Commentary

Underclassmen would dominate 2009 NFL draft

Todd McShay's latest Draft Buzz looks at the top 10 prospects by position and he updates Scouts Inc.'s top 64 prospects.

Originally Published: November 7, 2008
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

Draft Buzz Extra
While underclassmen dominate the offensive side of the NFL draft, seniors are taking over on defense. Insiders can check out Scouts Inc.'s updated top-10 lists for every defensive position. Draft Buzz Extra Insider
Underclassmen bailing out a weak crop of senior talent will be the overlying trend in the 2009 draft. At least, that's what NFL teams are hoping right now. Juniors and third-year sophomores dominate the top spots of nearly every position/unit, especially in the offensive skill positions. There isn't a senior to be found in the top four spots at quarterback or running back, nor is there one in the top six at wide receiver.

The top two senior quarterbacks to begin the season -- Purdue's Curtis Painter and Clemson's Cullen Harper -- are free-falling. Painter is currently our ninth-ranked QB and Hunter is nowhere to be found. On the flip side, Texas Tech's Graham Harrell is making a move up the QB food chain.

For the rest of the risings and fallings known as the NFL draft stock market, here's a breakdown of the top 10 prospects (seniors and eligible underclassmen) at each offensive position/unit.

(Note: * denotes draft-eligible junior; ** denotes draft-eligible third-year sophomore)

Top 10 Quarterbacks
Player School Height Weight
1. Sam Bradford** Oklahoma 6-3½ 218
2. Matthew Stafford* Georgia 6-2½ 235
3. Mark Sanchez* USC 6-2½ 225
4. Josh Freeman* Kansas State 6-5½ 238
5. Hunter Cantwell Louisville 6-3⅞ 231
6. Graham Harrell Texas Tech 6-2⅛ 199
7. Rhett Bomar Sam Houston State 6-2¼ 212
8. Nate Brown Central Arkansas 6-1¼ 210
9. Curtis Painter Purdue 6-2½ 225
10. Stephen McGee Texas A&M 6-2⅝ 220

Top 10 Running Backs
Player School Height Weight
1. Chris "Beanie" Wells* Ohio State 6-1 235
2. Knowshon Moreno** Georgia 5-10¾ 207
3. LeSean McCoy** Pittsburgh 5-11 205
4. C.J. Spiller* Clemson 5-11¼ 190
5. Javon Ringer Michigan State 5-9 200
6. James Davis Clemson 5-11⅛ 209
7. Andre Brown North Carolina State 6-0 225
8. Arian Foster Tennessee 6-1 217
9. Brad Lester Auburn 5-10 195
10. Jeremiah Johnson Oregon 5-9 205

Top 10 Wide Receivers
Player School Height Weight
1. Michael Crabtree** Texas Tech 6-2½ 208
2. Jeremy Maclin** Missouri 6-0⅝ 198
3. Percy Harvin* Florida 5-10¾ 187
4. Darrius Heyward-Bey* Maryland 6-1⅞ 203
5. Kenny Britt* Rutgers 6-4 215
6. Brandon LaFell* LSU 6-3 212
7. Derrick Williams Penn State 6-0 200
8. Juaquin Iglesias Oklahoma 6-0 205
9. Louis Murphy Florida 6-2½ 198
10. Brian Robiskie Ohio State 6-2 190

Top 10 Tight Ends
Player School Height Weight
1. Brandon Pettigrew Oklahoma State 6-5⅝ 260
2. Jermaine Gresham* Oklahoma 6-5 266
3. Jared Cook* South Carolina 6-5 243
4. Chase Coffman Missouri 6-5⅞ 247
5. Cornelius Ingram Florida 6-3¾ 229
6. Travis Beckum Wisconsin 6-3 237
7. Shawn Nelson Southern Mississippi 6-4¾ 233
8. Bear Pascoe Fresno State 6-5¾ 264
9. Ryan Purvis Boston College 6-3⅞ 259
10. Jared Bronson Central Washington 6-4⅛ 253

Top 10 Offensive Linemen
Player, position School Height Weight
1. Andre Smith, OT Alabama 6-4⅞ 341
2. Eben Britton*, OT Arizona 6-5½ 310
3. Michael Oher, OT Mississippi 6-5 330
4. Russell Okung*, OT Oklahoma State 6-5¼ 303
5. Eugene Monroe, OT Virginia 6-5⅛ 310
6. Ciron Black*, OT LSU 6-5 325
7. Alex Mack, C California 6-3⅞ 310
8. Duke Robinson, G Oklahoma 6-5½ 335
9. Jason Smith, OT Baylor 6-4½ 300
10. Jonathan Luigs, C Arkansas 6-3¾ 310

The Top 64
Finally, below is a look at our updated rankings of the top 64 prospects for the 2009 NFL draft. The inclusion of underclassmen is never a pleasant discussion. College teams obviously want their players -- particularly the premier talents -- to stay put, and NFL teams get upset because their scouts catch flak while visiting schools throughout the fall. Unfortunately, early departures are a reality in today's NFL draft process. Instead of including some prospects we hear have "interest" in coming out early, we've decided to set specific parameters. Between now and the official decision date in mid-January, we will include all eligible underclassmen (three years out of high school) whom we consider to be first-day (Rounds 1 and 2) material.

