- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Notable offensive players in the NFL draft, grouped by projected NFL positions:

QUARTERBACK

Position Outlook: There’s a perceived talent dropoff after Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford _ though NFL rosters are full of QBs drafted in the later rounds.

MARK SANCHEZ, 6-2, 227, junior, Southern California: Sharp, smart player with silky mechanics and excellent field vision. Yeah, he’s pretty much what NFL teams are looking for when they take a QB as high as Sanchez will be taken. Matt Stafford could be taken higher, because Sanchez has only one year as a starter.

_Matt Stafford, 6-2, 225, Georgia: A likely pick at No. 1 due to his experience and proven ability to make tough throws. Great arm strength and field vision. Remains unflustered under pressure.

_Nate Davis, 6-1, 226, junior, Ball State: Strong arm, nice touch on his passes. Will need to adapt to taking snaps under center and dodging rushers, though he was consistently nimble and evasive in college.

_Josh Freeman, 6-6, 248, junior, Kansas State: Excellent arm strength and intangibles. His mechanics are unpolished and he’ll occasionally force bad throws.

_Graham Harrell, 6-2, 233, Texas Tech: Will have to work hard to shed the “system” label that comes with all Red Raiders QBs. Adjustments to be made include working under center and with less space. Assets include good decision-making and good touch on short balls. Very productive throughout career.

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RUNNING BACK

Position Outlook: Plenty of talent on hand for a position that, despite the ever-increasing emphasis on the passing game, is still one where teams can’t have enough talent.

_Chris “Beanie” Wells, 6-1, 235, junior, Ohio State: Big and fast, Wells is a headache waiting to happen for linebackers. Excellent field vision and speed help him make big plays. Durability and lack of pass-catching ability are minor drawbacks.

_Knowshon Moreno, 5-11, 217, junior, Georgia: Not the fastest back of the bunch, but plays with fire and has plenty of agility. Shows promise as a receiver if a coach gets creative with him.

_Shonn Greene, 5-11, 227, junior, Iowa: Punishing runner who can hit the hole and bounce off tackles. Is older than usual prospects at age 24, but only spent one season as a college starter.

_Donald Brown, 5-10, 210, junior, Connecticut: Slightly undersized and slightly slower than ideal, Brown nevertheless is a nimble, slithery player who can probably overcome his deficiencies to become an every-down back.

_LeSean McCoy, 5-10, 198, junior, Pittsburgh: Similar to Brown, though McCoy is a touch faster.

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WIDE RECEIVER

Position outlook: NFL teams are almost always looking for more receivers, and the best ones aren’t always taken early in the draft.

_Michael Crabtree, 6-2, 215, junior, Texas Tech: Has elite talent for an NFL wideout. Nimble and agile around the ball and the sidelines. Uses his body well against defenders, especially the ones he can’t outrun. Makes big plays.

_Jeremy Maclin, 6-0, 198, junior, Missouri: Athletic playmaker who needs polish on his route-running. A definite threat in the return game. Unafraid of contact.

_Kenny Britt, 6-3, 218, junior, Rutgers: Size and agility are excellent, but he probably needs to get stronger to handle No. 1 receiver duties.

_Percy Harvin, 5-11, 192, junior, Florida : Famous for his speed with the Gators, Harvin’s almost as well-known for always being dinged. Eighty percent of him was usually enough to excel in college, though. Is excellent in space with the ball, and coaches will need to find ways to get it to him there.

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TIGHT END

Position outlook: A deep class of tight ends without any true standout players _ fitting, considering the nature of the position. Few game-changing players play tight end anymore, but every team needs a reliable red-zone target and run blocker.

_Brandon Pettigrew, 6-5, 263, Oklahoma State: Bulky mauler with sure hands to catch short passes. Won’t cause mismatches in the passing game, but will be a definite asset to NFL offenses built for short gains _ which is most of them.

_Jared Cook, 6-5, 246, junior, South Carolina: Fast receiver who shouldn’t be expected to contribute much as a blocker. Can use athleticism and speed to get open and is a good pass catcher.

_Travis Beckum, 6-3, 243, Wisconsin: Great hands and loping stride will make him an unsavory matchup, but injury history and lack of size will hurt his stock.

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OFFENSIVE LINE

Position Outlook: Although they’re usually the biggest guys on the field, offensive linemen need to be athletic and, if not graceful, at least coordinated enough to keep their feet in the face of a pass rush, or while loping downfield to block at the second level.

_Jason Smith, 6-5, 309, Baylor: This converted tight end is nimble and athletic, but still adding strength _ could eventually be a prototype LT. Footwork, technique still require polish.

_Eugene Monroe, 6-5, 309, Virginia: Aggressive LT prospect with nice footwork in pass protection and a zest for downfield blocking.

_Eric Wood, 6-4, 310, Louisville: Tough center with good work ethic and strength. Taller than prototypical centers and not super athletic.

_Duke Robinson, 6-5, 329, Oklahoma: Powerful behemoth who’s at his best driving downfield to smother tacklers. Will need to improve pass protection. Is great nephew of singer Smokey Robinson.

_William Beatty, 6-6, 3-7, Connecticut: Athletic and nimble, will need to add strength to become a strong LT prospect.

_Alex Mack, 6-4, 311, California: Persistent, strong blocker who can pancake defenders if he gets the leverage. Athletic, but sometimes overextends and can get off-balance.

_Michael Oher, 6-5, 309, Mississippi: Quintessential physical specimen to play LT, but teams will have questions about his mental makeup, and his disappointing senior season.

_Antoine Caldwell, 6-3, 309, Alabama: Durable, solid interior line prospect whose prospects could be hurt by a middling Senior Bowl performance.

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