You either like a player, or you don't.
That's my belief when it comes to the NFL Draft. So many scouts and personnel people spend January until April trying to find ways to convince themselves why they don't like a guy. If you like him in November, why not like him come April?
|The pros aren't that high on Penn State back Tony Hunt, but they should be. (Getty Images)|
Then there are the scouts who actually stand by their conviction and then see them picked apart by head or position coaches who come to the process late. Instead of standing up to their beliefs, they get caught up in what others think and often are backed down by the head coach's beliefs.
That's when mistakes are made. "Stick to your convictions" should be on signs hung throughout the league's draft rooms.
With that in mind, and about a month to go before teams make their picks, it's a good time to unveil the players on my annual Better-Than Team. Each year, I come up with a list of players I like better than most scouts or analysts, and this year I've come up with 20.
Of the 20, only a couple have a chance to go in the first round, and if they do, it will be late.
Most will be second-, third- or fourth-round picks. In three years, some will be on their way to the Pro Bowl. Others will be quality starters. Some might be failures; the odds say so, but I like my guys.
I believe in these 20 players. And nobody, not even the scouts I talk to, can change my mind.
Remember: Stick to your convictions.
Tony Hunt, RB, Penn State: He is a move-the-chains type of runner. You won't get a lot of explosive plays, but he knows how to find the cracks and creases to pick up yardage. He plays hard all the time.
Kenny Irons, RB, Auburn: He was bothered by injuries in 2006 and didn't play as well as he did in 2005. But this kid knows how to slash his way to open spots. He should be a second-round steal for some team.
Ray McDonald, DE-DT, Florida: At 6-feet-4, 275 pounds, he moved inside in 2006 to play tackle, but he's probably better suited outside. He came back from a serious knee injury in 2005 and had a nice season. He shows up on film. He might not have the speed of teammate Jarvis Moss, but he's stronger at the point of attack.