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Originally Published: March 12, 2010

DT leads strongest positions

By Todd McShay

Scouts Inc.

Most NFL personnel people agree that the overall 2010 draft class is one of the deepest in recent years. The offensive skill positions are not particularly strong but this is a great year for teams to have multiple picks in any or all of the first three rounds. Here's Scouts Inc.'s breakdown of the best and worst position groups, as well as those with big talent disparities, and we also take a look at our updated ranking of the top 32 overall prospects on the board.

Strongest positions

1. Defensive tackle -- It is usually hard to find elite talent at defensive tackle because there are always a lot of big guys with athleticism and skill. However, after the past three years had an average of four defensive tackles come off the board in the first two rounds we could have as many as nine this year. That includes five potential first-rounders in Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Dan Williams, Brian Price and Jared Odrick.

And with so many defensive fronts being played in the NFL these days, the 2010 class offers something for everyone. McCoy, Price, Tyson Alualu and Lamarr Houston fit nicely with quick, penetrating fronts while Suh, Williams, Odrick, Terrence Cody and Cam Thomas are good fits for defenses that emphasize gap control.

2. Defensive end/outside linebacker -- This group is led by a strong group of traditional 4-3 defensive ends that includes first-rounders Derrick Morgan, Jason Pierre-Paul, Everson Griffen and Carlos Dunlap, guys who can hold up against the run and also rush the passer on third down. However, there are even more conversion players who were ends in college but will become coveted outside/rush linebackers in 3-4 schemes in the NFL. Brandon Graham and Sergio Kindle are both top-25 prospects, and players like Jerry Hughes, Koa Misi, Thaddeus Gibson, Eric Norwood, Jason Worilds and Jermaine Cunningham could all be off the board before the third round is over.

3. Cornerback -- Because Joe Haden is the only elite prospect in the group -- and because his stock is in danger of slipping out of the top 10 after subpar combine workouts -- everyone assumes this is not a particularly good corner class. Everyone is wrong.

Kyle Wilson, Kareem Jackson (one of our most underrated overall prospects) and Devin McCourty are all worthy of late-first-round picks, and depending on what teams are looking for there is plenty to be had beyond that. Patrick Robinson and Perrish Cox are talented man-to-man cover corners but inconsistency and character concerns, respectively, are keeping them out of the first round. Dominique Franks and Brandon Ghee also fit the cover corner mold but both need work on technique and consistency.

There is also a solid group of players who could be Cover 2 corners or even move to free safety. Players like Amari Spievey, Chris Cook, Donovan Warren, Jerome Murphy, Javier Arenas and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah could all play versatile roles and contribute on special teams while finding their niche, making them good values in the second- and third-round areas.

Disproportionate positions

The following positions are unbalanced in one way or the other in terms of talent: they are either very top-heavy or lacking star talent but very deep.

1. Offensive tackle -- A top-heavy position that could see a run on in the top 40 picks. Russell Okung is the most complete of the group, but the rest of the top tier has to answer at least one question. Bryan Bulaga (better at right tackle?), Trent Williams (athletic enough to play on the left side?), Anthony Davis (work ethic?) and Bruce Campbell (workout warrior/durability?) all bring concerns to the table but will still be first-round picks.

There is a slight drop-off to second-round prospects Rodger Saffold and Charles Brown, but from there it could be an entire round or more before a tackle like Selvish Capers comes off the board.

2. Safety -- Another example of a top-heavy position. There has been just one safety taken in the first round over the past two drafts, but Eric Berry, Earl Thomas and Taylor Mays should all be off the board in the top 25 picks this year. Berry and Thomas are excellent athletes and both could possibly play some cornerback in the NFL. Berry is the complete package, which is why he projects as a top-10 pick. Thomas is a bit smaller and not as physical versus the run but certainly willing to support. Mays is a freakishly-gifted athlete who ran the fastest 40 of all defensive backs at the combine. He was also among the biggest at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. Inconsistency in coverage is the only thing causing him to slip to the bottom half of the first round.

However, Nate Allen is the only other safety worthy of even a second-round grade. Beyond Allen, teams who take players like Chad Jones, T.J. Ward and Major Wright any earlier than the third round will be reaching because of the lack of depth after the big names.

3. Wide receiver/tight end -- Rather than being top-heavy, this year's crop of pass-catchers lacks elite talent but boasts depth into the fourth round. WR Dez Bryant is the only pass-catcher worthy of a top-20 grade, but others who crack the top 50 include TEs Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski and WRs Arrelious Benn, Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate, and TE Dennis Pitta is coming on strong and getting to the fringe of the top 50.

And teams that address more pressing needs in the first two or three rounds will also be able to plug holes and find contributors if they do their homework on the receivers. WR Taylor Price is a vertical threat and a third-round value pick, while fellow wideouts David Reed (size, separation) and Emmanuel Sanders (explosive slot receiver) also fit in the same area. The fourth round also offers up some sleepers in Andre Roberts (tough, polished) and Seyi Ajirotutu.

As for tight ends, Anthony McCoy has slipped because of character and work ethic concerns but would be an absolute steal in the third round. Aaron Hernandez is also dealing with off-field baggage but would be a solid H-back value in the third, and Dorin Dickerson is a third-round H-back/receiver hybrid who could play a versatile role in the NFL. Finally, Ed Dickson is a limited blocker who may need time to absorb an offense but could contribute as a sub-package, pass-catching H-back, while Andrew Quarless is one of the three most athletically gifted tight ends in the class but grades out in the fourth or fifth round because of character concerns.

