Denver Broncos Mock Draft Part 22

This is my first mock draft since the start of free agency.  As I've been typing out the picks, the Broncos signed DL Jarvis Green and Jamal Williams, which changed my initial picks a bit, but not too much. 

Just to recap, here is a quick list of the players we have brought aboard thus far this offseason.

Free Agency

DL Justin Bannan

CB Nate Jones

DL Jarvis Green

DL Jamal Williams

RB J.J. Arrington

More after the jump...

Draft  (Scouting reports courtesy CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com)

1.  First Round, 11th overall:  Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama

6'4" 254

We're ecstatic to be able to add Rolando with our first first round pick.  We feel he is a young guy who brings great leadership to the table.  He has very rare size for his position, and very rare intangibles as well.  We think he's going to be a long term guy at the inside linebacker position to pair with D.J. Williams, and a duo that will be one of the best in the NFL.

 

Overview

Consensus All-American and 2009 Butkus winner Rolando McClain has the combination of size and great instincts to be an impact defender in the NFL.

McClain won a starting job as a true freshman and grabbed freshman all-conference accolades with 75 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss. McClain earned first-team All-SEC honors, posting a team-leading 95 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. He was even better in 2009, registering career highs in tackles (105), tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (four) in earning consensus All-American honors, being only the second Tide defender to ever win the Butkus Award (the late Derrick Thomas being the other), leading Alabama to the national title.

McClain's accomplishments don't override concerns some evaluators have about his transition from Nick Saban's highly aggressive 3-4 scheme to the NFL. McClain was protected in the Alabama scheme by 365-pound nose guard Terrance Cody, who tied up blockers up front. McClain's instincts mask his lack of elite speed and there are concerns about how he'll be able to hold up in coverage.

The other side of the argument is what McClain brings as a downhill thumper in the running game. His status as a possible first-round pick and potential immediate difference-maker in the NFL should be safe.

Consensus All-American and 2009 Butkus winner Rolando McClain has the combination of size and great instincts to be an impact defender in the NFL.

McClain won a starting job as a true freshman and grabbed freshman all-conference accolades with 75 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss. McClain earned first-team All-SEC honors, posting a team-leading 95 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. He was even better in 2009, registering career highs in tackles (105), tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (four) in earning consensus All-American honors, being only the second Tide defender to ever win the Butkus Award (the late Derrick Thomas being the other), leading Alabama to the national title.

McClain's accomplishments don't override concerns some evaluators have about his transition from Nick Saban's highly aggressive 3-4 scheme to the NFL. McClain was protected in the Alabama scheme by 365-pound nose guard Terrance Cody, who tied up blockers up front. McClain's instincts mask his lack of elite speed and there are concerns about how he'll be able to hold up in coverage.

The other side of the argument is what McClain brings as a downhill thumper in the running game. His status as a possible first-round pick and potential immediate difference-maker in the NFL should be safe.

 

Read & React: Excellent key-and-diagnose skills. Identifies the play quickly and has little to no wasted motion in getting to the action. Rarely fooled by misdirection. Recognizes screens quickly and attacks before linemen have a chance to set up blocks. Dedicated and he has to be kicked out of the film room.

Run defense: Prototypical size and strength for inside linebacker. Instinctive. Takes good angles to the ball. Good vision and balance to flow through the trash. Great strength in his hands to stack and shed blockers. Tall enough to locate the ballcarrier while being blocked and can forcefully toss the blocker to the side to make the play. Has good, not great speed lateral and straight-line speed to the sideline. Faster on the field than in workouts because of his instincts.

Pass defense: Gains good depth in his drops, but is stiff and struggles a bit changing direction to stay with receivers in man coverage. Alert in zone and shows good route recognition. Closes on the ball quickly. Long arms and quick hands to slap away the pass as it arrives. At least adequate ball skills (five career INTs).

Tackling: True thumper that can be an intimidating force in the middle. Classic hit-lift-drive tackler with the strength to knock the ballcarrier off his feet with the long arms to wrap around for the secure stop. Breaks down well in space to make the sure stop against smaller, quicker ballcarriers. Good hustle laterally, though he can give up too easily in pursuit downfield.

