Mock Draft for the Ages big board   

Updated: April 21, 2009, 10:13 AM ET

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Here's the big board of ballyhooed prospects from which the Mock Draft for the Ages was conducted. These players were thought to be the surest of sure things as they headed into the professional ranks.

With a few exceptions, these are players who were selected in the top five overall in the NFL draft. These are pillars of hype, and some even lived up to it. You might argue we've overlooked some deserving candidates, such as Jim Brown and Dan Marino.

But remember, we're basing this on professional expectations. Brown was drafted No. 6 overall in 1957, and he was the third running back selected. Marino was picked No. 27 overall -- the sixth quarterback taken that year. Apparently, they weren't considered sure things.

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Troy Aikman UCLA 1 1989 Went 20-4 at UCLA, throwing 41 TDs and completing nearly 65% of passes
Steve Bartkowski California 1 1975 Reportedly threw a ball 100 yards in practice; led nation in passing yards; also All-American first baseman
Sammy Baugh TCU N/A 1936 Two-time All-American with 39 TD passes; great punter and can fill in at defensive back
Drew Bledsoe Washington State 1 1993 Pac-10 Player of the Year with 3,246 passing yards; 6-foot-5 junior; led WSU to 9-3 record
Terry Bradshaw Louisiana Tech 1 1970 Among NCAA leaders in total offense as junior and senior, but Gulf States Conference wasn't best competition
David Carr Fresno State 1 2002 Strong (bench 390), fast (4.7 40) and threw for 4,839 yards and 40 TDs as senior
Tim Couch Kentucky 1 1999 SEC Player of the Year completed 71.5% of passes and 38 TDs; scouts love size (6-5) and pro-style offense at UK
John Elway Stanford 1 1983 All the tools in the book, but never led to a Stanford to a bowl game and might want to play pro baseball
Roman Gabriel N.C. State 2 1962 Two-time ACC Player of the Year; big and fast enough that he played some linebacker as well
Jeff George Illinois 1 1990 Led Illinois to 10-2 record, but some scouts question his ability to get along with others
Bert Jones LSU 2 1973 Son of NFL HOFer Dub, "The Ruston Rifle" threw 28 TD passes in 17 career starts
Bobby Layne Texas 3 1948 Two-time top-10 Heisman finisher known for his toughness and leadership
Ryan Leaf Washington State 2 1998 Led WSU to first Rose Bowl in 67 years, throwing for 3,637 yards and 33 TDs, but some question his maturity
Archie Manning Mississippi 2 1971 One of the most exciting players in SEC history, threw 58 career TDs, finished fourth and third in Heisman voting
Eli Manning Mississippi 1 2004 Great bloodlines; scored 39 on Wonderlic test; does he have football desire of older brother?
Peyton Manning Tennessee 1 1998 Won 39 of 45 starts, but three losses to Gators have some wondering whether he falls short in big games
Donovan McNabb Syracuse 2 1999 Two-way threat has proven to be much more than athlete playing QB: 23-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio as senior
Steve McNair Alcorn State 3 1995 Put up eye-popping numbers (572 yards per game, 47 TDs) but in a weak I-AA conference
Rick Mirer Notre Dame 2 1993 Three-year starter has the tools that have drawn comparison to former Notre Dame QB Joe Montana
Joe Namath Alabama 12 1965 Bear Bryant has called him the "greatest athlete" he's ever coached; went 29-4 as starter
Carson Palmer USC 1 2003 3,639 yards and 33 TDs as senior; great arm and good mobility for a guy his size (6-5, 235)
Jim Plunkett Stanford 1 1971 Heisman winner after leading Stanford to first Rose Bowl trip in nearly 20 years
JaMarcus Russell LSU 1 2007 Great combo of size, strength and mobility; completed 67.8 of passes as junior with 28 TDs
Alex Smith Utah 1 2005 Led Utah to 12-0 mark with 28-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio and 583 rushing yards; arm strength an issue
Vinny Testaverde Miami 1 1987 Heisman winner with 26 TD passes, but 5 INTs in Fiesta Bowl against Penn State raise question marks
Michael Vick Virginia Tech 1 2001 No denying his arm strength and explosive running ability, but completed just 54.2% of passes as sophomore (and left early)
Vince Young Texas 3 2006 Led Texas to BCS title with 3,036 passing yards, 26 TDs and 1,050 rushing yards

