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USA Today/Sports Xchange draft rankings

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USA Today/Sports Xchange draft rankings

Postby stomperrob » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:53 pm

USA TODAY • February 21, 2008
Top 100 NFL prospects: Jake Long, Chad Henne, Mario Manningham and Devin Thomas make list

The NFL scouting combine annually provides a forum for draft-eligible college players to flash their wares to NFL personnel chiefs, coaches and scouts on a level playing field.

Many blue-chip prospects often decline to participate in the combine drills, opting to perform individual workouts later in the spring. But many other players will prove "workout wonders" and send their pre-draft stock soaring; others could see their value slip with a poor showing.

As the pre-draft process ramps up, The Sports Xchange, USA TODAY's scouting service, offers capsules on the top 64 prospects — those most likely taken in the draft's first two rounds — and a list of the top 100 heading into the combine.

(Name, position, college, height, weight, 40-yard time and projected draft round listed for each player; *denotes underclassman)

1. Chris Long, DE, Virginia, 6-4, 275, 4.79, 1: Here is a complete defensive lineman who can make an impact inside or outside. He is more physical than fast, but he is an extraordinarily productive player, thanks to a rare combination of intelligence, discipline and a non-stop motor. He plays with an instinct usually seen only in great inside linebackers and seems to have an innate feel for maximizing his long arms and huge hands to convert leverage into power. Long is the son of Hall of Famer Howie, and scouts watching games don't need a DNA test to verify that relationship. In 2007, Long more than lived up to predictions that he would be the top defensive lineman in college football. He collected 14 sacks, 23 pressures, nine pass breakups, one interception and caused a pair of fumbles, each leading to scores. Long was named Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year and won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end. He showed his athleticism in high school by starring in basketball, baseball, lacrosse and winning the YMCA Slam Dunk competition.

2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU, 6-2, 316, 5.09, 1: Blockers must be ready for Dorsey's startling suddenness at the snap, followed by impressive acceleration for the first few steps. His explosive play and ability to disrupt plays in the backfield is reminiscent of a young Warren Sapp. Despite a series of injuries (hamstring, right knee strain and sore back) and being confronted by two or three blockers per play, Dorsey was consistently productive enough in 2007 to win the Nagurski Award, Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Lott Award. Dorsey wore a huge brace for several games in 2007 but seemed unaffected as he managed 69 tackles, a career-high seven sacks and 12½ stops for losses.

3. *Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas, 6-2, 210, 4.42, 1: Although personal and off-field considerations concern some scouts, expectations of on-field greatness are reflected by the players to whom McFadden is compared —Marshall Faulk, Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson. McFadden has the smooth footwork and extraordinary field vision of Faulk; running strength and stride-through tackle-breaking ability of Peterson and top-end, goodbye speed and upright running style reminiscent of Dickerson and Peterson. In 38 games at Arkansas, McFadden carried 785 times for 4,590 yards (5.9 yards a carry) and 41 touchdowns. He grabbed 46 passes for 365 yards and two scores, and he also returned 38 kickoffs for 926 yards (24.4 avg.) and a touchdown. And watch out on the halfback option; McFadden also threw three touchdown passes. His 2007 total of 1,830 yards on the ground was surpassed only by Georgia's Herschel Walker's 1,891 yards (1981) on the Southeastern Conference's season-record chart.

4. Jake Long, OT, Michigan, 6-7, 315, 5.08, 1: This two-time Big Ten offensive lineman of the year is best known as a mauler who can power a running lane through the toughest defenders. He uses big hands and aggression to move people in any direction. Long does not have the speed or agility to be a consistent pass protector, so NFL scouts are projecting him as a right tackle. He is a take-charge guy who has the look of a future team captain. Long was a key in the Michigan offense, which averaged 373.5 yards a game in 2007; he registered 119 knockdowns with 18 touchdown-resulting blocks. He led Big Ten blockers with an 87.85% grade for blocking consistency based on coaching grades.

5. Sedrick Ellis, DT, Southern California, 6-1, 308, 4.96, 1: Ellis' stock soared during the all-star games, especially at Senior Bowl practices where he consistently controlled one-on-one matchups. This should not have surprised those who watched him during three highly productive years as a starting nose guard for the Trojans. Ellis uses a combination of quickness and lateral agility to escape blockers at the line. He continues to cause mayhem with relentless pursuit until he makes the play or the whistle has blown. Ellis holds his ground well and projects as an ideal two-gap defender. In 48 games, Ellis registered 144 tackles, 17½ sacks and 28½ stops for losses.

6. Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College, 6-5, 224, 4.79, 1: Ryan is Mr. Reliability in managing a mistake-free, short- to medium-range passing game. He is a fiery competitor who makes things happen and gets the most out the talent around him. But his accuracy diminishes in direct relation to the length of his throws. Nineteen of his 24 interceptions over the past two seasons came on passes of 20 yards or farther. Otherwise, he shows great feel, touch and required zip on any other pass necessary to keep the chains moving. In 45 games at BC, Ryan connected on 807 of 1,347 passes (59.9%) for 9,313 yards, 56 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. He also rushed for 11 scores. On 1,515 offensive plays, he amassed 9,371 yards in total offense, an average of 208.2 yards a game.

7. *Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State, 6-4, 258, 4.67, 1: Gholston has shown flashes of athletic brilliance that cause some NFL scouts to think he can mature into a perennial Pro Bowl player. His 455-pound bench press makes him one of the strongest players in a school known for weight-room wonders. His quickness and strength, along with natural lateral running ability, put him in the middle of a lot of plays. And he still has plenty of room to improve his technique, especially the use of his hands and arms. In 34 games at Ohio State, Gholston collected 87 tackles with 22½ sacks and 30½ stops for losses. In 2007, he tied for third in the nation and set a school single-season record with 14 sacks.

8. *Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State, 6-6, 316, 5.28, 1: Although Michigan's Long is considered the best run-blocking offensive lineman in this draft, many scouts think Clady has the most upside. Unlike Long, Clady shows great ability as both a run and a pass blocker, thanks to a superb combination of size and athleticism. He gains the advantage quickly with his explosiveness at the snap and becomes more difficult to handle as the play continues because of his exceptional agility and balance. A hardworking team leader, Clady received attention during the last two years as he registered 224 knockdowns, including 32 blocks that resulted in touchdowns and 13 downfield blocks that erased defenders.

9. Keith Rivers, OLB, Southern California, 6-2, 236, 4.63, 1: Rivers relies more on killer instinct than he does football instinct. Although he doesn't seem to read and react quickly, he uses athleticism and aggressiveness to close the deal on more than his share of plays. He can show enough strength to take on and shed larger blockers but does so without showing the technique he may need at the next level. As a pass defender, he looks fluid running with receivers but appears susceptible to any type of fake, including play action or a pump fake. Still, he manages to come up big on key downs. Of his 240 tackles, 52 came on third down — including 19 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Rivers could be an asset for a team that puts him in position to make big plays without needing to make a lot of on-the-spot decisions.

10. Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida, 6-0, 200, 4.49, 1: This talented defensive back seems to have all the natural ability and instinct to be a good cover corner, but his lack of technique and having average agility may dictate a move to safety at some point. Jenkins commits his body to hitting but doesn't run through with aggression or wrap up on tackles. Coaches vouch for his character despite a March 2007 misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct when he was Tasered by police after a fight outside a bar. In 48 games at South Florida, Jenkins totaled 133 tackles. He caused five fumbles and recovered another. Jenkins broke up 41 passes and had six interceptions. He also averaged 26.7 yards on nine kickoff returns, scoring once.

11. *DeSean Jackson, WR, California, 6-0, 178, 4.32, 1: Jackson is an exciting, elusive, explosive threat to score any time he gets the ball, especially on punt returns. As a receiver, the trick is to get him the ball with a little open space and watch him work his magic. Jackson needs only one step to approach top speed. He holds Pac-10 career-records with six punt returns for touchdowns.