Pass Rush/Blitz: Great size and closing speed but he isn't there yet. Times his blitz well and gets skinny to get through the line of scrimmage. Doesn't show enough hand technique to disengage as a pass rusher. Relies on his bull rush to push the pocket and is strong enough for this to be effective. Savvy enough to get his hands up in the passing lanes when he can't get to the quarterback in time.

Intangibles: Described as a film junkie and defensive coordinator on the field. Is characterized as not only knowing his assignment on every defensive call, but also the job of every defensive teammate. Incredibly competitive. Never missed a game at Alabama. Voted a team captain in 2009 as a junior.

**Projected Trade:  Brandon Marshall traded to Seahawks for 14th overall pick and 4th round pick**

2.  First Round, 14th overall:  Mike Iupati, Guard, Idaho

6'5" 331

Mike is a very powerful young man who has everything you look for in a guard at this level.  He is tough, strong, and he has quick feet.  He fills an immediate void up front, and we feel he can be a starter for us right away.

Slipping through the cracks due to questions about his ability to qualify academically after moving to the United States at 14, Iupati quietly signed with Idaho and has since emerged as one of the more intriguing big men in this draft. Iupati, who entered his senior season with only 20 career starts, did not allow a single sack in 2009, earning consensus All-American honors -- the first Vandal to gain such attention since defensive end Ryan Phillips was recognized in 1995.

While all of his 34 career starts have come at left guard, some feel his ultimate pro position could lie outside at offensive tackle or even as a defensive tackle. His unique combination of size, strength and quick feet could be enough to warrant a top 50 selection.

 

Pass blocking: Good initial quickness off the snap. Provides a significant jolt to the defender with his punch. Too high in his pass protection but has the strong hands to latch on to the defender and ride him throughout the play. Good balance and lateral agility to slide with the defender and remain square. Can get himself in trouble with leverage by playing too high. Long arms and great lower strength to lock out. Rarely takes a step back even against a powerful bull rush, but this could be an area of concern against NFL defensive linemen, especially when Iupati fails to move his feet. Has developed into a savvy blocker. Looks to help out his teammates when not covered. Wants to hit someone.

Run Blocking: Can dominate as a run blocker due to his mass and rare upper-body strength. Provides an explosive initial pop that often knocks the defender back. Has to do a better job of latching on, as he'll knock his opponent back only to see him regroup and get back into the play. Very good drive blocker when he plays with leverage and keeps his hands inside. Can physically remove the defender from the hole. Looks to eliminate more than one defender on the play and will release to the second level. Good effort downfield.

Pulling/trapping: Surprisingly agile in getting out and blocking at the second level. Good body control and straight-line speed for a player of his size. Can re-adjust in space to hit the linebacker. Fails to lock onto the defender, at times, preferring to violently shove his target to the ground and look for others.

Initial Quickness: Good initial quickness off the snap in pass protection. Even on the rare occasions when beaten off the snap, his long arms and wide-body make it difficult for defenders (including blitzing linebackers) to sneak through his gap. When beaten by quicker defensive tackles in the running game, has the agility and long arms to catch them as they slide by, typically knocking them down and pancaking them.

Downfield: Intimidating presence on the move. Good athleticism and balance for a man his size and can redirect to make the effective block when he gets close. Will misjudge angles at times, and miss his intended target. When he does so, rather than turn to stand helplessly around the pile, he moves on to the next target. Good effort to block downfield.

Intangibles: Made significant progress over the past two seasons and appears to be just scratching the surface of his potential. Size and athleticism combination enough that some will view him as a better offensive tackle or even defensive tackle prospect. Born in American Samoa and moved to the United States at 14. Began learning English (and football) at that time. Has only played football since high school. Signed with Idaho after bigger programs had concerns about his ability to qualify academically. Voted team captain by his peers for 2009.

 

3.  Second Round, 45th overall:  Tim Tebow, Quarterback, Florida

6'3" 236

We love Tebow's potential in this league.  He is a great leader and the players around him respond well to him.  He is a winner and we're excited to have him aboard.

Characterized by some as Bronko Nagurski under center, Tim Tebow fits perfectly in an era of multi-dimensional quarterbacks.

