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Blog Entry

Best Available By Position

Posted on: April 30, 2011 4:03 am

Scouts will tell you they earn their money on the final day of the draft.

Sometimes it's less about finding that small-school gem or underutilized player from a larger program and more about taking chances on talented players with character, injury or consistency issues.

The Buccaneers found a fourth-round bargain last year in receiver Mike Williams, as did New England in tight end Aaron Hernandez, both of whom had second-round talent but fell because of character concerns.

Iowa's Christian Ballard may be the best available talent on the board due to a positive drug test at the scouting combine and inconsistent play on the field, while injury issues took Eastern Washington speed back Taiwan Jones (always seemingly nicked up) and Indiana teammates tackle James Brewer (foot) and receiver Tandon Doss (groins) out of the running for the top 97 selections.

Building depth through the late rounds is what allows teams to survive injuries to the starters picked in the top 100 over the last handful of drafts. Along with Williams and Hernandez, 10n other fourth-to-seventh round picks started at least half of his team's games in 2010, and many others look as though they will be contributors for quite some time.

The "best of the rest" still waiting to hear their names called at the Radio City Music Hall lectern are listed below by position. Each position is given a grade based on the talent available to teams as they make their decisions on whom to take a chance on late in the proceedings.

Grade: Above-Average

It was expected that Iowa's Ricky Stanzi would be the eighth quarterback selected in this draft, but most thought he would hear his name called in the third round. Though his arm strength is average and decision-making is questionable, he has enough size, athleticism and upside to be taken fairly early Saturday. Look for a lot of quarterbacks to be picked in the late rounds, both because there are a lot of intriguing late-round finds available this year and because teams will not be able to sign them to free agent contracts after the draft as in years past because of the lockout.

1. Ricky Stanzi (Iowa) 6-4/223/4.87/4
2. Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech) 6-1/217/4.47/4-5
3. Greg McElroy (Alabama) 6-2/220/4.84/5
4. Pat Devlin (Delaware) 6-3/225/4.81/5-6
5. T.J. Yates (North Carolina) 6-3/219/5.06/6
6. Adam Froman (Louisville) 6-4/220/4.56/6-7
7. Nathan Enderle (Idaho) 6-4/240/5.12/6-7
8. Taylor Potts (Texas Tech) 6-4/218/5.00/6-7
9. Josh Portis (California (PA)) 6-3/211/4.59/7
10. Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin) 6-2/212/4.92/7
11. Adam Weber (Minnesota) 6-1/209/4.73/7
12. Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M) 6-5/251/4.75/7

Running Backs
Grade: Above-Average

The depth of this year's class of running backs, primarily due to a dozen draftable underclassmen, will be felt on Saturday. It would not have been surprising if three of the backs listed below would have been picked in the third round, but teams knew there was enough talent available in the later rounds that they could attack other roster holes in the top 97 selections. A couple of starters and several regular contributors will come out of the group listed below.

1. Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State) 5-07/199/4.46/4
2. *Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington) 6-0/196/4.35/4
3. *Jordan Todman (Connecticut) 5-09/203/4.40/4-5
4. Bilal Powell (Louisville) 5-11/207/4.54/4-5
5. *Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State) 5-06/196/4.59/4-5
6. Delone Carter (Syracuse) 5-09/222/4.54/5
7. Roy Helu (Nebraska) 6-0/219/4.40/5
8. *Jamie Harper (Clemson) 5-11/233/4.53/5-6
9. *Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh) 5-07/193/4.56/5-6
10. Johnny White (North Carolina) 5-10/209/4.50/6
11. Derrick Locke (Kentucky) 5-08/188/4.37/6-7
12. Da'Rel Scott (Maryland) 5-11/211/4.40/6-7
13. Evan Royster (Penn State) 6-0/212/4.65/7
14. Anthony Allen (Georgia Tech) 6-1/228/4.56/7
15. Noel Devine (West Virginia) 5-08/179/4.45/7
16. Mario Fannin (Auburn) 5-10/231/4.37/7
17. Allen Bradford (Southern Cal) 5-11/242/4.53/7
18. Damien Berry (Miami) 5-10/211/4.58/7
19. Chad Spann (Northern Illinois) 5-08/201/4.52/7
20. Brandon Saine (Ohio State) 5-11/220/4.40/7