12. *Kenny Phillips, FS, Miami (Fla.), 6-2, 208, 4.46, 1: Phillips shows quickness and athletic ability that should convert to productivity in the NFL. He is an aggressive player who will concern offenses when he lines up in the box. He has played cornerback and can turn and sprint with almost any receiver. In 34 games at Miami, Phillips made 203 tackles, 15 for losses, and caused three fumbles. He had seven interceptions and 13 pass deflections.

13. *Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida, 6-5, 252, 4.73, 1: Harvey shows passionate persistence when in pursuit. He flies off the line and fends off blockers with his long arms so he can continue to close on the play with flashy footwork. He does a good job keeping blockers off him, which is important because he lacks big-time strength. He finished his career ninth on the school's all-time record list with 20½ sacks, adding 31 stops behind the line and 11 quarterback pressures.

14. *Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon, 5-11, 235, 4.48, 1: Stewart has the type of quickness, power and vision to burst through small holes in the manner of LaDainian Tomlinson. These traits also make him an effective kick returner. Although he hasn't dazzled scouts with great 40-yard times, he shows effective speed in the way he runs away from defenders. He also excels as a receiver and is a willing blocker.

15. Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville, 6-3, 227, 4.79, 1: He is the fourth of the Brohm clan to star at Louisville, including brother Jeff, who also spent seven years as an NFL quarterback. Brian was very productive in a pass-happy offense that included outstanding receivers. He holds conference and school career records with 10,775 yards passing, completing 780 of 1,185 attempts (65.8%) with 71 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. To make an impact in the NFL, he must show more accuracy hitting targets in stride and the ability to throw with consistency when forced to move. Brohm's arm strength is good, not great.

16. Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt, 6-6, 320, 5.29, 1: Williams has the wingspan of a condor and the agility of a hummingbird. He parlays those traits to finesse defenders into submission. In his college career, Williams collected 181 knockdowns with 21 blocks that resulted in touchdowns. He allowed only two quarterback sacks over a span of 1,558 offensive snaps. In 2007, he became the first Vanderbilt offensive lineman since Will Wolford (1984) to earn All-Southeastern Conference first-team honors.

17. Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy, 5-11, 190, 4.44, 1: While the jury is out deciding whether McKelvin can play cornerback in the NFL, he is already guilty of being one of the most dangerous punt-return men in football. He returned 112 punts an average of 13.1 yards and scored seven touchdowns. If he can harness his athleticism on defense, he has major potential as a cornerback, where he has plenty of speed and the willingness to be physical.

18. *Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois, 5-11, 210, 4.48, 1: Mendenhall still needs to refine his game, but he is moving to the NFL after a very productive junior year in which he showcased his size, speed, strength and ability to accelerate to the second level. Mendenhall had a career total of 2,539 yards rushing, seventh in school history. His 1,681 yards on the ground in 2007 set a school record.

19. Dan Connor, ILB, Penn State, 6-3, 233, 4.67, 1: Connor is the latest of 17 All-America linebackers to play for coach Joe Paterno. He broke the school record with 419 career tackles, topping the previous mark of 372 by Paul Posluszny, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills a year ago. Connor has the requisite instinct, motor and reliability to become a good, if not great, NFL linebacker. Against the pros, he will need to learn to shed blockers and avoid contact rather than relish it.

20. Fred Davis, TE, Southern California, 6-3, 250, 4.76, 1: A former prep sensation at running back, Davis will be a bit undersized among NFL tight ends, but he can add punch to an offense. He has excellent natural skills, great hands as a receiver and is effective as a blocker. Davis holds the school career records for tight ends with 117 receptions for 1,408 yards, including 62 catches last season. He could be a perfect NFL H-back.

21. *Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas, 6-0, 200, 4.39, 1: Right now, he may be considered the "other" running back from the same Arkansas backfield as McFadden, but some NFL scouts think Jones is the best big-play prospect in the draft. He is an explosive runner with game-breaking ability. He can shred an opponent with his blinding speed as a runner, returner and receiver.

