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 Top defensive prospects 
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1. A.J. Hawk, outside linebacker, Ohio State Clearly the top defensive player in the 2006 draft, Hawk is the cream of a relatively strong class of linebackers. There aren't a great deal of weaknesses in his game. He has enough size (6-foot-2, 242 pounds) to play on either the strong or weak side, and he has the toughness and leadership abilities to have an impact immediately. Hawk locates running backs with ease, can shed blockers and is more than capable in pass coverage. If anything, he's slightly too aggressive at times, a trait that could lead to him over-pursuing some plays. He's not as fast as Texas' Derrick Johnson, but his instincts are just as good.

2. Mario Williams, defensive end, North Carolina State In terms of size, Williams is the total package ? 6-7, 287 pounds. He has long arms, good footwork and good speed. Some scouts think he could be a Julius Peppers type, pushing his weight to as much as 295 without losing any of his athleticism. Like Peppers when he came out of North Carolina, Williams is still slightly raw technique-wise. He's more of a pass rusher at this point than a complete defensive end, but the feeling is that he's going to round into a more balanced player. His height can be a concern sometimes, as tall defensive ends can have issues getting leverage, but it's not an overwhelming concern. A lot of people are interested in seeing how he times out in the predraft workouts, because nobody is really sure how fast he'll be. If Williams blows people away with his workout numbers at the combine (or pro day), he could supplant Hawk as the draft's top defensive prospect.

3. Haloti Ngata, defensive tackle, Oregon At 6-5 and 340, Ngata is massive and strong. He might be the early favorite to win the title for most bench presses at 225 pounds in the February combine. A lot of people see him as the perfect fit as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Scouts say he has a good burst and is the kind of powerful player who pushes blockers into the backfield at first contact. His stats haven't been mind-boggling, but he could develop into a player who commands a double team and makes surrounding players better. He also consistently improved during his time at Oregon, really breaking through last season. One thing that comes up a lot, though, is the question about his intensity. He's not a foaming-at-the-mouth kind of player and can be soft-spoken ? traits that can be misperceived as a lack of passion. It hasn't shown in his play, though.

4. Chad Greenway, outside linebacker, Iowa He's not huge, but he has the size to handle himself on the weak side in the NFL. Like Texas' Derrick Johnson last year, there are going to be a lot of questions about whether Greenway can shed blockers, or if he's more of an avoidance-and-pursuit guy. He made some nice plays in Senior Bowl practices and showed a willingness to jam up blockers in the hole to blow up running plays. He seemed to have a little bit of a nastiness to him, too. You could hear him on the field a lot.

5. DeMeco Ryans, outside linebacker, Alabama He showed some physical flaws at the Senior Bowl. One AFC scout termed his performance through Wednesday as "good, but not special." He arrived smaller than expected ? standing a shade under 6-2 and weighing 229 pounds, which is about eight to 10 pounds lighter than in college. He won't be able to play at that weight at linebacker at the next level. Scouts would like to see him at no less than 235 at the combine, and then they will be paying very close attention to his speed. It's expected he will run around a 4.6-second 40-yard dash. If he's slower than that despite all the prep work for the combine, his stock could take a hit.

6. Jimmy Williams, cornerback, Virginia Tech Though he hasn't played the position in two years, Williams could end up being a safety, depending on what his speed really is. Some scouts expect he'll run in the 4.50- to 4.55-second range in the 40. If he's faster than that, he could turn into a top 10 to 12 pick and be the first cornerback selected. He has very good size (6-2, 210) and should showcase a good vertical at the combine. Even if he doesn't have blazing speed, he should still be a top-20 pick because of the flexibility he gives having played both safety and corner. He's similar that way to Michigan's Marlin Jackson, who was a safety and cornerback in college and excelled in both spots for the Colts as a rookie.

7. Michael Huff, cornerback/safety, Texas Like Williams, Huff is another guy who saw time at both safety and cornerback in college. He also has good size (6-1, 205), is very athletic and has good instincts. He gets a little too aggressive at times, though, and has earned the reputation of being a gambler. He can make huge game-changing plays, but he can also give up big gains in risk-taking mode. He's another guy who is expected to run in the 4.55 range in the 40 and, from the scouting buzz, is more likely to be a safety than Virginia Tech's Williams.

8. Tamba Hali, defensive end, Penn State Hali had a solid Senior Bowl practice week. North coaches remarked that he was very receptive to coaching and typically corrected technical mistakes quickly in drills. Though he doesn't have the tall build of Boston College's Mathias Kiwanuka, (Hali is about 3? to four inches shorter), Hali's 265 pounds make him a tough assignment for tackles. He gets good, low leverage, and he used his arms well to disengage from blocks. He's not expected to have a great 40 time (likely in the 4.6 to 4.7 range), but his game is more about technical ability than speed. He's probably the most refined defensive end in the draft.

