A look at the senior prospects with the highest preseason grades.
August 29, 2012, 01:30 PM EST
Here, with a little help from some of my scout friends, is a look at the senior players who were given the highest preseason grades by the National Scouting service. Players are listed in order of their grades.
1. Matt Barkley, Southern Cal QB, 6-2, 228. It’s worth noting that Barkley was by far the highest rated player by National. His 7.8 grade is the only grade higher than 6.9. But Barkley is not considered the same kind of slam dunk prospect that Andrew Luck was considered one year ago. One personnel director compared him to Matt Ryan in terms of skill level. Another thought he was a little bit of a product of coaching and having great players around him.
2. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina DT, 6-2, 320. His initial grade might not be an ideal indicator of where the consensus is on Williams. Scouts I spoke with didn’t think he would be a top of the draft player, but Williams can determine his fate with his play this year.
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3. Jonathan Jenkins, Georgia NT, 6-4, 363. The 3-4 teams are going to like this guy. Jenkins’ size and strength is pretty unusual, and if he shows he can play with consistent effort this year he can cement his spot as a mid first rounder.
4. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina G, 6-3, 320. He is the highest rated in a really strong group of guards. Because there are a number of very good interior blockers, it’s possible all of them will be devalued in the draft.
5. Quintin Williams, Georgia S, 6-0, 219. He has enough athleticism and striking ability to be a first rounder, but safeties generally don’t go high in the first unless they are truly special.
6. Kawann Short, Purdue DT, 6-3, 325. He is another powerful nose tackle. Scouts I spoke with see Short as more of a late first rounder because he might not be as explosive as an early first rounder should be.
7. Brennan Williams, North Carolina OT, 6-6, 320. NFL teams likely will see him as a right tackle because he does not have elite movement skills.
8. Barrett Jones, Alabama C, 6-4, 300. He’s a very good center, but centers usually don’t go high in the first round unless they are really special athletically. Jones, in the words of one front office man, is “not a freak.”
9. Tim McDonald, Southern Cal S, 6-2, 209. His versatility to play in the box or in the deep half could help him. He is perceived as a late first round/early second round player now. McDonald’s speed is a question mark at this point, but if he runs well he could move up.
10. E.J. Manuel, Florida State QB, 6-4, 236. Scouts like his size, strength and movement skills but aren’t sold yet on his mastery of the passing game. If he nails it this season he has the potential to go very high in the draft.
11. John Wetzel, Boston College OT, 6-7, 307. He isn’t an elite left tackle prospect, but he has enough size, toughness and athleticism to be chosen in the second half of the first round.
12. Johnathan Banks, Mississippi State CB, 6-2, 185. He is the highest rated cornerback with a 6.3 grade from National. This former safety has a nose for the ball but his speed is a question at this point. He might have to be a zone corner in the NFL.
13. Aaron Dobson, Marshall WR, 6-3, 200. He might not have the speed to be a top of the draft player, but his outstanding ball skills and solid route-running should land him somewhere in the first round.
14. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame LB, 6-1, 248. He clearly is the best linebacker among the seniors and looks like a sure-fire first rounder. He is frequently compared with Luke Kuechly.
Next week: The next tier.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.