22. *James Hardy, WR, Indiana, 6-6, 220, 4.59, 1: Hardy is a work in progress, but he has extraordinary size, excellent agility and brings some positive traits acquired as a longtime basketball standout. He could cause constant nightmarish mismatches if he hones his receiving skills. Hardy had off-field issues that led to a citation for domestic assault in 2006 and was suspended from the team two weeks for another matter.

23. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona, 6-0, 190, 4.54, 1: Cason is a solid player and solid citizen from a family full of notable athletes. He shows a lot of similarities to former Wildcat Chris McAlister, who has spent the past nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Cason is smooth and natural in coverage with good foot quickness, agility and a knack for knocking passes away. He had 15 career interceptions and his average of 23.27 yards per interception return set a school record.

24. Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh, 6-6, 340, 5.36, 1: This Nigerian-born, mountainous mauler is working hard at improving constantly, and it shows. He played basketball until his senior year of high school and is still learning to harness his incredible physical gifts. Otah lacks quick explosion and the footwork of a top pass blocker, so he may be destined to obliterate defenders as a right tackle.

25. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State, 6-2, 183, 4.44, 1: Here is a challenge for a coaching staff that must try to figure out how to maximize a world of natural ability that might not be as ready for the big time as the player thinks he is. He was a star in the Ohio Valley Conference, where he set a school record with four interception returns for touchdowns and overcame bad habits that will hurt him in the NFL. He is the cousin of San Diego Chargers Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie.

26. *Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma, 6-4, 218, 4.54, 1: Kelly is a long strider who doesn't explode off the line but does eat up a lot of ground at top end. Despite his size, he has not shown great blocking ability. Coaches' charts indicate he dropped only two passes in the last two seasons. Kelly started 34 times, catching 144 passes for 2,285 yards and 21 touchdowns.

27. Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina, 6-5, 308, 5.12, 1: Balmer uses great initial explosion and a powerful upper body and rip move to cause havoc. He has the potential to be an impact player but must keep his motor revved and remain consistently focused. He started 23 times, collected 93 tackles with seven sacks, 17 stops for losses and 10 quarterback pressures.

28. Early Doucet, WR, LSU, 6-0, 211, 4.54, 1-2: Scouts expected big things of Doucet last season, but he was slowed by a persistent groin injury. He seems most suited to play slot or flanker. Despite short arms and smallish hands, he caught 160 passes for 1,943 yards in college. His 20 touchdown grabs are topped only by Dwayne Bowe (26) and Michael Clayton (21) in school history.

29. *Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (Fla.), 6-8, 282, 4.85, 1-2: Campbell might have benefited from another season in school, but he already graduated. What he lacks in refinement he might make up for in upside. He gets off the line well for somebody with his height and is beginning to understand how to use leverage. He was a basketball star in high school.

30. *Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan, 6-0, 185, 4.48, 1-2: Manningham is a big-play threat with good hands who has excellent burst. He returned quickly from knee surgery in 2006 but didn't really play back to form until last season, when he caught 74 passes for 1,174 yards and a dozen TDs.

31. *Anthony Collins, OT, Kansas, 6-6, 308, 5.08, 1-2: A move to left tackle helped show NFL scouts that Collins has decent ability as a pass blocker, although he may go back to right tackle in the pros. He is a massive man with a great attitude who should be effective despite lack of great agility.

32. Ali Highsmith, OLB, LSU, 6-0, 229, 4.56, 1-2: Some scouts are comparing Highsmith to longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout Derrick Brooks. Highsmith might be called an overachiever for his size, but his combination of speed, instinct and closing ability is startling.

33. Chad Henne, QB, Michigan, 6-3, 228, 5.18, 1-2: Henne has excellent drop-and-throw mechanics, especially on three- and five-step drops and possesses an excellent release. Henne set school records with 828 completions on 1,387 pass attempts for 9,715 yards and 87 touchdowns. His senior season was marred by a series of leg, ankle and shoulder injuries, but he was still selected as first team All-Big Ten.

