With three weeks until the NFL Draft, players continue to jockey for position as Pro Days around the country wind down.
Brandon Meriweather, FS, Miami: Because of their great history in producing elite NFL talent, it is quite rare that a former Hurricane can enter the draft as an underrated prospect, but that is exactly how Meriweather is viewed by many scouts. There is no denying Meriweather's off-field incidents and this factor will keep the talented safety from moving up as far as his athleticism warrants. On the field, Meriweather's combination of hitting ability, range, and quickness allow him to not only stand out as a free safety, but he's capable of playing cornerback, as well. The last safety I scouted at the Senior Bowl who stood out as consistently as Meriweather did a few months ago was another undersized playmaker: former Iowa strong safety Bob Sanders. I envision Meriweather developing into a similar performer at the next level, except as a free safety.
Lorenzo Booker, RB, Florida State: The expectations for Lorenzo Booker were astronomical when he signed with Florida State as one of the elite prep talents in the country in 2002. He entered his senior season having played in 35 games, but having only started five games. His rushing yardage decreased each of the final three years of his career; peaking at 887 yards in 2004 (552 in 2005, 525 in 2006). So why he is listed among the risers? Booker has spectacular agility in the open field and the explosive speed to ultimately be a better pro than collegiate player. The expectations heaped upon Booker led to the speculation that he should be a feature back. At 5-10, 191 pounds, Booker lacks the size to handle this type of punishment. If featured as a third-down specialist, however, Booker's ability to turn simple 5-yard routes into dazzling 75-yard touchdowns has scouts intrigued. Many feel that Booker can have an impact in 2007 similar to the one provided by undersized speedsters Jerious Norwood, or perhaps even Maurice Jones-Drew.
Paul Posluszny, OLB, Penn State: Posluszny remains the top outside linebacker for many clubs, and with the position being one of high value, many theorize that the All-American is naturally viewed as a top 15 pick. In reality, however, Posluszny is slotted in the 20-30 range on the boards of many teams. NFLDraftScout.com lists him as the 22nd overall prospect, as does Scout.com. While he plays with terrific instincts and is among the draft's soundest open-field tacklers, concerns remain about his athleticism in coverage. Scouts are quick to question how they can rationalize using a first-round pick on a linebacker that may have to be substituted for on passing situations.
Rufus Alexander, OLB, Oklahoma: Another big-name linebacker feeling the sting of an overall weak class is Oklahoma's Rufus Alexander. Alexander's draft stock may have peaked back in December when he was voted the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year. Since, Alexander failed to stand out at the Senior Bowl and ran a rather pedestrian 4.79 at the Combine. Scouts question if Alexander isn't simply another in a long line of All-American Sooner linebackers who fail to live up to expectations at the NFL level.
Draft's Risers and Fallers
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