Monday, February 16, 2009

Top Offensive Hawkspects

by: Chris Sullivan 

I'm not going to break down every position, but I will focus on the five or so that look like immediate needs for the Hawks. 

Wide Receiver -- 
1) Michael Crabtree - Texas Tech -- Crabtree is, however, the only top-10 WR pick
2) Jeremy Maclin - Missouri (Mid-to-late first)
3) Hakeem Nicks - North Carolina -- Okay, he's probably not really the third, but he could drop to us in the third, so he counts. I like most of what I've seen from Nicks and he could end up being a solid #2 or 3 down the road. 

Offensive Tackle -- 
1) Eugene Monroe -- Virginia -- You kind of have to say the same thing about the top three guys. They're all freaks with incredible skills. 
2) Jason Smith -- Baylor -- Incredible athlete with incredible size -- 6'5", 305 lbs. I'm concerned that he has only played one year as a tackle, but the Hawks might like someone not quite ready to take over and start in year one... 
3) Michael Oher -- Ole Miss -- Read the Blind Side and try not to like him. I dare you.
4) Andre Smith -- Alabama -- Tons of upside, thats all we hear. He's humongous and promising, but I'm not sold... at all. 

Quarterback -- 
1) Matthew Stafford -- Georgia -- We've been burned by a UGA quarterback before, it won't happen again. I get that people love his "tools," but Stafford hasn't ever impressed me too much. He's #1 by default.
2) Josh Freeman -- Kansas State -- He didn't win a lot, but he's got excellent size (6'6", 250). Freeman is helped by the fact that he's been in "pro-style" offenses in the past (he was the #4 Pro-style QB prospect coming out of High School and #92 prospect overall). He's a three-year starter as a Junior at a medium-size program. Still, Freeman has a propensity to turn the ball over and needs a fair amount of work. The Combine / Pro-Day will likely decide whether Freeman goes late first or early third. 
3) Matt Sanchez -- USC -- In a year of a very shallow QB class, Sanchez made the right choice to come out of college. Going against McCoy, Bradford and a few others, Sanchez would have definitely slipped out of the first next year. As it stands, he'll be the second QB selected, but it remains to be seen whether he deserves it. 

Running Back --
1) Beanie Wells - Ohio State -- First of all, it's worth noting that I don't think we'll go RB in the first two rounds, because I think the Hawks are content making Knapp's system work with whomever is in it moreso than finding the right complement to Duckett. Anyway, Beanie Wells looks like a quality pro-back if he can stay healthy. Thats all.
2) Knowshon Moreno -- UGA -- Riskier than Wells in some ways, but arguably with way more upside. I like Moreno a lot, but I think Wells is safer and thats how Ruskell likes it. Still, we're not going RB in the first, so they're both off the board. 
3) LeSean McCoy - Pitt -- There's a chance he could slip to the early second or go out in the late first (a lot of people have the Cards grabbing him). McCoy is incredibly fast (ran a 4.25 '40 in 2004) and well built at 5'11" 210 lbs. 
4) Donald Brown - Connecticut -- Small school, great back. Brown faced poorer opponents than the other three backs, but put up a 5.7 ypc average in 2008 along with 18 touchdowns and 2083 yards. If he slips to the third, Ruskell has to consider him.