Never too early: Here's a dozen first-round prospects for '09 draft
When Idaho linebacker David Vobora was announced as the final pick on Sunday, earning the title of Mr. Irrelevant, the book was closed on the 2008 NFL Draft. Yet in just 12 short months the league will once again assemble for the annual college selection process. Here are a dozen names likely to be chosen in the first round next April.
Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi: Oher gave serious thought to entering this year's draft. He is a sensational athlete and pass-protecting tackle who'll draw comparisons to Jonathan Ogden. Oher should be a top-three pick.
Fili Moala, DT, USC: His size, athleticism and power remind many of former USC Trojan Darrell Russell. Moala is a dominant front-line defender.
Chris "Beanie" Wells*, RB, Ohio State: He is the most complete and dominant ball carrier in the nation. Pencil him in as the next great running back to come out of the Ohio State program.
Michael Crabtree*, WR, Texas Tech: He is a game control wide receiver with tremendous pass-catching skills. His ability to come away with the tough reception in a crowd is the stuff of legends. Crabtree will break the mold of Texas Tech wideouts being labeled as system players.
Rey Maualuga, MLB, USC: Probably the best way to describe Maualuga is to call him Junior Seau II. He's an intimidating run stuffer who also makes plays sideline to sideline. Had he entered this year's draft he likely would've been a top-12 choice.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State: He's the most complete and dominant NFL prospect at his position in more than a decade. Pettigrew graded higher than any tight end in this year's draft.
Alex Boone, OT, Ohio State: He's a tremendous line prospect who can be used at either tackle spot. He has a great combination of size, athleticism and fundamentals.
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State: The Buckeyes' leading tackler was close to entering the '08 draft. He's a terrific run-stuffing defender with possibilities at a number of linebacker spots.
George Selvie, DE-OLB, South Florida: Selvie is a disruptive pass rusher who pitches camp in the opponents backfield. He's a fast, fluid athlete who can line up in a three-point stance or stand over tackle.
Darius Heyward-Bey*, WR, Maryland: This home run-hitting receiver has the ability to break games open whenever he handles the ball. He also offers great size to complement his game-breaking speed.
Percy Harvin*, WR, Florida: The Gators most dynamic player, Harvin runs a close second to Heyward-Bey on the list of game breakers. His slight build will concern some teams, but his ability to score from anywhere on the field has scouts excited.
Matt Stafford*, QB, Georgia: He's a strong-armed passer with the requisite physical skills to be an NFL starter. The junior could make a big move towards the front of this list with a solid campaign next season.
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