Scouting the Big East: Miami

The Hurricane program is literally a farm system for the NFL. Consider this: a total of 13 Hurricanes have been selected in the first round of the draft since 2001. If all breaks right it is not all that unreasonable to think six more Hurricanes could add their names to that list next April.

The place to start on offense is tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., a tremendous prospect that could easily be a top five pick if the underclassmen enters the draft next year. A phenomenal athlete and terrific natural receiver just like his dad, Winslow makes plays deep into the defensive secondary, just what teams are looking for in a tight end these days. What stands out to us about his game is the naturalness and intelligence he plays with. While he is not built to block, Winslow gives effort and uses solid technique when asked to stay on the line. It all adds up to possible stardom for Winslow at the next level.

Vernon Carey is another with potential early first round written on him. Carey, a mountain of a man that destroys the opposition, moves like a nifty 270-pound tackle rather than the 350-pound behemoth that he is. Carey drives opponents off the line run blocking yet also displays solid footwork and lateral range in pass protection. Since last spring Carey has been hard at work during the off-season conditioning programs and we received a report in March stating he was looking trim and fit at 320-pounds. Due to the depth of talent on the line he'll be kicked inside to guard this season, which will only enhance his draft ranking.

Carlos Joseph, younger brother to William, protects the blind side and is yet another very athletic Hurricane lineman. Joseph has solid footwork and moves very well. He needs more time to develop the finer points of the position and must learn blocking angles. Even with that he is a top prospect.

One senior who would benefit from a breakout season is receiver/running back Jason Geathers. Displaying flashes at both positions, Geathers will solely be used as a pass catcher this season, the area we think he's best at. Geathers has the speed, hands and skill to move into the first day next April.

Kevin Beard is a nice sized wide out coming off of major knee surgery as is Frank Gore, a talented running back that showed great promise early in college. Chris Myers is a tough, slug-it-out lineman with a bright future.

Defensively, the unit reads like an All America team.

While he did not have the knockout campaign many expected last season, Vince Wilfork can still be a dominating force on the inside and will be an early pick when he enters the draft. Wilfork explodes off the snap, beating opponents with quickness or sheer power. He gives top hustle and considering the circumstances of what he had to overcome last season, Wilfork seems like a very mature young man.

The talent at linebacker is good.

Everyone loves DJ Williams, the athletic outside ‘backer that blows up the opposition's plays. Williams is deceptively strong and defeats the blocks of even bigger lineman on his way to the ball carrier. He has sideline-to-sideline range and gets depth on pass drops. For all his physical skill Williams is not all that quick upstairs and his game has a lot of hesitation to it, the main reason why we don't rate him as a top ten player.

Teammate Jonathan Vilma has the intellect for linebacker and quickly diagnoses the action. Vilma flies around the field, sacrificing his body to make the tackle. He's good against the run and solid versus the pass. What he lacks is the top size and strength. Vilma's natural position is on the weak-side and some team may decide to use him in a Derrick Brooks role. He is also first round talent.

Last year they were an inexperienced group of defensive backs, this year they are one of the best secondary's in the nation. Sean Taylor is a knockout safety that leaves opposing ball handlers stunned with devastating hits. Taylor plays sideline-to-sideline and displays discipline as well as playmaking skills in pass coverage. Factor in game impacting abilities as a special teams player and you're looking at yet another Hurricane first rounder.

We foolishly left Kelly Jennings out of our initial cornerback rankings, something that will not happen again after breaking down the film. Jennings is a natural cover-corner with the ability to shut down opponents. He was ever improving last season and is a prospect with a great upside.

Fellow corner Antrel Rolle has excellent size and playmaking skills, though we think there is a need for greater consistency to his game. Still, Rolle has a nice upside and will be closely watched this season.

Maurice Sikes is a tough, run defending safety with adequate pass cover skills in the box and a late round consideration.

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