At this time last year, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm was considered the top draft prospect heading into the 2007 season.
He fell to the second round Saturday, a victim of the over-analysis of the scouting process.
|Matt Stafford has some NFL swagger. (Getty Images)|
Hint: It's not the Heisman Trophy winner.
It's Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford. He is the prototype, a strong-armed, pocket-passer who plays with a swagger. He enters his junior season having started 19 games in his first two seasons. In 2007, he threw 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, a big improvement over the seven touchdowns and 13 interceptions from his freshman season.
The challengers to Stafford's perch as the top quarterback and perhaps top pick are Purdue's Curtis Painter, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Louisville's Hunter Cantwell.
An early look to the 2009 draft class, including top juniors who will likely come out, shows it could be a deep class at offensive tackle and defensive end, two premium positions on draft day. We could see as many as five or six at each position go in the first round next spring.
It does not appear to be a great class for receivers or corners, although there are a handful of top prospects at each position.
That can all change in a big way in the next 12 months. Just ask Brian Brohm.
That's why they play the games.
Cream of the '09 crop
Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia (Jr.): He has that NFL passer look. There is no way he stays for his senior season, not with a chance to be the top passer selected.
Curtis Painter, QB, Purdue: He's got a strong arm, plays in a pro-style offense and understands the passing game.
Hunter Cantwell, QB, Louisville: At 6-5, he has the size scouts love. He also has a big arm. But being behind Brohm, he hasn't played much.
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma (Redshirt soph.): At 6-5, 213 pounds, he has great size and a big arm. He started right away at quarterback.
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida (Jr.): He will have to adjust on the next level, but he throws it well enough. We know he's tough enough.
|Chris Wells has the size-speed package. (Getty Images)|
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson (Jr.): He has blazing speed that will have the scouts drooling. He can also return kickoffs.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech (Redshirt soph.): He has the size (6-3, 222 pounds) and the speed. He puts up huge numbers in the Tech offense as well.
Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State: He has good speed and runs disciplined routes. He's the son of Atlanta Falcons assistant Terry Robiskie.
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida (Jr.): He's small at 5-10, 200 pounds, and he has some injury issues. But he can fly.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland (Jr.): He's a big receiver (6-2, 205) who has track-like speed. He caught 51 passes last season.
Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri: He is a better NFL prospect than Dustin Keller, who went in the first round of this weekend's draft. Coffman has good size (6-6, 245) and he can block.
Michael Oher, T, Mississippi: At 6-5, 325 pounds, he's a strong, physical player who has played both guard and tackle. He shocked many by returning to play his senior season.
Phil Loadholt, T, Oklahoma: At 6-8, 350 pounds, he is a massive tackle. He teams with Duke Robinson to form one of the best sides of a line in college football. Might have to move to right tackle in the NFL.
Alex Boone, T, Ohio State: He's another big tackle at 6-8, 320 pounds. Most thought he would enter this year's draft, but he opted to stay in school.
Andre Smith, T, Alabama (Jr.): He has started at left tackle since he was a freshman. At 6-5, 345 pounds, he has great size.
|Duke has a little bit of mean. (Getty Images)|
Herman Johnson, G, LSU: He's a huge (6-5, 350) guard who might be able to slide outside and play right tackle.
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU: At 6-5, 292 pounds, he's a big, powerful end. But he has the speed to come off the edge. Should be the star of the Tigers defense now that Glenn Dorsey is gone.
Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech: Was used mostly as a pass-rush specialist last season. At 6-7, 250 pounds, he has a frame to add more weight.
George Selvie, DE, South Florida (Jr.): He's a 6-4, 260-pound pass rusher who burst onto the scene last year as a sophomore when he had 14½ sacks. As he matures, he will grow into his frame, which will help his draft stock.
Greg Hardy, DE, Mississippi: At 6-5, 260 pounds, he had 10 sacks last season as a sophomore. Has played receiver at times and plays basketball for Ole Miss, which is an indication of his great athletic ability.
Greg Middleton, DE, Indiana (Jr.): He led the nation in sacks with 16 last year. At 260 pounds, he has the good size-speed combination.
Fili Moala, DT, USC: Anybody who watched the Trojans last season to study Sedrick Ellis had to note Moala. He (6-5, 300) has better size than Ellis, who went seventh in this year's draft.
Rey Maualuga, LB, USC: Even on a talent-laden defense, he made a ton of tackles. He's physical at 6-3, 250, yet has the skills to chase down runners. He's a true middle linebacker.
Brian Cushing, LB, USC: He has played both linebacker and end for the Trojans, but will play strong-side linebacker in the NFL. Scouts are already raving about him.
Marcus Freeman, LB, Ohio State: He will be the "other" Buckeyes linebacker with James Laurinaitis on the field, but he shouldn't be. At 6-2, 242 pounds, he's a player.
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State: He surprised a lot of people by returning to school this season. He is a tackling machine with good size (6-2, 245 pounds).
Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State: At 6-1, 202, he runs a 4.4 40. He excels at playing man coverage.
Victor "Macho" Harris, CB, Virginia Tech: Tech corner Brandon Flowers went in the second round in this year's draft and Harris is better and faster.
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois (Jr.): He's the younger brother of San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis. He has the size and speed scouts will love.
Taylor Mays, S, USC (JR): At 6-4, 225 pounds, he is huge for a safety. Plus, he has great speed. Think Ronnie Lott.
Just missed: Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati; P.J. Hill, RB, Wisconsin; Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU; Max Unger, T, Oregon; Jeff Owens, DT, Georgia; Gerald McGrath, LB, Southern Miss; James Davis, RB, Clemson; Al Woods, DT, LSU; Todd Boekman, QB, Ohio State; Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia; Terrance Taylor, DT, Michigan; Myron Rolle, S, Florida State (Jr.); Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State (Jr.); Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida (Jr); William Moore, S, Missouri; Sen'Derrick Marks, DT Auburn (Jr.); Ciron Black, T, LSU; Alex Mack, C, California; Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri (redshirt soph.); Darryl Beckwith, LB, LSU; Kam Chancellor, S, Virginia Tech.