The college football season is about half over. The NFL season is closing in on the halfway point, too.
That means it's time for our first look at the Top 32 2009 NFL draft prospects.
|Matthew Stafford? Just say he's got all the tools. (US Presswire)|
We're planning as if they will.
Assuming the good ones will, the first round next April should be loaded with underclassmen. In my top 32, half of the players are juniors or redshirt sophomores. Of the top 16, 10 are underclassmen.
The top two players are juniors. The top player is Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford, who has the arm and size scouts love. I remember when he was in high school, an NFL scout I respect greatly told me he would be the first player taken.
That scout will be right -- if the team drafting first needs a quarterback.
The second-rated player on this list is Alabama left tackle Andre Smith. He has been a starter since the day he walked onto campus as a true freshman. He's a mauler in the run game and a great pass protector.
It won't be a great class for quarterbacks, which is why Stafford and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, who can come out as a redshirt sophomore, should be the top quarterbacks. It will be a good class for offensive tackles and defensive ends. There are two tackles and three defensive ends in my top 10.
Just remember, this is the first list. I'll do several more as we move throughout the draft process leading up to the April draft.
1. Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia (JR): He has a gun for an arm and a good command of the pocket. He does force some balls, but that can be coached out of him.
2. Andre Smith, T, Alabama (JR): He's 340 pounds and has the feet of a basketball player. He plays the left side for the Tide, but he could also move to the right side on the next level.
|Sam Bradford: A fast riser by all indications. (US Presswire)|
4. Michael Oher, T, Mississippi: They wrote a book about him in high school and he has lived up to the hype. He's huge and athletic and tough.
5. Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech: At 6-7, 260 pounds, he has a big frame although he's a little lean. He plays on a good line, but he's the clear star. He will need to improve his run play on the next level.
6. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech (redshirt soph.): Think T.O. meets Randy Moss. Plus, having played in Tech's passing offense he's skilled in the little things needed to play the position.
7. Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas: He's a powerful end who should be able to hold up against the run. He's also a skilled pass rusher, although not a pure speed guy. He had a good day last week against Oklahoma tackle Phil Loadholt, who could be a first-round pick.
8. George Selvie, DE, South Florida (JR): He has issues keeping his weight up, and at 245 will need to get stronger. But he's a pure pass rusher with an explosive burst.
9. Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State: He's a good cover player who has a nose for the football. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he's plenty fast. He has three interceptions this season.
|Brian Cushing: The best of USC's linebacking standouts. (US Presswire)|
11. Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State (JR): He's a strong runner who has good speed. The only knock on him is his durability. He has missed time with injuries.
12. Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois (JR): He's a smooth cover player who sometimes gambles too much and freelances too much. But the skills are there. He's the brother of San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.
13. William Moore, S, Missouri: He's 6-1, 225 pounds and can run. In the modern NFL, safeties who can run are invaluable. He's a good tackler as well.
14. Darius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland (JR): He's got good size at 6-2 and 210 pounds, and he can fly. He should be the second receiver taken behind Crabtree.
15. Sen'Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn (JR): He's only 6-1 and 295 pounds, but he plays bigger. He's quick. He reminds me of Warren Sapp.
16. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia (JR): Defensive coordinators hold their breath every time he touches it. He has the ability to make people miss, but he can also rip off the 70-yard runs. He's a good receiver.
17. James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State: He's a tackling machine who has the size and the speed. He has been a three-year starter, which says a lot.
18. Rey Maualuga, LB, USC : He plays with a passion you want from a linebacker, but I've seen him blocked too much this season. Maybe it's just an off year.
19. Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia: At 6-5 1/2 and 310 pounds, he will be able to add some weight on the next level. He's a good pass protector as a left tackle, but he needs to be tougher as a run blocker.
|Aaron Curry: Always in the middle of things at Wake Forest. (US Presswire)|
21. Percy Harvin, WR, Florida (JR): The one worry I have is his size. But he has the speed. We've seen Steve Smith light it up in the NFL, and he's only 5-9.
22. Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU: There was a lot of thinking he should have come out last season, but he made the decision to stay in school and he's having a so-so senior season. He's a big end at 290 pounds and he can rush the passer.
23. Greg Hardy, DE, Mississippi (JR): He had 10 sacks last season, but he has had some issues with the coaching staff this year. When he's focused, this former basketball player can get after the quarterback.
24. Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida (JR): Watch Florida play and he shows up all over the field. He has great speed and good instincts. He has a Ray Lewis look.
25. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri (redshirt soph.): He is the big-play guy in the Tigers' offense. He has speed and the ability to make people miss. He could be a Steve Smith type.
26. Taylor Mays, S, USC (JR): He's a huge safety at 6-3 and 225 pounds, but he can run. He's not another Roy Williams.
27. Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma: He's a big guard at 6-5 and 335 pounds who might be able to move to right tackle on the next level. He's a good run blocker who will need to improve his pass protection.
28. Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama (JR): He's a force in the middle of the Tide line, but his 360 pounds might be a concern to some teams. He's down from 400, so he can get it off. He needs to play at 330.
|Derrick Williams: Now matching the hype. (US Presswire)|
30. Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest: If he were two inches taller, he would be ranked higher. His listed height is only 5-9, but he's a playmaker.
31. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson (JR): He hasn't done that much this season, but he's a big-time prospect. The Clemson line is terrible. Think Chris Johnson of the Titans.
32. Fili Moala, DT, USC: He has exceptional quickness for a 310-pounder. He really played well against Ohio State, which is the type of game scouts expect more of from him.
Others who could move into top 32: Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State; Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin; DeMarcus Granger, DT, Oklahoma (JR); Curtis Painter, QB, Purdue; Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri; Maurice Evans, DE, Penn State (JR); LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh (JR); Ciron Black, T, LSU (JR); Herman Johnson, G, LSU; CB Trevor Lindley, CB, Kentucky; Tim Tebow, QB, Florida (JR); Jason Smith, T, Baylor; Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State (JR); B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College; Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut; Patrick Chung, S, Oregon; James Davis, RB, Clemson; Everette Brown, DE, Florida State (JR); Mark Sanchez, QB, USC (JR); D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt (JR); Jarett Dillard, WR, Rice; Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan State; Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati.