NFL Draft 2008: A Look At RU Prospects

Ray Rice is the standout Rutgers player in the 2008 NFL draft, but there are plenty of other viable options coming out of RU. Four linemen, three coming from the offensive side of the ball, will find out where they stand in relation to their NFL prospects by the end of this weekend. Some are likely to be late-round picks while others will probably end up signing on with teams as free agents.

Tom Marino, Scout.com's resident NFL expert, compiled a comprehensive draft guide detailing every college player from expected to be drafted as well as many who likely will end up on the outside looking in at the end of the two-day draft April 26-27 in New York.

Marino provided StateofRutgers.com with insight on his evaluations. Let's take a look at where each player rates in the draft.

Jeremy Zuttah (played offensive tackle at Rutgers)

Zuttah is a powerful tackle, but he can be more effective on the interior line, according to Marino.

"I think he plays a little straight-legged. A team needs him to work on the technical things and get him to bend his knees more," said Marino, who originally projected Zuttah as a sixth or seventh round pick but upgraded him to a fourth- or fifth-rounder upon further inspection. "He is better suited to play center."

Marino said that Zuttah is a "developmental guy," meaning he's not an immediate NFL starter and will likely be drafted as an improvement project for a team.

"This guy's got room to grow. I think he's a good test athlete," said Marino. "On the pass protection, he'll have to get better on his balance points. If can get some added flexibility, this guy could be very good.

Pedro Sosa (played offensive tackle at Rutgers)

Marino projects Sosa as a guard in the NFL and sees him going in the seventh round or signing on with a team as a free agent.

"He doesn't play heavy. I thought playing him at left tackle was unfair," said Marino, who described Sosa as someone who has problems with balance in pass protection. "He needs to play heavier and needs to improve some explosiveness off the ball."

Sosa is quick off the ball, according to Marino, but he lacks that explosiveness to drive players off the ball. While Sosa was able to bulldoze defenders in college, that approach does not translate to the pro game.

"In pro ball, we don't have guys knocking anyone off the ball anymore," said Marino. "He's more of a position guy, a catch-and-steer guy. . . . He's a backup guy in the league who should get late consideration."

Eric Foster (played defensive tackle at Rutgers)

Foster's passion and tenacity will help him make the transition to the professional game, according to Marino.

"I just love his energy. To me, he's a force," said Marino, who likes Foster to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round. "He's got some range, and he's a tough tackler. He has better leverage than strength."

While Foster is undersized (6-feet-1, 271) for an NFL defensive tackle, Marino likened him to NFL standout La'Roi Glover, a smallish defensive tackle who currently plays for the St. Louis Rams and who was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 2000-2005.

"Glover was undersized coming out of school. This guy is a lot like him," said Marino, noting that he likes Foster's initial quickness off the snap and his use of hands. "(Foster) can be disruptive and can make some plays. He doesn't dog it; he doesn't change speeds on each down."

Foster needs to improve his strength to have an impact in the NFL, Marino said, projecting Rutgers' former co-captain as a ideal tackle for a 3-4 scheme.

"He could be a rotational guy. If you're going with different defensive looks, he could be the guy you're looking for," said Marino. "I like him; I just wish he was bigger."

Mike Fladell (played guard at Rutgers)

Fladell was another player Marino thought would be better suited to a different offensive position than he played at Rutgers. At 6-feet-6 and 328 pounds, Fladell is projected as a tackle by Marino.

"He might have been too tall to play in the guard position," said Marino, who thinks Fladell will land with a team as a free agent. "This guy could develop. He's going to be a little bit of a project for a team, but you want to stay with those Clydesdales as long as possible."

Marino said Fladell's strong point is his size, but he lacks body strength and balance.


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