Grade: Average

Owen Marecic, Henry Hynoski and Shaun Chapas are the true fullbacks in this draft, but Clay and Havili might have the best chance of being drafted early because of their versatility. NFL fullbacks need to be receivers and runners more than blow-up blockers in most systems, and both of those players have those type of skills.

1. Charles Clay (Tulsa) 6-3/245/4.69/4
2. Stanley Havili (Southern Cal) 6-0/227/4.64/4-5
3. Owen Marecic (Stanford) 6-1/248/4.87/5
4. Anthony Sherman (Connecticut) 5-10/242/4.74/5-6
5. *Henry Hynoski (Pittsburgh) 6-0/257/5.06/6-7
6. Shaun Chapas (Georgia) 6-2/247/4.87/7
7. Preston Dial (Alabama) 6-2/238/4.83/7

Wide Receivers
Grade: Above-Average

A late run at the cornerback position crowded out talented players like Edmond Gates, Greg Salas and Denarius Moore, while mediocre senior seasons hurt Niles Paul, Dwayne Harris, Terrance Toliver and Ronald Johnson. Tandon Doss' groin injuries concerned scouts, as well. But in the fourth, fifth or sixth round, teams will find a slew of future No. 2 and 3 receivers that help build depth. Returners like Paul, Harris, Jeremy Kerley and Cecil Shorts have a chance to make an impact on special teams while they learn the intricacies of the NFL passing game.

1. Edmond Gates (Abilene Christian) 6-0/192/4.31/4
2. Greg Salas (Hawaii) 6-1/210/4.53/4
3. *Tandon Doss (Indiana) 6-2/201/4.62/4
4. Denarius Moore (Tennessee) 6-0/194/4.43/4-5
5. Niles Paul (Nebraska) 6-1/224/4.45/4-5
6. Dwayne Harris (East Carolina) 5-10/203/4.53/5
7. Jeremy Kerley (TCU) 5-10/189/4.56/5
8. Terrance Toliver (LSU) 6-4/212/4.52/5-6
9. Ronald Johnson (Southern Cal) 5-11/199/4.46/5-6
10. Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State) 5-11/182/4.56/5-6
11. Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union) 6-0/205/4.50/6
12. Stephen Burton (West Texas AM) 6-1/221/4.50/6
13. Ryan Whalen (Stanford) 6-1/202/4.53/6
14. *Darvin Adams (Auburn) 6-2/190/4.56/6-7
15. Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State) 6-2/211/4.34/6-7
16. Jeff Maehl (Oregon) 6-1/190/4.56/6-7
17. Aldrick Robinson (Southern Methodist) 5-10/184/4.35/6-7
18. Andre Holmes (Hillsdale) 6-4/210/4.51/6-7
19. Armon Binns (Cincinnati) 6-3/209/4.50/7
20. Kris Durham (Georgia) 6-5/216/4.46/7
21. Demario Ballard (Western Oregon) 6-6/219/4.50/7
22. Courtney Smith (South Alabama) 6-4/223/4.65/7
23. Chris Matthews (Kentucky) 6-5/218/4.57/7
24. Marshall Williams (Wake Forest) 6-1/188/4.56/7
25. Lestar Jean (Florida Atlantic) 6-3/215/4.61/7
26. Jimmy Young (TCU) 6-0/204/4.50/7
27. Jock Sanders (West Virginia) 5-06/181/4.50/7
28. *DeAndre Brown (Southern Miss) 6-6/233/4.59/7
29. Kealoha Pilares (Hawaii) 5-10/199/4.42/7

Tight Ends
Grade: Below-Average

Scouts considered this one of the weaker tight end classes in recent memory, and the fact only two went in the top 97 picks (Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph and Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks) backed up that claim. I believe two of the top four still on the board will make major contributions as rookies.

