Risers and fallers as draft day approaches
THE RISERS Texas quarterback Vince Young: Young is making a dramatic leap up the board as the draft approaches. Teams once hesitant about the athletic signal-caller are now singing his praises as a multi-dimensional threat who could transcend the position. While Young remains the third quarterback in ratings by NFLDraftscout.com, the Tennessee Titans are considering him as the No. 3 overall pick. The 49ers also are very high on Young and his pro potential, but they aren't considering drafting him because they already have committed to Alex Smith at the position. However, if Young lasts past the No. 5 pick, 49ers vice president of player personnel Scot McCloughan said he expects several teams to come calling with possible trade opportunities while San Francisco is on the clock with the No. 6 overall selection. USC offensive tackle Winston Justice: The athletic USC product continues his slow but steady ascent. Justice was considered a fallback option for several teams in the middle of the first round just a few weeks ago, but may not make it out of the top 10 now with Buffalo (8), Detroit (9), and Arizona (10) all in need of offensive line help. The questions about Justice's character - he missed the entire 2004 season after being suspended for pointing a toy gun at a student, receiving three years of probation - appear to have subsided. Nebraska safety Daniel Bullocks: Bullock remains one of the draft's more underrated prospects and could be the surprise selection of the first round. Should a run on defensive backs occur throughout the last 15 picks of the first round, as projected, Bullocks could be an option for either Seattle (31) or Pittsburgh (32). Last year, Daniel's twin brother, Josh, also a safety from Nebraska, was drafted by the Saints with the 40th overall selection. The 49ers, in the hunt for safety next weekend, would like to see Bullocks slip rather than rise on draft day. Western Michigan wide receiver Greg Jennings: He's another prospect that is skyrocketing up the board. As teams ponder the upside of bigger, faster projects, Jennings' smooth routes and sticky hands make him a potential immediate contributor. Jennings led the country with an average of 8.91 receptions per game. Jennings may have worked his way among the top five prospects at WR and some teams may consider him as the third-best available behind juniors Chad Jackson of Florida and Santonio Holmes of Ohio State. Miami outside linebacker Rocky McIntosh: McIntosh is a player many clubs are looking at as a fallback option should they not be able to secure an outside linebacker in the first round. McIntosh has played all three linebacker positions for the Hurricanes and his versatility could land him as high as the second round. The 49ers are looking for an immediate impact player at OLB, but they'll be interested to see if McIntosh slips to their No. 84 slot in the third round in a linebacker-rich draft. The way it's looking now, McIntosh is going the other way. THE FALLERS USC quarterback Matt Leinart: Don't look now, but the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner is a candidate to experience a surprising drop on draft day according to the buzz among NFL scouts. With growing speculation that both the Titans (3) and Jets (4) have other players higher on their boards, it remains to be seen how far Leinart could fall. Leinart remains at the top of NFLDraftScout.com's quarterback rankings, but if he still is available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 6, you can be sure San Francisco will get some attractive trade offers. Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams: Once considered the top defensive back in the draft, Williams is another high profile player who could take a tumble. While scouts are quick to point out his rare combination of size (6-3, 213 pounds) and speed (4.43), they also admit a concern over Williams' inconsistency throughout his senior season. Williams still is considered by many to be the draft's top cornerback, but he may not be selected before the midway point of the first round. Over the past 10 years, only the 2001 draft (Nate Clements, Bills, #21) featured the first cornerback falling this far. If Williams does fall that far, you can be sure the 49ers will be interested at their No. 22 slot. Boise State offensive tackle Daryn Colledge: Colledge is slipping down the board amid concerns that he'll need to get stronger to handle the physicality of the NFL. The 6-5, 300-pounder started every game of his career for the Broncos, but he struggled with powerful defenders at the Senior Bowl. Some teams have indicated concern that his personality was not what they expect for an offensive lineman. Texas defensive tackle Rodrique Wright: Wright could fall completely out of the first day of the draft despite obvious talent and a 6-5, 300-pound frame. His career numbers are impressive - 227 tackles, 41 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks, However, he is considered inconsistent, at best, and teams left Combine interviews questioning just how important football is to him.
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