9. Ashton Youboty, cornerback, Ohio State Had he hung around another season, Youboty might have been the top corner in the 2007 draft. He has good size (6-1, 190) and very smooth coverage ability with a ton of room to grow with his technique. He doesn't have the polish of corners Jimmy Williams and Michael Huff. He will most likely run faster than both of those players and has shown a very good ability to break up passes, but he's simply not as refined and isn't seen as someone who could step in and start for a team as a rookie. He's more likely to spend a year in nickel packages, and then move to a No. 2 corner slot. If he doesn't have a good run of workouts leading to the draft, it's possible Youboty will slip to the late first round or even further.

10. Mathias Kiwanuka, defensive end, Boston College It wasn't a great week for Kiwanuka. He injured his shoulder on Wednesday and had a relatively mediocre performance up to that point (for someone expected to be a top prospect, that is). He showed up a little thicker than in college, but a few scouts commented they would still like to see him add another 10 to 20 pounds to his very lean body (6-5, 260). A lot of people noticed when he had a myriad of difficulties against Virginia's D'Brickashaw Ferguson in one-on-one passing drills ? including one instance when Ferguson plowed Kiwanuka under. He has ideal size (with room to grow) and good range, but his performance this week raised a lot of questions about whether he's technically skilled enough to defeat stronger top-notch tackles. He came in rated the No. 2 defensive end but lost ground. He has his work cut out for him going into the combine.


January 27th, 2006, 11:51 am
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Ashton Youboty IMO is kind of a surprise... I don't know if I would put him at 9, but I def. think he's top 20... I was hoping he would fall to the second round, but he might be this years Pac Man...


January 27th, 2006, 12:59 pm
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That's just their opinion of Top 10 "Defensive players". With team needs and players moving around I can't see him going anywhere before late 1st but most likely mid 2nd.


January 27th, 2006, 1:11 pm
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sweetd20 wrote:
[b]That's just their opinion of Top 10 "Defensive players".[/b] With team needs and players moving around I can't see him going anywhere before late 1st but most likely mid 2nd.


I realize that... but they have him listed higher than Kiwi, a player that a lot of people/mocks have us slated as picking... Again, I am surprised that Youboty is rated as a top ten defensive prospect, and really surprised that he's rated ahead of Kiwi. I definitely think Youboty is a top 20 defensive prospect, but he seems to be shaping up to be this years Pac Man...


January 27th, 2006, 1:16 pm
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I can't see him climbing up that high but he does remind me of another former Buckeye CB that climbed into the 1st round, Chris Gamble.


January 27th, 2006, 1:20 pm
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I wouldn't say that Gamble 'climbed' into the first, because he ran a poor 40 time, had concerns about his speed, and actually fell in the off-season from mid first to late first.


January 27th, 2006, 6:29 pm
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I don't think that top 10 is accurate any longer.

1. A.J. Hawk
2. Mario Williams
3. Haloti Ngata
4. Chad Greenway
5. Jimmy Williams
6. Michael Huff
7. Tye Hill
8. Gabriel Watson
9. Tamba Hali
10. Ernie Sims

Ryans didn't really impress anybody that I read of. I can't understand why he would be ranked 5th overall. Gabe Watson has been blowing up the offense and has shown a good motor. Certainly questions of his motivation can now be......questioned. Sims simply hits whatever crosses his path. Though a bit smallish, he plays much bigger. A faster version of Cato June. Kiwanuka may have fallen off the radar of being in the top 20. I still think he may go before Tamba Hali, because Hali can't get taller or quicker, but Kiwi can be taught what he needs to know and go to the weight room to add strength and bulk. A team like Philly may prefer Kiwi to Hali, as Kiwi can be added to their roster without having to play full time right away.

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January 27th, 2006, 10:52 pm
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Out of all the defensive prospects, the one that I am most interested in is Mario Williams. He's capable of rushing the passer and stopping the run. He's an every down DE, unlike some others that are merely pass-rushing specialists. The scary thing is that he will only get better with more experience and improvements on his technique. I'm crossing my fingers that he will fall to #9, but I don't think it's likely.

A.J. Hawk could be another option if he falls. He played OLB at Ohio State, but I believe that he could play MLB at the next level. He has the size and speed to become a difference maker at that position. While I like Earl Holmes (he only has another year or two left in the tank), he has to be replaced sometime.

I also like Jimmy Williams and Michael Huff, but not at #9. I view FS as a huge need and would like to see either of them play that position instead of CB if the Lions draft them. If they're able to trade down to the 13-17 range, either of those guys would be perfect choices IMO.

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January 28th, 2006, 12:57 am
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m2karateman wrote:
I don't think that top 10 is accurate any longer.

1. A.J. Hawk
2. Mario Williams
3. Haloti Ngata
4. Chad Greenway
5. Jimmy Williams
6. Michael Huff
7. Tye Hill
8. Gabriel Watson
9. Tamba Hali
10. Ernie Sims

Ryans didn't really impress anybody that I read of. I can't understand why he would be ranked 5th overall. Gabe Watson has been blowing up the offense and has shown a good motor. Certainly questions of his motivation can now be......questioned. Sims simply hits whatever crosses his path. Though a bit smallish, he plays much bigger. A faster version of Cato June. Kiwanuka may have fallen off the radar of being in the top 20. I still think he may go before Tamba Hali, because Hali can't get taller or quicker, but Kiwi can be taught what he needs to know and go to the weight room to add strength and bulk. A team like Philly may prefer Kiwi to Hali, as Kiwi can be added to their roster without having to play full time right away.