34. *Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas, 6-1, 200, 4.39, 1-2: Charles doesn't play as big as he is listed, but he certainly plays fast. His game is based on speed, and he has a long way to go as a receiver and blocker if some team expects him to be an every-down back. But as a situational player, he can make an impact in a blink.

35. *Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas, 6-2, 202, 4.52, 1-2: Talib has been on the radar since his coming-out party as a freshman sensation in 2005. Despite average speed, he is a versatile athlete with the ability to help as a receiver if necessary. On defense, he is excellent in man or zone and can hit. His career included 13 interceptions and 43 passes broken up.

36. *Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson, 6-5, 272, 4.73, 2: Merling plays stronger than he does fast and looks like a good candidate for a strong-side end or maybe even tackle. He plays with high effort from snap until the whistle and has the ability to shed blocks and make more than his share of plays. He projects as one of the most reliable all-around defensive linemen in this draft.

37. Quentin Groves, OLB, Auburn, 6-3, 250, 4.46, 2: Groves has the ability to be a game changer. He attacks with blinding speed and awareness — a combination that gets him to the ball in a hurry. His ability has been compared to that of Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. Groves has had some off-field issues, but his only negative on the field is that his physical play seems to wane late in games.

38. *Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma, 6-1, 198, 4.57, 2: Smith looks like he has the ability to be one of the NFL's most cherished commodities: a physical, shutdown corner. The only thing lacking from his résumé is dazzling speed, but his tremendous coverage instincts, ball reaction and willingness to support the run should help him become an impact player.

39. *Curtis Lofton, ILB, Oklahoma, 6-0, 238, 4.73, 2: Lofton has good key-and-diagnose skills and does a great job attacking the run. Although he is an explosive hitter and reliable tackler, his lack of size might dictate that he play in a defense in which he is "covered," so he does not need to take on the NFL's big guys head-on.

40. Chris Johnson, RB, East Carolina, 5-11, 195, 4.27, 2: Johnson has a small frame and small hands, but his results are big. He has dazzling speed. He isn't bashful about being physical and is a natural receiver. If he is durable, he could be an every-down threat. If not, a very special situational player.

41. Xavier Adibi, OLB, Virginia Tech, 6-2, 220, 4.54, 2: Adibi garners attention with his quickness and hustle and seems to be a player who should be highly productive. However, further inspection reveals that he needs to add some strength and learn techniques necessary to improve his overall ability.

42. André Woodson, QB, Kentucky, 6-4, 234, 4.81, 2: Woodson is an extremely efficient pocket passer who already seems advanced in pre-snap reads and at making changes at the line of scrimmage. He grew up in a military environment and is a natural leader. He can be productive for an NFL team that is able to protect him. Woodson started 38 games, completed 791 of 1,278 passes (61.9%) for 9,360 yards, 79 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.

43. *Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M, 6-7, 248, 4.79, 2: Bennett has a high opinion of himself, and a lot of that is justified. He has good hands, is tough to tackle after the catch and is a better than average in-line blocker. He needs to refine his route running, and it will be interesting to see how he handles his ego as an NFL rookie.

44. Sam Baker, OT, Southern California, 6-5, 308, 5.09, 2: This big boy is at his best blocking head-up right on the line. He fought through injuries the last two years to become a three-time All-America first-team selection. Baker registered 197 knockdowns with 26 blocks that led to touchdowns while allowing only 4½ sacks on his last 889 pass plays. His father, David, is the commissioner of the Arena Football League.

45. Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida, 6-1, 207, 4.41, 2: The younger brother of Washington Redskins receiver Reche Caldwell, Andre has quick feet and straight-line speed. He may be close to his potential already after improving each year in one of college football's most pass-happy offenses. Injuries have been a recurring issue.

46. *Pat Sims, DT, Auburn, 6-4, 312, 4.98, 2: Sims is a tough guy who played most of 2007 with a soft cast to protect broken bones in his left hand. He causes immediate problems for blockers by exploding off the line and then using strong hands, arms and leverage to collapse the pocket or get free. He has shown a knack for causing fumbles.

