So what is a Crystal Baller? According to Chris Steuber, a Crystal Baller is defined as an under-the-radar player, who will likely be a mid-to-late round draft pick and make an impact on an NFL team in about three years.With most of the draft focus surrounding the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Sam Bradford and Eric Berry, Steuber reveals his All Crystal Baller Defensive Team. The 12 names featured on this list are prospects you will want to keep an eye on.
Offensive Team | Defensive Team
|Danny Batten, South Dakota State|
A four-year starter at South Dakota State, Batten emerged as one of the best pass rushers at the Division I-AA level this past season and finished third in the Buck Buchanan Award voting, which is given to the top defender in the FCS. Batten’s breakout ’09 campaign resulted in 85 tackles, 17 for loss, and nine sacks.
The 6-foot-3, 246-pound Batten was invited to the Texas vs. The Nation Game and impressed scouts with his work ethic and the high motor he displayed during practices. Unfortunately, Batten’s standout senior season wasn’t enough for him to earn an invitation to the Scouting Combine and he had to rely on his workout at South Dakota State’s Pro Day on March 25th.
At the Pro Day, Batten had an incredible performance and amazed scouts with his overall athleticism and strength. He ran a 4.71 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 30 times and generated a 32.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot-2-inch broad jump.
Batten is the 17th rated defensive end listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 5th - 6th Round
|Earl Mitchell, Arizona|
A former tight end/H-back for Arizona, Mitchell was converted into a defensive tackle leading up to his junior season in 2008. Mitchell quickly grasped the position and used his athleticism and quickness to his advantage to lead the Wildcats in tackles with 40. But this past season, it all came together for Mitchell, and he emerged as a legitimate NFL prospect, as he recorded 48 tackles, 12.5 for a loss and 5.5 sacks.
At 6-foot-2, 296 pounds, Mitchell began his draft path this offseason at the East-West Shrine Game where he had a solid week and caught the eye of a number of scouts. The intrigue surrounding Mitchell landed him an invitation to the Scouting Combine, and he made the most of the opportunity as he ran a 4.75 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 25 times and posted a 28.5-inch vertical and an 8-foot-11-inch broad jump. Not happy with his Combine performance in the vertical and broad jumps, Mitchell decided to participate in those events at Arizona’s Pro Day, and he improved his numbers. He recorded a 33-inch vertical and a 9-foot-6-inch broad jump.
Mitchell is the 18th rated defensive tackle listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 5th Round
|Jay Ross, East Carolina|
A three-year starter at East Carolina, Ross had a productive career with the Pirates and formed one of the most underrated defensive lines in all of college football with C.J. Wilson and Linval Joseph by his side. As a starter, Ross amassed 133 tackles, 18.5 for a loss, and eight sacks.
At 6-foot-3, 313 pounds, Ross has the size and strength to play in a 3-4 or a 4-3, and displayed his skills at the Scouting Combine in front of scouts. He ran a 5.13 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 30 times and posted a 32-inch vertical and a 8-foot-4-inch broad jump. Ross wasn’t satisfied with his performance at the Combine and wanted to get his numbers down during East Carolina’s Pro Day on April 2nd. At the Pro Day, Ross ran through positional drills and did well and also improved his 40 to a 5.03.
Ross is the 27th rated defensive tackle listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 6th – 7th Round
|George Johnson, Rutgers|
A three-year starter at Rutgers, Johnson, who dealt with nagging injuries and back problems during his career, displayed great toughness and played in every game since he entered the starting lineup. The first two years as a starter were up and down, but this past year, Johnson enjoyed a breakthrough season and recorded 44 tackles, 13.5 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks.
At 6-foot-4, 268 pounds, Johnson has the size and speed to be a pass rushing threat off the edge. There are teams that view him as an OLB prospect in a 3-4, while others think he can line up at defensive end in a 4-3. For his efforts this past season, Johnson was invited to the Texas vs. The Nation Game and was one of the most impressive defensive players in El Paso. According to reports, Johnson and highly touted offensive tackle prospect Jared Veldheer had some intense battles during practice.
Unfortunately, Johnson didn’t receive an invitation to the Scouting Combine and had to rely on his performance at Rutgers’ Pro Day. At the Pro Day, Johnson had a solid workout; he ran a 4.79 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 29 times and posted a 31-inch vertical and a 9-foot-5-inch broad jump.
Johnson is the 36th rated defensive end listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 7th Round - UDFA
|Keenan Clayton, Oklahoma|
A two-year starter at Oklahoma, Clayton is undersized, but plays much bigger than his listed dimensions suggest. He plays with great versatility and could have an immediate impact on special teams at the next level. He’s been a productive performer, and this past year for the Sooners; Clayton had 75 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions.
At just 6-foot-1, 229 pounds, Clayton is considered a tweener and will have to add more bulk to his frame. He received an invitation to the Scouting Combine and turned some heads as he ran a 4.59 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 27 times and exploded for a 41.5-inch vertical. A couple of weeks after the Combine, Clayton decided to run the 40-yard dash again at Oklahoma’s Pro Day and improved his time to a 4.57.
Clayton is the 20th rated outside linebacker listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 6th – 7th Round
|Matt Mayberry, Indiana|
A two-year starter at middle linebacker for Indiana, Mayberry led the Hoosiers in tackles the last two years, and this past season, he had a breakout year where he recorded 108 tackles, 11 for a loss, 5.5 sacks and three interceptions.
