The college football season is over, but the NFL Draft "preseason" has just begun. NFL Draft Expert Matt McGuire will answer questions from the forum on WalterFootball.com every month. Join the forums and ask him a question!
regoob2: Who do you think will run the fastest 40 (at the NFL Combine)?
It's too tough to say accurately because I can't predict a 4.32 over a 4.34 - these guys will definitely be in the running for the fastest times though:
Donnie Avery, WR, Houston
DeSean Jackson, WR, California
Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida
Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
Patrick Lee, CB, Auburn
Nile Legania, CB, Wayne State (heard he can run a very low 4.2)
Brian Witherspoon, CB, Stillman
Chris Johnson, RB, Eastern Carolina
Jaymar Johnson, ATH, Jackson State
Nile is the odds-on favorite if he gets a Combine invite. If he doesn't, then my next guess would be Witherspoon. All of these players will be on Oakland's Raid-ar just because of their 40 time.
NoNonsenseCoach: Which players are going to impress at the Senior Bowl?
The players that impress at the Senior Bowl always have these things in common: They play with great technique and tenacity. It's a week of practices for the best seniors in college football. It's not pretty. Scouts are watching and you're NFL Draft stock is on the line with each and every drill.
Anyway, let's get to the players whom I think will have a great week in Mobile, Ala. The first is defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer. He uses leverage very well and is a very athletic player. He should exploit opposing guards who are slow-footed.
Tashard Choice has very good instincts and running skills. I think he will stand out in a weak senior class.
I think there is a myth out there that Tracy Porter is a "finesse" cornerback. He isn't. Despite his good athleticism, he is a very physical football player. He doesn't care who you are; he will hit you.
Jonathan Hefney will separate himself in a very weak senior safety class. He doesn't have the freakish athleticism that Bob Sanders does, but he is just a notch below and has very good range.
bills_red: Who is on the fringe as in 7th round-UDFA players who could surprise us?
bills_red: Do you see Dan Connor - another throwback linebacker - falling like ex-teammate Paul Posluszny did last year?
While Posluszny did not make it into Round 1, he was still a very high second-round pick (No. 34 overall), which is a huge accomplishment within itself. Posluszny was a projected late first-round draft pick, so he certainly didn't "fall" as some might think.
Connor is a similar player to Posluszny, but I think he is a better pro prospect because he possesses more athleticism. More athleticism equals more upside. Connor is an instinctive player and a little more versatile than "Poz" entering the draft. Connor certainly could slip because there are so many athletic outside linebackers entering the draft, but Connor is one of the best inside linebackers as well. I have a hard time seeing San Diego passing up on him because they have a very big need at that position, and Connor fits their 3-4 scheme.
| Will Dan Connor have to sit through the entire 157 hours that make up the first round of the draft without hearing his name called?
Well, just when you think some player is going in the late rounds, some NFL scouts really do their homework and they go much higher than expected. Last year, Laurent Robinson, Jacoby Jones, Mike Walker, James Jones, and Garrett Wolfe all went in the third round and were big shockers to me.
However, as of now, I'm really high on Steve Johnson, a receiver from Kentucky. He has great size at 6-3, 210, and he made a ton of clutch plays this year for the Wildcats. He is raw though, but I think if some team likes his intangibles (work ethic, character, drive) they could take him in Round 3.
Another player I like is Fernando Velasco, a center from Georgia.
bills_red: Who are a few small school prospects to watch out for?
The biggest sleeper in this draft class looks to be Leodis McKelvin from Troy. Right now the scouts are just salivating over his play this season and his excellent athletic ability. He is actually going to contend to be one of the top cornerbacks to initially come off the draft board.
Others include tackle Heath Benedict from Newberry, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State, quarterback Joe Flacco from Delaware, receiver Jerome Simpson from Coastal Carolina, tackle Chad Rinehart from Northern Iowa, defensive end Jason Jones from Eastern Michigan, quarterback Josh Johnson from San Diego, defensive end Kendall Langford from Hampton, and guard Kerry Brown from Appalachian State.
All of these prospects have enough upside to warrant being selected in the first three rounds of the draft.