47. Mike Pollak, C, Arizona State, 6-4, 299, 4.98, 2: Pollak graduated with a degree in communications. On the field, he communicates with power derived from a lot of time in the weight room. He is a battler who is at his best finding an angle to wall off a defender. He could be challenged by those big, bull-rushing nose tackles in the NFL.

48. Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana, 5-11, 185, 4.38, 2: Porter's 16 interceptions rank second in school history — and that was on a team that didn't rush the passer very well. He has the speed to stay with anybody, but might need a little more bulk and technique to deal with NFL receivers. Porter averaged 13.6 yards a punt return and could help there immediately.

49. Lawrence Jackson, DE, Southern California, 6-5, 261, 4.89, 2: When he's hot, he's hot, and NFL teams would like to feel that he can be consistently hot, which wasn't the case in college. Jackson started 51 games, collected 181 tackles with 30½ sacks and 52 tackles behind the line. He has quick feet but is not very agile.

50. *Erin Henderson, OLB, Maryland, 6-3, 242, 4.67, 2: If he can stay healthy and play up to his obvious athletic ability and instincts, he could become one of the better linebackers in the NFL. Henderson appears to have more upside than his brother E.J., who plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

51. *Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers, 5-9, 195, 4.53, 2: Rice is a small but powerful package who attacks the hole with a vengeance. He shows some lateral agility but lacks blazing top-end speed. He plays bigger than he measures and is a fearless blocker. Rice was a featured back in college, and although he may not be big enough for that in the NFL, he can have impact in a lot of situations.

52. Limas Sweed, WR, Texas, 6-4, 212, 4.58, 2: Sweed is hardworking, dedicated and has above-average athleticism to go with his superior size. He graduated in December and displays leadership ability. NFL teams want to be assured he has recovered from a nagging left wrist injury that marred his senior season. His 12 touchdown catches in 2006 tied a school record.

53. *Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State, 6-2, 215, 4.50, 2: Here is a solid, all-around receiver who has the kind of burst that will allow him to make things happen in many ways, including bubble screens, slants and reverses. He sometimes gets a little too fancy with his after-the-catch footwork, but NFL defenders may knock that out of him.

54. Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College, 6-7, 315, 5.14, 2: Cherilus, a native of Haiti, is a dedicated student on and off the field. He graduated last year with a degree in communication and is ready to move up to the NFL and show off his major in run blocking.

55. *Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee, 6-2, 230, 4.67, 2: This Volunteer has a great linebacker IQ — instinct and quickness. He is already physical and has strong hands but could use another 10 pounds. His ability to play in space makes Mayo a very versatile prospect.

56. John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame, 6-5, 256, 4.72, 2: Carlson has the measurables to be a top tight end but has yet to put it together. If he adds some bulk and shows he can focus more consistently, Carlson certainly has the physical potential to be a fine NFL player.

57. Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware, 6-6, 232, 4.92, 2-3: After showing vast improvement as a senior, Flacco is an intriguing prospect in a draft that has a middling crop of quarterbacks. His stock was helped with a solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl, where he showed he could handle the snap from center after spending much of his time in college lined up in the shotgun formation.

58. Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame, 6-1, 297, 5.18, 2-3: Lack of NFL size will limit his position or role options, but Laws does have flashy quickness and pursues like a missile from snap to whistle. His non-stop motor and knack for getting in on plays impressed scouts at Senior Bowl practices.

59. Donnie Avery, WR, Houston, 5-11, 186, 4.34, 2-3: Expect some team to call Avery's name earlier in the draft than many expect. His speed rates in the area of "Oh, my gosh!" Combine that with his shifty moves, and defensive backs will think they are trying to cover a butterfly in a hurricane. He will be an immediate danger as a returner.

60. Darrell Robertson, DE, Georgia Tech, 6-4, 247, 4.76, 2-3: A classic 'tweener, Robertson relies on quickness to overcome lack of natural strength. NFL teams may see this college defensive end as an outside linebacker or situational pass rusher. On 101 running plays directed at him, the opposition gained only 33 yards (0.3-yard average) with one first down.

