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Repositioning top prospects at midway: Offense

by | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Rang: Defensive prospects

Now that the midpoint of the season has passed, it's time to see how the stock of 2010 senior NFL draft prospects has shifted since the last update in September.

Though most of the positional rankings have not significantly changed, some new names entered the mix. Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi is moving up draft boards, as are Syracuse running back Delone Carter, Miami (Fla.) wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis. Slippery Rock's Brandon Fusco and Missouri's Tim Barnes are proving themselves draftable prospects at center.

A more-precise Ricky Stanzi has raised his draft stock while others have slipped. (US Presswire)  
A more-precise Ricky Stanzi has raised his draft stock while others have slipped. (US Presswire)  
On the other hand, Penn State running back Evan Royster isn't putting up the rushing and receiving numbers scout hoped, Texas A&M stars Von Miller and Jerrod Johnson have not played particularly well, and Boise State receiver Austin Pettis' lack of speed may override his very good hands in the minds of NFL teams.

Each player has ups and downs and their draft stock might change accordingly throughout the season. As of today, however, here is how we rank the top five senior prospects, by position:


1. Jake Locker (Washington) 6-3/230/4.53/1
His hot-and-cold performances confuse scouts. He makes some excellent throws with his strong arm, is a real threat on the run -- and is prone to making the occasional terrible decision. All that said: There's no guarantee he'll be a top-20 pick.

2. Christian Ponder (Florida State) 6-2/220/4.68/1-2
His moxie and mobility are intriguing, but he doesn't drive the ball downfield and has only one game with more than 200 yards passing this season.

3. Pat Devlin (Delaware) 6-3/225/4.82/3
He has the physical tools scouts like, and has played well through an injury to his non-throwing wrist. Threw only one interception through the team's first eight games.

4. Colin Kaepernick (Nevada) 6-6/220/4.53/4-5
Throws with zip and has some straight-line speed when he hits his stride, but has thrown five interceptions over the past three weeks.

5. Ricky Stanzi (Iowa) 6-4/230/4.80/5
Has always had the size, mobility and arm to play at the next level, but Stanzi has eliminated big mistakes (15 INT in 2009, two through Oct. 23 this season), which has pushed him up draft boards.

Running back

1. DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma) 6-1/214/4.48/1-2
Murray runs strong between the tackles -- once a knock -- and is a very capable receiver, but isn't making a C.J. Spiller-like move up boards because of a lack of explosive plays.

2. Noel Devine (West Virginia) 5-8/180/4.34/2-3
Undersized speedster with very good elusiveness, Devine has been somewhat limited by a toe injury over the past month. His 122 rushing yards in the loss to Syracuse this week points to a late-season push.

3. Daniel Thomas (Kansas State) 6-2/228/4.63/3
The big-bodied former junior college quarterback is tough for college defenders to bring down, but scouts aren't sure he has the strength or elusiveness to beat NFL linebackers consistently.

4. Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State) 5-8/200/4.48/3-4
Hunter has a low center of gravity and looks healthy enough; he ranked third in the country in rushing, including a 201-yard performance against a strong Nebraska defense last week, through games played Oct. 23.

5. Delone Carter (Syracuse) 5-9/216/4.52/4
Another stout back, Carter seems made for a zone-blocking scheme. Looked to be on his way to a big game against West Virginia (nine rushes, 75 yards) before a hip injury sent him off the field.

Wide receiver

1. Leonard Hankerson (Miami, Fla.) 6-3/215/4.52/2-3
The tall, striding receiver has always been a big-play threat, but this year he has become more sure-handed. If QB Jacory Harris was as consistent, Hankerson would be well-known nationally.

2. Jerrel Jernigan (Troy) 5-9/185/4.34/2-3
Shorter than scouts would like, Jernigan has electric speed and agility as a receiver and route-runner. If he played in the Big Ten or SEC, every fan would know his name.

3. Ronald Johnson (Southern Cal) 5-11/190/4.46/2-3
Is not exceptional in any one area, but already has career-high receiving totals (39-464-7) and averages 18.7 yards a punt return.

4. Niles Paul (Nebraska) 6-1/220/4.50/3
Came back from a disappointing game against Texas to make nine catches for 131 yards against Oklahoma State. He also showed his ability to contribute as a returner in the NFL by taking back a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

5. Titus Young (Boise State) 5-11/170/4.48/3-4
Though he's not the biggest receiver, he shows toughness over the middle, makes the occasional great catch, and has the quickness teams want in a slot receiver and returner.

Tight end

1. Lance Kendricks (Wisconsin) 6-3/240/4.69/2-3
Opposing defenses lock onto the Badgers' leading receiver, reducing his output, but scouts can see his ability to stretch the field.

2. Luke Stocker (Tennessee) 6-5/252/4.78/3
Doesn't put up huge numbers (19-194-0 in 2010) on a mediocre team, but his size, reliable routes, steady hands and fair in-line blocking give him a chance to start at the next level.

3. D.J. Williams (Arkansas) 6-2/251/4.59/3-4
This Bo Scaife-type H-back candidate can turn short passes into long gains. Past issues dropping passes might hurt him in the draft process.