An underrated and fairly unknown prospect, the 6-foot-2, 236-pound Mayberry was a Scouting Combine snub last month, but made his presence felt at Indiana’s Pro Day. He put on a show during Indiana’s March 9th Pro Day and stunned representatives from 23 NFL teams with his 4.57 in the 40, 24 reps on the bench press and agility during drills.
Mayberry is the 8th rated middle linebacker listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 5th – 6th Round
|Chris McCoy, Middle Tennessee State|
A two-year starter for the Blue Raiders, the 6-foot-3, 251-pound McCoy was named the Sun Belt Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year this past season, after he recorded 64 tackles, 20 for a loss and seven sacks. McCoy participated in the East-West Shrine Game this offseason and produced three tackles during the game. But as good as McCoy was as a senior, he didn’t receive an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine; his moment would come on March 18th at the Middle Tennessee State Pro Day.
At the MSTU Pro Day, McCoy performed extremely well; he ran a 4.70 in the 40, benched 225 times 23 times, and posted a 33-inch vertical and a 10-foot-3-inch broad jump. After McCoy’s Pro Day performance, the interest level from NFL teams increased, and the amount of official visits scheduled has elevated his status from an undrafted free agent to a mid-round prospect.
McCoy is the 18th rated outside linebacker listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 5th Round
|Nolan Carroll, Maryland|
One of the most interesting late round athletes available in this year’s draft, Carroll started his career at Maryland as a wide receiver, but was moved to cornerback prior to the 2007 season. He never started a full year at Maryland and missed the entire 2009 season with a broken leg, but his size and explosiveness are intriguing to NFL teams.
At 5-foot-11, 204 pounds, Carroll was invited to the Scouting Combine, but was unable to workout as he was still recovering from his leg injury. But he was healthy enough to participate in Maryland’s Pro Day on March 10th, and he wowed the assembled in attendance. Carroll ran a 4.42 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 17 times and showed his explosion with a 37.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot-3-inch broad jump. It’s tough to gauge Carroll as a cornerback prospect, but he has the attributes and intangibles that teams look for, and judging him from a purely athletic standpoint, there are very few that compare.
Carroll is the 31st rated cornerback listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 5th – 6th Round
|Crezdon Butler, Clemson|
A three-year starter at Clemson, Butler had a solid career for the Tigers, but it was his poor senior season that dropped him off the draft landscape this year. A durable corner with upside as a playmaker, Butler registered 11 career interceptions, but just one of them came in 2009. Butler’s breakout season came during the 2008 season when he recorded 43 tackles and four interceptions.
At 6-foot, 191 pounds, Butler has the size scouts covet, but the biggest question about his game was his speed and strength. Those questions were answered at the Scouting Combine where he surprised NFL personnel with his workout; he ran a 4.43 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 17 times and posted a 39.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot-1-inch broad jump. The numbers that Butler amassed at the Combine forced scouts to review his tape again to see if what they saw on film initially was a product of the system or his lack of ability.
Butler is the 33rd rated cornerback listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 6th Round
|Quentin Scott, Northern Iowa|
When you talk about athletic freaks at the safety position, the first name that’s mentioned is USC’s Taylor Mays, but a prospect that most people are not aware of is Northern Iowa’s Quentin Scott. Playing at the Division I-AA level, Scott was a standout, and this past year, he recorded 49 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, and five interceptions.
At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, Scott participated in the Texas vs. The Nation Game, but wasn’t invited to the Scouting Combine. However, in front of eight NFL teams at Northern Iowa’s Pro Day, he elevated his draft status when he ran a 4.40 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 13 times and displayed his explosiveness with a 35-inch vertical and a 10-foot-1-inch broad jump. He’s definitely a prospect to keep an eye on in the future.
Scott is the 16th rated safety listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 6th Round
|Jeromy Miles, Massachusetts|
A former Naval Academy recruit, who started 11 of 13 games as a freshman with the Midshipmen, Miles transferred to Massachusetts after his freshman year. At UMass, Miles was a three-year starter, starting in 36 consecutive games, and was a defensive leader. He had his best season during his junior campaign when he recorded 104 tackles, five for a loss, and three interceptions. Miles’ numbers were down this past year, but the opposition didn’t challenge him as much, which is a reason why he only had 64 tackles and two interceptions.
At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Miles has great size and upside, but he wasn’t invited to any of the offseason functions and had to wait until Boston College’s Pro Day to display his talents to NFL scouts. Miles had a strong showing and ran a 4.45 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 13 times and generated a 35-inch vertical and a 10-foot-10-inch broad jump.
Miles is the 22nd rated safety listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 6th Round
|Robert Malone, Fresno State|
A big, strong punter with a promising leg, Malone struggled early in his career with injuries and inconsistency with his leg strength and accuracy. But as he got healthy, he also got stronger, and it improved his overall approach. Over the last two seasons, Malone has increased his leg strength, and this past season he averaged 45.2 yards per punt.
At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Malone has the ideal size that teams look for in a punter and has the capacity to get even stronger. He was invited to the Scouting Combine and participated in the bench press where he completed 19 reps. At Fresno State’s Pro Day, Malone benched again, and this time improved to 22 reps. He’s displayed a strong leg during workouts and will be an interesting late round prospect for a team in need of a punter.
Malone is the 4th rated punter listed on Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Draft Projection: 7th Round
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. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.