61. Carl Nicks, OT, Nebraska, 6-5, 343, 5.23, 2-3: This wide body played left tackle last year, his only season as a Division I starter, and was effective as a run and pass blocker. For a massive man, he is surprisingly adroit, showing good balance and exceptional athleticism. He has devastating upper-body strength.

62. *Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia, 5-10, 195, 4.42, 2-3: An entertaining player, Slaton has a powerful, compact frame, runs with good initial quickness and is at his best when he is able to put on a show in the open field. He will help somebody right away as a combination runner, receiver and returner.

63. *Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt, 6-1, 205, 4.52, 2-3: Despite lacking great overall athleticism or exceptional speed, Bennett manages to be constantly productive because he does all the little things right. He is classified as a possession receiver, but defenses will learn to respect his ability to add yards after the catch.

64. Steve Justice, C, Wake Forest, 6-3, 289, 5.14, 2-3: Justice, who majored in sociology and minored in religion, is the type of solid citizen teams want to see at center. Some teams will pass on him because he lacks elite strength, but his deep understanding of the game and his advanced grasp of techniques should make him a good fit for a zone-blocking team.

BEST OF THE REST

These 36 players round out our Top 100 prospects heading into the scouting combine:

Rank Name Pos. School Height Weight 40-yard time Projected

65. Terrell Thomas CB Southern California 6-1 197 4.57 2-3

66. Charles Godfrey CB Iowa 6-0 207 4.38 2-3

67. *Branden Albert OG Virginia 6-7 315 5.37 2-3

68. Red Bryant DT Texas A&M 6-5 326 5.16 2-3

69. Simeon Castille FS Alabama 6-0 190 4.62 2-3

70. Martin Rucker TE Missouri 6-5 248 4.69 2-3

71. Bruce Davis OLB UCLA 6-3 241 4.69 2-3

72. Philip Wheeler ILB Georgia Tech 6-2 245 4.62 2-3

73. Cliff Avril DE Purdue 6-3 252 4.78 2-3

74. Oniel Cousins OT Texas-El Paso 6-4 301 5.06 2-3

75. John David Booty QB Southern California 6-3 213 4.92 3

76. *Geno Hayes OLB Florida State 6-2 220 4.67 3

77. Eddie Royal WR Virginia Tech 5-10 182 4.39 3

78. *Brandon Flowers CB Virginia Tech 5-10 190 4.47 3

79. Roy Schuening OG Oregon State 6-4 308 5.19 3

80. Josh Johnson QB San Diego 6-3 198 4.74 3

81. Tavares Gooden ILB Miami (Fla.) 6-1 233 4.54 3

82. Dwight Lowery CB San Jose State 6-1 185 4.55 3

83. Marcus Griffin FS Texas 5-11 198 4.58 3

84. Mike Hart RB Michigan 5-09 195 4.57 3

85. Lavelle Hawkins WR California 5-11 187 4.48 3

86. Marcus Howard OLB Georgia 6-2 245 4.66 3

87. John Sullivan C Notre Dame 6-4 284 5.23 3

88. Jonathan Hefney FS Tennessee 5-09 185 4.47 3

89. Chris Ellis DE Virginia Tech 6-4 260 4.74 3

90. Heath Benedict OT Newberry 6-5 321 4.99 3

91. Jamar Adams SS Michigan 6-2 209 4.52 3

92. *Johnny Dingle DE West Virginia 6-3 273 4.84 3

93. Brad Cottam TE Tennessee 6-8 271 4.74 3

94. John Greco OT Toledo 6-5 320 5.28 3-4

95. Matt Forte' RB Tulane 6-1 221 4.56 3-4

96. D.J. Parker FS Virginia Tech 6-0 195 4.50 3-4

97. Dre Moore DT Maryland 6-4 307 5.04 3-4

98. Eric Young OG Tennessee 6-4 308 5.18 3-4

99. DeJuan Tribble CB Boston College 5-09 190 4.49 3-4

100. Mike McGlynn OG Pittsburgh 6-5 309 5.25 3-4

* denotes underclassman


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