4. Rob Housler (Florida Atlantic) 6-5/236/4.56/4
He redshirted the 2009 season because of the Owls' depth at the position, but is now proving his height and speed create matchup problems for college linebackers by averaging 14.9 yards per reception this season.

5. Mike McNeill (Nebraska) 6-4/234/4.70/4-5
Wears Dallas Clark's number and projects as a similar player in the NFL, showing reliable hands and tough running when Nebraska's quarterbacks are able to get him the ball.


1. Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State) 6-5/305/5.22/1
The SEC's best pass protector also impresses scouts with his agility in space. A lack of brute strength could cost him come draft time, however.

2. Anthony Castonzo (Boston College) 6-7/308/5.06/1
Castonzo has gotten stronger this season both against bull rushes and as a run blocker. He's gaining ground with scouts combining added strength to his natural athleticism.

3. DeMarcus Love (Arkansas) 6-5/315/5.18/1-2
Early in the year, Love was beaten occasionally because of poor technique. In recent weeks, however, his footwork has improved and he's as effective on the move as any lineman in the class.

4. Nate Solder (Colorado) 6-8/315/4.89/1-2
The former tight end will impress at the Combine with straight-line speed and strength, but he tends to bend at the waist too often instead of trusting his exceptional length and foot speed.

5. Jason Pinkston (Pittsburgh) 6-4/320/5.12/2
Similar in build to Duane Brown and Chester Pitts, a team will like Pinkston's combination of strength and agility enough to pick him in the top 64.


1. Rodney Hudson (Florida State) 6-3/284/5.26/1-2
Reminiscent of longtime Kansas City starter Brian Waters, Hudson's ability to get out in front of run plays and anchor in pass protection despite his relative lack of size are impressive.

2. Mike Pouncey (Florida) 6-5/312/5.29/2
Even taking his struggles with snaps out of the equation, Mike has not played as strong or balanced as brother Maurkice, a first-round pick in '09 and current starter for the Steelers, did a year ago. Still, he has the size and athleticism to be a long-time starter.

3. Orlando Franklin (Miami, Fla.) 6-7/318/5.30/2-3
Franklin sometimes looks vulnerable to speed at left tackle, but teams will view him as a starting guard or right tackle prospect with coaching because his strong hands and length make it tough for defenders to disengage.

4. Benjamin Ijalana (Villanova) 6-4/320/5.34/3
Already compared to last year's top FCS offensive line prospect, UMass OT Vladimir Ducasse, because of his build and length, Ijalana follows in Ducasse's footsteps by going to the Senior Bowl this January.

5. Steve Schilling (Michigan) 6-5/304/5.14/3-4
One of the reasons Denard Robinson has a lot of room to run when healthy. The former tackle can move opponents off the line with his bulk and feet or get into space to negate linebackers at the second level.


1. Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State) 6-3/298/5.16/1-2
Known as the nephew of former Penn State (and Oakland) great Steve Wisniewski, Stefen is making his own name as a tough and technically sound lineman able to play guard (as he is now) and center.

2. Kris O'Dowd (Southern Cal) 6-4/300/5.16/3
O'Dowd might not be considered an elite prospect because of his injury history, but defensive tackles find it difficult to beat him one-on-one and his nimble feet and strength make him an ideal zone run blocker.

3. Kevin Kowalski (Toledo) 6-3/298/5.19/4-5
Another probable mid-round offensive line pick out of Toledo (along with former Rockets John Greco and Nick Kaczur), Kowalski's sturdy frame, durability and rough-and-tumble play endear him to scouts.

4. Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock) 6-4/300/5.24/5
A late bloomer coming out of high school, Fusco's grown into a legitimate NFL-sized center prospect with the fiery attitude offensive line coaches love.

5. Tim Barnes (Missouri) 6-4/300/5.14/5-6
Just like the Tigers, Barnes is gaining respect in the scouting community for his strength inside and ability to handle covering the large area the team's wide splits require in pass protection.


1. Stanley Havili (Southern Cal) 6-1/230/4.64/3
Lacking the bulk of the typical pounding fullback, Havili is still a solid positional blocker, and brings receiving and running skills most NFL teams want in their fullback.

2. Charles Clay (Tulsa) 6-3/234/4.67/4-5
Has played anywhere and everywhere for the Golden Hurricane in his career, and could finish with 1,000 yards rushing, 2,000 yards receiving and 40 TDs. Should intrigue teams with his ability to line up as an H-back or reserve power back.

3. Owen Marecic (Stanford) 6-1/245/4.78/5
A Spencer Larsen-type prospect contributing to the Cardinal as a fullback, linebacker and special teams ace. He has two interceptions, two rushing touchdowns, five receptions, 30 tackles, and four pass breakups this season.

4. Shaun Chapas (Georgia) 6-3/238/4.72/7
The Sporting News tabbed him as the SEC's best blocking fullback last year, and his physicality has allowed the Bulldogs to improve their running game since he returned from an ankle injury.

5. Anthony Sherman (Connecticut) 5-11/242/4.65/7-FA
UConn's two-time co-captain is the type of blue-collar worker most teams want as blocking fullback and special teams contributor (58 career tackles).


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