Expectations have been through the roof ever since he posted exciting numbers in limited duty as a freshman in 2006 (827 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns). He became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and it seemed unlikely that Tebow's star could get much brighter.

However, following a stunning loss at home to Mississippi at midseason in 2008, Tebow followed up his vow to step up his game another notch. He went on to account for 42 touchdowns (30 passing) and only four interceptions on the year while leading the Gators to the second national championship of his tenure.

Though his touchdown-to interception-ratio remained a staggering 21-5 in 2009, Tebow struggled at times. Just when it looked like his star was fading and the talking heads were taking turns pointing out his elongated release and inconsistent accuracy, Tebow lit up the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl. His 482 passing yards were a career high and his 533 all-purpose yards broke Vince Young's BCS record of 467 yards against USC in the 2005 Sugar Bowl.

In terms of NFL prospects, Tebow flashes the potential to earn an exceptional grade and has a cupboard full of accolades, but his game certainly isn't without warts. His statistics are inflated by coach Urban Meyer's scheme. He'll need to improve an elongated release (including his low drop point), overall accuracy and feel in the pocket just to remain at quarterback in the NFL. If he can improve in his overall mechanics, however, Tebow's intangibles are what every team is looking for at quarterback.

 

Accuracy: Flashes accuracy to all levels. A bit inconsistent on intermediate throws that require zip. Throws some beautiful passes in tight windows, but also has a tendency for "wobbly" throws, making his passes a tougher catch than pure spirals. Typically leads his receivers, but still too often forces them to alter their routes. May struggle with the tighter windows at the next level.

Arm Strength: Prototypical arm strength. Can make every NFL throw. Can zip short and intermediate passes and flashes touch and trajectory on deeper throws. Only occasionally asked to throw true deep balls in this offense, but has the arm strength to do so.

Setup/Release: Some real concerns in this area. Takes snaps in the shotgun, meaning he'll need significant refinement in his drop-back at the next level. Quick, active feet necessary to eventually excel in this area. Has an elongated wind-up, in which he drops the ball to his hip before winding up to release the pass. Has struggled with pass rushers knocking the ball out of his hands, as well as tipping off defensive backs who can read where he's going with the long wind-up. Regressed as a senior with his fundamentals in passing on the run. Showed a greater tendency to throw across his body and off his back foot.

Reading Defenses: Only asked to make a few reads in this offense before having the green light to run. Seems to be a cerebral player who understands defenses and will scan the field to locate the open receiver. Protects the ball well as a ballcarrier, though the elongated release has led to fumbles.

On the Move: At his best as a runner and has rare vision with the ball in his hands from the quarterback position. Can anticipate holes in the defense and shows the burst to get past the initial wave of defenders to gain yards in chunks. Powerful runner who runs with good forward lean and doesn't shy away from contact.

Intangibles: Perfectly suited to Urban Meyer's system, but there are some questions as to how Tebow's skills translate to the NFL. Good size and strength for the position. Rare toughness. Natural and charismatic leader. Voted team captain in 2008 and Academic All-American in 2007.

NFL Comparison: Donovan McNabb, Eagles

Accuracy: Flashes accuracy to all levels. A bit inconsistent on intermediate throws that require zip. Throws some beautiful passes in tight windows, but also has a tendency for "wobbly" throws, making his passes a tougher catch than pure spirals. Typically leads his receivers, but still too often forces them to alter their routes. May struggle with the tighter windows at the next level.

Arm Strength: Prototypical arm strength. Can make every NFL throw. Can zip short and intermediate passes and flashes touch and trajectory on deeper throws. Only occasionally asked to throw true deep balls in this offense, but has the arm strength to do so.

Setup/Release: Some real concerns in this area. Takes snaps in the shotgun, meaning he'll need significant refinement in his drop-back at the next level. Quick, active feet necessary to eventually excel in this area. Has an elongated wind-up, in which he drops the ball to his hip before winding up to release the pass. Has struggled with pass rushers knocking the ball out of his hands, as well as tipping off defensive backs who can read where he's going with the long wind-up. Regressed as a senior with his fundamentals in passing on the run. Showed a greater tendency to throw across his body and off his back foot.