1. Luke Stocker (Tennessee) 6-5/258/4.68/4
2. Jordan Cameron (Southern Cal) 6-5/254/4.53/4
3. D.J. Williams (Arkansas) 6-2/245/4.59/4-5
4. Virgil Green (Nevada) 6-3/249/4.54/5
5. Julius Thomas (Portland State) 6-5/246/4.64/5-6
6. Andre Smith (Virginia Tech) 6-4/270/4.80/6
7. Lee Smith (Marshall) 6-6/266/4.94/6
8. Schuylar Oordt (Northern Iowa) 6-6/261/4.63/6-7
9. Collin Franklin (Iowa State) 6-6/256/4.72/7
10. Weslye Saunders (South Carolina) 6-5/267/4.96/7
11. Zach Pianalto (North Carolina) 6-3/256/4.78/7
12. Daniel Hardy (Idaho) 6-4/249/4.78/7
13. Ryan Taylor (North Carolina) 6-4/254/4.79/7

Offensive Tackles
Grades: Below-Average

It was clear from the start of the all-star season that teams looking for an immediate starter at tackle needed to jump on them in the top 40 picks. Even the four tackles picked in the second and third round have significant issues, and may not have been top 100 picks in deeper drafts. Derek Newton and Byron Stingly have some upside, however, as do small-schoolers David Mims, Johnny Culbreath and Trevis Turner; two of those talented but raw prospects will be thrown into the mix as rookies, just like 2010 seventh-round right tackle J'Marcus Webb was for the Bears last fall.

1. Jason Pinkston (Pittsburgh) 6-3/317/5.39/4
2. James Brewer (Indiana) 6-6/323/5.21/4
3. Lee Ziemba (Auburn) 6-6/317/5.50/4-5
4. DeMarcus Love (Arkansas) 6-4/315/5.18/5
5. Derek Newton (Arkansas State) 6-5/311/5.00/5
6. Byron Stingily (Louisville) 6-5/313/4.96/5-6
7. Marcus Cannon (TCU) 6-5/358/5.26/5-6
8. Chris Hairston (Clemson) 6-6/326/5.38/6
9. Derek Hall (Stanford) 6-4/308/5.56/6-7
10. David Mims (Virginia Union) 6-8/331/5.35/6-7
11. Willie Smith (East Carolina) 6-5/310/5.40/7
12. D.J. Young (Michigan State) 6-5/307/5.18/7
13. Johnny Culbreath (South Carolina State) 6-5/322/5.04/7
14. Byron Bell (New Mexico) 6-5/339/5.40/7
15. Trevis Turner (Abilene Christian) 6-7/333/5.40/7
16. Kevin Hughes (Southeast Louisiana) 6-4/302/5.31/7
17. Josh Davis (Georgia) 6-7/313/5.50/7

Offensive Guards
Grade: Average

Clint Boling and Stephen Schilling both have the talent to be long-time NFL players, but lacked the athleticism and consistent tape to be considered top 100 caliber at a position where teams find a lot of starters in the middle rounds. Expect those two, along with two or three others, to receive significant playing time in 2011 and beyond.

1. Clint Boling (Georgia) 6-5/308/5.28/4
2. Stephen Schilling (Michigan) 6-4/308/5.18/4-5
3. David Arkin (Missouri State) 6-5/300/5.31/5
4. Zach Hurd (Connecticut) 6-7/316/5.28/5-6
5. Andrew Jackson (Fresno State) 6-5/299/5.27/6
6. Keith Williams (Nebraska) 6-4/318/5.28/6-7
7. Maurice Hurt (Florida) 6-3/318/5.39/6-7
8. Ray Dominguez (Arkansas) 6-4/334/5.45/7
9. Caleb Schlauderaff (Utah) 6-4/305/5.18/7
10. Daniel Kilgore (Appalachian State) 6-3/308/5.28/7
11. Justin Boren (Ohio State) 6-3/309/5.40/7
12. Julian Vandervelde (Iowa) 6-2/301/5.12/7

Grade: Average

No one expected more than a couple of pivot men (Florida's Mike Pouncey, Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski) to be picked Thursday or Friday night. There are a couple of future starters in this group, however, because of their toughness or athleticism inside.

