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 Cheat Sheets for the Draft 
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Post Cheat Sheets for the Draft
This is going to be a long post, bear with me. Latest stuff from ESPN insider. They did up cheat sheets for each position/group and published them all yesterday. That's why there all coming back to back like this. Hopefully you guys can utilize this when doing your big boards, mocks, and updating those wish lists :p :idea:

Unfortunately, I don't see any cheat sheets for o-lineman at the moment. Maybe they are working on that as I type, copy, and paste, lol.

Basically, these "cheat sheets" as they call them are good for a couple of things....

- Grading done and listed by position
- "Best of's" for each major skill set of that said position
- Past draft trends (which give you an idea of the value of that said position)
- Low level information on the top prospects

Feel free to comment or add what you'd like. This is here for you guys.

Plenty of pass-rushers to choose from
Scouts Inc.

There will never be enough pass-rushers to make all 32 NFL teams happy, but there should be no complaints regarding the supply found in the 2009 draft class. Here's a brief breakdown of the top-eight hybrid defensive ends/outside linebackers -- all of which possess first-day draft potential.

1. Aaron Maybin -- He's the least experienced of the bunch, but owns the quickest first step. He made up for poor his combine showing with an excellent Pro Day workout.
2. Everette Brown -- He is short and needs experience dropping into coverage, but he's a true speed rusher with great intangibles.
3. Larry English -- He's a quicker than fast playmaker with toughness and an competitive edge.
4. Paul Kruger -- A tough, high-effort overachiever with good, but unspectacular speed and athleticism.
5. Connor Barwin -- This former tight end is unpolished, but has the versatility to contribute in multiple areas.
6. Lawrence Sidbury -- He's the top small-school prospect. He explodes off the ball, has good closing speed and surprisingly posted the fastest 40-yard dash time out of all the defensive ends at the combine (4.64 seconds).
7. Michael Johnson -- He is a true boom-or-bust prospect because he possesses rare tools, but plays soft.
8. David Veikune -- He's a smooth athlete for his size and his best football should still be ahead of him.

A name conspicuous in its absence from the above list is Brian Orakpo, who some feel fits best at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. We are not of that opinion because we are concerned about his fluidity. However, there's no questioning his ability to get to the quarterback and he should make an immediate impact as a pass-rusher, regardless of the scheme.

Orakpo isn't the only conventional defensive end prospect expected to come off the board in the first round either. Robert Ayers is expected to join him. Ayers can play inside and outside, but we think he's best suited as a traditional defensive end in the 4-3 scheme. He's a bit of a one-year wonder, but the potential he displayed in 2008 -- especially versus Alabama OT Andre Smith -- is enough to earn a spot in the top 20 picks.

To see which players Scouts Inc. thinks are the best of the defensive tackle and end classes; those who could become midround sleepers; and which defensive linemen are best against the run, as pass rushers and more, become an ESPN Insider.

Rounding out the first-round defensive end talent list is Tyson Jackson, who is best suited to play the five-technique in a "30" front. Jackson is big, quick and powerful but lacks top-end speed to rush the passer off the edge.

2009 Position Rankings
Here are Scouts Inc.'s updated rankings of the 2009 draft classes at each position.

1. Defensive end
2. Outside linebacker
3. Offensive tackle
4. Center
5. Tight end
6. Wide receiver
7. Cornerback
8. Running back
9. Defensive tackle
10. Inside linebacker
11. Quarterback
12. Safety
13. Guard

Chris Baker and Sammie Lee Hill are two small-school prospects who could prove to be excellent second-day values. Both can line up at defensive tackle in a four-man front or at defensive end in a three-man front. We feel that their best fit is at defensive end in a three-man front because they have some problems holding their ground when they line up on the inside. They are more than capable of setting the edge and keeping offensive tackles off rush linebackers when they line up at defensive end.

B.J. Raji is the best defensive tackle in this year's draft class. He is as effective defending the run as he is rushing the passer and he can line up at defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme or nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. In addition, as dominant as he was at Boston College and the week of the Senior Bowl, Raji hasn't realized his full potential. Keeping all of that in mind, he should be a top 10 pick come April 25.

After Raji, Peria Jerry is expected to come off the board in the late-first round range. He has some problems holding his ground when teams run at him, but his explosive first step and motor make him very disruptive. In other words, he has the potential to develop into an effective three technique in a base 4-3 scheme. The same can be said about Evander Hood, who has moved past Raji's collegiate teammate Ron Brace on our board. Brace is still the only projected first-day pick that has the potential to develop into a starting nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. At 330 pounds, he is tough to move off the ball and he has the upper-body strength to stack and shed blockers.

While there aren't many nose tackle prospects -- other than Brace -- in this year's draft class, 4-3 teams looking to bolster depth and infuse youth at defensive tackle will have plenty of options outside of Jerry. Jarron Gilbert, Fili Moala and Sen'Derrick Marks all project as late-second or early-third round picks, while Alex Magge and Ricky Jean-Francois should be available late in the third or early in the fourth. Consistency is an issue with all six of these prospects, but they have shown flashes of developing into NFL starters in one-gap schemes and could prove to be steals as a result.

Finally, keep an eye on Terrance Taylor, who could come of the board as early as the third round. He may never develop into a three-down player, but he has the strength to develop into an effective situational run stuffer and work himself into a defensive tackle rotation for a 4-3 team early on in his career.

Here is a look at all defensive linemen who get a draftable grade from Scouts Inc., as well as those players who rank atop their classes in a variety of essential skill sets:

2009 Draftable Defensive Line Prospects
Player Position School Height Weight 40 Grade
Aaron Maybin DE Penn State 6-3¾ 249 4.63 96
B.J. Raji DT Boston College 6-1½ 337 5.23 96
Brian Orakpo DE Texas 6-3 263 4.70 95
Tyson Jackson DE LSU 6-4⅛ 296 5.00 94
Robert Ayers DE Tennessee 6-3⅛ 272 4.90 93
Everette Brown DE Florida State 6-1½ 256 4.73 92
Peria Jerry DT Mississippi 6-1¾ 299 4.98 91
Larry English DE Northern Illinois 6-2⅛ 255 4.76 89
Evander Hood DT Missouri 6-2⅞ 300 4.97 86
Connor Barwin DE Cincinnati 6-3⅝ 256 4.50 85
Lawrence Sidbury DE Richmond 6-2⅜ 266 4.64 84
Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech 6-6⅞ 266 4.62 83
Ron Brace DT Boston College 6-3 330 5.50 81
Jarron Gilbert DT San Jose State 6-5¼ 288 4.83 80
Fili Moala DT USC 6-4 305 5.16 79
David Veikune DE Hawaii 6-2⅜ 257 4.78 78
Sen'Derrick Marks DT Auburn 6-1¾ 306 5.08 77
Alex Magee DT Purdue 6-2⅝ 298 4.84 74
Brandon Williams DE Texas Tech 6-2½ 261 4.80 72
Michael Bennett DE Texas AM 6-3½ 274 4.87 70
Ricky Jean-Francois DT LSU 6-2⅝ 295 5.18 70
Corvey Irvin DT Georgia 6-3 301 5.00 69
Terrance Taylor DT Michigan 6-0 306 5.10 68
Dorell Scott DT Clemson 6-3¼ 312 4.97 66
Kyle Moore DE USC 6-5 272 4.76 63
Roy Miller DT Texas 6-1¼ 310 4.94 61
Mitch King DE Iowa 6-1½ 280 4.92 60
Sammie Lee Hill DT Stillman 6-3⅞ 329 5.17 59
Myron Pryor DT Florida 6-0¼ 319 5.13 56
Matt Shaughnessy DE Wisconsin 6-5 266 4.86 54
Vance Walker DT Georgia Tech 6-1⅞ 304 5.44 53
William Davis DE Illinois 6-2⅛ 261 4.87 51
Khalif Mitchell DT East Carolina 6-5 318 5.04 50
Darryl Richard DT Georgia Tech 6-2½ 303 5.05 49
Pannel Egboh DE Stanford 6-5¾ 276 4.88 48
Demonte' Bolden DT Tennessee 6-3¼ 285 4.95 48
Ian Campbell DE Kansas State 6-3⅝ 265 5.09 47
Brandon Long DE Michigan State 6-2¾ 254 4.62 46
Marlon Favorite DT LSU 6-0⅞ 314 4.95 46
Henry Melton DE Texas 6-4 269 4.65 44
Tim Jamison DE Michigan 6-2½ 256 4.99 43
George Hypolite DT Colorado 6-0⅞ 287 5.04 42
Chris Baker DE Hampton 6-2 326 5.12 41
Derek Walker DE Illinois 6-3¾ 268 5.12 40
Phillip Hunt DE Houston 6-0⅝ 261 4.75 39
Terrance Knighton DT Temple 6-3 321 4.99 39
Stryker Sulak DE Missouri 6-4½ 251 4.77 37
Rulon Davis DE California 6-4¾ 281 5.06 36
Zach Potter DE Nebraska 6-6¾ 279 4.94 35
Clinton McDonald DT Memphis 6-1¾ 279 4.86 35
Jarius Wynn DE Georgia 6-2⅝ 279 4.96 34
Nick Reed DE Oregon 6-1⅜ 247 4.78 33
Maurice Evans DE Penn State 6-1½ 274 4.82 32
Ra'Shon Harris DT Oregon 6-3¾ 298 5.05 32
Jamaal Westerman DE Rutgers 6-1⅝ 265 4.80 31

