2010 NFL Draft: Top 10 Hardest Players to Place
Every off-season, NFL scouts are all over the country finding new talent, and watching old talent.
They are looking for that diamond in the rough, the guy that they can draft in the 6th round and turn into a star. Some teams reach for players, while other teams pass on players that seem to be too talented to drop, and for unknown reasons.
Most notably, in the 2003 NFL Draft the Cleveland Browns selected a linebacker out of a win-less West Texas A&M school in the 2nd round, despite the fact that he was rated as a 6th-7th round prospect at best.
On the flip side, the 2005 NFL Draft featured former Michigan standout Ernest Shazor who some believed would be a 2nd round pick, only to watch him not be drafted and sign as an Un-Drafted Free Agent with the Cardinals. You can see that it’s hard to place some players, and each player has their reasoning.
So who are the hardest players to place in this year draft?
#10- Brandon Spike-ILB-Florida
Brandon Spikes had a very solid career with the Florida Gators. Prior to the 2009 season, many people had him pegged as a top ten linebacker for the 2010 NFL Draft. Statistically, Spikes didn’t have a bad 2009 season after being named a First Team All-American for the 2nd straight season. However, many scouts are wondering just how well he can get off blockers, and if his hips are fluid enough to drop back in coverage, while also being a dominant presence inside the box on defense. On top of that, some character concerns are raised following the Georgia/Florida game, in which he was seen gouging out an opponents eyes. I’ve seen Spikes go as high as #10 in mock drafts, and as low as #65 in mocks. I have him right in the middle, around the top half of the 2nd round, probably in the 40 range. He is definitely a difficult player to place.
#9- Dexter McCluster-RB/WR-Ole Miss
Dexter McCluster is a talented player, and there’s no doubt about it. However, prior to the end of the 2009 season, not much was being said about him until the bowl game, and then the Senior Bowl. Many people had McCluster as a 5th-6th round running back/wide receiver with high upside, but hold his size (5’8 165 pounds) against him. McCluster’s speed is elite, and his catching ability is great. However, he’s too small to really be an effective #1 or #2 receiver, so he’ll have to be a running back? Right? Honestly, I have him as a 2nd round pick with the 3rd round as his floor, mostly because he’s a guy that just needs to get touches. He’s a utility player who will get the ball whether it’s in the slot, the left side of the field, the right side. Whether it’s in the air, or whether it’s on the ground, he’s going to find a team that wants to utilize his speed and cutback ability, along with his great hands.
#8- Jevan Snead-QB-Ole Miss
Jevan Snead is one of the most confusing declarations for the 2010 NFL Draft. After throwing 20 interceptions in 2009, and having a 54.4% completion percentage, Snead decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. What makes Snead such a hard player to place is knowing what kind of talent he has. He’s got a very good arm, and while he could work on his accuracy, it’s not terrible. So what happened? Was it immaturity? Was it a lack of intangibles? Right now, I have Snead as a 5th-6th round player, but he’s a guy that has the talent to go into the 2nd round, as hard as it is for me to say it. Poor decision making can be improved as he gets groomed in the NFL, as well. I’ve seen some mocks have him as a 3rd rounder and a few having him as a 6th-7th round pick.
#7- Mike Williams-WR-Syracuse
Not many people really know much about Mike Williams, other than that he has the same name as a former Detroit Lion wide receiver who was a bust in the NFL. Mike Williams is one of the most talented players in the draft. Had he been able to play in 2008, and finished the 2009 season, he could easily be a 1st-2nd round draft pick. However, character issues have marked red flags all over him. After finishing 2007 with sixty catches and ten touchdowns, he became suspended for 2008 for theory of academic dishonesty. After coming back in 2009, he played seven games and had 746 yards off of 49 receptions. He left the team in the middle of the season in fear of being suspended. He flat out quit on his team. He was to be suspended for breaking team rules after he was involved in a car accident off the field. Prior to that he was suspended against Akron for undisclosed reasons. It’s too hard to pin where this guy could go with owners like Al Davis out there. Some
teams want talent and will disregard character issues. However, I think he’ll end up in the 4th round strictly based on talent.