1. Kris O'Dowd (Southern Cal) 6-4/304/5.12/4
2. Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock) 6-4/306/5.18/4-5
3. Jason Kelce (Cincinnati) 6-3/280/4.89/5-6
4. Zane Taylor (Utah) 6-3/309/5.52/6
5. Tim Barnes (Missouri) 6-4/300/5.17/6-7
6. Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU) 6-2/300/5.32/6-7
7. Alex Linnenkohl (Oregon State) 6-2/304/5.36/7
8. Zach Williams (Washington State) 6-3/309/5.18/7
9. Ryan Bartholomew (Syracuse) 6-1/302/4.93/7
10. Kevin Kowalski (Toledo) 6-3/300/5.05/7

Defensive Ends
Grade: Below-Average

Ballard's positive drug test and inconsistent film caused him to drop out of the top 100 despite his excellent athleticism and potential. He could be a Ray Edwards-type steal in the fourth round for a team willing to take a reasonable chance on his talent. The rest of this group looks like two-down players or wave pass rushers, even if some (Ugo Chinasa, Eddie Jones, Cheta Ozougwu) end up moving to linebacker.

1. Christian Ballard (Iowa) 6-4/283/4.75/4
2. Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State) 6-3/278/4.91/4
3. Pierre Allen (Nebraska) 6-4/273/4.78/4
4. Greg Romeus (Pittsburgh) 6-5/264/4.79/4-5
5. Ugo Chinasa (Oklahoma State) 6-5/264/4.63/4-5
6. Cliff Matthews (South Carolina) 6-4/257/4.81/5
7. Brandon Bair (Oregon) 6-6/276/4.92/5-6
8. Ricky Elmore (Arizona) 6-5/255/4.88/6
9. Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma) 6-2/262/5.14/6-7
10. Markus White (Florida State) 6-4/266/4.86/6-7
11. Eddie Jones (Texas) 6-2/258/4.75/7
12. Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State) 6-4/268/4.96/7
13. Lazarius Levingston (LSU) 6-4/292/4.93/7
14. Cheta Ozougwu (Rice) 6-2/247/4.84/7
15. Marc Schiechl (Colorado School of Mines) 6-2/252/4.67/7

Defensive Tackles
Grade: Above-Average

The strength of this group early on allowed some talented players to fall into the fourth round. Jerrell Powe and Ian Williams shouldn't last long on the board because they are very intriguing nose tackle prospects, while Cedric Thornton, Lawrence Guy and Martin Parker will make their impact as pass rushers in the right system. Chris Neild, Sealver Siliga and Anthony Gray will play as rookies on the nose, making this as strong a group as you could expect to see on a draft Saturday.

1. Jerrell Powe (Mississippi) 6-2/335/5.25/4
2. Ian Williams (Notre Dame) 6-1/319/5.21/4
3. Cedric Thornton (Southern Arkansas) 6-3/309/5.25/4-5
4. *Lawrence Guy (Arizona State) 6-4/305/4.96/5
5. Martin Parker (Richmond) 6-2/303/4.95/5
8. Chris Neild (West Virginia) 6-2/319/5.06/5-6
6. Ollie Ogbu (Penn State) 6-1/298/4.85/6
7. David Carter (UCLA) 6-5/297/5.05/6
9. *Sealver Siliga (Utah) 6-2/305/5.38/6-7
10. Corbin Bryant (Northwestern) 6-3/297/5.10/7
11. Anthony Gray (Southern Miss) 5-11/330/5.18/7
12. John Graves (Virginia Tech) 6-3/286/5.09/7
13. Zach Clayton (Auburn) 6-2/299/4.85/7

