Chris Steuber: A lot depends on the underclassmen that declare for the draft, because if some of the nation's top underclassmen declare as expected, it will force some big names to fall in the first round.
Two intriguing names from the Big 12 will likely be available late in the first round, Texas QB Colt McCoy and Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham. McCoy had a stellar career with the Longhorns, but scouts are concerned with his mechanics and arm strength. Gresham, on the other hand, missed the entire '09 season after having surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. If Gresham were healthy this year, there's no question he'd be a top-15 pick. If he's able to work out this offseason, he will still be selected in the first round -- somewhere in the 19-28 range.
OT Charles Brown
On defense, there will be a lot of options near the end of the opening frame: Northwestern defensive end Corey Wootton, who is a perfect fit to play DE in a 3-4; Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick, who plays with a high motor and will be attractive to teams in the 22-28 range; Alabama DT Terrence Cody, who presents a massive frame and is an intriguing choice for a team that needs a nose tackle in the middle of its 3-4 defense; Syracuse DT Arthur Jones, who is more athletic but less stout than Cody, but can play inside in a 3-4 or a 4-3; Michigan DE/OLB Brandon Graham, who translates best to play OLB in a 3-4 at the next level; and Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy, who like Graham will likely make the transition to OLB. But, the most intriguing prospect to me is Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson.
Robinson had a standout sophomore season for the Seminoles where he recorded six interceptions, but since that time he's dealt with injuries and has only amassed one interception in the last two years. He doesn't have an interception this year. The reason for Robinson's decline as a playmaker is because teams don't challenge him too often, and when they do, he positions himself very well. He led Florida State this season with 11 passes defended.
As far as the potential underclassmen that could be available in the late first round, here's some names to keep in mind: Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga, Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer, California RB Jahvid Best, Notre Dame WR Golden Tate, USC WR Damian Williams, North Carolina DT Marvin Austin, UCLA DT Brian Price, Penn State LB Navorro Bowman and Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling.
ML: San Diego will be looking for at least one running back in the draft, maybe two. Which RB prospects do you find most intriguing?
CS: The running back that I really like is Clemson's C.J. Spiller. He's so explosive and reminds me a lot of Tennessee Titans star Chris Johnson. However, I don't think Spiller will be available to the Chargers, who currently hold the 30th pick in the first round; Spiller will come off the board between the 12-18th selections.
A more realistic option for the Chargers will be to select one of the underclassmen that may declare for the draft. Fresno State's Ryan Mathews has already declared and will be available late in the first round. But Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer and California's Jahvid Best offer more value than Mathews as first-round selections. Between Dwyer and Best, I would prefer Dwyer for the Chargers. He's a bigger back (5-foot-11, 235 pounds), and if he's replacing LaDainian Tomlinson, pairing Dwyer with Darren Sproles gives the Chargers a dynamic one-two punch for many years. That's if the Chargers sign Sproles to a long-term contract.
ML: San Diego's second-biggest need figures to be on the defensive line. Who are some linemen who'd fit well in a 3-4 defense? Any pure nose tackles out there?
DT Dan Williams
College Football News
At 6-foot-4 and a generous 365 pounds, Cody commands a double team on most downs, not because he's explosive but because he's so massive and is able to collapse the pocket. He doesn't provide the impact numbers (sacks, TFL, etc.) you want from an interior presence, but he makes others around him a lot better because of the attention he draws. Jones, who stands at 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, had a disappointing senior year and is now viewed as a reach in the first round. But he's athletic, strong and has the ability to be a playmaker in the trenches. If the Chargers decide not to select a DT in the first round, there's a chance Jones will fall in the draft and be available to them in the second round.
ML: Another position on San Diego's wish list will be right tackle. However, this is not a position the Chargers typically invest in highly. Are there any mid-round right tackle prospects who are capable of challenging for starting roles next season?
CS: If the Chargers decided to surprise everyone and draft an offensive tackle in the first round, the player I mentioned earlier is a possibility, USC's Charles Brown. He would fit their need perfectly. But, if they want to wait to address their need for an OT, LSU's Ciron Black is an option as a late second-rounder; Notre Dame's Sam Young is attractive as a late third-rounder; Indiana's Rodger Saffold is rising up draft boards at the moment and is a possibility as a late fourth-round selection; and Tennessee's Chris Scott and California's Mike Tepper are experienced alternatives that have limited upside between the fifth and seventh rounds.
ML: What is the deepest position in this year's draft? And the weakest?
CS: It's tough to get a gauge of the landscape of the draft at this time because we still don't know all the players that will be available to NFL teams. But if I were to assess the draft at this time, I'd say the deepest positions are: OT, DT, OLB and CB. The weakest positions are: QB and RB. But again, things can change as we near the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare. The RB position can get stronger, as well as some of the other positions I didn't mention. But the 2010 QB class is mediocre; outside of Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow (even McCoy and Tebow are wildcards), the talent level drops off considerably.
What players should the Bolts target in the draft? Discuss in the message boards.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber's features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com.