Here are some underclassmen that I expect to breakout next year. Don't forget any of these names, as all will be possible high picks:
1. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR/Maryland (6-3 195) Excellent size and speed combination. Is a primetime player, he had his best games of the year against Miami, Florida St, Georgia Tech, and Purdue. Will be a draft-eligible sophomore next season.
2006 stats (rFr): 46rec 694yds 5TDs
2. Craig Steltz, SS/LSU (6-2 205) As a backup on LSU last year, he posted 42 tackles and 4 interceptions. Imagine what kind of numbers he’ll put up as a starter. Doesn’t have great speed, but is solid in coverage and an excellent open field tackler.
2006 stats (Jr): 42tkls 4ints
3. King Dunlap, OT/Auburn (6-8 320) He’s a mauler, but is surprisingly quick. Long arms, hasn’t even tapped the surface of his potential. Will be a prototype RT prospect with his excellent size and run blocking ability.
4. Vernon Gholston, DE/Ohio St (6-4 260) One of the strongest players on Ohio St, great vs. the run. He’s hard to move, an excellent bull-rusher. Not the quickest guy, will probably end up being a 3-4 DE.
2006 stats (rSo): 49tkls 15TFL 8.5sacks
5. Duane Brown, OT/Virginia Tech (6-5 290) Amazingly athletic for his size, former TE. He’s only played one season at OT. With another year and improved knowledge of the game, he has nowhere to go but up.
6. Matt Flynn, QB/LSU (6-3 225) Started in the Tiger’s 2005 40-3 victory over Miami in the Peach Bowl, and looked very impressive. He has all the intangibles to be a top quarterback.
2006 stats (rJr): 133yds 60%cmp 2TDs 1int
7. Martail Burnett, DE/LB/Utah (6-3 245) Former safety, excellent athlete (40+” vert, reported 4.7 speed) Plays DE for the Utes, but will likely be a 3-4 OLB in the pros. Looks fluid in space and is a good pass rusher.
2006 stats (rJr): 42tkls 10.5TFL 5.5sacks 2FF
8. Jamal Lewis, FS/Georgia Tech (6-0 190) Shows good recovery speed, excellent cover skills for a safety. Lacks ideal size/strength, but is a sure tackler and isn’t afraid to help out vs. the run. Former CB, great special teams player.
2006 stats (Jr): 72tkls 3ints 1FF 1FR
9. Shawn Crable, OLB/Michigan (6-5 245) A playmaker, good pass rusher and solid in coverage. Excellent size, but could add some weight. With so many Michigan Defensive players leaving (Woodley, Branch, Hall), he should step up and lead them in '07.
2006 stats (rJr): 37tkls 10.5TFL 4.5sacks 2FF 1FR
10. Aaron Curry, OLB/Wake Forest (6-3 240) Very big for an LB, powerful tackler. Makes up for his lack of ideal speed with his strength and physical play. Still raw, but has excellent potential. Could move to MLB.
2006 stats (rSo): 83tkls 8.5TFL 2FF 1int