Inside Linebackers
Grade: Below-Average

The fact that late risers like Georgia's Akeem Dent and North Carolina State's Nate Irving went higher than expected Friday night, in addition to some teams projecting many of these players as outside 'backers, makes it clear how weak this class really is. Colin McCarthy, Quin Sturdivant, Greg Jones and Jeff Tarpinian all have a chance to stay inside at the next level in a Tampa-2 or similar system where size is less important than speed to handle coverage in the middle of the field. Teams looking for a 4-3 thumper won't find much here from which to choose.

1. Colin McCarthy (Miami) 6-1/238/4.59/4
2. Quan Sturdivant (North Carolina) 6-1/241/4.63/4
3. Casey Matthews (Oregon) 6-1/231/4.79/4-5
4. Greg Jones (Michigan State) 6-0/242/4.75/4-5
5. Chris White (Mississippi State) 6-3/240/4.74/5
6. Mario Harvey (Marshall) 5-11/257/4.46/5-6
7. Mike Mohamed (California) 6-3/239/4.65/6
8. Jeff Tarpinian (Iowa) 6-2/235/4.56/6-7
9. Josh Bynes (Auburn) 6-1/240/4.80/7
10. Nick Bellore (Central Michigan) 6-1/245/4.84/7

Outside Linebackers
Grade: Average

Though the linebacker class in general is below average, the fact that potential 3-4 rush 'backers Sam Acho and Chris Carter are still on the board makes this section of the draft at least average at the top. K.J. Wright could fit inside or outside in the 3-4, while Ross Homan, Lawrence Wilson and Brian Rolle are all chasers who also have a chance to start if the opportunity arises due to their athleticism and instincts. With late-round finds Adrian Moten, Jabara Williams, Markell Carter and D.J. Smith available, there could be some surprises popping up from this list within a couple of years.

1. Sam Acho (Texas) 6-2/262/4.67/4
2. K.J. Wright (Mississippi State) 6-3/246/4.75/4
3. Chris Carter (Fresno State) 6-1/248/4.58/4
4. Ross Homan (Ohio State) 6-1/240/4.66/4-5
5. Lawrence Wilson (Connecticut) 6-1/229/4.71/5
6. Brian Rolle (Ohio State) 5-10/229/4.53/5
7. Adrian Moten (Maryland) 6-2/228/4.53/5-6
8. Doug Hogue (Syracuse) 6-3/235/4.62/5-6
9. Mark Herzlich (Boston College) 6-4/244/4.91/5-6
10. J.T. Thomas (West Virginia) 6-1/241/4.65/6
11. Jabara Williams (Stephen F Austin) 6-2/228/4.60/6-7
12. Jeremiha Hunter (Iowa) 6-1/239/4.77/6-7
13. Markell Carter (Central Arkansas) 6-4/252/4.76/6-7
14. Bruce Miller (Central Florida) 6-1/254/4.81/7
15. Scott Lutrus (Connecticut) 6-2/241/4.68/7
16. *Thomas Keiser (Stanford) 6-3/261/4.87/7
17. Quentin Davie (Northwestern) 6-4/232/4.72/7
18. D.J. Smith (Appalachian State) 5-11/239/4.75/7

Grade: Above-Average

The run on cornerbacks late in the third round may continue into the fourth, as the top seven prospects below all have a strong chance to be at least valued nickel backs early in their careers. The rest of the group all has a chance to contribute on special teams, or more, if they can improve their technique, step up their games after coming from small schools or prove they have gotten past maturity issues.

