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Underclassmen would dominate 2009 NFL draft

11/8/2008 - College Football NFL

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)

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)

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