His agility and speed serve him well when lead-blocking and going up against edge rushers, but his footwork and tendency to stand up too tall can get him into trouble.
GUARD
BEN GRUBBS, 6-3, 314, Auburn: Quick, considering he's more than 300 pounds, he's a sturdy and well-built guard who can ward off athletic pass rushers. In the running game, he shows good pop at contact and a consistent ability to get to the second level. Will occasionally get too high and be walked back by defenders. Could stand to improve his technique with hands and feet.
JUSTIN BLALOCK, 6-4, 329, Texas: A road-grader in the running game, Blalock is massive, strong, and athletic. He played tackle most of his time in Austin, so teams may look at him there, as well. In the passing game, he could excel with some more attention to footwork and technique.
ARRON SEARS, 6-4, 328, Tennessee: A run-first blocker, Sears is at his best when firing off the snap and plowing ahead. His agility and ability to change directions is limited, as is his footwork in pass protection. Will improve against the pass with better footwork.
- Marshal Yanda, 6-4, 305, Iowa: Naturally athletic guard/tackle hybrid whose speed and long arms will serve him well with improved aggressiveness, size and coaching.
- Brandon Frye, 6-4, 302, Virginia Tech: Agile and fast, but lacking in fundamentals and technique. Might be given a chance at T because of his athleticism, but probably will wind up inside.
CENTER
RYAN KALIL, 6-3, 291, Southern California: Despite being smaller than ideal, Kalil is a top prospect because of his toughness and savvy. Explodes off the ball and can shove away all but the biggest, strongest defenders. Takes good angles and shows agility, but occasionally can overextend. Excellent, consistent technique. His lower body needs to get stronger so he won't get engulfed by gargantuan nose guard. Unafraid to speak up in the huddle. Son of former NFL and USFL center Frank Kalil.
JOSH BEEKMAN, 6-2, 321, Boston College: Aggressive player with a bit of a mean streak who can stand up to most defensive tackles, and shows the ability to get to the second level, too. Stays low in all his blocks with good technique. Not great at pulling or changing direction in response to a threat.
- SAMSON SATELE, 6-2, 311, Hawaii: Athletic and quick, Satele's athleticism is tempting but his inconsistent technique and lack of size are drawbacks, albeit ones that can be addressed.
- ENOKA LUCAS, 6-3, 299,Oregon: A potentially nice project who has shown excellent athleticism and smarts, but doesn't use proper technique consistently enough, though he clearly knows how.
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