1. Davon House (New Mexico State) 6-1/200/4.44/4
2. Chimdi Chekwa (Ohio State) 6-0/191/4.38/4
3. Jalil Brown (Colorado) 6-1/204/4.52/4
4. *Brandon Burton (Utah) 6-0/190/4.50/4-5
5. Rashad Carmichael (Virginia Tech) 5-10/192/4.53/4-5
6. Brandon Hogan (West Virginia) 5-10/192/4.43/4-5
7. Chykie Brown (Texas) 5-11/190/4.49/5
8. Buster Skrine (Tennessee-Chattanooga) 5-10/186/4.37/5
9. Cortez Allen (Citadel) 6-1/197/4.50/5-6
10. Anthony Gaitor (Florida International) 5-10/177/4.48/5-6
11. Richard Sherman (Stanford) 6-3/195/4.54/6
12. Ryan Jones (Northwest Missouri State) 5-11/198/4.48/6
13. Chris L. Rucker (Michigan State) 6-1/195/4.55/6-7
14. Byron Maxwell (Clemson) 6-0/202/4.43/6-7
15. Kendric Burney (North Carolina) 5-09/186/4.71/7
16. Justin Rogers (Richmond) 5-11/180/4.45/7
17. Josh Thomas (Buffalo) 5-10/191/4.46/7
18. Loyce Means (Houston) 5-10/177/4.47/7

Grade: Below-Average

The safety class joins tight ends as being considered the least talented groups in the draft. Tyler Sash and Quinton Carter could have easily gone in the third round, however, and Ahmad Black is one of the more instinctive players in the draft despite his lack of size and speed. Look for at least two of the top eight players listed here to start as rookies in 2011 - because teams often find out some of the players without great physical attributes become leaders in training camp.

1. *Tyler Sash (Iowa) 6-0/211/4.62/4
2. Quinton Carter (Oklahoma) 6-1/208/4.57/4
3. Da'Norris Searcy (North Carolina) 5-11/223/4.55/4
4. Ahmad Black (Florida) 5-10/184/4.70/4
5. DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson) 6-0/217/4.63/4-5
6. *Robert Sands (West Virginia) 6-4/217/4.53/4-5
7. Deunta Williams (North Carolina) 6-2/205/4.53/5
8. *Jerrard Tarrant (Georgia Tech) 6-0/204/4.57/5
9. Jeron Johnson (Boise State) 5-10/212/4.51/5
10. Jermale Hines (Ohio State) 6-1/219/4.61/5-6
11. Joe Lefeged (Rutgers) 6-0/210/4.42/6
12. Shiloh Keo (Idaho) 5-11/219/4.74/6
13. Mark LeGree (Appalachian State) 6-0/210/4.49/6-7
13. Eric Hagg (Nebraska) 6-1/209/4.62/6-7
14. Mistral Raymond (South Florida) 6-1/194/4.62/6-7
15. Chris Prosinski (Wyoming) 6-1/201/4.42/7
16. *Will Hill (Florida) 6-1/202/4.64/7
17. Mana Silva (Hawaii) 6-1/206/4.44/7
18. DeJon Gomes (Nebraska) 6-0/208/4.50/7

Grade: Below-Average

The lockout may hurt these players more than anyone, as teams may decide to grab another quarterback or regular position player instead of having to bid against other teams in the free-agent frenzy coming down the pike when football begins in earnest. Alex Henery should be drafted fairly high because of his leg strength and accuracy from distance, but it's possible he could be the only one selected.

1. Alex Henery (Nebraska) 6-2/177/4.87/4-5
2. Kai Forbath (UCLA) 5-11/197/4.78/6-7
3. Chas Henry (Florida) 6-3/219/4.85/6-7
4. Ryan Donahue (Iowa) 6-2/193/4.90/6-7
5. Josh Jasper (LSU) 5-10/174/5.06/7
6. Dan Bailey (Oklahoma State) 6-0/193/4.92/7
7. Jake Rogers (Cincinnati) 6-2/213/5.06/7
8. Danny Aiken (Virginia) 6-5/244/5.09/7
9. Reid Forrest (Washington State) 6-0/189/4.71/7
10. Matt Bosher (Miami) 6-1/208/4.78/7

Chad Reuter is a Senior Analyst for

Category: NFL Draft
Tags: NFL, NFL Draft
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or