2008 NFL Draft Spotlight: West Virginia

NFL Draft analyst Chris Steuber believes takes a look at the talented athletes who could be draft-eligible following this season and projects where they will be selected in next April's NFL Draft. Learn more about the Mountaineers that NFL scouts have been evaluating.

2008 Draft Spotlight
West Virginia
Boston College
Ohio State

West Virginia has produced some great athletes over the years; players who starred at one position with the Mountaineers, but then went on to play a different position in the National Football League. Two players that come to mind are Jerry Porter and Rasheed Marshall.

Porter played safety at West Virginia, but he had the tools and athleticism to become a force on offense and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders to be a receiver. Marshall was a dynamic quarterback with the Mountaineers who had the elusiveness of a running back and the size to be a receiver. The San Francisco 49ers took notice of Marshall's versatility in the 2005 draft when they selected him in the fifth round.

This year's West Virginia squad has another dynamic quarterback who projects to be a wide receiver at the next level, Patrick White. White, a junior, is one of the most electrifying athletes in college football. He has completed 69 percent of his passes, throwing 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions, and has rushed for 1,144 yards on 163 attempts and 14 touchdowns. His size, speed, and ability as a playmaker makes him an ideal fit at the receiver position.

The Mountaineers have another star underclassman, running back Steve Slaton. Slaton is an elusive runner who's slippery in the open field and can take it to the house on any given play. He's a possible first-round selection if he declares, but his size will detour some teams from selecting him, as he's viewed as a situational back.

There is a lot of talent in this year's potential West Virginia draft class, and some players who are projected in the later rounds may end up being better than the players selected in rounds one through three. Take a look at WVU's draft class:

RB, Steve Slaton (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 1st - 2nd Round
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 190

Slaton is a dynamic running back who can change the pace of a game. He displays excellent vision and is able to run between the tackles. He's explosive around the end and has outstanding cutback ability. He's a patient runner who allows blockers to set up in front of him and is able to hit the seam quickly. Slaton is also a tremendous receiver. He's a threat out of the backfield catching screen passes in the flat or running a post pattern; whenever he touches the ball great things tend to happen. It'll be interesting to see what Slaton decides to do at season's end. He has game-breaking ability, and that will attract many teams. But he isn't an every-down back and that hurts his draft stock.

FB, Owen Schmitt (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 3rd - 4th Round
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 260

Schmitt is an intelligent, hardworking player who displays versatility on offense. He's a strong, physical player who plays with great pad level and squares up nicely against the opposition. He has excellent ball skills and is a threat both running and receiving the ball, as well as clearing the way for a lead back. He has great instincts and is always involved in a play. Schmitt's future at the next level may be at tight end. He has the size, skill, and blocking technique to emerge as a tremendous weapon over the middle. He makes tough receptions and is physically gifted. He'll be an early Day Two selection.

QB, Patrick White (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 3rd - 4th Round
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 185

White is an outstanding athlete who has a bright future. He has tremendous vision and makes a lot of plays with his feet. He's an elusive runner who's patient and allows his blockers to set up in front of him, and hits the hole with great quickness. He's an accurate passer who's efficient throwing the ball, but doesn't take many chances through the air. He has a strong arm and is able to buy time for his receivers with his scrambling ability. White is an underclassman and would benefit by staying in school for his senior season. His future in the NFL is as a wide receiver. He's got great size, quickness, and promising hands to emerge as a receiving threat. I liken White's situation to that of former Washington Huskies standout Isaiah Stanback, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

WR, Darius Reynaud (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 4th Round
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 200

Wide receiver Darius Reynaud
AP Photo/Jeff Gentner

Reynaud is a quick, sure-handed possession receiver who makes big plays. He's a consistent pass catcher who displays soft hands catching the ball away from his body. He gets a quick release off the line, drives defenders back and comes back to the ball. He uses his frame to shield defenders away and adjusts well to errant passes. He runs strong, physical routes and never gives up on a play. He's an excellent downfield blocker who gets his hands dirty. He's a productive return man on special teams and is elusive in the open field. Reynaud is a threat anytime he's on the field; whether he's lined up on offense or returning kicks on special teams, he has the unique ability to contribute on all levels. He's a quality Day Two selection who will make a contribution right away.

SS, Eric Wicks (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 4th Round
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 205

Wicks is a physical defender who makes plays all over the field. He's strong at the point of attack and tracks down the opposition with his lateral quickness. He displays a solid burst of closing speed and takes good angles in defense. He's solid in coverage and possesses great ball skills. He has good range and makes plays sideline-to-sideline. He has to get stronger and work on his tackling technique, but he has great awareness and is improving. Wicks is a skilled defender who is better suited to play free safety at the next level. He has the potential to be very good player at the NFL level and will reward a team with his skill set.

DT, Keilen Dykes (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 5th Round
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 295

Dykes is an athletic, versatile lineman who can play inside or outside. He's quick off the line, plays with leverage, and delivers a vicious initial punch against the opposition. He uses his hands effectively and is able to get underneath his opponent. He's an instinctive player who reads the action well. He has a good motor and is relentless on defense. Dykes is a promising prospect who adds value to a defensive line. He's a tweener who's a situational player at the next level, but he provides depth and versatility. He's a solid mid-round selection.

FS, Ryan Mundy (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 6th Round
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 205

Mundy is a strong defender who plays with excellent awareness. He has a lot of range in the secondary and plays well in coverage. He takes good angles and displays outstanding ball skills. He has good timing and adjusts well to errant throws. He has a solid burst and great instincts. He's an aggressive player who will fill a gap and is strong in run defense. Mundy is a Michigan graduate who transferred to West Virginia as a fifth-year senior after he suffered an injury. He's taken advantage of his fifth-year and has really displayed excellent defensive skills with the Mountaineers. He's a leader in the secondary and will be an immediate contributor on special teams at the next level.

Projected as Undrafted Free Agents:

DE, Johnny Dingle (Sr.)
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 270

OLB, Marc Magro (Sr.)
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 240

CB, Antonio Lewis (Sr.)
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 185

CB, Vaughn Rivers (Sr.)
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 170

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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