M2, who's Tye Hill?... Sorry to be ignorant, but I honestly have never heard of him.. I am much more in agreement with your list of top 10 than the initial posted list with Youboty at 9.


January 28th, 2006, 1:41 am
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wjb21ndtown wrote:
M2, who's Tye Hill?... Sorry to be ignorant, but I honestly have never heard of him.. I am much more in agreement with your list of top 10 than the initial posted list with Youboty at 9.


Cornerback out of Clemson. Should be one of the fastest, if not THE fastest, player in the upcoming draft. He was a NCAA sprinter, winning ACC titles in the 60, 100 and 400 meters. He measured in at the Senior Bowl at a shade over 5'9" and 183 lbs. He has fluid hips, changes directions well and superb recovery speed. He also was a high school high jumper and has great leaping ability. He is willing to come up and play the run, but isn't a great tackler. He needs to get stronger and learn to play in zone coverages more. He doesn't have the greatest hands in the world. He had a great week of practice in the Senior Bowl, and with good combine or workout numbers should rise up draft boards like Pac Man did last year. I expect his 40 time to be in the 4.32-4.38 range, possibly lower. He is projected as a first rounder and is considered a better prospect than his former college teammate Justin Miller, who went second round last year to the Jets.

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January 28th, 2006, 10:00 am
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sounds like stanley wilson II from that description. anything more about how he played at clemson?


January 28th, 2006, 10:21 am
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sims is gonna be a good olb .. hali is gonna be our pick i think , kiwi hurt himself with brick tossinghim around like a lil baby.. hali or tapp in the 2nd , so we can get a lb or ssfety inthe 1st ..


January 28th, 2006, 11:03 am
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Detroit_LIons wrote:
sims is gonna be a good olb .. hali is gonna be our pick i think , kiwi hurt himself with brick tossinghim around like a lil baby.. hali or tapp in the 2nd , so we can get a lb or ssfety inthe 1st ..


Actually, Kiwi got hurt when his college teammate Jeremy Trueblood landed on top of him during blocking drills. Hali would be a reach with the ninth pick. Hali may go at 14 to Philly, but no earlier than that I think. I am hoping Miami offers a deal to Detroit for Cutler. Their first and second rounders, plus a swap of third rounders would even things out points wise. But I think Millen could simply tell them we want their first and second with no swap and they would go for it. Arizona scouts were swarming over Cutler much of the week from what I've heard. But I have also heard that Charlie Whitehurst is starting to get some strong looks as well. Though he probably won't move into the first round, he probably could be had in the middle of round two, right where the 'phins would be picking.

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January 28th, 2006, 11:14 am
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m2karateman wrote:
Detroit_LIons wrote:
sims is gonna be a good olb .. hali is gonna be our pick i think , kiwi hurt himself with brick tossinghim around like a lil baby.. hali or tapp in the 2nd , so we can get a lb or ssfety inthe 1st ..


Actually, Kiwi got hurt when his college teammate Jeremy Trueblood landed on top of him during blocking drills. Hali would be a reach with the ninth pick. Hali may go at 14 to Philly, but no earlier than that I think. I am hoping Miami offers a deal to Detroit for Cutler. Their first and second rounders, plus a swap of third rounders would even things out points wise. But I think Millen could simply tell them we want their first and second with no swap and they would go for it. Arizona scouts were swarming over Cutler much of the week from what I've heard. But I have also heard that Charlie Whitehurst is starting to get some strong looks as well. Though he probably won't move into the first round, he probably could be had in the middle of round two, right where the 'phins would be picking.


are you saying the Lions could draft Whitehurst in the second then if we made the trade with Miami


January 29th, 2006, 3:24 pm
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jrlax wrote:
m2karateman wrote:
Detroit_LIons wrote:
sims is gonna be a good olb .. hali is gonna be our pick i think , kiwi hurt himself with brick tossinghim around like a lil baby.. hali or tapp in the 2nd , so we can get a lb or ssfety inthe 1st ..


Actually, Kiwi got hurt when his college teammate Jeremy Trueblood landed on top of him during blocking drills. Hali would be a reach with the ninth pick. Hali may go at 14 to Philly, but no earlier than that I think. I am hoping Miami offers a deal to Detroit for Cutler. Their first and second rounders, plus a swap of third rounders would even things out points wise. But I think Millen could simply tell them we want their first and second with no swap and they would go for it. Arizona scouts were swarming over Cutler much of the week from what I've heard. But I have also heard that Charlie Whitehurst is starting to get some strong looks as well. Though he probably won't move into the first round, he probably could be had in the middle of round two, right where the 'phins would be picking.


are you saying the Lions could draft Whitehurst in the second then if we made the trade with Miami


I think he was referring to Miami....


January 29th, 2006, 3:44 pm
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