With the NFL season coming to a close with the Super Bowl in Houston, many teams will be turning their attention to the next big event on the schedule. No, not the Pro Bowl. It is the NFL Draft in New York. The draft is an exciting event that has grown in popularity with the help of the likes of ESPN and draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. and even theHogs.net’s own Scott “Scooter” Moore.
The 2004 draft is loaded with talent (as most are) but this year may find more NFL caliber talent taken outside of the first and second rounds than in years past. While the number of big names may be limited in this draft, that is not an indication of the real talent that could eventually come out. We are going to start looking at some of the prospects, starting with the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs.
The group of quarterbacks in the draft looks to be the best in some years. It seems that the lesser known colleges have produced some very good quarterbacks this year. Perhaps the best prospect of them all is Ben Roethlisberger of Miami. No, not that Miami, this is Miami of Ohio. Roethlisberger is a stud and has the makings of an NFL superstar.
Mississippi’s Eli Manning also has all the tools necessary and has the pedigree to go along with it, with dad Archie and brother Peyton. He should be one of the top ten players taken in the draft but will need to prove that he is medically sound.
Jonathan “J.P.” Losman from Tulane has good arm strength as well as good mobility and could still sneak into the first round. He will be trying to bolster his stock this weekend at the Senior Bowl.
Following Losman closely are Phillip Rivers of North Carolina State and Michigan’s John Navarre. Quarterbacks can really make a statement before the Combine even starts with a big performance at the Senior Bowl. So far in workouts this week, Navarre has done well, while Rivers has drawn less shining reviews. Both are trying to move up that draft board, and though neither will likely make it into the first round, they both will probably have homes by the start of the third.
Other quarterbacks looking to move into that top 5 are Virginia’s Matt Schaub, Washington State’s Matt Kegel, Washington ‘s Cody Pickett, OSU’s Craig Krenzel, Pittsburgh’s Rod Rutherford, Tennessee’s Casey Clausen and Michigan State’s Jeff Smoker.
The group of wide receiver prospects in the 2004 NFL draft could prove to be the best position group to come out of this draft. In fact, this group could eventually be referred to like the Class of 1983 quarterbacks is referred to. The talent in this group is simply that good.
Adding to an already stacked position will be the NFL’s likely decision to grant Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald’s petition to be added to the list of draft eligible receivers. If he is deemed eligible, (sources say he will be), he will vie for top receiver honors with Texas’ Roy Williams. Neither of them are likely to be available by even the 5th pick.
Rashaun Woods is another great receiver, who is looking to continue his recent surge after a record setting performance in the Cotton Bowl. Though it was in a losing cause, Woods caught a record 11 receptions for 223 yards, including 5 passes for 131 yards in and a touchdown in just 12 minutes.
The other top names in this receiver group are Reggie Williams of Washington and Ohio State’s Michael Jenkins. Both are late first round to early second round projections.
Two other names to watch are Big Ten brethren, Lee Evans of Wisconsin and John Standeford of Purdue. Both of them could improve their already stellar chances of a second round pick with nice showings at the combine and in the “all star” bowls.
This year’s group of receivers collectively may be the deepest and most talented group for many years to come.
The running back prospects in the draft are thin in standout NFL talent. The trend of only one senior running back being taken in the first round since 2001 could quite possibly continue.. The only names that jump out as possible first round picks are Steven Jackson of Oregon State and Virginia Tech’s Kevin Jones. And yes, both are juniors.
Cedric Cobbs is another solid back and he is coming off a very solid senior season. He has been impressing people with his speed and power this week at the Senior bowl workouts, and continues to rise up the running back draft boards.
There are several other backs that will likely hear their name called in the second round… Florida State’s Greg Jones, Northern Illinois’ Michael Turner and Michigan’s Chris Perry.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart