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The octuple-P draft system: Backfield

February 20, 2009

With the NFL Combine already begun and the Draft not far away, it seemed to us at PAP that a preview of this year’s prospects was needed. Are we looking at a bumper year of stellar players or a first round full of Ryan Leafs, Blair Thomases and Heath Shulers?

Hair as bad as his play.

Hair as bad as his play.

In order to answer these pressing questions, we have developed yet another PAP-exclusive rating system for the draft, analysing each position by overall quality in grades from A to F. In addition, we will also be comparing the star of the class with NFL players to gauge the level of success we can expect from this prospect. For example, a top-quality QB prospect may acquire a Peyton Manning rating, while a linebacker with bust written all over him will garner a Brian Bosworth rating. This system, the Personal Player and Position Playaction Post Prediction and Pick Planner should give every NFL scout some sleepless nights, though inept front offices (see Cincinnati, Washington, Detroit, Oakland, New York Jets) will no doubt ignore this system and pay the price.

In this inaugural edition of the PPPPPPPP, we will look at the backfield positions: quarterbacks and running backs

QB class strength: C

After Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco led their teams to playoff appearances, every struggling NFL franchise will look to a rookie QB to turn things around. This is a talented class, but buyer beware: for every Ryan or Rivers there are many Alex Smiths and Andre Wares.

Stafford hopes his PPPPPPPP rating also reflects the hotness of his future wife.

Stafford hopes his PPPPPPPP rating also reflects the hotness of his future wife.

There are by consensus two sure-fire top 15 QBs in this draft, meaning one will get to go #1 (JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith) while the other languishes in the green room crying until the end of round one (Aaron Rodgers, Brady Quinn). Georgia’s Matthew Stafford heads the pack and many people have him as a lock for the Lions at #1. Even if he doesn’t go there, there’s little doubt that Stafford will be the first QB taken. He has a good arm and lots of experience, and would appear to be a great prospect, but he is being hyped up a little too much for his own good. I see him as a solid occasional Pro-Bowler with decent consistency and the occasional cannon strike.

Stafford’s octuple-P rating: Jeff Garcia

Just behind Stafford is USC’s Mark Sanchez who has a cannon arm and big-game experience. Despite starting just 1 year in SoCal, he is almost certain to be the second signal caller off the board. Sanchez is a good QB, but might need to learn for a year or so before being thrown into a starting role due to not having as many games under his belt as Stafford. If given time he could be great, but he’s likely to be thrown in at the deep end on a bad team, and may well struggle before finding his feet.

These two aside, the best of the rest are Kansas State’s Josh Freeman, Ball State (ha!)’s Nate Davis and Sam Houston State (where?)’s Rhett Bomar. The former two are expected to go in the second, and Bomar in the third.

RB class strength: B

Running backs are usually the most successful rookies, with guys like Adrian Peterson and Pocket Hercules/Maurice Jones-Drew tearing it up in recent years. There’s good depth at the position again this year, but no one stellar player like a Barry Sanders or Bo Jackson in the first round.

Gone before you can say What kind of name is Knowshon?

Gone before you can say 'What kind of name is Knowshon?'

Likely to come off the board first is another Bulldog, Stafford’s backfield mate Knowshon Moreno. After racking up 1,400 yards rushing in ’08, Moreno declared for the draft as a junior and has the blazing speed and elusiveness to have a real impact in his rookie season – he’s been compared to Barry Sanders by some. This is a massive overstatement, because he’s not a top-10 player, but Moreno will be chosen in the mid-teens and be a bargain for whoever nabs him: with his speed he’s almost sure to be a hit on the NFL scene, and he’ll no doubt be a nightmare for defenses for many years to come.

Moreno’s octuple-P rating: Chris Johnson

Not far behind Moreno are Pittsburgh’s LeSean McCoy and THE Ohio State’s Chris Wells, both of whom will be first-rounders. Every year, however, there’s a low-round back who surprises everyone, from Terrell Davis to Brian Mitchell. This year that could be Iowa’s Shonn Greene, who’s surprisingly under the radar for a guy who won the Doak Walker (best collegiate running back in the nation) award last year. One to keep an eye on for sure.

Check back over the weekend for the rest of the octuple-P ratings on offense and the defensive ranks, as well as the inevitable post-Combine corrections!

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