Vital skill sets
Possesses adequate bulk and the base to anchor at the point of attack. Enough core strength to anchor versus the run or collapse the pocket as a bull-rusher. Shows explosive short-area power. Is able to knock the opposing offensive lineman back on his heels with initial hand punch. Arms must be strong enough to sustain separation.
Best in DT class: B.J. Raji, Boston College
Best in DE class: Paul Kruger, Utah

Anticipates the snap. Knows opponents' tendencies. Can quickly snuff out run, pass, draw, screen, etc.. Shows a nose for the ball and always seems to be in on big plays. Feels cut blocks coming and protects himself. Takes good angles in pursuit.
Best in DT class: Peria Jerry, Ole Miss
Best in DE class: Larry English, Northern Illinois

First-step quickness, speed and fluidity all factor in. Able to generate an advantage with first few steps when penetrating. Shows the change-of-direction skills to work back inside as a pass rusher. Is mobile enough to stay off of blocks when pursuing the run.
Best in DT class: Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State
Best in DE class: Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech

Pass rusher
Anticipates the snap quickly and possesses an explosive first step. Is fluid and able to use double moves to keep opposing linemen off-balance. Shows great closing burst to the quarterback once he has turned the corner as a perimeter rusher. Ideally is able to win with speed and power. Needs to have a wide array of pass rush moves. Shows enough strength to collapse the pocket with bull rush.
Best in DT class: Jerry
Best in DE class: Aaron Maybin, Penn State

Run stopper
Depending on scheme and situation, must be able to take on blocks to protect linebackers, as well as make plays in pursuit. Plays with leverage, shows discipline and knows how to use hands to tie up blockers. Sniffs out the run quickly and is able to shed blockers. Pursues hard and takes good angles. Plays with a great motor. Is a powerful and reliable open-field tackler.
Best in DT class: Raji
Best in DE class: Tyson Jackson, LSU

Market trends
The following is a graphic representation of the number of defensive tackles and defensive ends selected in each round of the previous three NFL drafts. Most NFL teams use this type of chart to study position trends when setting up their respective draft boards each year. Also included is a list of defensive linemen selected on Day 1 of the 2008 draft.

Defensive Ends
Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 5 3 3 3.6
2 4 5 1 3.3
3 3 3 2 2.6
4 2 4 3 3.0
5 0 5 4 3.0
6 4 2 1 2.3
7 6 2 7 5.0
Total 22 24 24 23.3

Defensive Tackles
Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 2 3 3 2.7
2 1 1 0 0.6
3 3 4 2 3.0
4 3 4 4 3.7
5 5 4 3 4.0
6 2 2 7 3.7
7 1 2 4 2.3
Total 17 20 23 20.0

Day 1 DL in 2008 NFL draft
Player Pos. School NFL team Round (Overall)
1. Chris Long DE Virginia St. Louis Rams 1 (2)
2. Glenn Dorsey DT LSU Kansas City Chiefs 1 (5)
3. Vernon Gholston DE Ohio State New York Jets 1 (6)
4. Sedrick Ellis DT USC New Orleans Saints 1 (7)
5. Derrick Harvey DE Florida Jacksonville Jaguars 1 (9)
6. Lawrence Jackson DE USC Seattle Seahawks 1 (28)
7. Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina San Francisco 49ers 1 (29)
8. Phillip Merling DE Clemson Miami Dolphins 2 (32)
9. Trevor Laws DT Notre Dame Philadelphia Eagles 2 (47)
10. Calais Campbell DE Miami Arizona Cardinals 2 (50)
11. Quentin Groves DE Auburn Jacksonville Jaguars 2 (52)
12. Jason Jones DE Eastern Michigan Tennessee Titans 2 (54)

Pettigrew leads solid TE class. Tight ends could fly off draft board after first round passes
Scouts Inc.

Brandon Pettigrew projects as the only first round pick in this year's tight end class.. There are a handful of significantly faster and more dangerous pass-catchers in the group, but Pettigrew is far and away the best all-around prospect. He is a big, reliable target with underrated athleticism and excellent blocking skills for the position.

While Pettigrew is the only tight end expected to come of off the board in the first round, don't be surprised to see a run on tight ends in the second where as many as four players could hear their names called. Those four are just marginal drive blockers, but they have the potential to make early contributions as receivers. Here is a deeper look at this group:

2009 Position Rankings
Here are Scouts Inc.'s updated rankings of the 2009 draft classes at each position.

1. Defensive end
2. Outside linebacker
3. Offensive tackle
4. Center
5. Tight end
6. Wide receiver
7. Cornerback
8. Running back
9. Defensive tackle
10. Inside linebacker
11. Quarterback
12. Safety
13. Guard

• Cornelius Ingram: Missed the entire 2008 season with a knee injury so it should come as no surprise he isn't expected to come off the board in the first round. Still, he's quick and athletic for his size (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) and can separate from man coverage when he's healthy.

• Shawn Nelson: At 6-5, 240 pounds Nelson isn't stout enough to hold his own as an inline blocker at this point and he played in a non-BCS conference at Southern Miss so there are some concerns about his ability to make the jump to the NFL. However, he showed at the Senior Bowl that he can compete with the nation's top prospects and has the potential to develop into an effective blocker. More importantly, he has the size, speed and body control to make an immediate impact as a situational receiver.

• Jared Cook: Much like Nelson, Cook is going to have to commit himself to becoming a better blocker if he's going to develop into an every-down tight end but he doesn't appear to share Nelson's mean streak at this point. On the flipside, Cook has the big hands, long arms, versatility and speed to quickly develop into a playmaker for a team that doesn't ask too much of him as a blocker.

• James Casey: Played just two years of college football and he turns 25 in September because he pursued a baseball career following high school. In addition, he lined up at a number of different positions at Rice so he is going to have to adjust to playing in a pro-style offense and against a much-higher level of competition. Still, he has the body control, frame and focus to develop into a reliable short-to-intermediate receiving tight end/H-back who makes the occasional play downfield.

The depth of the tight end class will spill into the second day, where Chase Coffman, Cameron Morrah and Travis Beckum would be great values in the third round. Morrah's inexperience will undoubtedly hurt him come draft day, while injuries have caused Beckum and Coffman to slide. However, all three have a great deal of upside and could prove to be steals early on the second day.

Some sub-package specialists will be available in the mid-to-late rounds. John Phillips and Richard Quinn lack vertical playmaking ability but both are underrated athletes capable of developing into solid backups. Anthony Hill is the best blocking tight end of the group. Jared Bronson, David Johnson, Kory Sperry and Mark Hafner all lack traditional tight end size but could serve as reserve H-back types in the NFL.

Bear Pascoe was a reliable short-to-intermediate target throughout his productive college career at Fresno State, but his marginal 40-time will cause him to slip. Conversely, Dan Gronkowski caught just 40 passes in four seasons at Maryland but his exceptional workout results suggest he could have untapped potential.

To read the remainder of McShay's TE cheat sheet - including some sleepers for the later rounds - please sign up for ESPN Insider.

Here's a look at the list of 2009 tight end prospects who get a draftable grade from Scouts Inc., and the player who ranks atop the class in a variety of vital skill sets:

2009 Draftable Tight Ends
Player School Height Weight 40 Grade
Brandon Pettigrew Oklahoma State 6-5⅜ 263 4.86 93
Cornelius Ingram Florida 6-3⅞ 245 4.71 88
Shawn Nelson Southern Miss 6-5 240 4.56 84
Jared Cook South Carolina 6-4¾ 246 4.50 83
James Casey Rice 6-3 246 4.80 79
Chase Coffman Missouri 6-5¾ 244 4.80 74
Cameron Morrah California 6-3⅜ 244 4.62 71
Travis Beckum Wisconsin 6-3 243 4.61 70
Richard Quinn North Carolina 6-3⅞ 264 4.98 67
John Phillips Virginia 6-5⅜ 251 4.84 59
Anthony Hill NC State 6-5 262 4.84 58
Bear Pascoe Fresno State 6-5⅛ 251 5.04 53
Dan Gronkowski Maryland 6-5½ 255 4.80 47
Jared Bronson Central Washington 6-3⅞ 253 4.76 42
David Johnson Arkansas State 6-1½ 260 4.73 39
Kory Sperry Colorado State 6-4¾ 238 4.77 36
Ryan Purvis Boston College 6-3¾ 255 4.95 33
Mark Hafner Houston 6-2 221 4.78 31

Vital skill sets
Separation skills
The challenge when evaluating a receiver's separation skills is to sift through those potentially deceptive variables, which include his supporting cast, the offensive system he plays in and the types of defensive coverage and level of competition he faces. While there's no exact formula, some of the key ingredients include recognition skills, initial burst, change-of-direction skills and competitiveness.
Best in class: Chase Coffman, Missouri

Ball skills
Looks the ball in and catches it away from pads when possible. Shows the ability to pluck on the run, catch over the shoulder and adjust to the poorly thrown pass. Makes the tough catches in traffic.
Best in class: Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss

Vertical speed
Speed is the one skill that can set the elite apart from the good. Top-end speed allows receivers to eventually run away from most defensive backs both as route-runners and after the catch.
Best in class: Jared Cook, South Carolina

Stops and starts fluidly and consistently avoids tacklers in space.
Best in class: Cornelius Ingram, Florida

Gives great effort in every aspect of the game. Relentless competitor. Not afraid to go over the middle and make the tough catch in traffic. Effective blocker for his position. Takes good angles to hit moving targets. Sustains blocks once in position.
Best in class: Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State

Market trends
The following is a graphic representation of the number of tight ends selected in each round of the previous three NFL drafts. Most teams use this type of chart to study position trends when setting up their respective draft boards each year. Next is a look at the tight ends who were drafted on Day 1 in 2008.

Tight Ends
Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 1 1 2 1.3
2 3 1 3 2.3
3 3 1 3 2.3
4 3 2 1 2
5 2 3 4 3
6 2 0 2 1.3
7 2 4 1 2.3
Total 16 12 16 14.6

Day 1 TEs in 2008 NFL draft
Player School NFL team Round (Overall)
1. Dustin Keller Purdue New York Jets 1 (30)
2. John Carlson Notre Dame Seattle Seahawks 2 (38)
3. Fred Davis USC Washington Redskins 2 (48)
4. Martellus Bennett Texas A&M Dallas Cowboys 2 (61)

Cornerback class shuffling. Talent is thin but defensive backs are moving up and down the board
Scouts Inc.

This is not a good draft for teams in the market for a difference-maker at defensive back. Ordinarily, there are a handful of cornerbacks and safeties who project as immediate impact players. The only defensive back projected to come off the board in the first half of the first round this year is Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins, and there's still debate over whether he fits best at cornerback or free safety in the NFL.

Vontae Davis of Illinois is blessed with rare physical tools, but there are questions regarding his attitude and discipline. Similar to big brother Vernon Davis (No. 6 overall, San Francisco, 2006), Vontae is emerging as one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the 2009 class.

Alphonso Smith and Darius Butler have been jockeying for the No. 3 corner spot all off-season and it appears that Smith has inched ahead of Butler on most boards. Why? Butler is the faster of the two but Smith has excellent ball skills and instincts, which is why he made far more big plays at the collegiate level. That said, both Butler and Smith should come off the board in the late-first or early-second round range.

Meanwhile many scouts expected D.J. Moore to compete for a spot in the first round before the 5-foot-9 corner ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. The slow time knocked him out of that conversation but we still feel that he's a good value in Round 2 based on what we have seen on film.

2009 Position Rankings
Here are Scouts Inc.'s updated rankings of the 2009 draft classes at each position.

1. Defensive end
2. Outside linebacker
3. Offensive tackle
4. Center
5. Tight end
6. Wide receiver
7. Cornerback
8. Running back
9. Defensive tackle
10. Inside linebacker
11. Quarterback
12. Safety
13. Guard

Sean Smith, Jairus Byrd, Asher Allen and Donald Washington all project as late second or early third round picks. Smith is so tall (6-3) that there are concerns about his ability to sink his hips and explode out of his cuts. In fact, some feel he's a better fit at safety but we believe he can develop into an effective press corner.

Byrd is trying to stay in the second round after a groin injury prevented him from working out at the NFL combine and at his pro day. It may prove difficult to considering there are concerns that he lacks the speed necessary to hold his own in man coverage at the NFL level. While Allen is undersized and lacks ideal ball skills he is quick and fluid enough to emerge as an effective sub-package corner. Washington doesn't show great footwork on film and there are some character concerns that stem from a 2008 suspension. However, there's a lot to like about his upside.

To see which players Scouts Inc. ranks atop the safety class, which are potential value picks on Day 2, which are best in coverage and in run support (and more), become an ESPN Insider.

The safety class is even less inspiring than cornerback. In fact, there's a good chance the first round will come and go without a safety being selected for the first time since 1999. We believe Western Michigan's Louis Delmas is the best of the bunch and worthy of a late-first round selection, but not all agree with our assessment. Delmas is a fiery safety with great agility and toughness, and while he is a bit undersized and didn't play at the highest FBS level, his game tape versus Nebraska should silence any critics.

Others competing with Delmas to be the first safety off the board include Alabama's Rashad Johnson, an undersized playmaker who notched 11 interceptions the past two seasons; Patrick Chung, a hard-hitting, in-the-box safety with quick feet but limited range in deep coverage; and William Moore, the most naturally gifted of the group but a player whose instincts are in question.

As far as Day 2 defensive backs are concerned, there is obviously a drop-off in talent and expectations change. Some of these players have the natural ability but need to be developed while others may have already peaked in college. They may fit better at a different position at the NFL or they may be from small schools and thus face questions about their ability to compete at a much higher level.

So this is where the scouts make their money. They need to determine which of these projected second-day picks will sink and which will swim. Here is a list of four corners and four safeties who are worth keeping an eye on during Day 2.

Most developmental upside
CB Kevin Barnes, Maryland -- We had high expectations for Barnes heading into 2008, but his stock took a hit when he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury midway though the season. Still, we believe that Barnes has the size, short-area burst, fluidity and ball skills to develop into an effective cover corner based on his film. His impressive performance at the combine only reinforced our opinion.

S Curtis Taylor, LSU -- At 6-2 and 209 pounds, Taylor is big enough to hold his own at the NFL level and he has the frame to add 5-10 pounds without sacrificing range, which is important because he doesn't have great speed. And he is more than just a situational run-stopper. Taylor generally does a good job of masking his lack of ideal range by rarely getting caught out of position. With that in mind, don't be surprised to see him emerge as a quality starter two or three years down the road and he could even move to linebacker.

Better than measurables indicate
CB Cary Harris, USC -- His stock dropped significantly after he ran a 4.66 at the combine, but Harris plays faster than his timed speed suggests. We believe he has the instincts, ball skills and toughness to develop into an effective Cover 2 corner.

S Kevin Ellison, USC -- As poorly as Harris ran at the combine, his time looked great compared to the 4.91 Ellison clocked. It didn't help that Ellison showed some stiffness in his hips during position drills, either. But again, don't be fooled by the track numbers. Ellison is a much better football player than he is an athlete, and though it's highly unlikely he develops into an every-down safety, he has the potential to become a valued situational run-stopper and special-teams player.

Most versatile
CB Brandon Underwood, Cincinnati -- Started the 2008 season at free safety, but injuries forced Cincinnati's coaching staff to move him to cornerback late in the season. While he is still a work in progress at corner, Underwood has the instincts, range and ball skills to potentially perform adequately at both positions at the next level. He is also a sound open-field tackler who played the gunner position on the Bearcats' punting unit. So while he may never develop into an every-down player at one position, Underwood could still do a lot for a team in various roles.

S Glover Quin, New Mexico -- Quin lacks ideal man-to-man cover skills and is a better fit at safety in the NFL. He has the size (5-11, 204 pounds) to make the transition and also possesses the ball skills, instincts and experience at corner to match up with slot receivers in certain situations, especially for a team that runs primarily Cover 2. It's this versatility that makes Quin an intriguing late second-day prospect.

Best small-school prospects
CB Chris Owens, San Jose State -- Although Owens lacks prototypical size (5-10, 181) he has above-average short-area-quickness, is smooth changing directions and isn't afraid to step up in run support. He has the potential to develop into an effective nickelback and could be an excellent value pick in the middle rounds.

S Sherrod Martin, Troy -- Another collegiate corner who fits better at safety in the NFL because of his inability to stay with quicker receivers coming out of breaks. On the flip side, Martin possesses the size, ball skills and overall range to develop as a versatile reserve and make him worthy of late-round consideration.

Here is a look at all defensive backs who get a draftable grade from Scouts Inc., as well as those players who rank atop their classes in a variety of essential skill sets:

2009 Draftable Defensive Back Prospects
Player Position School Height Weight 40 Grade
Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio State 6-0⅛ 204 4.59 94
Vontae Davis CB Illinois 5-11⅛ 203 4.49 90
Alphonso Smith CB Wake Forest 5-9 193 4.57 89
Louis Delmas S Western Michigan 5-11⅜ 202 4.57 89
Darius Butler CB Connecticut 5-10⅜ 183 4.53 88
D.J. Moore CB Vanderbilt 5-8⅞ 192 4.59 87
Rashad Johnson S Alabama 5-11¼ 203 4.60 86
Sean Smith CB Utah 6-3½ 214 4.58 82
Jairus Byrd CB Oregon 5-10⅛ 207 4.60 81
William Moore S Missouri 6-0⅛ 221 4.62 81
Asher Allen CB Georgia 5-9½ 194 4.65 79
Patrick Chung S Oregon 5-11¼ 212 4.57 79
Donald Washington CB Ohio State 6-0¼ 198 4.55 76
Sherrod Martin CB Troy 6-1 198 4.55 74
Coye Francies CB San Jose State 6-0⅜ 185 4.65 73
Chip Vaughn S Wake Forest 6-1⅜ 221 4.51 71
Kevin Barnes CB Maryland 6-0¼ 187 4.52 70
Darcel McBath S Texas Tech 6-0¼ 198 4.65 69
Cary Harris CB USC 5-11⅜ 187 4.66 68
C.J. Spillman S Marshall 6-0 197 4.50 67
Victor Harris CB Virginia Tech 5-11¼ 198 4.73 66
Captain Munnerlyn CB South Carolina 5-8½ 182 4.60 65
Chris Clemons S Clemson 6-0⅛ 208 4.41 63
Keenan Lewis CB Oregon State 6-0⅞ 208 4.50 62
Mike Mickens CB Cincinnati 5-11½ 184 4.52 61
Emanuel Cook S South Carolina 5-9¾ 197 4.71 61
Michael Hamlin S Clemson 6-2 214 4.67 60
Jerraud Powers CB Auburn 5-9⅛ 188 4.54 59
Derek Pegues S Mississippi State 5-9⅝ 199 4.48 59
Ladarius Webb S Nicholls State 5-9¾ 149 4.46 57
Ryan Mouton S Hawaii 5-9 187 4.48 56
Courtney Greene S Rutgers 6-0¼ 212 4.65 56
Brandon Underwood CB Cincinnati 6-1 198 4.57 54
Ryan Palmer CB Texas 5-8⅛ 190 4.65 53
Don Carey CB Norfolk State 5-11¼ 192 4.60 52
David Bruton S Notre Dame 6-2 219 4.46 51
Ellis Lankster CB West Virginia 5-9⅜ 191 4.47 50
Curtis Taylor S LSU 6-2¼ 209 4.67 50
Chris Owens CB San Jose State 5-9¾ 181 4.51 49
Glover Quin S New Mexico 6-0 198 4.43 49
Brandon Hughes CB Oregon State 5-10½ 182 4.50 48
Deangelo Smith CB Cincinnati 5-10⅝ 194 4.61 46
Otis Wiley S Michigan State 6-1 197 4.55 44
Morgan Trent CB Michigan 6-0⅝ 193 4.53 43
Troy Nolan S Arizona State 6-0½ 206 4.72 43
Domonique Johnson CB Jackson State 6-1⅜ 197 4.68 41
Bruce Johnson CB Miami 5-9½ 170 4.57 39
Jamarca Sanford S Mississippi 5-9⅞ 214 4.62 37
Joe Burnett CB Central Florida 5-9⅜ 191 4.57 36
Kevin Akins S Boston College 6-2 218 4.93 34
Jahi Word-Daniels CB Georgia Tech 6-0 197 4.50 33
Lendy Holmes S Oklahoma 6-0 206 4.75 33
Bradley Fletcher CB Iowa 6-0⅜ 196 4.44 32

Vital skill sets
Recognition skills/toughness
Rarely peeks in the backfield on play-action. Senses when the ball is in the air. Knows receiver's tendencies and how to attack them. Always in position when it counts. Confidence and "selective amnesia" are also important qualities.
Best in CB class: Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
Best in S class: Kevin Ellison, USC

Closing burst
Quickness and speed are premiums at corner. Upper-echelon DBs typically run the short shuttle in 4.20 seconds or faster, the three-cone drill in 7.1 or faster and the 40-yard dash in 4.49 or faster.
Best in CB class: Vontae Davis, Illinois
Best in S class: Louis Delmas, Western Michigan

Shows the fluid hips and the change-of-direction skills to mirror receivers one-on-one. Can stay with the double move and does not lose much time in transition when turning to run with receivers on vertical routes.
Best in CB class: Darius Butler, Connecticut
Best in S class: Delmas

Ball skills
Pursues plays aggressively and then uses soft hands to make plays on the ball when in position. Also shows the ability to time jumps well.
Best in CB class: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
Best in S class: Rashad Johnson, Alabama

Run support
Can both take on and disengage from blocks in space and slip blocks while maintaining outside leverage. Knows how to use his shoulders when matched up against bigger opponents. Best in CB class: Jenkins
Best in S class: Patrick Chung, Oregon

Market trends
The following is a graphic representation of the number of cornerbacks and safeties selected in each round of the previous three NFL drafts. Most teams use this type of chart to study position trends when setting up their respective draft boards each year. Also included is a list of linebackers selected on Day 1 of the 2008 draft.

Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 5 3 4 4
2 5 3 4 4
3 3 4 1 2.7
4 7 3 2 4
5 4 5 2 3.7
6 1 3 4 2.7
7 3 6 4 4.3
Totals 28 27 21 25.3

Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 1 4 2 2.3
2 1 3 4 2.7
3 4 1 2 2.3
4 2 3 3 2.7
5 0 3 3 2
6 5 3 4 4
7 4 2 4 3.3
Total 17 19 22 19.3

Day 1 DBs in 2008 NFL draft
Player Pos. School NFL team Round (Overall)
1. Leodis McKelvin CB Troy Buffalo Bills 1 (11)
2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB Tennessee State Arizona Cardinals 1 (16)
3. Aqib Talib CB Kansas Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 (20)
4. Mike Jenkins CB South Florida Dallas Cowboys 1 (25)
5. Antoine Cason CB Arizona San Diego Chargers 1 (27)
6. Kenny Phillips S Miami New York Giants 1 (31)
7. Brandon Flowers CB Virginia Tech Kansas City Chiefs 2 (35)
8. Tracy Porter CB Indiana New Orleans Saints 2 (35)
9. Tyrell Johnson S Arkansas State Minnesota Vikings 2 (43)
10. Pat Lee CB Auburn Green Bay Packers 2 (60)
11. Terrence Wheatley CB Colorado New England Patriots 2 (62)
12. Terrell Thomas CB USC New York Giants 2 (63)

Clemons, Bruton among safety sleepers
Scouts Inc.

