2009 NFL Draft: Comparing the Prospects to the Pros
You can rank players and do mock drafts till you’re blue in the face, and you still won’t know what will happen on April 25.
As we wonder how the draft will pan out, what’s more important is what will happen after the draft, on the field.
Here are some pros who accurately compare to this year’s group of elite prospects.
Pat White and Kordell Stewart
With the acceptance of triple-threat quarterbacks in the NFL due to the explosion of the wildcat offense, there are many teams anxious to get a crack at White, even if he hasn't caught any passes in the pre-draft process.
In his playing days Stewart had about 20 pounds on White, but both are just under 6'1". Much like Slash was, many expect White to be a second round pick because of his will to win and ability to move the chains.
B.J. Raji and Vince Wilfork
This is the most accurate comparison of all the prospects in the draft.
Both Raji and Wilfork are stout run-stuffers that have the explosive ability to disrupt plays in the backfield. Wilfork was the 21st player selected in 2004 and the second defensive tackle off the board in one of the best classes in the past few decades.
As the top tackle prospect, Raji should go somewhere around the ninth pick and his best pro fit is as a nose tackle in the 3-4 scheme.
Ramses Barden and Vincent Jackson
Coming out of Northern Colorado in 2005, Jackson was a slightly more accomplished football player and more dominant athlete, which is why he was a late second round pick.
Even if Barden is drafted in the third or fourth round, don't be surprised if the two have a very similar career path.
There is a learning curve coming from a D1-AA school, Jackson had three catches his first season and 27 his second year. This season he blossomed with 59 catches for 1098 yards (18.6 YPC).
Barden is a big, physical target who will be an excellent downfield receiver for a strong-armed quarterback.
Knowshon Moreno and Tiki Barber
Moreno's 4.60+ forty time has been disappointing at the combine and his pro day, but check-out his SEC highlight reel to be reassured of his ability.
For years up until his retirement Barber was recognized as the elite receiving back in the NFL, and Moreno has the potential to catch 60+ balls per year.
Moreno shouldn't have the fumble troubles Barber had, and despite being 5'10", both can run between the tackles without a problem.
Brian Cushing and Brian Bosworth
The first instinct was to compare Steve Lattimer from The Program with Cushing, but Bosworth isn't much different.
Bosworth gets a lot of crap for being a bust, when in reality he was a very good football player who got injured. As a rookie, Boz totaled four sacks in 12 games, and if Cush were able to get 5.5 sacks in 16 games it would be a successful debut.
Both players have size, ability, and attitude for days. Of course there are the steroid allegations as well, which brings us full circle with Lattimer.
Brian Orakpo and Terrell Suggs
Up to this point, Orakpo has been a workout warrior while many looked down on Suggs' 4.8 forty time during the draft process. Had Suggs ran a faster forty he would have been a top five pick, where Orakpo is expected to go.
The two have a very similar height and weight combo at 6'3" and 260 pounds. Orakpo was a down defensive end at Texas who is expected to transition to a 3-4 hybrid pass rusher the same way Suggs did.
Much like Suggs, Orakpo will focus on rusher the passer as a rookie until he develops his all-around linebacker skills.
Andre Smith and Nate Newton
Questionable character, sloppy build, and one heck of a run-blocker. Over 20 years have passed since Newton entered the NFL and now Smith is reminding scouts of the man many loved to hate.
Although Smith will get his shot at tackle, like Newton did, his best NFL position would be at left guard.
Smith's character issues have surrounded the decisions he's made regarding his career, while Newton had serious off-field issues (388 pounds of marijuana seized in a five week span).
This year Newton spoke with players at the NFL Combine about making the right choices during their career and lives, did I mention that Smith skipped out on a majority of the combine? This saga will continue.
James Laurinaitis and Zach Thomas
How do you measure instincts? Not only the ability to read the play but to quickly react?
You can't see them on paper, which is why the 5'11" Thomas slipped to the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft. Laurinaitis is bigger than Thomas, and has had a more publicized college career, so don't expect him to be a second day pick, although many are discrediting the All-American’s pro potential.
The critics want a faster forty and more reps in the bench, also known as measurables. Whoever ends up with Laurinaitis will get a Pro Bowl linebacker who has his nose in every play.
LeSean McCoy and Steve Slaton
Why did Steve Slaton, Mr. Uh-Oh, slip into the third round of last year’s draft? A lack of size and questions about his ability to be an every-down back are what lead to his fall.
McCoy has been sick through the pivotal testing portions of the draft, where he was supposed to blow scouts away with his speed and acceleration. His inability to show has left most teams afraid to spend a first round pick on McCoy and it's anticipated he'll go in the second, or maybe even the third round.
Both McCoy and Slaton are dangerous receivers and, although they lack size, they aren't afraid to take the ball up the middle and execute full-speed cuts in the face of defenders.
Matthew Stafford and Bert Jones
NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. gets the credit for this comparison.
Jones was the second pick of the 1973 NFL draft by the Baltimore Colts out of LSU. Jones had one of the best arms to ever grace the NFL. He could reportedly launch the ball well over 80 yards in his prime (Wikipedia says nearly 100 yards), and he was truly a field general, calling his own plays.
Stafford may never get a chance to be his own signal caller but he does have one of the best arms and releases scouts have seen in years, and don't be surprised if he racks up an MVP for the Detroit Lions in the next 10 years.