Reading Defenses: Only asked to make a few reads in this offense before having the green light to run. Seems to be a cerebral player who understands defenses and will scan the field to locate the open receiver. Protects the ball well as a ballcarrier, though the elongated release has led to fumbles.

On the Move: At his best as a runner and has rare vision with the ball in his hands from the quarterback position. Can anticipate holes in the defense and shows the burst to get past the initial wave of defenders to gain yards in chunks. Powerful runner who runs with good forward lean and doesn't shy away from contact.

Intangibles: Perfectly suited to Urban Meyer's system, but there are some questions as to how Tebow's skills translate to the NFL. Good size and strength for the position. Rare toughness. Natural and charismatic leader. Voted team captain in 2008 and Academic All-American in 2007.

NFL Comparison: Donovan McNabb, Eagles

 

Accuracy: Flashes accuracy to all levels. A bit inconsistent on intermediate throws that require zip. Throws some beautiful passes in tight windows, but also has a tendency for "wobbly" throws, making his passes a tougher catch than pure spirals. Typically leads his receivers, but still too often forces them to alter their routes. May struggle with the tighter windows at the next level.

Arm Strength: Prototypical arm strength. Can make every NFL throw. Can zip short and intermediate passes and flashes touch and trajectory on deeper throws. Only occasionally asked to throw true deep balls in this offense, but has the arm strength to do so.

Setup/Release: Some real concerns in this area. Takes snaps in the shotgun, meaning he'll need significant refinement in his drop-back at the next level. Quick, active feet necessary to eventually excel in this area. Has an elongated wind-up, in which he drops the ball to his hip before winding up to release the pass. Has struggled with pass rushers knocking the ball out of his hands, as well as tipping off defensive backs who can read where he's going with the long wind-up. Regressed as a senior with his fundamentals in passing on the run. Showed a greater tendency to throw across his body and off his back foot.

Reading Defenses: Only asked to make a few reads in this offense before having the green light to run. Seems to be a cerebral player who understands defenses and will scan the field to locate the open receiver. Protects the ball well as a ballcarrier, though the elongated release has led to fumbles.

On the Move: At his best as a runner and has rare vision with the ball in his hands from the quarterback position. Can anticipate holes in the defense and shows the burst to get past the initial wave of defenders to gain yards in chunks. Powerful runner who runs with good forward lean and doesn't shy away from contact.

Intangibles: Perfectly suited to Urban Meyer's system, but there are some questions as to how Tebow's skills translate to the NFL. Good size and strength for the position. Rare toughness. Natural and charismatic leader. Voted team captain in 2008 and Academic All-American in 2007.

NFL Comparison: Donovan McNabb, Eagles

Accuracy: Flashes accuracy to all levels. A bit inconsistent on intermediate throws that require zip. Throws some beautiful passes in tight windows, but also has a tendency for "wobbly" throws, making his passes a tougher catch than pure spirals. Typically leads his receivers, but still too often forces them to alter their routes. May struggle with the tighter windows at the next level.

Arm Strength: Prototypical arm strength. Can make every NFL throw. Can zip short and intermediate passes and flashes touch and trajectory on deeper throws. Only occasionally asked to throw true deep balls in this offense, but has the arm strength to do so.

Setup/Release: Some real concerns in this area. Takes snaps in the shotgun, meaning he'll need significant refinement in his drop-back at the next level. Quick, active feet necessary to eventually excel in this area. Has an elongated wind-up, in which he drops the ball to his hip before winding up to release the pass. Has struggled with pass rushers knocking the ball out of his hands, as well as tipping off defensive backs who can read where he's going with the long wind-up. Regressed as a senior with his fundamentals in passing on the run. Showed a greater tendency to throw across his body and off his back foot.

Reading Defenses: Only asked to make a few reads in this offense before having the green light to run. Seems to be a cerebral player who understands defenses and will scan the field to locate the open receiver. Protects the ball well as a ballcarrier, though the elongated release has led to fumbles.

On the Move: At his best as a runner and has rare vision with the ball in his hands from the quarterback position. Can anticipate holes in the defense and shows the burst to get past the initial wave of defenders to gain yards in chunks. Powerful runner who runs with good forward lean and doesn't shy away from contact.