Indianapolis drafted FS Antoine Bethea in the sixth round of the 2006 draft. He projected as an effective No. 3 behind then-starters Michael Doss and Bob Sanders. After all, Bethea could line up at strong or free safety, and he was an excellent special-teams player at Howard. So while the lower level of competition likely inflated his stats, the Colts could use him in a limited role.

Then Doss missed the entire 2006 preseason with a lower leg injury and sustained a season-ending knee injury later that year, giving Bethea a chance to prove himself. He took full advantage. Bethea has now started 43 regular-season games and six postseason games the past three years. He even earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as an alternate following the 2007 season.

Looking back at this pick now, it appears that too much emphasis was placed on Bethea's playing at an FCS school. After all, he ran well at the combine and put up respectable numbers at the collegiate level. It's also worth pointing out that Bethea played in a similar defensive system at Howard to what the Colts run, and his familiarity with the scheme likely made the transition to the NFL easier. Here are three safeties from well-known schools and one small-school prospect who are expected to come off the board on Day 2 of the 2009 draft. These four could prove to be steals. I include possible landing spots for all four.

Chris Clemons, FS, Clemson

Clemons flew under the radar last year for several reasons: Clemson had a turbulent 2008 season, Clemons lacked highlight-reel plays and he lined up next to projected early-second-day pick SS Michael Hamlin. But Clemons' stock spiked after he weighed in at 208 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at the combine in February. Not surprisingly, scouts are now even more intrigued by his upside; it's not like he's a slouch on film, either. Although Clemons isn't much of a playmaker or a big hitter over the middle at this point, he shows above-average range in coverage and is a willing run defender who generally wraps up on contact on film. He should make an immediate impact covering kicks as well.

New Orleans did well to sign free agents Darren Sharper and Pierson Prioleau after deciding not to re-sign unrestricted free agent Josh Bullocks and making Kevin Kaesviharn a cap casualty. That said, Sharper is 33 years old and Prioleau is 31, so the Saints would be wise to add depth and youth at free safety. Enter Clemons, who would bolster depth and could very well develop into an effective complement to 2006 second-round pick SS Roman Harper. Harper is an effective run-stopper who can hold his own in underneath zone coverage, but he lacks elite range and man-to-man cover skills. Adding a safety like Clemons, who can play a center fielder type role behind him, would give Harper and a Saints pass defense that surrendered too many big plays last year more of a security blanket.

Which mid-round safeties could make a big impact in the NFL? To find out become an ESPN Insider.

David Bruton, SS, Notre Dame

The biggest knock on Bruton is his lack of fluidity; he clearly has a difficult time opening his hips when forced to change directions quickly. Keeping that in mind, he would struggle in schemes that ask him to regularly match up with slot receivers and even athletic tight ends in man coverage. On the flip side, all signs point to Bruton's developing into an effective situational run-stuffer and valued special-teams player at the very least. He locates the ball quickly, fills hard when he reads run and flashes the ability to deliver the big hit. The 219-pound Bruton can also hold his own when asked to line up in the box. Don't be too quick to label him as a situational player, either. Bruton has very long arms and above-average straight-line speed for his size, so he's capable of covering a deep half of the field for a base Cover 2 defense. Although New England re-signed 223-pound SS Tank Williams, taking Bruton in the later rounds still makes sense for a number of reasons. For starters, Williams has sustained three season-ending knee injuries during his seven-year career. Second, Williams lined up at inside linebacker during training camp last year and he may be a better fit there at this point. Third, New England signed him to a one-year deal. Getting Bruton would give the Patriots another big safety and a sound insurance policy should Williams sustain another injury or have to move to linebacker full-time. In addition, Bruton could play a hybrid safety/linebacker backup role if New England decides to use him that way.

Otis Wiley, S, Michigan State

Wiley doesn't have the range or fluid hips teams covet at free safety, and he lacks the mean streak and upper-body strength teams look for at strong safety. So he isn't a great fit at either spot in the NFL. Why then does he project as a late fifth- or early sixth-round pick? Although he doesn't have a great deal of upside, the 213-pound Wiley is big, fast and smart enough to develop into a versatile No. 3 who provides adequate depth at both safety spots and makes the occasional big play in coverage. There's also a lot to like about his ability to contribute on special teams. Seattle should be in the market for a safety in the middle-to-late rounds because SS Deon Grant and FS Brian Russell both turned 31 this year and the Seahawks' depth is just adequate at the position. Wiley, meanwhile, could provide adequate insurance behind both of them and help improve the Seahawks' cover units, which were mediocre at best last year.

Small-school prospect: Domonique Johnson, CB/S, Jackson State

Johnson, who transferred from Missouri to Jackson State in 2006, lined up at corner in college and could develop into an effective sub-package corner for a base Cover 2 defense. However, he lacks ideal top-end speed and the burst coming out of cuts to stay with quicker receivers in man coverage. While he weighs just 197 pounds, there's enough room on his frame for him to bulk up without sacrificing too much quickness; he developed into a reliable if unspectacular open-field tackler at Jackson State. Keeping all of that in mind, Johnson is a better fit at safety than he is at corner, in my opinion.

Considering the entire starting secondary is on the wrong side of 30, Denver needs to get younger at corner and safety. The Broncos, however, don't need immediate help at either position, making Johnson a good fit. If he fails to progress as expected at safety, Denver can move him back to corner. Additionally, playing behind the likes of SS Brian Dawkins and CB Champ Bailey should help Johnson reach his potential quicker.

Curry's in a class by himself
Scouts Inc.

A big reason for outside linebackers ranking so highly as a position (No. 2 of 13 in 2009 class) is the deep pool of hybrid DE/OLB types. Since we already detailed those top prospects in the Defensive Linemen Cheat Sheet, let's focus solely on the more traditional weakside, strongside and inside/middle linebackers for this unit overview.

Since there's no substitute for versatility in today's NFL, it's hardly surprising that this year's most-coveted prospect -- Wake Forest's Aaron Curry -- appears capable of thriving in multiple roles at the next level. He's big and strong enough to play inside in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. However, he also possesses the athleticism and instincts to play on the weakside of a four-man front.

Curry is a better athlete than A.J. Hawk (Packers; No. 5 pick in 2006) and he displays the same type of leadership potential as Patrick Willis (49ers; No. 11 overall in 2007) when he was coming out of Ole Miss. At this point it's difficult to imagine Curry slipping out of the top-five picks of April's draft, where picks No. 3 (Chiefs), 4 (Seahawks) and 5 (Browns) need a linebacker.

To see which linebackers Scouts Inc. ranks atop the inside and outside linebacker classes; where a talented trio of USC linebackers could come off the board; and which linebackers are best against the run, in coverage and more, become an ESPN Insider.

2009 Position Rankings
Here are Scouts Inc.'s updated rankings of the 2009 draft classes at each position.

1. Defensive end
2. Outside linebacker
3. Offensive tackle
4. Center
5. Tight end
6. Wide receiver
7. Cornerback
8. Running back
9. Defensive tackle
10. Inside linebacker
11. Quarterback
12. Safety
13. Guard

The next three linebackers off the board could realistically all be former USC Trojans -- OLB's Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews, and ILB Rey Maualuga.

Cushing did not perform as well as expected at the combine and there's some concern regarding his ability to stay healthy. On the flipside, he is a tough run-stopper and instinctive pass-defender with enough versatility to line up on the strong side in a 4-3 scheme or possibly develop into a 3-4 inside linebacker. With that in mind, there's still an excellent chance he comes off the board in the first half of Round 1.

Matthews is a former walk-on who has climbed up draft boards by building on a strong senior season with impressive showings at the Senior Bowl and combine. He also projects as a three-down linebacker because he can defend the run, rush the passer and hold his own in coverage. It's also important to point out that Matthews was an excellent special teams' player at USC, so look for him to make an immediate impact covering kicks in the NFL.

