QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame: It's all well and good to be pro-ready, but the NFL Draft is also about upside - low ceilings are problematic. Upside may be why Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga(notes) fell all the way to Green Bay at 23, and it's most likely why Clausen woke up Friday morning without an NFL team. There have been growing concerns that his tutelage under Charlie Weis at Notre Dame magnified his positive traits and masked his weaknesses. A good fit in a West Coast offense, Clausen does not have a reliable deep ball, but could be successful in the right system. With Weis now in Kansas City, and the Chiefs with the fourth pick in the second round, don't be surprised if a reunion is in the works.
QB Colt McCoy, Texas: McCoy could go before Clausen if the teams line up the right way. Injury and arm strength issues persist, but McCoy brings Drew Brees(notes) to mind for zone with his competitiveness and ability to make things happen in the run. An extremely accurate passer who benefits from a high number of short passes, McCoy does have an underrated ability to make stick throws downfield.
OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas: From a pure talent perspective, there's no question that Kindle is a first-round prospect. And his limitations as a 3-4 endbacker don't really make sense as a debit, because he has the frame and the potential to transition to end as former teammate Brian Orakpo(notes) did with the Washington Redskins. The issue, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Friday morning, is that Kindle may need microfracture surgery, which has taken him off some boards entirely.
WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame: As much as Jimmy Clausen is praised for his pro-readiness, it's important to note that Tate was crucial to what Clausen did. In breaking several records for the Golden Domers, Tate constantly went up for balls with defenders all around him, and made a lot after the catch of short and intermediate passes. Would it be a huge surprise if Tate went before Clausen? Not really.
OT Charles Brown, USC: Perhaps it's that as a former tight end, Brown makes NFL talent evaluators nervous when it comes to run-blocking - he's certainly more of a finesse tackle, built for a zone-blocking scheme. There are concerns about his development -- maybe he's a year away -- but he also has the potential to be an elite pass-protector when he puts it all together.
S Taylor Mays, USC: One has to wonder how It might affect the grades of Brown and Mays that former SC coach Pete Carroll had the keys to the draft in Seattle, and picked a tackle and a safety outside of his old stomping grounds. Mays will benefit from a team that can take his obvious athletic gifts and be patient with the football side of things - he struggles in complez coverage schemes despite his size and speed.
OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana: An under-the-radar player who made it into the bottom quarter of the first round of many mock drafts, Saffold should find himself going fairly early on Day 2. He's a versatile lineman who plays the run and pass well, a longtime starter, and a vocal team leader.
DT Brian Price, UCLA: In many other years, Price would have been a first round pick. However, the sheer depth of talent at the defensive tackle position would inevitably have some players sliding down the board. Price is an ideal 3-tech tackle in a fact 4-3 - he's got a great ability to penetrate and stop things from developing behind the line of scrimmag
- Jimmy Clausen