BRENNAN: This is a tough one, because I see several members of the Penn State defense who project as solid professionals but nobody who figures to explode into the first round (at least not for the '06 draft). So I'll go with cornerback Alan Zemaitis. Tom Bradley and Brian Norwood have done a nice job developing NFL-caliber defensive backs the past few years. And Zemaitis has the size, athletic ability, determination and confidence to be a strong cover corner in the league.
HARRINGTON: Well, thanks to the defense we should see a boost of likely candidates for the draft next year. Zemaitis is a good pick and has the tools, talent and build to make it at the next level. I have a feeling that we will see Tamba Hali go before A.Z., though. Hali has great tools for a pass-rushing end and an aggressive attitude, which should excite scouts. If he has the solid year most are expecting he could work his way into the first round.
BRENNAN: You left out Hali's most impressive attribute, in my view, his brain. But even with everything we mentioned, I don't see him (or any of this year's seniors) busting into the first round. Come to think of it, and just to have some fun, I'll lay even money that either Lavon Chisley or Matthew Rice is drafted before Hali. Both have the rangy build and speed NFL scouts covet in rush ends. I could see one or both increasing their pro stock this season and at the NFL Combine.
HARRINGTON: Interesting comment. Rice and Hali tied last year for total tackles with 51, which put them at fifth-best on the team. Even more interesting is they also had the same split with assisted and unassisted tackles, 22 and 29 respectively. Rice is a great player, but I think Hali's pure power and, as you said, head gives him the edge in this race. I would be surprised to see Chisley get selected before Hali, but I could see Rice getting the nod. I still think both of them are taken before Zemaitis, though.
BRENNAN'S FINAL WORD: Man, this is like taking candy from a baby. And you'll know about that soon enough, pops. A.Z. goes before all three DEs. The closest thing Penn State has to a sure-fire first-round pick is LB Paul Posluszny, but luckily for Nittany Lion fans, he won't hit the draft board until 2007.
HARRINGTON'S FINAL WORD: If you recall in our All-American version of Take Your Marks recently you said, "Though A.Z. gave FOS The Magazine its greatest unofficial endorsement to date when he said it was ‘Off the Chain' (I checked, and that's a good thing), he'll have difficulty winning A-A honors because nobody will throw at him." Ironically, if this does happen, it will likely not only impact his All-America status but also his draft stock. A.Z. will impress in the combines, but his overall stats could hurt his standing in the draft if quarterbacks are scared to throw in his direction. Candy from a baby indeed!