Michael Tortorich: Time for the annual NFL draft guessing game

Michael Tortorich

As a sports editor, I would feel like I somehow did something wrong if I didn’t give my two cents on this year’s NFL draft.

After all, this is the time of year when sports writers make all sorts of confident declarations about throngs of guys who have never suited up for a professional football team.

I’m not sure if I’m the first to say this, but I really don’t know who will and who won’t pan out at the next level.

Shocking, I?know.

With that being said, anything that I come up with about the eligible players is based purely on that magic word the so-called experts love to use – potential.

Sure, we’ve got their combine statistics and their college careers to analyze, but even still, nobody is a slam-dunk pick.

There are all sorts of draft surprises and busts to point to. The fact is, the draft is anybody’s “best guess” as to who will make it in the big league.

I might as well try to figure out the tax code than determine how to best utilize a handful of draft picks. But I digress.

Even though I’m far from a professional scout, here goes my best “guess” at this year’s batch of players expecting to hear their names called April 22 to 24:

• Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. Despite a team’s need, which weighs heavily in a selection, it would be difficult to look past this 6-foot-4, 236-pound signal caller. Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen also would be a good investment. Colt McCoy of Texas and Tim Tebow of Florida both have strong leadership qualities and may be worth a gamble in the middle rounds.

• Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has a combination of size, strength and athleticism that will serve him well in the NFL. Suh, Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy and Gerogia Tech’s Derrick Morgan all would be wise choices for any defensive front. They should go early.

• There are a few solid offensive lineman on the board this year, notably Anthony Davis of Rutgers, Bryan Bulaga of Iowa and Russell Okung of Oklahoma State.

• At wide receiver, Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant has the size and speed to stand out from the pack.

• The best running back out there looks to be Clemson’s C.J. Spiller.

• As for linebackers, a couple of SEC guys stand out: Alabama’s Rolando McClain and Florida’s Brandon Spikes.

• In the secondary, Florida’s Joe Haden would be the best choice at cornerback, while Tennessee’s Eric Berry leads the pack at safety.

• As for specialists, Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin and Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko may be worth a late-round pick.

Michael Tortorich writes for the Weekly Citizen of Gonzales, La.