The next crop: Top 10 seniors for 2007 draft
1. Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame: Quinn enters next season nearly as strong a favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall as Reggie Bush was at this time last year. The Irish quarterback has the prototype combination of size, arm and the intelligence scouts are looking for. He enters his senior season already Notre Dame's career leader in passing yardage (8,336) and touchdowns passes (58). Quinn may have been one of the top quarterbacks selected had he come out this year. 2. Quentin Moses, DE, Georgia: Though last season was Moses' first as a starter, he was so productive he very nearly left early for the NFL, where several teams would have been waiting to select him early on Day 1. The Bulldog defensive end finished second in the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. Before last season, Moses had rare opportunities to display his ability while backing up three-time All-American David Pollack. Blessed with instincts and a great first step, expect a monster season from Moses in 2006. 3. Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin: Had it not been for a knee injury against Auburn in the Capital One Bowl, Thomas likely would have forgone his senior season and made himself eligible for the 2006 draft. A former defensive end, the 6-8, 302-pound Thomas has the athleticism and consistency teams are looking for in a first-round tackle, and he could be the first to go in next year's college lottery. 4. Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson: Over the final month-and-a-half of the 2005 season, there might not have been a more dominant pass rusher than Adams. He had 11.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and 16 quarterback pressures in the final six games. Adams finished the season with 29 quarterback pressures, 9.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss to lead Clemson in all three areas. Scouts are excited about his size, burst and long arms. The defensive end actually led the team in passes broken up (9) last season. 5. Drew Stanton, QB, Michigan State: Stanton toyed with the notion of leaving school after his junior season. He certainly has shown the NFL combination of size, athleticism, toughness and arm strength. Scouts would like to see him develop a little more consistency. A likely second-round pick had he entered the 2006 draft, a little refining next season could bump his stock into the high first round. 6. Paul Posluszny, OLB, Penn State: Though the impact made by seniors Michael Robinson – whom the 49ers couldn't resist last weekend at the top of the fourth round – Tamba Hali and Alan Zemaitis on Penn State's turnaround last season cannot be over-stated, neither can the force that was Posluszny. He not only won the Butkus Award as the nation's elite linebacker, but also the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's top defensive player. His 116 tackles led the team and his consistency became a trademark. Last season he became the first Big Ten student-athlete selected Football Player of the Week (Offense, Defense or Special Teams) three consecutive weeks since the conference began the selections in 1987. 7. Michael Bush, RB, Louisville: Bush is an incredible combination of size, speed and pure athleticism. The 6-2, 248-pound back has amazing athleticism. He spent his senior season in high school playing quarterback after seeing action at running back, wide receiver, defensive back, linebacker and defensive end over his career. Not only did he lead Big East in rushing, but in all-purpose yardage as well. Bush shows shockingly soft hands (48 receptions over his career, 640 yards, 2 TDs). 8. Baraka Atkins, DL, Miami: The versatile Atkins has seen action at both defensive tackle and defensive end for the Hurricanes, and could be on the verge of a breakout campaign. Atkins has 34 starts on his resume entering his senior campaign and leads all returning Hurricanes with 13 career sacks. 9. Justin Blalock, OT, Texas: While Jonathan Scott earned most of the headlines, Texas coaches will tell you that the most talented Longhorn offensive lineman last year was Blalock. Has started all 38 games during his career, all at right tackle. Has earned Big 12 accolades after each of his three seasons. 10. Quinn Pitcock, DT, Ohio State: Bullish defensive tackle whose combination of 6-3, 295-pound frame and rare pure strength make him one of top run defending interior linemen to watch for in the 2007 draft. Pitcock has earned starting action each of the past three seasons, but didn't develop into a full-time starter until last season. Pitcock lacks quickness off the snap and isn't a pass rush threat, but his ability to stand up blockers at the point of attack, locate the ball, shed and make the tackle has scouts interested.
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