Meredith among ‘sleeper' picks

One of our experts produces his starting lineup of non-first-round picks from the 2009 NFL draft. This week, the offensive side of the ball.

Unearthing a handful of diamonds in the rough is what separates great scouting departments from the merely good ones. Below is my "starting lineup" of non-first-round offensive prospects who will surprise early in their NFL careers (defense to follow next week).

QB Stephen McGee, Dallas (fourth round; 101st overall): If McGee had received pro-style coaching throughout his time at Texas A&M, he could have been a first-round pick. Taken exactly 100 picks later than Matthew Stafford, there are a number of NFL scouts who feel McGee will eventually be the better NFL quarterback. I'll take it a step further — it will be McGee, and not current starter Tony Romo, who will be the next quarterback to take the Cowboys to the Super Bowl.

RB Shonn Greene, N.Y. Jets (third; 65th): Just as the Jets aggressively traded up for quarterback Mark Sanchez on the first day of the draft, coach Rex Ryan and Co. made the same decision to get the first pick of the second day and land Greene, the only running back in the NCAA to rush for more than 100 yards in every game last season. Pessimists might contend that with veterans Thomas Jones and Leon Washington in the fray, Greene won't see the field much, but his short, thick frame is conducive to goal-line carries and running out the clock in the fourth quarter. And Jones and Washington are unhappy with their contracts.

TE: Chase Coffman, Cincinnati (third; 98th): While Carson Palmer was blessed with one of the most talented receiving corps in the NFL throughout much of his early career, he has lacked a sure-handed tight end. That all changed when the Bengals selected Coffman. Coffman, the son of former Packer tight end Paul Coffman, was born to play the position. For all the talk of Brandon Pettigrew's run blocking and Jared Cook's speed, if Coffman can fully recover from the broken foot that kept him from running for scouts prior to the draft and sidelined him during Cincinnati's initial rookie minicamp, he is my favorite to lead all rookie tight ends in receptions.

WR: Juaquin Iglesias, Chicago (third; 99th): It is always difficult to project the handful of rookie receivers who will make an immediate impact, and even more so when focusing on those not taken in the first round. With the Bears bringing in Jay Cutler, however, Iglesias has just as much of a chance to develop a rapport with the strong-armed passer as any other Chicago receiver, as only former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett has ever caught a ball thrown from Cutler. Iglesias' reliable route-running and secure hands should make him an early target in the Windy City.

WR: Austin Collie, Indianapolis (fourth; 127th): One of the more underrated receivers in the draft, Collie is the perfect fit for the Colts due to his work ethic, reliable route-running and sticky hands. By the end of his rookie season, Collie will have won the slot position and have established himself as a bona fide presence there — ala former Colt standout Brandon Stokley.

WR: Patrick Turner, Miami (third; 87th): Considering how much Bill Parcells loves receivers with size and that the Dolphins' top three receivers last season (Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Camarillo and Bess) average height is 5-feet-11, Turner will have opportunities to make plays in the red zone. At a legitimate 6-5 and possessing the strong, secure hands to be quite successful in this role, don't be surprised when Turner catches more touchdowns as a rookie than many of the six receivers taken in the first round.

OT: Jamon Meredith, Green Bay (fifth; 162nd): A draft-day faller due to concerns over his toughness and consistency, Meredith's size, athleticism and versatility will ultimately prove him a steal in the fifth round for the Packers. With Chad Clifton breaking down, Meredith could see time at the all-important left tackle position relatively early in his career. Once on the field, don't be surprised if Meredith's play keeps him among the starting five for years.

OG: Kraig Urbik, Pittsburgh (third; 79th): A perfect fit from a scheme standpoint, Urbik is the classic Wisconsin offensive lineman -- tough, physical and at his best blocking straight-ahead. Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Steelers allowed the fourth most sacks in the NFL last season (49) and were fourth-worst in average yards gained per rushing attempt (3.7). Urbik, along with fellow Big Ten standout A.Q. Shipley, will provide a degree of physicality that has been surprisingly missing in Pittsburgh.

C: A.Q. Shipley, Pittsburgh (seventh; 226th): The recipient of the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center, Shipley fell to the seventh round only because his arms are shorter than scouts would prefer, making it tough to project how well he'll handle the bigger, more explosive tackles and nose guards of the NFL. It has been years, however, since I've seen a center use his hands as forcefully and effectively as Shipley. Considering the Steelers' needs up front (see Urbik) and my own confidence in Shipley's toughness and talent, I'm going out on a ledge with this one. Shipley not only makes the Super Bowl champs' opening roster, he'll earn playing time as a rookie and be a starter by his third season.

OG: Duke Robinson, Carolina (fifth; 163rd): Robinson tumbled from a possible Top 50 selection after being exposed for his lack of lateral agility in the national championship game. The Panthers may get the last laugh, however, as they'll use Robinson at right guard and allow the 6-5, 330-pounder to do what he does best -- clear holes at the point of attack for the running game. Considering the running talents of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and 2008 rookie Mike Goodson, a dominant offensive line could carry Carolina deep into the playoffs.

OT: Xavier Fulton, Tampa Bay (fifth; 155th): A nagging shoulder injury robbed Fulton of the senior year I expected of him after he enjoyed a breakout junior campaign. Still, the athletic Fulton has the capability of manning the left tackle position and flashes the strength necessary to play on the right side. With the starting positions in the capable hands of Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood, Fulton shouldn't be pressed into action early with the Bucs, but he is capable of developing into the valuable sixth man swing tackle and the primary backup for each as a rookie.

Rob Rang is Senior Analyst for

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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