Pro Prospects in Tampa

The Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida between the Big 10's Iowa Hawkeyes and the SEC's South Carolina Gamecocks had some NFL roster building blocks on the field, but not many top flight prospects.

The biggest prospect playing was the Doak Campbell award winner for the nation's best running back, Iowa's junior Shonn Greene. Greene finished the season with 1,850 rushing yards, which ranked him second in the NCAA. Greene piled up 121 yards and 3 touchdowns against a top-ranked Gamecock defense and was pulled late in the game while Iowa was on cruise control to victory. Currently Shonn Greene is projected as a late first to mid second-round pick in the upcoming draft. He is a very powerful rusher with great size at 5'11", 240 pounds. Greene however, is not the typical bruising power-back, he also has some speed. Greene had at least six runs of 30 yards or more, including a 52 and 75-yard scamper. Many scouts compare Shonn Greene to Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons. Both a bigger backs who possess enough speed to take it to the house on a long run, but also are very patient and have great field vision to find the holes.

The next best prospect on the Iowa roster is defensive lineman Mitch King. King projects to be a 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 defensive tackle. King is a bit undersized for the defensive tackle position at 6'3", 280 lbs., but he makes up for the size he lacks with pure tenacity, and has a seemingly never ending motor. King was routinely seen in the backfield disrupting plays. King projects likely as second-day selection.

Some other players who will or could be in this year's upcoming draft are middle linebacker Pat Angerer, tight end Brandon Myers, and offensive linemen Dan Doering and Rafael Eubanks. All four are likely second day picks and while none will likely be stars at the NFL level, they are the type of players teams look for to fill their rosters. Angerer led the Hawkeyes with 101 tackles, 36 more than any other defender on the team. He also led the team in interceptions.

On the opposite side of the field the South Carolina Gamecocks were littered with first day talent. Most notably were defensive backs Emanuel Cook and Captain Munnerlyn. Both players are likely to be second round picks in April's draft. Cook is a physical, strong safety with good speed and Munnerlyn is a very good cover corner who is not afraid to get dirty and defend the run. Also on defense is defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Norwood. Norwood was forced to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme in the Outback Bowl due to injuries, and was exposed a bit. This is not surprising however, as most project Norwood to be a 4-3 edge rusher or a 3-4 outside rush backer. Norwood is explosive off the edge and is usually in the back field causing havoc.

On the other side of the ball, tight end Jared Cook looks to be a second-round pick and could easily climb draft boards. Cook ended the season with 573 yards and three touchdowns, but he is a big receiving tight end at 6'5" and 250 lbs. Despite lacking a real quarterback, Cook managed to stay productive, as did fellow wide receiver Kenny McKinley. McKinley had a disappointing season riddled with injuries, finishing with only 642 yards receiving, coming off a season in 2007 where he nearly eclipsed 1,000 yards. McKinley will leave South Carolina with many receiving records. McKinley is projected as an early first-day pick. He is a former quarterback turned wide receiver. While still a bit raw, he has very good hands and ball skills.

Also on offense were running back Mike Davis and offensive tackle Jamon Meredith. Mike Davis projects to the seventh round or as an undrafted free agent. While not overly productive in his college career, Davis could easily land on an NFL roster because of his ability to catch out of the backfield. Offensive tackle Jamon Meredith is projected as a second to third-round pick. Meredith projects as a right tackle in the NFL as he excels at run blocking and has a very strong lower body. While Meredith can slide with most edge rushers, he lacks a strong punch to jar most defensive ends and is easily bull rushed.


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