Intangibles: Perfectly suited to Urban Meyer's system, but there are some questions as to how Tebow's skills translate to the NFL. Good size and strength for the position. Rare toughness. Natural and charismatic leader. Voted team captain in 2008 and Academic All-American in 2007.

NFL Comparison: Donovan McNabb, Eagles

 

4.  Third Round, 80th overall:  Carlton Mitchell, Wide Receiver, South Florida

6'3" 215

Until USF head coach Jim Leavitt was fired for allegedly abusing a player physically, Mitchell had no interest in leaving school early for the NFL. But now that he's in the mix, the 6-4 receiver has skills with which with his potential new employers will be happy to work.

In Mitchell's 2007 redshirt freshman season he showed potential as a big-play receiver by racking up 537 yards on only 37 catches and four scores. He averaged the same number of yards per catch (14.5) but had only one score on his 28 catches in 2008.

Mitchell led his team with 40 receptions for 706 yards and four scores in 2009, despite missing two games with a high ankle sprain and working with redshirt freshman QB B.J. Daniels after he replaced injured senior leader Matt Grothe.

Scouts should not write Mitchell off as a tall one-trick pony who is only able to run down the sideline and win jump balls. He has shown good route-running skills and more toughness than his lanky frame would indicate, allowing him to creep up boards throughout the draft process - as long as teams believe he can become more consistent catching the ball with his hands and blocking for the run.

Release: Gets to top speed much faster than expected for his height, eating up cushion and blowing by corners without great speed. Can hesitate to lull defender to sleep, then accelerate to get separation. Is not pressed much because of his size and speed, but seems comfortable giving a shake and using his hands to free himself from the jam.

Hands: Inconsistent hands and traps the ball against his chest more often than not on short to intermediate throws. Tracks balls over his shoulder, able to secure the catch when stretched out on deep balls or throws to the sideline. Excellent red-zone threat. Better adjusting to high throws than low ones, but can get down to make the grab if given room to do so. Loses concentration on easier passes at times.

Route running: Will round off routes at times, but sinks his hips coming in and out of routes pretty well for a 6-4 receiver. Stop and comeback routes are sudden, a dangerous combination with his potential as a deep threat. Uses a head fake to sell routes. Willing to find holes in zones over the middle.

After the catch: Not many tall receivers are used on quick screens, but his surprising quickness and length allows him to succeed. Turns on the jets after the catch, with his long strides making it difficult for defenders to catch him. Can be elusive on screens but fails to avoid defenders when on a dead run. Height makes him a target to be chopped down in the open field by better corners.

Blocking: Has the desire and length to take defenders out of the play when he knows the run is coming, but a failure to break down and mirror his man allows them to avoid his grasp. Runs hard and extends his arms to keep safeties at bay while blocking for fellow receivers downfield. Resorts to ineffective cut blocks at times despite have the size advantage on the edge.

Intangibles: Tough player who bounces up after the big hit. Confident, well-liked in the locker room who has worked hard to be more than a track star playing football.

 

**Projected Trade:  Tony Scheffler to Browns for 3rd round pick (92nd overall)**

5.  Third Round, 92nd overall:  Jordan Shipley, Wide Receiver, Texas

6'0" 195

Shipley was mostly known around the nation as QB Colt McCoy's roommate and security blanket. When Texas needed a first down or McCoy was looking for a receiver on the move, Shipley was his primary (and sometimes secondary) option. But his underrated quickness and solid receiving skills should be coveted by NFL teams no matter who their quarterback is.

Shipley was awarded a sixth year of eligibility after the 2008 season due to his losing his first two years on campus to leg and hamstring injuries. Once past those hurdles he earned more and more playing time in 2006 and 2007, making a combined 43 catches for 646 yards and nine touchdowns in 26 games. Then as a junior, he stepped his offensive production to All-American status (89-1060-11) while returning both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown. In 2009, his numbers grew to 116-1, 485-13 and he returned two punts for scores.

His underrated quickness and ability to find holes in zones and gain yards after the catch make him a perfect slot receiver candidate - as does his toughness over the middle despite only adequate size for the position. Adding his return skills to the mix makes him a likely top 75 pick.

