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Overrated/Underrated (cont.)

Posted: Thursday April 19, 2007 12:07PM; Updated: Thursday April 19, 2007 1:59PM
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Offensive Line

Levi Brown is considered by many to be the second-best offensive tackle in this draft.
Levi Brown is considered by many to be the second-best offensive tackle in this draft.
AP
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Overrated: Levi Brown, Penn State (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

To be fair, I had a hard time finding any offensive lineman this year that seemed grossly overrated, so with Brown it's mostly a case of nit-picking. It took a while for Brown to develop into an upper-echelon lineman, but by his junior and senior seasons he was fairly dominant. I'm just a little surprised to see him ranked so close to Outland winner Joe Thomas. The Wisconsin product is an otherworldly prospect who's shut down some of the nation's top pass-rushers and played a key role in the Badgers' powerful rushing attack; Brown was a solid performer for the Nittany Lions but his talents were hardly off the charts.

Underrated: Dan Mozes, West Virginia (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

The NFL is so rigid when it comes to the sizes it looks for at certain positions, that this 6-2 1/2, 293-pound center is barely considered draftable despite being one of the nation's most respected linemen the past two years. West Virginia ran for more than 300 yards per game last year, and Mozes was right at the center of attack. How many times did we see Steve Slaton or Pat White bursting through huge, gaping holes right in the center of the field? Particularly in a zone-blocking scheme like the Mountaineers', everything starts with the center, and Mozes was one of the nation's best. It's hard to believe he's not worthy of a selection somewhere over the course of seven rounds.

Defensive Line

Overrated: LaMarr Woodley, Michigan (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

We college writers were partially responsible for overhyping the Wolverines' rush end (though it should be noted that SI.com was one of the only organizations to leave him off its All-America first team). He was the guy putting up the big numbers (12 sacks) during Michigan's 11-game winning streak to start last season and therefore got much of the accolades.

In truth, it was interior lineman Alan Branch who played the biggest role in Michigan's dominant front four, paving the way for the nation's leading rush defense, and Woodley was eventually exposed in the season-ending Ohio State and USC games, in which he was barely a factor. Scouts seem to realize this as Woodley, once a projected first-round, is slipping deeper into the second round.

Underrated: Charles Johnson, Georgia (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

Headed into last season, Johnson's counterpart, Quentin Moses, was the Bulldogs' most acclaimed pass-rusher. It was Johnson, however, who ultimately racked up team highs with 9.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in helping continue Georgia's recent defensive dominance.

Because Johnson was a backup prior to last season and then came out a year early, GMs may feel like he doesn't have a proven enough track record. But from what we saw of him last season, he has all the makings of an elite pass-rusher who should have a productive NFL career.

Linebacker

Overrated: Stewart Bradley, Nebraska (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

In what is generally considered a weak linebacker class, Bradley is generally considered one of the top-five outside linebacker prospects. This should come as a surprise to anyone who watched a Nebraska game last year if, like me, you barely remember noticing him. After missing most of 2005 with a knee injury, Bradley returned last season to make a modest 76 tackles and six tackles for loss while earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors. While these are admirable achievements, it's hard to believe there aren't a whole bunch of other, more accomplished prospects at his position.

Underrated: Buster Davis, Florida State (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

The universally low regard for Davis, a projected sixth-rounder, is one of the more shocking slights I've seen. If you watched a Florida State game last year, you couldn't possibly have missed Davis. He was the guy finding his way into nearly every play, routinely stuffing people in the backfield and generally wreaking havoc from whistle to whistle. He was every bit as productive, if not more so, as predecessors Ernie Sims and A.J. Nicholson, yet is not held in nearly the same regard as either them or current counterpart Lawrence Timmons. Presumably his height (just under 5-10) has a lot to do with that, but it didn't seem to hinder him in the past.

Defensive back

Overrated: Chris Houston, Arkansas (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

He's this year's definitive workout wonder. Houston was a good, not great cornerback for the Razorbacks last season, excelling in some games (USC, Tennessee), struggling in others (South Carolina, Florida). But he ran a 4.32 at the combine, bench-pressed some ridiculous amount and now suddenly he's the second coming of Lito Sheppard -- or at least a solid first-rounder. Not buying it. Houston certainly talks a big game, but he still casts no shortage of doubt. Perhaps some teams are that desperate for a cornerback (because top prospects Leon Hall and Aaron Ross aren't exactly sure-locks, either).

Underrated: Eric Weddle, Utah (SI VideoFILM ROOM)

I can't believe this guy isn't more coveted. Besides the fact he can play safety and cornerback (and quarterback, running back and kick returner), he's a proven, big-time playmaker who's earned consecutive Mountain West defensive player of the year awards and scored eight touchdowns last season. I would think scouts would pay particular attention to tape of the 2005 Emerald Bowl, in which Weddle helped hold Georgia Tech extraordinaire Calvin Johnson to two catches for 19 yards. He's not a freakish athlete like Reggie Nelson or LaRon Landry -- but he's pretty darn special. I'd take him high in the second round.

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