With college football postseason awards starting to come out, the National Football Post is getting into the action and naming our top eligible NFL prospects from each conference, starting today with the SEC.
QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Mallett, the 6-7, 238-pound signal caller, just wrapped up his redshirt sophomore season leading the SEC in QB rating (157.87), passing yards (3,425) and touchdown passes (29) and now might have his eyes set on the 2010 draft. He possesses the type of skill set to warrant a lofty draft grade and could end up making a run at the top overall pick if he declares early.
RB Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State
Dixon possesses an impressive blend of power, short-area quickness and balance between the tackles, and the fact he rushed for 1,391 yards behind one of the worst offensive lines in the SEC proves he can be productive at the next level. He isn’t a burner in the open field, but he knows how to create on his own inside and looks like a potential starting-caliber running back in the NFL.
H-back Aaron Hernandez, Florida
At 6-2, I don’t think Hernandez projects as an outright “on the line Y” in the NFL. However, what he can do for an NFL offense is create mismatches in the pass game and consistently separate on all levels of the field. He’s one of the nation’s most talented pass catchers, regardless of position, and will definitely find a way to be productive at the next level.
TE Weslye Saunders, South Carolina
It isn’t often you find a tight end who possesses the kind of size (6-5, 280) and athletic ability of Saunders. He isn’t someone who will be a consistent big-play threat at the next level, but he has the ability to make a living as an “on the line Y” and be efficient in both the run and pass game.
WR Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss
McCluster migrated to the running back position at Ole Miss as the year went on, but he looks like a potential playmaker from the slot at the next level. He definitely has the skill set to generate initial separation underneath and create after the catch and could end up having an impact similar to the Vikings’ Percy Harvin.
WR Brandon LaFell, LSU
LaFell possesses all the tools and has the ability to mature into a No. 1-type wideout at the next level. The biggest knock on him is that he drops the football.
OL Chris Scott, Tennessee
Lacks the range and athleticism to hold up on the blind side in the NFL, but he’s a coordinated blocker with good power who should be able to eventually win a starting job at either right tackle or guard.
OL Mike Pouncey, Florida
A king-sized interior lineman with the power and fluidity to win in both the run and pass game at the next level.
OL John Jerry, Ole Miss
Has the size and strength to consistently overwhelm opposing defenders at the point of attack and reminds me a lot of Cowboys OG Leonard Davis.
OL Mitch Petrus, Arkansas
A good athlete for his size, and although he lacks power on contact, I can see him quickly carving out a niche as a starting guard in a zone-blocking scheme at the next level.
OL Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
Looks like the nation’s top interior lineman prospect who has the ability to step in and start on an NFL offense from day one.
DL Jerrell Powe, Ole Miss
His combination of burst, size and power is very similar to the skill set of 2009 first-round pick B.J. Raji.
DL Terrence Cody, Alabama
Cody is one of the draft’s few potential 3-4-nose tackles who has the ability make everyone else around him better.
DL Jermaine Cunningham, Florida
Cunningham doesn’t receive nearly the attention he deserves playing across from fellow DE Carlos Dunlap, but he displays an explosive first step, is sudden on contact and knows how to slip blocks on the outside. Cunningham finished the season with seven sacks and looks like he can create pressure in the pass game.
DL Dan Williams, Tennessee
His ability to push the pocket and simply overwhelm opposing lineman on contact has made him one of this year’s biggest draft risers.
LB Eric Norwood, South Carolina
Lacks ideal height for the position (6-0) but displays a powerful base, good initial burst and knows how to get after the passer. Looks like an ideal 3-4 rush linebacker at the next level.
LB Rolando McClain, Alabama
Displays a rare combination of burst and closing speed for a guy his size (6-4, 256) and is the type of middle linebacker you can build your defense around.
LB Brandon Spikes, Florida
A team leader who has the type of mental and physical skill set needed to lock down a starting role at MLB early in his NFL career.
DB Joe Haden, Florida
Closes on the football better than any defensive back in the nation and has improved his overall awareness considerably since last season. Grades out as the draft’s top cornerback prospect.
DB Chad Jones, LSU
Possesses a rare blend of size (6-3, 230) and athletic ability for the position and has a real nose for the football. Looks like a potential impact starter in the NFL.
DB Eric Berry, Tennessee
All the physical tools are there, although it’s his instincts and anticipation that make him one of the top safety prospects to come along in years.
DB Javier Arenas, Alabama
Is Arenas ever going to be an elite cover man at the next level? Probably not. However, he knows how to press, play zone, can cover the slot, tackles in space, blitzes off the edge and is a dangerous return man. Simply put, he’ll find a way to make a positive impact for whatever NFL team drafts him.
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