A special installment is in store as Draft Insider provides exclusive coverage of National’s preseason draft grades!
Listen as Host/Scout Brent Sobleski and site founder Tony Pauline discuss all the defensive rankings, after providing the offensive side of the ball earlier this week via articles.
Because of the special nature of this podcast, it is an hour long venture breaking down the top five along the entire defensive class. As well as dissecting those grades which may come as somewhat as a surprise.
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Thirty two wide outs received draftable grades entering their senior campaign. Overall the class looks uninspired, just like last year’s did at this time. Underclassmen are likely to once again carry the position in April, as they do almost every year, in large part why the senior class of receivers rarely looks outstanding.
1) Niles Paul/Nebraska: Paul is a solid wide out yet we were surprised he is the highest rated player at this position. His 6011/222lbs frame is impressive yet scouts wonder about his forty time. 2nd/3rd Round
2) Dwayne Harris/East Carolina: Harris is a guy we really like and a pass catcher that stands out on film. He’s more of a possession wide out though not really built like one (5102/200). 3rd/4th Round
3) Greg Little/North Carolina: Little received the same grade as Harris, 5.9. He’s a nice receiver but after recently finishing a boat load of UNC film, we see nothing special in his game. 3rd/4th Round
4) Jerrel Jernigan/Troy State: Jernigan is another who stands out on film, constantly making plays. He plays bigger than his verified size (5087/181lbs) and also brings outstanding speed (4.32-seconds). 3rd/4th Round
5) Stephen Burton/West Texas A&M: The junior college transfer was dominant last season, posting 66 receptions for 888 receiving yards in just seven starts. His verified computer numbers of 6013/212/4.54 are NFL caliber. 3rd/4th Round
6) Detron Lewis/Texas Tech: Lewis stood out to us on tape in 2008 yet seemed less effective last season when Michael Crabtree was no longer drawing the bulk of attention. 3rd/4th Round
7) Titus Young/Boise State: Reliably handed, Young’s skill as a return specialist will draw even more teams to him. 3rd/4th Round
Terrence Toliver/LSU: A slight surprise as some consider Toliver to be top 75 material. 3rd/4th Round
9) Vincent Brown/San Diego State: Brown gave serious thought to entering last April’s draft. He’s a reliable pass catcher with average size (5114/195lbs) and speed. 3rd/4th Round
10) Matthew Szczur/Villanova: Grade, 5.4 5th/7th Round
11) Marshall Williams/Wake Forest: Another with average size (6006/186lbs) and speed (4.51) and no outstanding aspect in his game. 5th/7th Round
12) Ryan Whalen/Stanford: Grade, 5.4 5th/7th Round
13) Leonard Hankerson/Miami: There were no official size/speed numbers for Hankerson but we like his game and feel he’s the type of guy who could make a move up boards. 5th/7th Round
14) Austin Pettis/Boise State: Pettis offers sold size but poor speed. 5th/7th Round
15) Ronald Johnson/USC: Johnson has been solid yet unspectacular at USC. He’s very reliable but is more of a possession wide out at 185lbs. 5th/7th Round
16) James Cleveland/Houston: Grade, 5.3 5th/7th Round
17) Lavon Brazill/Ohio: Brazill offers adequate size (5105/184lbs) and good speed (4.44). He’s a threat not only at receiver but as a return specialist. We’d rate him higher in this group, though Brazill does need a good senior season. 5th/7th Round
18) Jeremy Kerley/TCU: Grade, 5.3. 5th/7th Round
19) Jeremy LaFrance/Akron: Grade, 5.3. 5th/7th Round
20) Edmund Gates/Abilene Christian: Grade, 5.2 5th/7th Round
21) Keith Smith/Purdue: Smith is a large (6025/222lbs) possession wide out who plays to his size. 5th/7th Round
22) Marcus Harris/Murray State: Grade, 5.2 5th/7th Round
23) Cecil Shorts III/Mount Union: Shorts is a prospect we scouted in depth last year as he was on the BLESTO/National Sheets moving into the ’09 campaign. We thought he showed better game breaking ability in ’08 as compared to a year ago, yet he is still a quality prospect. 5th/7th Round
24) Derrell Johnson-Koulianos/Iowa: Dependable wide out with no single outstanding trait to his game. 5th/7th Round
25) Terrance Turner/Indiana: Tuner is a well size pass catcher who plays big. His biggest problem is seeing the ball; Turner the third best receiver at IU. Underclassmen Damarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss are better talents and NFL prospects. 5th/7th Round
26) Armon Binns/Cincinnati: Binns received a grade of 5.2 which is a bit surprising. He’s a receiver that really stands out on film the way he takes over games. His size (6024/208lbs, verified) is also enticing. 5th/7th Round
27) Ricardo Lockette/Belhaven: Grade, 5.2 5th/7th Round
28) James Rodgers/Oregon State: The dynamic Rodgers is a game breaking wide out and return specialist. His frame, which barely measures 5-feet, 7-inches, will hurt his stock. 5th/7th Round
29) Jordan White/Western Michigan: Grade, 5.1 5th/7th Round
30) Jimmy Young/TCU: Young really looked like an up and comer to us in 2008 yet his game took a big step back last season. Besides his production numbers almost being cut in half, Young looked fractionally as reliable catching the ball. 5th/7th Round
31) Gregory Salas/Hawaii: Salas’ verified measurement are 6013/205 but there’s no forty time listed. We’ve been assured he’s a high 4.3-second athlete. 5th/7th Round
32) Joseph Morgan/Walsh: Grade, 5.0 5th/7th Round
Notes: Moving down the list we were surprised Terrence McCrae of Ohio was not given a draftable grade but keep his name on your radar. McCrae really stepped up his game last season and his verified computer numbers (6027/193/4.43) are terrific.