#6- Colt McCoy-QB-Texas
Colt McCoy has all the stats that NFL owners love to see. He throws for a very high percentage (70.6% in 2009), and throws quite a few touchdowns. Questions about his footwork, the system he played in at Texas, as well as his throwing motion are big concerns. The killer is the injury he suffered in the National Championship game from Marcel Dareus. McCoy is poised to throw at the combine, but if he can’t, then NFL scouts will only be able to judge what he did at Texas and question whether or not they can improve him. If he can throw, and he throws well, he could end up being a late first round pick. If he can’t throw, I could see McCoy slipping to the bottom of the 2nd or top of the 3rd round if not later.
#5- Toby Gerhart-RB-Stanford
A heck of a season Gerhart had in 2009, after rushing for 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns. Right after his bowl game, he started moving into the first round of a lot of mock drafts. It seems some of the talk has cooled, however, and many have him as a 2nd rounder, and I’ve seen him as low as a 5th round pick. Personally, I have him as a 3rd-4th rounder assuming he runs a 4.58 or lower at the combine. Rumor has it he’s been working on his forty time for over a year and that he could run in the 4.4′s. However, I’ll believe it when I see it. He’s powerful, but he’s a one dimensional north/south runner who ran behind a mauling Stanford line and behind Owen Marecic, his very underrated fullback. I think Gerhart is talented, but not 2nd round talent. If he runs in the 4.4′s, I’ll reconsider, and maybe be a little less hard on him.
#4- Jonathan Dwyer-RB-Georgia Tech
Many believed that Dwyer was a top 5 pick over a season ago. His combination of speed and power made him a hot commodity. However, his stock seems to be slipping based on the fact that maybe his speed still isn’t good enough. Many people also question his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and run efficiently outside the tackles. I’ve seen Dwyer as early as pick number 11, and as far down as a mid-2nd round draft pick. Personally, I think he’s right in the middle, probably between New England’s pick at 22 and San Diego’s pick at 28. I’m one of the few people that think he excelled in a triple offense that limited his abilities, but we’ll see.
#3- Terrence Cody-NT-Alabama
Terrence Cody is one of the hardest guys to place in this draft, simply because we don’t know what he’s fully capable of. Is he strictly a two down nose tackle with weight issues? Or can we believe that he’s been working hard after losing 60 pounds prior to 2008? Laziness is commonly associated with Cody, but perhaps we don’t know the entire story. Nick Saban wouldn’t let him play 3rd downs because of his weight issue, so one would question his drive. One thing we don’t have to question is his size and strength. He clearly demands double teams, and can be dominant and very hard to block. But where is his value necessarily? I’ve seen him as high as #12 overall and as low as the top of the 3rd round. I’ve got him around pick #42 or so, with potential to move up if he can have some good interviews and have a good combine.
#2- Bryan Bulaga-OT-Iowa
Bulaga is one of the bigger question marks, and it’s not because of his talent. It’s because of the depth of offensive tackles, and because of his arm length. The combine is going to answer a big question in his arm length. Many have reported that his arms may only be around 33-33.5 inches long, which is just an average at best size. Anybody that knows offensive tackles knows that arm length is an integral part of success. While it’s not that you cannot be successful, but it’s definitely not ideal. I’ve seen Bulaga as high as pick #6 overall and as low as the middle of the 2nd round. That’s a big jump. Right now, I think that with his talent, drive, and hard work ethic, he’s a mid-1st round player, probably around pick 14 or 15.
#1- Tim Tebow-QB-Florida
The hardest player to place in Mock Drafts is easily Tim Tebow. His throwing motion, and footwork is a huge question mark, but his intangibles most certainly are not. You can’t help but wonder what NFL team owner doesn’t want this guy strictly for ticket sales and leadership ability, but how high is too high to draft for such a big risk? He’s a guy that may not even play quarterback in the NFL, and could be suited for a halfback or even tight end. I’ve seen people who still believe Jacksonville will take him in the first, and personally, I have him as a 2nd, strictly because a team will reach for him. As a quarterback, his talent level is a 4th or 5th rounder. As a football player, his talent is a 2nd rounder. It’s too hard to say where this guy is going to go, and he’s by far the hardest player to place in mock drafts for 2010.