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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 22, 2010

NFL draft: Dallas Morning News: Ranking the Top 100 players


By Rick Gosselin
The Dallas Morning News

You have to go back to 2001 to find the last time a defensive tackle was selected in the top 3 of an NFL draft. The Cleveland Browns took Gerard Warren with the third overall choice that year.

You have to go back to 1992 to find the last time two defensive tackles went in the top 3. The Indianapolis Colts claimed Steve Emtman first and the Los Angeles Rams took Sean Gilbert third that year.

But the 2010 draft offers maybe the deepest and most talented class of defensive tackles in NFL history and it starts at the top, where Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska and Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma sit atop the board as the two most talented players in this draft.

Only the presence of a franchise quarterback Sam Bradford of Oklahoma seems to be preventing Suh and McCoy from becoming the first pair of defensive tackles to go 1-2 in NFL draft history.

Suh and McCoy are three-year starters and two-time All-Big 12 selections. Suh won the Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski and Outland trophies/awards for his defensive excellence in 2009. McCoy started 40 consecutive games before deciding to skip his senior season to turn pro.

Since 2000, an average of 20 defensive tackles are selected each draft. But the talent will flow deep into the seventh round in 2010 with 26 draftable tackle prospects on this board.

Pencil in Suh at No. 1 on the annual Top 100 players by the Dallas Morning News. The Top 100 is compiled based on conversations with NFL general managers, personnel directors, pro and college coaches and scouts. This is not a mock draft. Teams will skip around the board on draft day to make selections that fit their needs.

3. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

Berry may be the surest bet for greatness at the top of this draft board. He started all four seasons in high school and all three in college. He left high school and college as an All-America. He's leaving school early to turn pro, but benefited in 2009 by playing at Tennessee for Monte Kiffin, a veteran NFL coordinator. Safeties historically don't go high in drafts, but Berry does not feel out of place with his lofty status on this board. "At the end of the day, I believe I'm supposed to be up there with those guys," Berry said. "I believe I'm the most talented player in this draft."

17. C.J. Spiller, RB/KR, Clemson

Spiller will be a first-round draft pick as a running back, but his abilities on special teams are a perk. He's the best return specialist in a draft thick with them. There are 36 players on this draft board who have returned either a punt or kickoff for a touchdown in college. Spiller returned 74 career kickoffs an average of 27.7 yards with seven touchdowns. He returned 53 career punts an average of 10.7 yards with one score. His eight career return touchdowns tie an NCAA record. He has the speed (4.27 in the 40) to take every kick to the house.

26. Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri

If the NFL graded Weatherspoon off his junior tapes in 2008, he'd be a top-10 pick. He led the Big 12 with 155 tackles, plus 5 sacks and three interceptions. He looked like the second coming of Lance Briggs. But Weatherspoon played 12 pounds heavier in 2009 and looked sluggish. He'll slide on this draft board but not out of the first round. Linebacker is one of the thinnest positions in 2010. The good ones will go fast. Weatherspoon is a good one. He shed those 12 pounds by the combine, and will be an impact player in the NFL.

37. Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

There are five cornerbacks in the top shelf of this draft and Robinson is the fifth. There is a drop in talent after him and that could bump his draft stock up. Robinson has the size (5-11, 190) and speed (4.42) the NFL covets at corner. But he slumped as a senior, failing to intercept a pass. His talent deserves late first-round consideration, but cornerbacks without interceptions rarely turn up that high on draft day. Robinson intercepted six passes in 2007 but finished his career with only seven. The NFL prefers playmakers in the first round.

49. Ben Tate, HB, Auburn

Like linebacker, running back is one of the thinnest positions on the draft board. All the quality backs about six of them will be gone by the end of the third round. The NFL covets backs who weigh in the 220-pound range. That gives them the bulk to withstand the pounding as an every-down back. Only three of the top six backs in this draft have both the size (220 pounds) and speed (4.42) that fit the NFL prototype: Ryan Mathews, Tate and Montario Hardesty. There are medical concerns about Hardesty's knees, putting a premium on Mathews in the first round and Tate in the second.

52. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas

The draft is about the measurables. McCoy won an NCAA-record 45 games as the starting quarterback of the Longhorns, but the numbers that carry more weight in NFL draft rooms are 6-1 (his height) and 216 (his weight). McCoy doesn't fit the NFL prototype for the position (6-4, 240 pounds). He's not tall enough to see over the heads of the blockers and pass rushers. He also lacks the bulk to withstand the hits he'll take in the pocket. McCoy backers want to compare him to Drew Brees. But one NFL coach told me for every Drew Brees there are 10 John Becks. The exceptions are rare.

73. Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU

LSU has had a player selected in the first round in each of the last six drafts the longest such streak in the college ranks. LaFell is carrying the LSU banner in this draft as the highest-rated Tiger on the board. But he had a down senior year, ran slower than expected at the combine (4.62), and projects as a mid- to late second-round selection. Barring a mercurial rise by LaFell, the LSU draft streak will come to an end in 2010. Ohio State and Tennessee have the next longest streaks with first-rounders in four consecutive drafts.