GridIron NUt: Who would you consider to be the most dominant School in the last six years? I think it is Ohio State.
This is a really easy question. They have been 10-2 vs. the AP Top Ten. They have flooded the NFL with players from their program. Three Heisman winners from this school in the last five years. They have set the benchmark for college football in terms of absolutely dominating in the recruiting wars and loading their team with talent. Of course the team I am talking about is the Men of Troy: the USC Football Trojans.
GridIron NUt: Can you explain the difference between a Cover-2 defense and the Tampa-2 defense?
In a Cover-2 defense, the free safety and strong safety are in the back of the defense to defend the deep ball. A Tampa-2 is a variation of the Cover-2 made famous by Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin when they were in Tampa Bay. The middle linebacker and corners plays further back off the line of scrimmage than in a typical Cover-2 to defend against the pass spying the quarterback's eyes. Also in a Tampa-2, it is critical to have an athletic under tackle that can rush the passer. Speed and agility at the linebacker position is a must as well.
Mark: Who do you think is going to be a first-round bust after the draft?
This by far is the toughest question I have been asked. If Calais Campbell goes in the first round as projected, I'd say he has the biggest chance of being a bust. His junior season was set up for him to put up monstrous statistics and to play like a top-five draft pick. For whatever reason he didn't do it. He has great triangle numbers (height, weight, and 40 time) at 6-8, 280 and 4.7. But he just didn't perform up to expectations this year, so I have to question his work ethic, tenacity, effort, and game preparation.
Leo Fender: What teams are most likely to move up or down in the first round of the draft?
Adam Maciasz: Do you see Illinois being good again next year, or where they a one-year wonder?
I don't think Illinois is a one-year wonder. Ron Zook is one of the best recruiters in college football, so they will certainly reload. Juice Williams has a lot of starting experience and can only get better. Will they be as good as last year without Rashard Mendenhall? Of course they won't. They should improve on defense and it will compensate for some of that huge loss, but I don't see another Rose Bowl on the horizon for Illinois.
Historically, trades don't happen at the top of the draft. So we can really eliminate the first 7-8 teams. One franchise that really doesn't have a lot of needs, but could use a high-impact player is Philadelphia. If DeSean Jackson is in high demand, teams like Buffalo, Denver, Minnesota, and Houston are going to certainly consider taking him if he falls in the teens.
Dallas has a lot of ammunition to move up with their two first-round selections. If Ryan Clady slips past the fifth pick, they might consider moving up to get him to have a replacement for Flozell Adams, who is nearing the end of his career.
Teams that might trade out of the first round to acquire more picks or a future first-rounder include Seattle, Green Bay, and Jacksonville. If Tampa Bay likes Erik Ainge or any other second-tier quarterback enough, they might want to trade out of the first round as well.
49ers fan: Matt, who helped or hurt their stock in the national championship game? Do you think some player's performance will influence them to go back to school? Could some players be influenced to enter the draft after tonight's game?
Remember that NFL scouts are taught that every game and every workout is just "one piece of the puzzle." Now, sometimes some pieces are bigger than others, but the national championship game (or any other bowl game) isn't one of them.
I'd say the player who looked the least impressive to me was Kirk Barton. He just played an average game and didn't perform consistently, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt going up against arguably the best left defensive end in college football in Tyson Jackson. He struggled picking up blitzes and stunts. Also, Brian Robiskie struggled to get away from Chevis Jackson, who isn't exactly the fastest corner in the country.
One player whom I was really impressed with was Alex Boone. He got to the second level consistently and really dominated Antonio Pittman for most of the contest. Todd Boeckman did a bad job of not getting the ball out quicker and this allowed Pittman to get to the quarterback more than he should have... but this wasn?t Boone?s fault. Also, Tyson Jackson played a great game, as did LSU cornerback Jonathan Zenon, who really struggled to play up to a level he should have for the majority of the regular season.
More 2008 NFL Draft Q&A by Matt McGuire
Matt McGuire's 2008 NFL Mock Draft
Walt's 2008 NFL Mock Draft
Walt's 2009 NFL Mock Draft
NFL Draft Prospects
NFL Mock Draft Database