Release: Lines up at multiple spots, but should work best as a slot receiver in the NFL because of his intelligence and lack of elite size. Good first step off the line, although he is not up against the jam very often. Won't eat up cushion quickly or accelerate past pro corners, and must find holes in zones and run crisp routes to free himself.

Hands: Solid hands, reliable on routine catches and capable of making the highlight reel grab. Willing to go over the middle, or up for a jump ball, and absorb a hit after the catch. Allows balls into his chest instead of catching away from his frame at times, and doesn't always adjust to high throws well. Shows good hands and makes solid decisions on punt returns, and will take the big hit. Holds for field goals and extra points.

Route running: Runs every route on the tree effectively, and has a great understanding with his quarterback. Sets up double moves by selling defenders with a head or body fake. Best working inside in zones or on crossing routes, but has the quickness to stretch the field down the seam or sideline. Uses his arms and quickness to get separation on out routes. Comes back to the quarterback or finds a hole to sit down in when needed. Inconsistent sinking his hips to explode out of cut.

After the catch: Secures ball first, then changes direction quickly or uses a stop move to gain additional yardage. Better acceleration than expected, can take off through a hole in the second level. Runs tough with a nose for the first down marker or goal line. Some elusiveness on the run, quickly sidestepping oncoming safeties, but isn't a jitterbug. Aware of the sideline, tightropes to stay in-bounds. Solid kick returner, has good hands and runs strong but could improve his vision in finding the open lane. Lacks great speed to run away from defenders with the angle.

Blocking: Very willing downfield blocker on screens and run plays, but lacks the strength to be a dominant force. Sustains adequately using his hands when he attacks a man's jersey, but will miss his target when throwing his body at the defender.

Intangibles: Sixth-year player with exceptional maturity. Gives great effort. Leader on the team both on and off the field. No character issues. Missed seasons with hamstring and leg injuries, also missed spring 2009 practices with surgery on his right shoulder.

 

6.  Fourth Round, 104th overall:  Amari Spievey, Cornerback, Iowa

6'0" 195

Spievey's career began with some turbulence but smoothed out the past two seasons. He earned all-conference accolades as a junior and opted to enter the draft early.

After his redshirt season in Iowa City, the Oklahoma native was dismissed from the football program because of poor academics. He attended Iowa Central Community College in 2007, where he made seven interceptions (returning two for scores), returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and blocked four kicks as a Junior College All-American.

Spievey earned a starting spot before the 2008 season, then intercepted four passes and landed on the coaches' second-team all-conference team. He bested that distinction in 2009 by making first team All-Big Ten, picking off two passes (both against Wisconsin) and breaking up eight others.

Spievey's best assets are his size and aggressive play. He had 124 tackles in his final two seasons with the Hawkeyes, showing his willingness to support the run. He lacks elite straight-line speed and quickness and will likely go to a team that embraces his physical, bump-and-run style to succeed at the next level.

Read & React: Adequate diagnosing routes in zones and man. Can be a step slow to see rushing plays or double-moves coming. Best reacting to plays in front of him as a zone corner.

Man Coverage: Usually played off in Iowa's defensive scheme and was able to transition to face receivers and stay on their hip down the sideline. Could be an effective press corner, but needs to get his hands on the receiver more consistently. Strong enough to ride his man out of bounds if getting the jam. Loses track of his man when turning to look for the ball downfield. Plays tall, has a high, choppy backpedal and only average lateral movement. Allows receivers to eat up cushion too quickly.

Zone Coverage: Very experienced zone corner. Shows good awareness of receivers and closes on throws in either direction. Uses his length and height to knock the ball away. Flashes great hands, adjusting to high, low or wide throws, but could be more consistent going for and making the interception.

Closing/Recovery: Accelerates to the ball in his zone, takes the proper angle to prevent long runs after the catch. Able to knock passes away using his left and right hand without interfering, even when out of position. Recovery speed is lacking -- will struggle against double moves.

Run Support: Willing to attack blocks in run support to turn plays inside, but doesn't shed quickly enough to make plays. Cut-tackles and wraps in space. Crashes down and chases effectively when no receiver lines up on his side of the field.

Tackling: Flashes explosive tackling ability on the edge, will plant running backs into the turf. Effective cut tackler who keeps his head up, but should be wrapping up smaller ballcarriers instead of diving for their legs. Gunner on special teams, has good speed and strength to break through double teams but doesn't always get off blocks. Can wrap up return man before he makes his first move.

Intangibles: Has matured and improved his work ethic since blowing off his academic responsibilities. Humble off the field but doesn't shy from contact between the lines. Comes to the aid of his teammates in piles if needed.

 

7.  Fourth Round, 114th overall:  Ben Tate, Running Back, Auburn

5'11" 220

Despite being Auburn's leading rusher as a sophomore and junior, Tate entered his senior campaign hungry for a chance to showcase his skills. A classic I-formation back, Tate had impressed scouts early with his tough interior running, but was miscast as an east-west runner when Auburn converted to more of a spread offense in 2008.

Though he only started two games as a junior and had mediocre production (664 rushing yards), Tate considered leaving early for the NFL. He was rewarded with a return to more traditional rushing attack in 2009, and his production rose accordingly. Tate rushed for 1,362 yards, the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. He leaves with 3,321 career rushing yards, good for fifth in Auburn's storied past.

Tate lacks the agility and straight-line speed to be effective in every NFL scheme. Clubs looking for a traditional power back with underrated receiving skills, however, would be wise to consider him. His lack of flashy test numbers should push him down the board enough that he'll be available in the middle rounds - a point in which his durability and consistency should make him a terrific value.

Inside: At his best as a downhill runner. Thick build with good musculature throughout. Attacks the line of scrimmage and takes what the defense gives him. Lowers his shoulder and will take on the defender in the hole. Good toughness to run through arm tackles and get to and through the second level and into the open field. Keeps his eyes up and has enough lateral agility and acceleration to take advantage of cut-back lanes. Good balance, but is not special in this area. Protects the ball with both hands in traffic, but has had some issues with fumbles over his career. Good short-yardage who runs with competitive fire and seems to have a legitimate nose for the end zone.

Outside: Only adequate speed to beat NFL linebackers to the edge or to pull away in the open field. Flashes a quick lateral burst and shifty shoulders to fake out the defender, but has only moderate overall agility and acceleration to elude.

Breaking tackles: Arguably his best skill. Though a bit upright in the open field, he squares his shoulders and runs with good pad level when in traffic, presenting little other than shoulders and thigh pads for defenders to target. Keeps his legs churning after contact and will spin through tackles to generate extra yardage. Runs with good forward lean, almost always falling forward for extra yardage.

Blocking: Thick built with the strength and effort to remain on the field in pass protection. Became a more reliable pass blocker as a senior, showing improved awareness and consistency in squaring to the defender and providing a consistent pop. Remains too inconsistent as a cut-blocker, lunging and missing too often.

Receiving: Experienced receiver out of the backfield. Often lines up wide in this offense, but is typically used on screens and simple dump-off routes as a senior. Looks natural extending to pluck the ball out of the air.

Intangibles: Tough runner who seems to enjoy the physical aspects of the game. Has enjoyed success in a variety of offenses, leading the team in rushing yards each of the past three seasons. Voted MVP by his teammates after his senior season. Doesn't lack for confidence. Has characterized himself as the best back in the country and as better Heisman winner Mark Ingram.

 

8.  Sixth Round, 187th overall:  Myron Rolle, Safety, Florida State

6'2" 215

Rolle signed with Florida State as one of the elite prep prospects in the country, graduated in 2 1/2 years with a 3.75 GPA, left after his junior season as a legitimate early round NFL talent and was named a prestigious Rhodes Scholar, the preeminent academic scholarship available to postgraduate students.

NFL scouts are more intrigued by Rolle's rare combination of size, speed and sound tackling. A versatile defender athletically capable of contributing immediately, Rolle will be considered by the NFL despite the fact that he took the 2009 season off to begin studying for a career in medicine.

As if to remind scouts that he remained eligible for the draft, Rolle elected to participate in the 2010 Senior Bowl. How scouts viewed his performance there will go a long way in determining his draft-day grade.

