By Todd McShay
Fresno State's Kyle Young is a good player, but he is entirely too overhyped as a first-round prospect. There are three other centers whom I currently project as better pros than Young, including Leroy Harris (N.C. State), Ryan Kalil (USC) and Doug Datish (Ohio State).
Young lacks the mobility to consistently get in position as a center in the NFL. And even when he's in position, Young seems to lack explosive initial pop to jar defenders at the point of attack.
When it is all said and done; do not be surprised if Young moves to guard in the NFL. At this point, I could not recommend him any higher than the third round.
Underrated: Eric Weddle, DB, Utah
Weddle is Mr. Everything for the Utes. He splits time between the cornerback and safety positions on defense, while frequently contributing as a running back and slot receiver on offense. In his spare time, Weddle handles some of the return duties on kickoffs and punts, while also serving as the holder on PATs and field goals.
Never has his versatility been more evident than in last week's win over San Diego State when he scored on consecutive plays from scrimmage. Weddle first scored on a two-yard touchdown run and then, on the first play of the following drive, he picked off a pass and returned it 30 yards for a score. He recorded two more interceptions in that game, including another that he returned for a touchdown. Weddle's lack of ideal size and speed will keep him out of the first two rounds of the 2007 draft, but his exceptional resourcefulness could earn him a spot late on the first day.
Sleeper of the week: Clifton Dawson, RB, Harvard
Dawson is an ultra-productive running back prospect from the D-IAA level. He began his career at Northwestern but transferred to Harvard prior to the 2003 season, and he has been the full-time starting running back and kickoff return specialist since. The diminutive back (5-foot-10 3/8, 201 pounds) has carried a heavy load in the Crimson's first two games -- wins over Holy Cross and Brown -- with 391 total yards and six touchdowns on 49 carries and five receptions.
Dawson's versatility is his best attribute as a pro prospect. He is a shifty runner, a reliable receiver and a capable return specialist. Although his upside is significantly hampered by his marginal size and below-average top-end speed, there's a lot to like about Dawson's quickness, toughness, instincts and competitiveness. He is a high-character person and a hard worker on and off the field. He should get a chance to prove himself as a sixth- or seventh-round pick in next year's draft.
Can't miss individual matchup:
Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson vs. Virginia Tech ROV Aaron Rouse
This is not a traditional one-on-one matchup, but then again, Johnson is no ordinary wide receiver. At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds with 4.4 speed in the 40, Johnson is college football's most dynamic offensive weapon. Everyone in the stadium knows where the ball is going yet Johnson finds a way to separate and make the play in traffic. He will never rank among the elite in catches per game because of a marginal supporting cast that includes an erratic quarterback in Reggie Ball. But Johnson's 311 yards and five touchdowns on 19 receptions (four games played) are evidence of his big-play capability.
Johnson will face at least double coverage throughout Saturday's game, which explains Rouse's involvement. Rouse is the most experienced playmaker in Virginia Tech's secondary and also boasts an impressive combination of physical tools with 4.4 speed to go along with his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame. He will spend lots of time in "bracket" coverage and is one of only a few defensive backs in the country with the make-up to challenge Johnson physically.
When Johnson leaves for the NFL -- either in 2007 or 2008 -- he will be a top-10 pick and could be the top overall selection. If Rouse proves capable of containing a playmaker of Johnson's magnitude, it will play favorably to his draft prospects. As it stands right now, Rouse ranks as one of the top-five senior safeties and should be off the board within the first two rounds.
Texas Tech WR Jarrett Hicks has been granted an academic waiver by the NCAA, making him eligible to play after he missed the first three games of this season. He returned to the field for the first time this season against Southeastern Louisiana last week and finished with 59 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. Hicks is a mid-round prospect with 176 career receptions.
Scouts Inc.'s Top 32
RANK NAME POS CLASS SCHOOL PREV
1. Brady Quinn QB SR Notre Dame 1
2. Joe Thomas OT SR Wisconsin 3
3. Marcus McCauley DC SR Fresno State 4
4. Leon Hall DC SR Michigan 14
5. Drew Stanton QB SR Michigan State 6
6. Quentin Moses DE SR Georgia 3
7. Drew Stanton QB SR Michigan State 5
8. Kenny Irons RB SR Auburn 11
9. Paul Posluszny LB SR Penn State 8
10. LaRon Landry S SR LSU 7
11. Gaines Adams DE SR Clemson 9
12. Quinn Pitcock DT SR Ohio State 15
13. LaMarr Woodley DE SR Michigan 16
14. Jeff Samardzija WR SR Notre Dame 12
15. Brandon Meriweather S SR Miami (Fla.) 13
16. Justin Blaylock OT SR Texas 15
17. Patrick Willis ILB SR Mississippi 18
18. Adam Carriker DE SR Nebraska 17
19. Aaron Rouse DS SR Virginia Tech 19
20. Ryan Harris OT SR Notre Dame 24
21. Paul Williams WR SR Fresno State 22
22. Tim Crowder DE SR Texas 23
23. Buster Davis ILB SR Florida State 21
24. Marcus Thomas DT SR Florida 13
25. Jason Hill WR SR Wash. State 23
26. Michael Griffin S SR Texas 21
27. Rufus Alexander OLB SR Oklahoma 20
28. Tom Zbikowski S SR Notre Dame NR
29. Joe Staley OT SR Central Michigan 30
30. Victor Abiamiri DE SR Notre Dame 28
31. Earl Everett OLB SR Florida NR
32. Aundrae Allison WR SR East Carolina NR
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN Insider.