(Note: * denotes draft-eligible junior; ** denotes draft-eligible third-year sophomore)

Scouts Inc. Top 32 Prospects
Player Position School Height Weight Grade
1. Andre Smith* OT Alabama 6-4⅞ 341 98
2. Sam Bradford** QB Oklahoma 6-3½ 218 98
3. Vontae Davis* CB Illinois 5-11⅞ 203 98
4. Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio State 6-0 195 97
5. Matthew Stafford* QB Georgia 6-2½ 235 97
6. Michael Crabtree** WR Texas Tech 6-2½ 208 96
7. Eben Britton OT Arizona 6-5½ 310 96
8. Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech 6-7 259 96
9. Michael Oher OT Mississippi 6-5 330 95
10. Brian Orakpo DE Texas 6-3½ 255 95
11. Aaron Curry OLB Wake Forest 6-1¾ 247 95
12. Chris "Beanie" Wells* RB Ohio State 6-1 235 95
13. Jeremy Maclin** WR Missouri 6-0⅝ 198 94
14. Terrence Cody* DT Alabama 6-4½ 375 94
15. Mark Sanchez* QB USC 6-2½ 225 94
16. Rey Maualuga ILB USC 6-1⅞ 260 94
17. Russell Okung OT Oklahoma State 6-5¼ 303 93
18. Sen'Derrick Marks* DT Auburn 6-0⅞ 289 93
19. James Laurinaitis ILB Ohio State 6-2 240 93
20. Eugene Monroe OT Virginia 6-5⅛ 310 93
21. Brian Cushing OLB USC 6-2¾ 253 93
22. Geno Atkins* DT Georgia 6-1¾ 294 92
23. Knowshon Moreno** RB Georgia 5-10⅜ 207 92
24. Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma State 6-5⅝ 260 92
25. Greg Hardy* DE Mississippi 6-4⅛ 267 92
26. George Selvie* DE South Florida 6-3⅞ 240 91
27. Percy Harvin** WR Florida 5-10¾ 187 91
28. LeSean McCoy** RB Pittsburgh 5-11 205 91
29. Taylor Mays* S USC 6-3 225 91
30. Brandon Spikes* LB Florida 6-3⅛ 240 91
31. Alphonso Smith CB Wake Forest 5-8⅜ 192 91
32. C.J. Spiller* RB Clemson 5-11¼ 190 90
33. Josh Freeman* QB Kansas State 6-5½ 238 90
34. Darrius Heyward-Bey* WR Maryland 6-1⅞ 203 90
35. Everette Brown* DE Florida State 6-4¼ 252 90
36. D.J. Moore* CB Vanderbilt 5-10 184 90
37. William Moore S Missouri 6-0⅜ 228 90
38. Ciron Black* OT LSU 6-5 325 90
39. Jermaine Gresham TE Oklahoma 6-5 266 90
40. Sean Weatherspoon* OLB Missouri 6-0½ 233 90
41. B.J. Raji DT Boston College 6-1¼ 334 90
42. Alex Mack C Cal 6-3⅞ 310 89
43. Peria Jerry DT Mississippi 6-3 310 89
44. Tyson Jackson DE LSU 6-4¼ 295 89
45. Mark Herzlich* OLB Boston College 6-3¾ 239 89
46. Kenny Britt WR Rutgers 6-4 215 89
47. Trevard Lindley CB Kentucky 5-11¾ 180 88
48. Jonathan Luigs C Arkansas 6-3¾ 310 88
49. Duke Robinson G Oklahoma 6-5½ 335 88
50. Jason Smith OT Baylor 6-4½ 300 88
51. Jared Cook* TE South Carolina 6-5 243 88
52. Phil Loadholt OT Oklahoma 6-7½ 340 87
53. Chase Coffman TE Missouri 6-5⅞ 247 87
54. Max Unger C Oregon 6-4½ 311 87
55. Antonio Coleman* DE Auburn 6-2 254 86
56. Patrick Chung S Oregon 5-10⅞ 212 86
57. Brandon LaFell* WR LSU 6-3 212 86
58. Asher Allen* CB Georgia 5-10 195 85
59. Kevin Ellison S USC 6-0¾ 226 84
60. Derrick Williams WR Penn State 6-0 200 84
61. Victor Harris CB Virginia Tech 5-11⅛ 192 84
62. Antoine Caldwell C Alabama 6-3¾ 298 84
63. Terrance Taylor DT Michigan 6-0 310 83
64. Fili Moala DT USC 6-4⅜ 282 82

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.