Read & React: Good anticipatory skills. Reads the action quickly and has the athleticism to close quickly. Appears cautious, at times, and would rather make the secure stop than go for the big play.

Man Coverage: Smooth backpedal, but has questionable straight-line speed. Good change-of-direction agility. Reacts quickly to the pass and closes in a hurry. Lacks top ball skills and has only one career interception.

Zone Coverage: Prototype size and straight-line speed for the position. Versatile defender. Lined up all over the field for the Seminoles and can handle multiple assignments due to his size, athleticism and intelligence. Reads the play quickly and is seemingly always around the ball.

Closing/Recovery: Good speed and instincts for coverage. Rarely out of position. Locates the ball quickly and shows a good burst to close. Competitive and will fight for the ball. Despite his tools, has never proven to be a consistent playmaker at the collegiate level (one career INT).

Run Support: Good run support defender. Not afraid to get his jersey dirty. Will take on and discard blockers to get to the ballcarrier. Sound open-field tackler.

Tackling: A sound tackler, but lacks the explosive physicality some teams prefer in the secondary. Wraps up securely.

Intangibles: One of only 32 American students to be named a Rhodes Scholar, the most prestigious honor in all of college academics. Will be studying in Oxford, England for a one-year Master's degree in medical anthropology. Plans to work out with noted trainer Tom Shaw in an effort to remain in top shape. Despite not playing in 2009, anticipated being invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

 

9.  Seventh Round, 235th overall:  Erik Cook, Center, New Mexico

6'6" 320

Few centers in college football win the Most Valuable Offensive Player and Most Valuable Player awards for their team to go along with Most Valuable Lineman. In part, that speaks to the lack of playmakers on the 1-11 Lobos' offense in 2009, but Cook's strength and leadership should not be overlooked.

A three-year starter, Cook lined up at left tackle nine times and left guard once on opening series as a redshirt sophomore before taking over at center the past two seasons. He garnered first-team All-Mountain West honors in 2009 by allowing one sack and drawing one penalty all season.

His brother, Ryan, was a second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings who moved from center to right tackle at the next level, starting for two years before losing his job to fellow second-round pick Phil Loadholt last season. Erik won't be drafted as high as Ryan because of his lack of elite quickness, but may make a similar move to guard or tackle as a versatile reserve because of his size.

Pass blocking: Athletic and flexible for his size. Able to move his feet inside against quick tackles, and also to roll out with quarterback in moving pocket. Shows some nastiness and plays through the whistle when mauling inside. Good pop when trying to push his defender away from quick screen. Accurate shotgun snap, getting his head up to see and hit his man. When doubling a tackle, keeps head on a swivel to stay aware of twists and late blitzers. Gives good effort to chase down defenders making tracks toward his quarterback scrambling out of the pocket. Height can be a detriment inside, but his anchor is usually strong. Must get a bit higher on his man's leg to ensure his cut block is effective.

Run blocking: Quick enough to snap and get his hands on his man's jersey to turn him, take him down the line or just wall him off. Knows the angle he needs to take on the MIKE to keep him from the play. Will lunge when playing too tall out of his stance, allowing a nose-up defender to swim past him. Also gets his pads too high as a drive blocker, though he keeps his legs moving to push the pile.

Pulling/trapping: Doesn't have the foot speed to pull consistently. Gets a hand on players coming from inside, but doesn't move quickly enough to square up against them. Gets tripped up in trash so trapping may prove difficult.

Initial Quickness: Generally gets off the snap well whether quarterback is under center or in shotgun formation. Most starting NFL tackles, however, will out-quick him initially whether lined up at the zero or one techniques. Would be better off playing guard or tackle, where he's not worried about the snap.

Downfield: A bit slow to get his weight moving forward, but does manage to reach and negate linebackers, even after blocking down. Sustains by latching on and keeping his feet active, but may have trouble adjusting to quicker NFL defenders. Hustles to get 20-25 yards downfield on screen passes or reverses. Linebackers can disengage with a strong punch to the chest, as Cook takes time to get his hands up when on the move.

Intangibles: Intelligent player who makes line calls. Coaches and teammates call him a leader by words and example on the field, in the weight room and in the locker room.

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