Time for our weekly five questions with Scott Wright from draftcountdown.com.
As always, if you have specific questions for Scott, e-mail me and I'll try to get to them.
Q: There were reports last week that North Carolina WR Hakeem Nicks had put on a considerable amount of weight. How concerning is that, and what do you make of Nicks as a prospect?
A: Nicks was supposedly hurt and hadn’t been able to work out, but that is still no excuse for putting on so much weight (14-16 pounds) in less than a month's time. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it definitely raises some red flags and could put his first-round status in jeopardy. For a guy who is kind of on that late first / early second-round fringe, it certainly didn’t help his cause.
Q: A little curveball here. The Eagles may expect cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu to contribute this season. What did you think of the Wisconsin cornerback as a prospect going into last year’s draft?
A: Here was my scouting report on him from last year:
Grade: 2 Star / Mid-Rounder
Strengths: Nice size and bulk...Very tough, strong and physical...Is quick to react, gets a great break on the ball ...Excellent instincts and awareness...Reliable tackler..Will deliver the big hit...Excels at getting a jam at the line...Uses his hands well... Athletic with good change of direction.... Will come up to support the run... Has some versatility.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have great timed speed or quickness... Lacks a burst to recover... Hips are not fluid and he will struggle to turn and run with pro wideouts... Is too aggressive at times and takes a lot of risks... Struggles to match up in off-man coverage... Ran into trouble off the field and character's a concern... Has some major health issues.
Notes: He profiles as a zone corner at the next level..Could've been a 2nd or 3rd round pick at one point but with the legal troubles and his availability for the '08 season still up in the air he is likely to freefall on Draft Day... Talented prospect with a lot of question marks but he could be a steal for some team that is willing to take a risk and be patient.
There was a time before he got hurt that some were looking at Ikegwuonu as a potential first-round pick so value-wise he was a nice choice late in the fourth round. It will still probably be another year before he is completely recovered from that devastating knee injury, but he is certainly talented and could contribute at either corner or safety for the Eagles.
Q: What do you make of Penn State product Aaron Maybin? Is he a guy who will need a specific system to excel?
A: Best-case scenario Maybin could be the next Terrell Suggs, but personally I feel he’s one of the most overrated prospects in this draft. Maybin is probably going to go in the top 10-13 picks, but I wouldn’t touch him until late round one (at the earliest) for a number of reasons. First of all, he just isn’t ready for the NFL. He only played two seasons of college ball and was basically just a one-year wonder so there isn’t an extensive on-field resume to evaluate. Remember, his teammate Maurice Evans put up very similar statistics in 2007, yet he fell way off in 2008 and probably won’t even be drafted. Also, despite Maybin’s best efforts to bulk up, he still has a long way to go in terms of his physical development. Then there is the question of position because he looks like a classic ‘tweener in that he’s not big enough to play defensive end, but may not be fast enough to play outside linebacker. For a guy with so much riding on his athleticism and physical tools, Maybin was not overly impressive at the Scouting Combine, and while he did improve his workout numbers at the Penn St. Pro Day, you have to take into account the fast surface they were running on. When most of those Nittany Lions improve their forty times by one or two tenths of a second, it has to send up warning signals. The final factor is the program pedigree, and for one reason or another, Penn St. defensive lineman just do not have an impressive track record in the NFL. Courtney Brown, Michael Haynes, Jimmy Kennedy, etc. I see Maybin as a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level, and while there is no denying he has a world of potential, I would not be willing to risk an early first-round pick on someone with so many question marks.
Q: Compare the three USC linebackers expected to be selected in the first round.
A: It would have been absurd to suggest six months ago, but there is a real good chance that Clay Matthews will be selected ahead of both Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. Here is how I would quickly describe the three: Maualuga is the tough, physical inside linebacker whose best fit would probably come in a 3-4 scheme; Matthews is more of the 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker, while Cushing is a strongside guy in a 4-3. As you said, all three are probably first-round picks.
Q: To continue our sleeper series, please give us an underrated prospect and a small-school sleeper at wide receiver.
A: My top small-school wide receiver is Ramses Barden out of Cal Poly. A rare physical specimen at a legit 6-6 and 229 pounds, Barden is a phenomenal athlete, and while he doesn’t have elite speed or a great burst, he is a long-strider who plays a little faster than he times. I think Barden could ultimately be a second- or third-round pick.
In terms of underrated wideouts, I’d single out two guys. The first is Sammie Stroughter from Oregon St., who doesn’t have the ideal size or speed you look for, but was very productive and is also a terrific return man. The other guy is Brennan Marion from Tulsa, who averaged 28.7 yards per catch in his two seasons with the Golden Hurricanes. Marion has been limited by an injury during the pre-draft process but I think he could be a nice late round steal for someone.