|Robert Sands S West Virginia|
|Rare size for the position. Three-year starter. A physical player and a hard hitter. Excels in run support; acts like an extra linebacker at times. Decent ball skills (six career interceptions). Adequate speed for the position.|
|Still very raw. Gets caught out of position frequently in coverage. Has the athleticism to make up for his mistakes in the Big East, but lacks the elite athleticism to get by in the NFL. Needs to improve his ability to read quarterbacks; frequently bites on play action and pump fakes.|
|Sands’ size makes him a very intriguing prospect, however there isn’t a very long list of safeties with his size who have excelled in the NFL. He’s a good athlete for his size, but he lacks the elite quickness and agility necessary to line up in man coverage. His size and athleticism gives him the versatility to play either safety position, which could make him a valuable backup at the next level but anything more would be a bonus.|
|QB – Jake Locker, Washington|
|Locker is all hype and no substance. He lacks the accuracy to play quarterback in the NFL and he’s going to fall out of the 1st round.|
|RB – Mark Ingram, Alabama|
|Ingram wasn’t even the best running back on his own team this past season. Comparisons to Emmitt Smith are being tossed around, but he reminds me more of Ron Dayne.|
|WR – Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh|
|A gifted athlete with elite size and strength, but just doesn’t play up to his potential.|
|TE – D.J. Williams, Arkansas|
|Athletic, but doesn’t really have a position. Too short to be a star at tight end.|
|OT – Nate Solder, Colorado|
|Suffering (or benefiting, I guess) from the media’s Bruce Campbell syndrome. He’s athletic, but far from a finished product.|
|OG – Mike Pouncey, Florida|
|He’s not his brother. He’s good, but his stock in the media has risen because of his last name.|
|DE – Adrian Clayborn, Iowa|
|After a stellar 2009 he took a step backwards as a senior. There are some concerns about his effort on the field.|
|DT – Marcell Dareus, Alabama|
|He’s never performed at an elite level as a full-time starter – not exactly the résumé of a top-10 pick.|
|OLB – Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue|
|Is he strong enough to play defensive end? Is he athletic enough to play linebacker?|
|ILB – Greg Jones, Michigan State|
|A gifted athlete who consistently falls short of expectations. He benefits from a very weak class for the position.|
|CB – Brandon Harris, Miami FL|
|Fast enough to stick with anyone, but he’s undersized and consistently gets beat by more physical receivers.|
|S – Robert Sands, West Virginia|
|Its easy to be intrigued by his size, but very few have ever played the position effectively at his size.|
Earlier this afternoon I took some time to answer a few of your questions on twitter. A lot of them really deserve more than just four or five word response, so I thought I’d take an few minutes to elaborate…
It’s definitely possible that one or both could wind up in the top five, but I think they’ll ultimately fall a little further.
The Panthers aren’t taking a quarterback, despite some mock drafts linking them with Cam Newton. The Cardinals may consider it, but I think they’ll pass as well. Ken Whisenhunt really wants to bring in a veteran, and I think they will to appease Larry Fitzgerald as well.
That leaves the Bills. And after addressing their strongest position in the 1st round last year by taking C.J. Spiller, it’s anyone’s guess what they may do this time around. Newton and Gabbert are possibilities, but I think they’ll lean toward the best available player – A.J. Green or Patrick Peterson.
* The most well-known prospect in this game is West Virginia running back Noel Devine. He’s an explosive athlete, but probably isn’t anything more than a kick returner/3rd-string running back at the next level. His stock has also been hurt by a foot injury which has slowed him for much of this season. He probably won’t come off the board until the 6th or 7th round and may struggle to make a roster if he can’t win a job on special teams.
* The top prospect in the game is actually West Virginia safety Robert Sands. He is a gifted athlete with rare size for the position (6’5″, 220 lbs). He’s primarily played free safety at West Virginia, but is probably better suited to play strong safety or even outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL. He’s only a junior but definitely could make the jump this season.
* Another player in West Virginia’s secondary to keep an eye on is cornerback Brandon Hogan. Personally I think Hogan is extremely overrated. He’s had some off-field issues and has been inconsistent throughout his career. However, he clearly has the athleticism and raw talent necessary to play at the next level. If he reaches his full potential he could be a starter, but I wouldn’t draft him until the 5th or 6th round.
* On the offensive side of the ball for the Mountaineers, keep an eye on wide receiver Jock Sanders. Like Devine, he is undersized and will be limited in his ability to make an impact at the next level. However, he does have big-play ability and could contribute on special teams.
* The player to watch for N.C. State is inside linebacker Nate Irving, who may end up being their only player drafted this April. He doesn’t have elite speed, but has been tremendously productive for the Wolfpack. He should be a mid-round pick and is definitely one of the more intriguing sleepers at his position. He’s the type of guy who has the instincts to potential excel at the next level despite limited physical tools.