Scouting the Big Ten: Illinois

My, how quickly things can change. The Fighting Illini go from the Big Ten title and a BCS Bowl bid in 2001 to a five-win season the following campaign. It may not get much better this year for Illinois either on the football field or on draft day.

Offensively tackle Sean Bubin is a powerful blocker that man's the blind side but may be better suited to play on the right side. Bubin works his fundamentals and gives top effort but is not a nimble lineman with top footwork or lateral agility.

Carey Davis is a hard working fullback with decent speed but undersized for the position and a lead blocker who cannot finish the play.

Quarterback Jon Beutjer is a tall, slender passer with a good head for the position but a prospect that must quickly improve his game rapidly to be considered for the late rounds. The player to watch on defense is cornerback Christian Morton. Performing brilliantly in 2001, many considered him as good a pro-prospect as teammate Eugene Wilson after his sophomore campaign. That quickly ended as Morton had a horrible season last year, though many confide he was not very healthy. The jury is still out on Morton, who could potentially regain an additional year of eligibility in 2004 if his grades are in order. A big year puts him back into the first day but another season like 2002 and he is lucky to be drafted.

A pair of linemen to chart would be Derrick Strong, an explosive yet undersized pass rusher who projects to linebacker and Jeff Ruffin, an athletic tackle with both size and playing potential.

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