And then there's Maualuga, a 243-pound wrecking ball of a middle linebacker. He makes up for his lack of ideal instincts with aggressiveness and power. Though he injured his hamstring at the combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.7-second range at his pro day and he's still rehabbing the injury. More importantly, he plays fast on film, so range isn't a concern for the mauler.

Many pundits felt that James Laurinaitis would be the first inside linebacker to come off the board at the start of the 2008 season, but a closer look on tape shows too many physical limitations, including an issue with getting off of blocks once reached. Laurinitis hasn't had the best postseason, either. His stock dipped following his decision not to attend the Senior Bowl and again after a poor showing at the combine. Still, he's a fringe first-round prospect with enough quickness, toughness and instincts to develop into a solid NFL starter, if he's well protected inside.

Maualuga and Laurinaitis are the only two inside linebackers expected to come off the board on the first day of the draft, but Jasper Brinkley could hear his name called relatively early on Day 2. Brinkley is limited athletically, making him a better fit in a base 3-4 scheme than he is in a 4-3 scheme. On the other hand, he is a tough run stopper and relentless pass rusher. In addition, he has done a good job of getting his weight down and staying in shape over the course of the last year. As a result, his stock has risen and we now think that he has the potential to develop into an excellent No.3/adequate No. 2 in a base 3-4 scheme.

Jason Phillips, Darry Beckwith, Scott McKillop and Dannell Ellerbe are four interesting middle-round possibilities at inside linebacker. Beckwith, McKillop and Phillips project as two-down linebackers at this point, while a disappointing senior season marked by a knee injury that forced him to miss three games caused Ellerbe's stock to drop. Keep an eye on Phillips in particular. He tore the meniscus in his left knee at the combine and the injury has caused his stock to dip, but there's a lot to like about his toughness, smarts and top-end speed.

One linebacker who has seen his stock dip is Gerald McRath. The athletic junior has the range and instincts to develop into an effective backup for a team that runs a lot of Tampa Cover 2, but his inability to anchor when teams run at him could prevent him from developing into a three-down linebacker. He's slipped into the later rounds consequently.

Here is a look at all linebackers who get a draftable grade from Scouts Inc., as well as those players who rank atop their classes in a variety of essential skill sets:

2009 Draftable Linebacker Prospects
Player Position School Height Weight 40 Grade
Aaron Curry OLB Wake Forest 6-1⅝ 254 4.56 97
Brian Cushing OLB USC 6-2⅞ 243 4.69 92
Rey Maualuga ILB USC 6-1¾ 249 4.71 91
Clay Matthews OLB USC 6-3⅛ 240 4.56 91
James Laurinaitis ILB Ohio State 6-1⅞ 244 4.73 89
Paul Kruger OLB Utah 6-4 263 5.00 88
Clint Sintim OLB Virginia 6-2¾ 256 4.82 87
Cody Brown OLB Connecticut 6-2½ 244 4.64 79
Tyrone McKenzie OLB South Florida 6-1⅝ 243 4.87 71
Jasper Brinkley ILB South Carolina 6-1⅝ 228 4.72 70
Marcus Freeman OLB Ohio State 6-0⅝ 239 4.53 69
Jason Phillips ILB TCU 6-0¾ 239 4.69 66
Kaluka Maiava OLB USC 5-11½ 229 4.82 63
Nic Harris ILB Oklahoma 6-2⅜ 234 4.95 61
Darry Beckwith ILB LSU 6-0⅜ 242 4.66 60
Jonathan Casillas OLB Wisconsin 6-11 228 4.45 60
Zach Follett OLB California 6-1⅞ 236 4.75 59
Kevin Ellison OLB USC 6-0⅞ 227 4.72 58
Ashlee Palmer OLB Mississippi 6-1½ 227 4.65 57
Scott McKillop OLB Pittsburgh 6-0⅞ 244 4.80 56
Dannell Ellerbe ILB Georgia 6-1 236 4.65 54
Deandre Levy OLB Wisconsin 6-1¾ 236 4.55 54
Victor Butler OLB Oregon State 6-1¾ 235 4.72 52
Lee Robinson OLB Alcorn State 6-2¼ 249 4.82 50
Gerald McRath ILB Southern Miss 6-1⅞ 236 4.61 49
Robert Francois OLB Boston College 6-2½ 243 4.60 49
Worrell Williams ILB California 5-10¾ 240 4.76 47
Stephen Hodge OLB TCU 5-11⅝ 234 4.64 46
Moise Fokou OLB Maryland 6-1⅛ 233 4.76 44
Josh Mauga ILB Nevada 6-1⅜ 243 4.62 43
Mortty Ivy OLB West Virginia 6-1½ 248 4.82 41
Anthony Felder OLB California 6-1⅞ 233 4.76 40
Brian Toal OLB Boston College 6-0¼ 228 4.62 39
Jason Williams OLB Western Illinois 6-1 241 4.61 37
Antonio Appleby ILB Virginia 6-3⅜ 243 4.70 36
Orion Martin OLB Virginia Tech 6-2¼ 262 4.71 32
Michael Tauiliili ILB Duke 5-10⅛ 234 4.80 31
Johnny Williams OLB Kentucky 6-1⅝ 242 4.75 31

Vital skill sets
Instincts/recognition skills
Must possess good recognition skills and read keys quickly in order to get a jump on the ball. Know opponent's tendencies and weaknesses, as well as how to attack them. See blocks coming and find the ball quickly. Avoid false steps versus play-action. Have a nose for the football; create big plays.
Best in ILB class: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
Best in OLB class: Aaron Curry, Wake Forest

Pursuit/point of attack
Must take great pursuit angles and be quick enough to get from sideline to sideline as a run defender. Needs to be willing, tough and strong enough to take on blockers. Also must use his hands well enough to disengage from blockers quickly enough to make a play. Needs to play with leverage and hold his ground at the point of attack.
Best in ILB class: Jason Phillips, TCU
Best in OLB class: Curry

Consistently breaks down in space and wraps up as a tackler. Shows explosive hips and short-area power as a hitter.
Best in ILB class: Rey Maualuga, USC
Best in OLB class: Clay Matthews, USC

Pass coverage
Displays fluid hips and range to cover the underneath zone. Is able to blanket running backs and/or tight ends one-on-one.
Best in ILB class: Laurinaitis
Best in OLB class: Jonathan Casillas, Wisconsin

Pass rusher
Anticipates the snap and finds open creases in a blink. Avoids bigger blockers and employs an array of pass-rush moves to get off blocks when reached. Displays closing burst to the quarterback.
Best in ILB class: Rey Maualuga, USC
Best in OLB class: Cody Brown, Connecticut

Market trends
The following is a graphic representation of the number of inside and outside linebackers selected in each round of the previous three NFL drafts. Most teams use this type of chart to study position trends when setting up their respective draft boards each year. Also included is a list of linebackers selected on Day 1 of the 2008 draft.

Inside Linebackers
Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 0 1 0 0.3
2 1 2 1 1.3
3 2 3 4 3
4 0 0 1 0.3
5 1 1 1 1
6 3 3 0 2
7 0 6 2 2.7
Total 7 16 9 10.7

Outside Linebackers
Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 2 2 4 2.7
2 1 1 3 1.7
3 4 2 3 3
4 4 4 2 3.3
5 5 3 4 4
6 3 4 1 2.7
7 4 0 2 2
Total 23 16 19 19.3

Day 1 LBs in 2008 NFL draft
Player School NFL team Round (Overall)
1. Keith Rivers, OLB USC Cincinnati Bengals 1 (9)
2. Jerod Mayo, OLB Tennessee New England Patriots 1 (10)
3. Curtis Lofton, ILB Oklahoma Atlanta Falcons 2 (37)
4. Jordon Dizon, OLB Colorado Detroit Lions 2 (45)

Moreno, Wells only first-round locks
Scouts Inc.

Knowshon Moreno and Chris Wells should come off the board in the first round. Moreno provides more consistency and versatility, while Wells is clearly the best downhill runner in the 2009 class. Donald Brown is making up ground during the pre-draft process and now projects as a probable first round selection. Brown isn't much of a home run hitter, but he runs with great balance and vision. It doesn't hurt that his intangibles are off the charts either.