66. Vladimir Ducasse, OT, Massachusetts

The offensive line board will empty out quickly in this draft. The quality tackles, guards and centers will be gone by the end of the third round. Ducasse will be the biggest beneficiary. Football is still new to him. He moved to the U.S. from Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2002 and only played two years in high school. But he became a three-year starter at UMass, twice earning All-Colonial Athletic Association honors. It may take Ducasse a year or two to figure the NFL game out, but he's worth the investment. He's 6-4, 332 pounds with 35-inch arms to steer speed rushers wide of the pocket.

83. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas

There's a new position evolving on draft boards slot receiver. With the explosion of three- and four-receiver sets, the NFL needs wideouts who can run routes in the belly of the field. Golden Tate (Notre Dame), Dexter McCluster (Mississippi), Andre Roberts (Citadel), Emmanuel Sanders (SMU) and Shipley are among the best in this draft. Bet on Shipley to succeed on Sundays. The Burnet, Texas product succeeded on Saturday afternoons, finishing second in Texas Longhorns history with 248 career receptions. He's coming off a 116-catch season in 2009.

91. Torrell Troup, DT, Central Florida

With 14 NFL teams playing a 3-4 defensive scheme this season up from eight just two seasons ago there's an increasing premium on nose tackles. That should benefit Terrence Cody of Alabama, Linval Joseph of East Carolina and Troup in this draft. Troup was a three-year starter and a team captain. He has the bulk (314 pounds) and strength (bench-pressed 225 pounds 34 times) to hold up against double-teams in run defense, plus the long arms (34 inches) to keep blockers off his body in the pass rush. He also has surprising speed for a big man (5.10 seconds in the 40).

2010 NFL DRAFT TOP 100

1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

2. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

3. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

4. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

5. Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

6. Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

7. Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

8. Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

9. Rolando McClain, MLB, Alabama

10. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

11. Joe Haden, CB, Florida

12. Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

13. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

14. Ryan Mathews, HB, Fresno State

15. Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa

16. Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan

17. C.J. Spiller, HB, Clemson

18. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

19. Earl Thomas, S, Texas

20. Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

21. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

22. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida

23. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

24. Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

25. Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU

26. Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri

27. Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

28. Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State

39. Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama

30. Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana

31. Tyson Alualu, DE, Cal

32. Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas

33. Taylor Mays, S, Southern Cal

34. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona

35. Jahvid Best, HB, Cal

36. Brian Price, DT, UCLA

37. Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

38. Sean Lee, MLB, Penn State

39. Nate Allen, S, South Florida

40. Koa Misi, DE, Utah

41. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

42. Daryl Washington, OLB, TCU

43. Chris Cook, CB, Virginia

44. Charles Brown, OT, Southern Cal

45. Everson Griffen, DE, Southern Cal

46. Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama

47. Damian Williams, WR, Southern Cal

48. Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa

49. Ben Tate, HB, Auburn

50. Navorro Bowman, OLB, Penn State

51. Regus Benn, WR, Illinois

52. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas

53. Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida

54. Jonathan Asamoah, G, Illinois

55. Dexter McCluster, WR, Mississippi

56. Linval Joseph, NT, East Carolina

57. Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma

58. Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern

59. Dennis Pitta, TE, BYU

60. Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

61. Jerome Murphy, CB, South Florida

62. Zane Beadles, G, Utah

63. Thaddeus Gibson, DE, Ohio State

64. Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama

65. Toby Gerhart, HB, Stanford

66. Vladimir Ducasse, OT, Massachusetts

67. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida

68. Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota

69. Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami-F

70. Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas

71. Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech

72. Corey Peters, DT, Kentucky

73. Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU

74. Chad Jones, S, LSU

75. Taylor Price, WR, Ohio

76. Montario Hardesty, HB, Tennessee

77. Brandon Spikes, MLB, Florida

78. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, SMU

79. Ricky Sapp, OLB, Clemson

80. Al Woods, DT, LSU

81. Andre Roberts, WR, Citadel

82. Aaron Spievey, CB, Iowa

83. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas

84. Jason Worilds, DE, Virginia Tech

85. Andrew Quarless, TE, Penn State

86. Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State

87. Myron Lewis, CB, Vanderbilt

88. D'Anthony Smith, DT, Louisiana Tech

89. Major Wright, S, Florida

90. Joe McKnight, HB, Southern Cal

91. Torrell Troup, NT, Central Florida

92. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

93. Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati

94. Jermaine Cunningham, DE, Florida

95. Selvish Capers, OT, West Virginia

96. Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest

97. T.J. Ward, S, Oregon

98. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon

99. Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina

100. Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pitt

(c) 2010, The Dallas Morning News.

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