Recently suspended Delashaun Dean of Arizona was given a very low grade (4.7) as was David Ausberry of USC and Mark Dell of Michigan State. Both received grades of 4.5. Duval Kumara of Notre Dame was graded as a camp guy, though we think he’s much better.
USC transfer Vidal Hazelton, who will be on the field at Cincinnati this season, was given a grade of 2.5, which essentially means “wait and see”.
How does this compare to last season?
The highest rated senior receiver entering the 2009 season was Brandon LaFell who has stamped with a grade of 7.0- one of the best of any prospect in June of 2009. Mardy Gilyard followed with a grade of 6.0, then Chris McGaha (5.8) and three who received grades of 5.7; Andre Roberts, Eric Decker, Jeremy Williams. Twenty-seven senior receivers were given draftable grades one year ago.
If any franchise was hoping to grab a tight end in the 2011 NFL Draft, the outlook is not good from the senior class. Just ten seniors were given draftable grades and many of them are marginal prospects. Here’s a breakdown of the senior grades.
1) Luke Stocker/Tennessee: Two tight ends received grades of 5.8, Stocker being one of them. We like his overall game as a blocker and pass catcher and think he has starting potential for a team which does not make the tight end position a priority in the passing offense. 3rd/4th Round
2) Robert Housler/Florida Atlantic: Housler also received a 5.8 and his computer numbers, 6053/238/4.54 (all verified) are terrific. His pre-season wonderlic was also impressive. 3rd/4th Round
3) David Williams/Arkansas: We just finished a boatload of Arkansas film work and don’t agree with the grade handed Williams, 5.6. Williams shows no strength as a blocker and is inconsistent catching the ball. At 6022/241 a move to H-back or possibly fullback could be in the offing. 3rd/4th Round
4) Mike McNeill/Nebraska: Grade, 5.4 5th/7th Round
5)Weslye Saunders/South Carolina: A bit of a surprise here as Saunders gave serious thought to entering April’s draft, where he was projected to be a mid round pick. Saunders is a slimmed down version of Jason Peters; a college tight end in a tackles body who catches the ball well. 5th/7th Round
6) Lee Smith/Marshall: We wrote about Smith last summer opining that he was a better NFL prospect than his teammate Cody Slate, who many thought was a mid-round pick. Smith will be one of the top pure blocking tight ends in next April’s draft. 5th/7th Round
7) Charles Gantt/Michigan State: Many have high opinions of Gantt yet he does nothing to excite us. 5th/7th Round
Greg Smith/Texas: Smith is another outstanding blocker at the tight end position. 5th/7th Round
9) Lance Kendricks/Wisconsin: This is a head scratcher. Kendricks reminds us of a lesser version of former Badger Travis Beckum, drafted in the third round of the ’09 draft by the NY Giants. We feel he’s a much better NFL prospect compared to Garrett Graham, now with the Houston Texans. Kendricks grade of 5.2 is significantly lower than the 5.8 received by Graham last year. 5th/7th Round
10) Kyle Adams/Purdue: Grade, 5.0 5th/7th Round
* Projected rounds are the equivalency of the grades given to senior prospects as per National’s grading scale.
Notes: Ben Guidugli of Cincinnati was given an undraftable grade of 4.9, which we think is fair. Oft-injured Konrad Rueland of Stanford was given one of the lowest grades handed out to any prospect, in large part due to his injury history.
How does this stack up to last year? Not well. Jermaine Gresham led the way with a grade of 6.6 followed by Edward Dixon with a 5.8. All told last year had 13 seniors graded as draftable prospects.