LeSean McCoy is the wildcard of the group. He's a silky runner with explosive burst and sensational hands, but he's unpolished and lacks ideal size and power. In addition, McCoy could not perform at the combine due to an illness and turned in an average showing at his pro day. All of that said, McCoy's big-play ability and upside make him an intriguing second-round value.

Shonn Greene and Glenn Coffee turned in monster seasons in 2008 before bolting early for the NFL draft. Greene is a more physical back and Coffee has more burst, but both are downhill runners jockeying for positioning late on Day 1 or early on Day 2.

2009 Position Rankings
Here are Scouts Inc.'s updated rankings of the 2009 draft classes at each position.

1. Defensive end
2. Outside linebacker
3. Offensive tackle
4. Center
5. Tight end
6. Wide receiver
7. Cornerback
8. Running back
9. Defensive tackle
10. Inside linebacker
11. Quarterback
12. Safety
13. Guard

Production trumps potential more times than not, but each year talented backs fly under the radar because they didn't put up big numbers at the collegiate level and it's generally for reasons outside their control. These reasons include inconsistent quarterback/offensive line play or playing behind a prospect with a higher draft value, among others. In addition, while scouts certainly have to evaluate a back's durability, it's important to put injuries in the proper perspective.

To see which players Scouts Inc. thinks are the best of the running back class; those who could become midround sleepers; and which backs are the most competitive and have the best receiving skills, become an ESPN Insider.

Andre Brown is an excellent example of a back who didn't reach his potential at the collegiate level, but has the skill set to develop into a starting NFL back. While he missed four games with a foot injury in 2007 and didn't put up flashy numbers in 2008, he stayed healthy and the Wolfpack started a red-shirt freshman at quarterback in 2008. In addition, Brown established himself as a team leader, went on to have an excellent Senior Bowl, turned in a strong workout at the combine and now could sneak into the first day. Brown isn't the only back in this draft class who falls into this category either. Mike Goodson, Jeremiah Johnson and Cedric Peerman could prove to be steals on the second day of the draft.

However, there will also be a number of big-name college standouts that will slip to the second day because they simply lack the physical tools to duplicate that production in the NFL. Included in that list are Jovan Ringer, James Davis, Arian Foster, P.J. Hill and Ian Johnson.

Teams looking to enhance their backfields with a change-of-pace back will find good values in the mid-to-late round range as well. Kory Sheets, Devin Moore, Aaron Brown, Marcus Thigpen and Tyrell Sutton may not have prototypical size, but each is quick and has the potential to develop into a productive receiver out of the backfield. With the exception of Sutton they also have valuable experience returning kicks, so there's a lot to like about the versatility here.

Tony Fiammetta may not be dominant in any one area, but his ability to contribute in a number of different ways makes him our top fullback prospect. Fiammetta is an effective lead blocker, an adequate short-yardage runner and a reliable receiver out of the backfield. Though he lacks elite size (6-foot, 245 pounds) he's big enough to line up at H-Back.

The only other fullbacks worth drafting this year are Brannan Southerland, Quinn Johnson, Conredge Collins and Marcus Mailei.

Finally, Rashad Jennings and Javarris Williams are a couple small-school prospects who should hear their names called in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft. Neither displays much big-play potential, but they're both solidly-built runners with good vision, balance and hands.

2009 Draftable Running Backs
Player School Height Weight 40 Grade
Knowshon Moreno Georgia 5-10⅝ 235 4.62 94
Chris Wells Ohio State 6-1 235 4.41 93
Donald Brown Connecticut 5-10¼ 210 4.51 89
LeSean McCoy Pittsburgh 5-10⅜ 198 4.50 89
Shonn Greene Iowa 5-10½ 227 4.57 79
Andre Brown NC State 6-0⅛ 224 4.49 78
Glen Coffee Alabama 6-0⅛ 224 4.58 71
Mike Goodson Texas A&M 5-11⅞ 208 4.47 70
Jeremiah Johnson Oregon 5-8⅞ 209 4.59 69
Cedric Peerman Virginia 5-9½ 216 4.45 68
Javon Ringer Michigan State 5-9⅛ 205 4.50 63
James Davis Clemson 5-11 208 4.47 62
Rashad Jennings Liberty 6-1 231 4.53 59
Kory Sheets Purdue 5-11⅛ 208 4.47 57
Arian Foster Tennessee 6-0¾ 226 4.71 53
Devin Moore Wyoming 5-9 191 4.37 48
P.J. Hill Wisconsin 5-10¼ 222 4.63 41
Marlon Lucky Nebraska 5-11⅜ 216 4.53 46
Aaron Brown TCU 6-0½ 196 4.57 44
Javarris Williams Tennessee State 5-9½ 223 4.52 41
Gartrell Johnson Colorado State 5-10¼ 219 4.67 37
Ian Johnson Boise State 5-11¼ 212 4.46 36
Marcus Thigpen Indiana 5-8 185 4.47 33
Tyrell Sutton Northwestern 5-8 211 4.65 31
2009 Draftable Fullbacks
Player School Height Weight 40 Grade
Tony Fiammetta Syracuse 6-0⅛ 245 4.65 54
Brannan Southerland Georgia 6-0 242 4.69 42
Quinn Johnson LSU 6-0¾ 246 4.83 40
Conredge Collins Pittsburgh 5-11⅝ 227 4.70 36
Marcus Mailei Weber State 5-11¾ 248 4.97 31

Vital skill sets
There is a lot more to running ability than size, strength and speed. It starts with an insatiable will to gain as many yards as possible on a given play, then gain one more. Also included in this skill set is ball security.
• Best in RB class: Knowshon Moreno, Georgia
• Best in FB class: Tony Fiammetta, Syracuse

Vision is crucial in all aspects of a running back's job. Great runners typically anticipate creases before they open and anticipate the defensive flow and see the cutback lanes opening up on the backside. Great route-runners show the vision to find soft spots in zone coverage. Great blockers see the blitzing linebacker coming quicker than most.
• Best in RB class: Chris Wells, Ohio State
• Best in FB class: Jorvorskie Lane, Texas A&M

Stops and starts with fluidity and consistently avoids tacklers in space. Runs with good pad level and shows great balance and body control.
• Best in RB class: Jeremiah Johnson, Oregon
• Best in FB class: Eric Kettani, Navy

Pass receiver
Plucks on the run, catches over his shoulder and adjusts to the poorly thrown pass. Gets open versus both zones and man coverage.
• Best in RB class: LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
• Best in FB class: Fiammetta

Pass-blocker Uses sound footwork and leverage to neutralize blitzers. Knows when to mix in cut blocks as well. Best in RB class: Andre Brown, NC State Best in FB class: Fiammetta

Running Backs
Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 5 2 4 3.7
2 2 4 2 2.7
3 3 3 2 2.7
4 1 3 4 2.7
5 3 1 1 1.7
6 5 2 2 3
7 4 4 2 3.3
Total 23 19 17 19.7

Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 0 0 0 0
2 0 0 0 0
3 1 0 0 0.3
4 0 1 0 0.3
5 2 0 1 1
6 0 4 1 1.7
7 1 2 0 1
Total 4 7 2 4.3

Day 1 RBs in 2008 NFL draft
Player School NFL team Round (Overall)
1. Darren McFadden Arkansas Oakland Raiders 1 (4)
2. Jonathan Stewart Oregon Carolina Panthers 1 (13)
3. Felix Jones Arkansas Dallas Cowboys 1 (22)
4. Rashard Mendenhall Illinois Pittsburgh Steelers 1 (23)
5. Chris Johnson East Carolina Tennessee Titans 1 (24)
6. Matt Forte Tulane Chicago Bears 2 (44)
7. Ray Rice Rutgers Baltimore Ravens 2 (55)

April 21st, 2009, 7:05 am
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Huge gap between top QBs and others
Scouts Inc.

There are expected to be three quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2009 draft -- Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman. The common thread between them is the undesirable early-entry label. It must be pointed out that eight of the last 11 underclassmen quarterbacks selected in the first round are either failing to live up to expectations or turned out to be outright busts. Teams considering spending first-round money on Stafford, Sanchez or Freeman should not do so with the expectation of reaping the immediate results seen from Matt Ryan (Falcons) and Joe Flacco (Ravens) as rookies last fall. But if properly developed, each possesses the necessary tools to thrive in the NFL.