Weakest positions

1. Quarterback -- Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen are the only two quarterbacks who project as first-rounders at this point, and the second tier of talent isn't overly impressive. Because the need is so great but the depth so poor Colt McCoy (second round), Tony Pike (late second), Tim Tebow (third) and Dan LeFevour (third) could all be over-drafted by a full round given their current grades. Don't be surprised if all four of the second-tier prospects are off the board by the end of Day 2.

The Rams (No. 1 overall), Redskins (No. 4), Seahawks (Nos. 6 and 14), Browns (No. 7) and Bills (No. 9) all have pressing needs at quarterback and teams like the Raiders, Vikings, Jaguars and 49ers could also be in the market after the first round. Add in the Chiefs (does new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis covet Clausen?) and Eagles (what happens if Donovan McNabb is moved?) and we have plenty of teams looking for help from a very thin crop of quarterbacks.

2. Interior offensive linemen -- We typically see one or two centers/guards off the board in the first round and then two more in the second round, but in this class only C Maurkice Pouncey is worthy of a first-round grade. Pouncey could play either guard or center, and the team that drafts college guard Mike Iupati in the first round will do so with the idea of moving him to right tackle. We list college tackle Vladimir Ducasse as a guard because of concerns about athleticism, but he is a developmental second-round prospect and could also end up at tackle.

Beyond that, there is not a guard on the board we feel good about before the third round. Jon Asamoah, Zane Beadles and John Jerry are third-rounders, and the pickings are even slimmer at center. After Pouncey we might wait until as late as the fifth round to begin a run on players like J.D. Walton and Ted Larsen. Overall, this is as thin a center class as we've seen in the past five years.

3. Running back -- A position that has already been somewhat devalued because so many pro offenses rotate players, this year's running back class offers little in the way of elite talent. C.J. Spiller is a mid-first-rounder and the only top-shelf player in the group, and Ryan Mathews got himself into the late first round with a strong combine, but after that every back faces big questions.

Jahvid Best is one of the most explosive players on the board but falls to the second round because of significant durability issues. Dexter McCluster is tough, shifty and versatile, but he is only 5-8 and 165 pounds and ran just 4.55 at the combine. Montario Hardesty looks like a pro-style, between-the-tackles runner who would fit in a zone blocking scheme, but he has had a litany of knee issues during his career. Joe McKnight is versatile but slender and lacks a second gear, and he also has issues with ball security. Finally, Jonathan Dwyer continues to free fall because of concerns about his work ethic and ability to transition from a triple-option offense to the pros.

In the end, there are enough concerns about the second tier of running backs to make teams hesitate when considering them in the second or third round.

I think this draft is deep at safety especially compared to last year. Chad Jones, Morgan Burnett, and Kam Chancellor have a lot of potential.

Edited by Polar Bear Jones
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McShay is made for TV only.

In my eyes the RB and interior O-Line positions are loaded. In his eyes they are the weakest positions in the draft. Time will tell.

Neither position is considered a "high value" position for 1st round picks but we will see several future pro-bowl RBs and interior OL taken in rounds 2-5 of this draft.

Edited by coachx
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I don't take anything that Todd McShay says seriously. He just goes with the flow and doesn't do any scouting whatsoever. He says Jimmy Clausen is a 2nd round pick and doesn't deserve to go in the 1st. In his latest draft he has him going 9th to the Bills. If he is a 2nd rounder why do you have him going 9th? The best part was for the Browns pick at 7, he says Jimmy Clausen isn't worth taking this high... but he is at 9?? lolllllll

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I don't take anything that Todd McShay says seriously. He just goes with the flow and doesn't do any scouting whatsoever. He says Jimmy Clausen is a 2nd round pick and doesn't deserve to go in the 1st. In his latest draft he has him going 9th to the Bills. If he is a 2nd rounder why do you have him going 9th? The best part was for the Browns pick at 7, he says Jimmy Clausen isn't worth taking this high... but he is at 9?? lolllllll

I didn't see that. I thought he said him and Bradford are going 1st rd.

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Clausen in his mocks wasn't going in the 1st round. This mock was the first time he had Clausen in the 1st.

A second round draft grade and a top 10 first round mock draft prediction are not mutually exclusive. As they say, it only takes one team. Tebow and Bruce Campbell are other obvious examples where their prospect grades are probably a lot lower than where most people actually expect them to be taken. In fact, the post above says exactly this - that where a position has shallow depth, teams will reach.

Kiper grilled McShay on this on sportscenter this past week, and McShay clarified that he thinks Clausen has maturity issues and is a second round talent, but that he thinks a team like the Bills, who are desperate for a franchise quarterback, will take him anyway.

I agree with him on this, and also that this RB class is weak.

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A second round draft grade and a top 10 first round mock draft prediction are not mutually exclusive. As they say, it only takes one team. Tebow and Bruce Campbell are other obvious examples where their prospect grades are probably a lot lower than where most people actually expect them to be taken. In fact, the post above says exactly this - that where a position has shallow depth, teams will reach.

Kiper grilled McShay on this on sportscenter this past week, and McShay clarified that he thinks Clausen has maturity issues and is a second round talent, but that he thinks a team like the Bills, who are desperate for a franchise quarterback, will take him anyway.

I agree with him on this, and also that this RB class is weak.

So the Bills didn't need a franchise QB before? And lol @ maturity issues. Kiper killed him on that too. Kiper asked Golden Tate about Clausen and Tate said he was a great leader and great in the locker room and McShay's response was "I don't care what Golden Tate says"

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Mock drafts are NOT indicative of what the mocker thinks they are what they feel the teams will do

I understand that. It's still really weird that you have a guy going in the 2nd round the whole time and just recently he jumps up to #9 overall. It's not like he blew up the combine or his pro-day because he hasn't participated in either of them.

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