2009 NFL Draft: Georgia Boys Moreno & Stafford Set To Make Big Splash
It's not uncommon that college teammates are also elite NFL prospects, especially not in the SEC.
In the 2007 season Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones improved their draft-stock by taking the defensive focus off each other. In the 2006 season JaMarcus Russell tossing TDs to Dwayne Bowe resulted in two first round picks.
The Georgia Bulldogs had a somewhat deflated 2008 season considering their National Championship aspirations. Of all the fingers that were pointed, few were headed in the direction of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno.
Both the Georgia stars had better statistical seasons in 2008 than 2007, and with an increased workload came increased efficiency.
The one-man show in college can develop huge draft potential, but the guys who share the spotlight in school routinely have something left in the tank for their NFL teams.
Stafford plays the quarterback position as if he was born in the pocket. He is a team leader who is comfortable in pressure situations.
Critics have accused him of being inaccurate at times, but even when Stafford faces pressure from defenders he steps into his throws. He will deliver the ball deep down the field or up the sidelines before taking the hit.
Stafford is on the thick side at 6'3" and 237 pounds but he shows good quickness in the pocket and was fast enough to run spread option looks at Georgia.
Along with all of his obvious pluses he also possesses some of the finer quarterback skills that the Brett Favre’s and Peyton Manning’s do. He always keeps his feet moving in the pocket, he has very good ball fakes, play-action motions, and sets up the screen well.
Last summer he spent time with Eli and Peyton Manning at their camp, which may have been one of the biggest reasons he increased his completion percentage from 55.7 to 61.4 percent this past season.
Stafford could go as early as the first pick in the draft to the Detroit Lions. He is not the best player on the board, but he is the top player for the most highly coveted position in football.
The Rams, Chiefs, Seahawks, Bengals, or 49ers could all take him in the top 10. The St. Louis and Seattle could mentor Stafford under veteran quarterbacks.
If for some reason he were to fall out of the top 10, someone will trade up to get him or he could go to the Jets, Bears, Bucs, and at the very lowest he will fall to Detroit at 20, having a Brady Quinn draft experience.
Moreno is a highlight machine who is equally effective running the ball as he is receiving. He is the second player in Georgia Bulldog history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons joining Herschel Walker.
As a redshirt sophomore Moreno averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 11.9 yard per catch. He was notably shut down against Alabama and Florida, but posted seven 100 yard rushing performances in 2008, playing in a 50-50 run-pass offense.
If there is one knock on Moreno, it's that he is diminutive in size at 5'11" and 207 pounds. Moreno may not be a back that will carry the ball up the middle 30 times in a game, but he is an every down player.
More impressive than Moreno's catching ability was his play in the fourth quarter of games. Knowshon Moreno finishes games in a similar fashion as Adrian Peterson, although they run with different styles, they seem to get energized as the game goes on.
Instead of 30 carries expect Moreno to get more in the ballpark of 20 per game with 5-8 catches too. He should have no problem posting similar rookie numbers to Steve Slaton (1,659 total yards) as they are about the same size with similar skill sets.
If the Chiefs are going to part ways with Larry Johnson, Moreno could fit at three, although they have bigger holes to fill. He could also work for Seattle at four, but their needs are elsewhere.
The most probable spot for Moreno to jump off the board is Cleveland at five; he would give the Browns a nice shared backfield with Jamal Lewis. If not there, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Denver, San Diego, and New England could all use his vast talents.
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