Sanchez is the least experienced, with just 16 collegiate starts under his belt. On the flipside, he possesses all the physical tools to excel as an NFL starter; his mechanics are the most sound of the top trio. Sanchez has been able to ease concerns about his inexperience by showcasing his precociousness during individual workouts/interviews, which is a big reason for his strong momentum down the stretch.

Freeman is arguably the most naturally gifted of the group. He is blessed with an absolute howitzer of a right arm -- to go along with his massive frame and good mobility. Unfortunately, he's also the least polished and has the most to learn before being ready to take over the reigns in the NFL. While we've given Freeman a second-round grade, it appears he's destined to be selected in the bottom half of Round 1.

The next biggest story line of this group focuses on Pat White's future in the NFL. White has been persistent in trying to prove he fits the NFL quarterback mold, and he's exceeded expectations during the offseason. Still, we believe White is only valuable in the second-to-third round range for teams prepared to use him in a slash-like role. Sure, he has the potential to contribute as the triggerman of a limited Wildcat-formation package. But in order to consider him on Day 1, a team must feel confident in his potential to contribute as a slot-receiver and/or return specialist. Hence White's busy recent schedule of private workouts for interested teams.

It's a good thing for the underclassmen that this year's senior crop of quarterbacks ranks among the worst in NFL draft history. Some signal-callers simply couldn't live up to the hype. Cullen Harper and Curtis Painter are prime examples. Others were overhyped in college but have never been cut out for the pro game. Take Graham Harrell and Chase Daniel, for instance. Sure, they threw for a combined 9,446 yards last season but the transition to life in the NFL for these shotgun-spread gunslingers should prove to be daunting -- particularly for the six-foot tall Daniel.

John Parker Wilson was arguably the only senior quarterback to exceed expectations in 2008, but his physical limitations will likely prevent him from being drafted in the first five rounds. On a more positive note; the diamond in the rough could very well be Brian Hoyer. Hoyer's lack of production last year and marginal size (6-foot-2) will undoubtedly cause him to slip to the middle rounds but his strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game and our film study show the statistics are misleading in this case. Although Hoyer is inconsistent and loses the strike zone at times, the case can be made that a receiving corps that dropped entirely too many passes last year played a big role in him completing just 51 percent of his passes. It's an argument that's strengthened by Hoyer showing better-than-expected accuracy and touch the week of the East-West Shrine Game. In addition, arm strength is not an issue since Hoyer can clearly make all the NFL throws. Keeping all of that in mind, don't be surprised to see him starting for a team three-to-four years down the road. Rhett Bomar will be the first small-school quarterback off the board. The former Oklahoma Sooner has good size and a live arm, but off-the-field baggage and on-the-field inconsistency should keep him out of the first four rounds. Other small-school quarterbacks who could hear their names called on Day 2 include Mike Reilly, Nate Brown and Jason Boltus -- all three of whom attended this year's combine.

There are a few more developmental prospects to monitor in the later rounds, including Stephen McGee, Tom Brandstater and Drew Willy. McGee was a victim of circumstance as a senior, but his upside has been obvious during the predraft all-star game and workouts. Brandstater is entirely too inconsistent, but he possesses an intriguing combination of size, arm strength and mobility. Conversely, Drew Willy doesn't have any flashy skills but he is a gritty competitor with a quick release and good overall accuracy as a passer.

Finally, Nate Davis is the only other early-entry quarterback prospect in this year's class. Unfortunately, it looks like his decision to leave Ball State a year early is backfiring. Davis is a playmaker with upper-echelon arm strength and good overall athleticism. However, his stock has taken a big hit since midseason due to growing concerns regarding his marginal size, ball-security issues and scheme transition from college to the NFL. Davis is likely to slip to the final few rounds of the draft, where a team can rationalize taking a long-term developmental project.

To see which quarterbacks get draftable grades; which are the best in various skill areas; and when the top prospects figure to come off the board, become an ESPN Insider to find out.

2009 Draftable Quarterbacks
Player School Height Weight 40 Grade
Matthew Stafford Georgia 6-2¼ 225 4.85 95
Mark Sanchez USC 6-2⅛ 227 5.00 94
Josh Freeman Kansas State 6-5¾ 248 4.97 91
Brian Hoyer Michigan State 6-2 215 5.05 59
Rhett Bomar Sam Houston State 6-2¼ 225 4.82 57
Nate Davis Ball State 6-1⅞ 226 5.01 54
Stephen McGee Texas A&M 6-2⅞ 225 4.69 54
Tom Brandstater Fresno State 6-5 220 4.95 47
Hunter Cantwell Louisville 6-4⅜ 235 5.26 46
Graham Harrell Texas Tech 6-2⅛ 223 5.14 43
John Parker Wilson Alabama 6-1½ 219 4.87 40
Curtis Painter Purdue 6-2⅞ 225 5.00 39
Drew Willy Buffalo 6-3⅛ 215 4.90 32
Mike Reilly Central Washington 6-3 214 4.92 35
Cullen Harper Clemson 6-3 225 5.05 34
Willie Tuitama Arizona 6-2⅝ 229 4.95 31

Vital skill sets
Lives to compete. A natural leader who is cool under pressure. Wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. Tireless worker on and off the field. Displays outstanding mental and physical toughness.
• Best in class: Mark Sanchez, USC

Game management
It begins with pre-snap reads, which includes blitz pickup, coverage recognition and possible audibles at the line of scrimmage. It extends to reads on drops, which includes coverage recognition, avoiding throws into double coverage and getting the ball to the open receiver. Deciding when to tuck the ball and run, take a sack or throw the ball away also factor into the equation.
• Best in class: Drew Willy, Buffalo and Graham Harrell, Texas Tech

Sees passing windows develop quicker than most. Hits receivers in stride and changes velocities skillfully. Shows touch and timing.
• Best in quarterback class: Sanchez and Brian Hoyer, Michigan State

Throws with an efficient, consistent motion.
• Best in class: Sanchez

Displays a presence within the pocket. Is able to consistently sidestep the rush and get himself out of trouble with his feet.
• Best in class: Stephen McGee, Texas A&M

Arm strength
Gets great RPMs on the ball. Shows the ability to fit the ball into tight spots downfield. Can throw deep sideline routes with ease and can drive the deep ball through wind.
• Best in class: Matthew Stafford, Georgia

Market trends
The following is a graphic representation of the number of quarterbacks selected in each round of the previous three NFL drafts. Most NFL teams use this type of chart to study position trends when setting up their respective draft boards each year. Next is a look at the quarterbacks who were drafted on Day 1 in 2008.

Three-year average
Round 2008 2007 2006 Average
1 2 2 3 2.3
2 2 3 2 2.3
3 1 1 2 1.3
4 0 1 0 0.3
5 4 2 2 2.7
6 2 1 2 1.7
7 2 1 1 1.3
Total 13 11 12 12.0

Day 1 QBs in 2008 draft
Player College Drafted By Round (Overall)
1. Matt Ryan Boston College Atlanta Falcons 1 (3)
2. Joe Flacco Delaware Baltimore Ravens 1 (18)
3. Brian Brohm Louisville Green Bay Packers 2 (56)
4. Chad Henne Michigan Miami Dolphins 2 (57)

April 21st, 2009, 7:14 am
NFL Team Captain

Joined: January 27th, 2005, 9:12 pm
Posts: 1610
Location: Midland, MI
Damn, I started reading and when I woke up the draft was over J/K

That is on truckload of info :shock:

April 21st, 2009, 2:41 pm
National Champion
User avatar

Joined: December 16th, 2008, 8:44 am
Posts: 843
Lol... tell me about it. I learned that this forum has a character limit per post :p That's why the quarterback cheat sheet had to go separately. I figured that it was a lot of information, but that if I broke it up into different threads like ESPN did, it would take up a lot of thread space.

Yeah, it'll take me the rest of the week to read it and use it too, lol. I wish they would have put this out a month ago.

Also, by all means, this isn't the end all, be all, Bible of draft information; but it's pretty good stuff and so far I think it's pretty good.

April 21st, 2009, 3:01 pm
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