2004 NFL Draft: Fast Risers

It seems every April the weeks preceding the NFL Draft are concentrated on the names of prospects making monumental leaps up draft boards; players improving their stock and heading towards the early part of round one. Sometimes the rise is legitimate, as was the case last year with Kevin Williams, now staring for the Minnesota Vikings. On the other hand, several late risers have followed the path of Mike Mamula, workout warriors who were great athletes yet mediocre football players.

DeAngelo Hall-Virginia Tech: The speedy corner turned in some fantastic workouts since the Combine and has moved towards the top of the draft. Once thought to be a mid-first round choice, many now consider Hall a legitimate top ten selection. A shut down corner, Hall clocked a 4.4-forty at the combine then ran a 3.68 short shuttle during his Pro-Day workout with the Hokies, which also included a 39-inch vertical jump; both terrific marks. Hall also incorporates game breaking punt return skills in his repertoire, which is just added value for the team that drafts him. Throw all these elements into a bowl and many think you are looking at the next Deion Sanders. And while that comparison may be far fetched, the realization is Sanders could end up going to Jacksonville with the ninth pick of the draft. Is he worth it? While many believe the motto, "you can't coach speed," something Hall has an abundance of, his game is raw and he does hold a large degree of downside risk.

Tommie Harris- Oklahoma: Mention the name of Tommie Harris and a lengthy debate with many points of view is sure to follow. All Harris did in college was produce, then went on to perform brilliantly in front of scouts during the post-season, most recently running the forty under 4.8-seconds at 295 pounds. Many are impressed by his intensity, maturity and the way he carries himself. Formerly considered a mid-first round pick, some are now penciling Harris into the fifth slot of round one and predicting he will be wearing a Washington Redskin jersey this coming September. Is he worth it? Harris should not be considered an "impact defensive player" as his size and growth limitations will hamper him at the next level. The advantage Harris has is the ability to be effectively used in a variety of defensive systems up front. So, while he warrants an early selection in this draft, do not expect any great production from him as a rookie in 2004.

Roy Williams- Texas: Considered college football's top pro-prospect coming into the season as well as a player with tremendous amounts of athleticism, Williams "wowed" scouts on March 24th during his pro-day workout. Weighing 211-pounds, Williams clocked a pair of forties in the 4.40 range after touching the tape at 39.5 inches in the vertical jump. At times looking like a man amongst boys on the football field, many think Williams has asserted himself as the draft's second best receiver and will be one of the first five players chosen on April 24 after previously getting little mention in the top eight. Is he worth it? Williams's physical skills were never a question so it should come as a surprise to no one that his workout during the Texas pro-day was tremendous. The big concerns surrounding Williams have to do with intensity, consistency and durability. In other words, how badly does Roy Williams want it, will he show up in the big game and can he stay healthy? All three of these questions followed him around in college and were never sufficiently answered which makes him a very risky pick before the ninth selection.

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