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Ricky Bell USC 1 1977 Led the nation in rushing as a junior in 1975 with 1,957 yards; holds USC's single-game record of 347 yards
Reggie Bush USC 2 2006 Started in only 14 of his 39 games at USC, yet finished 10th in Division I-A history with 6,541 all-purpose yards
Earl Campbell Texas 1 1978 Try tackling him one-on-one! Won the Heisman after leading the nation with 1,744 rushing yards
Billy Cannon LSU 1 1960 Led LSU to AP national title as junior; won Heisman as senior and LSU immediately retired his No. 20
Ki-Jana Carter Penn State 1 1995 Scored 38 TDs in three seasons; led the Nittany Lions to a 12-0 record and Rose Bowl berth in 1994
John David Crow Texas A&M 2 1958 Dynamic back won Heisman despite appearing in just seven games; also intercepted five passes
Glenn Davis Army 2 1947 "Mr. Outside" scored 59 touchdowns in his career at West Point and averaged 11.5 yards per carry in 1945
Eric Dickerson SMU 2 1983 Wanted to attend Oklahoma, but mom talked him into SMU; 1,428 yards rushing, 19 TDs as junior, third in Heisman voting as senior
Tony Dorsett Pittsburgh 2 1977 Three-time first-team All-American, rushed for 1,948 yards and 23 TDs in leading Pitt to national title as senior
Marshall Faulk San Diego State 2 1994 Two-way rushing/receiving threat scored 62 touchdowns in his three collegiate seasons
Red Grange Illinois N/A 1925 Considering by many as the greatest college player ever, scored at least one TD in every college game he played
Alonzo Highsmith Miami 3 1987 Scouts love his combo of size (235 pounds) and speed
Paul Hornung Notre Dame 1 1956 Notre Dame's "Golden Boy" can do it all: Heisman winner led Irish in rushing, passing, punting, scoring and kickoff and punt returns
Bo Jackson Auburn 1 1986 One of the greatest athletes scouts have ever seen; averaged 6.6 yards per carry during Auburn career
Edgerrin James Miami 4 1999 Excellent speed (4.38 40) but not afraid to run inside; 1,572 yards, 19 TDs as junior
Ollie Matson San Francisco 3 1952 Led nation in rushing and touchdowns; also won bronze medal in 400 meters at 1952 Olympics
Chuck Muncie California 3 1976 Bruising 240-pounder with 4.5 speed in the 40; 1,477 yards rushing and 392 receiving in stellar 1975 season
Walter Payton Jackson State 4 1975 "Sweetness" received zero scholarship offers from SEC schools; wound up with 3,563 rushing yards and 65 TDs at Jackson State
George Rogers South Carolina 1 1981 Led nation in rushing (1,781 yards) en route to Heisman Trophy; at 228 pounds, perfect combo of size and quickness
Barry Sanders Oklahoma State 3 1989 Some worry about his size (5-8), but had perhaps greatest college season ever: 2,628 rushing yards, 39 TDs, 7.6 ypc
Gale Sayers Kansas 4 1965 "The Kansas Comet" was two-time All-American with his electrifying speed and open-field quickness
O.J. Simpson USC 1 1969 Led nation in rushing both years at USC (1,451 yards in '67, 1,709 in '68)
Billy Sims Oklahoma 1 1980 Won Heisman as junior with 1,762 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per carry; runner-up as senior
Jim Thorpe Carlisle N/A 1912 What can't he do on the football field? Could play running back and fill in as a defensive back, punter or kicker
Herschel Walker Georgia N/A 1982 Racked up 5,097 rushing yards in three seasons, leading Georgia to 32-2 mark
Curt Warner Penn State 3 1983 Penn State's career rushing leader, led Penn State to 31-5 record his three seasons as starter, including '82 national title
Ricky Williams Texas 5 1999 Heisman winner finished his career with 6,279 yards and 20 NCAA records; some scouts question his "quirky" personality

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Wes Chandler Florida 3 1978 Two-time All-American with blazing speed; scored 22 career touchdowns
Larry Fitzgerald Pittsburgh 3 2004 '03 Heisman Trophy runner-up; scored at least one touchdown catch in 18 straight games
Irving Fryar Nebraska 1 1984 Ranked No. 2 for Huskers in all-time receiving yards (1,196) despite playing on team that led the nation in rushing twice
Desmond Howard Michigan 4 1992 Led the Big Ten in scoring with 138 points in 1991, winning the Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Award
Don Hutson Alabama N/A 1935 All-American in 1934, led the Tide to a national title with a victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl (6 catches for 165 yards)
Calvin Johnson Georgia Tech 2 2007 Ranks first in Georgia Tech history in career receiving yards (2,927), touchdown receptions (28) and 100-yard receiving games (13)
Keyshawn Johnson USC 1 1996 MVP of the 1995 Cotton Bowl and the 1996 Rose Bowl; USC single-season receiving yards leader with 1,434
Johnny "Lam" Jones Texas 2 1980 One of the fastest men ever to don a football uniform won a gold medal in 4x100 relay at '76 Olympics
Dave Parks Texas Tech 1 1964 The first Tech player to be named AP first-team All-American, the big end left Tech as the career leader in receptions (80)
Charles Rogers Michigan State 2 2003 Big, strong receiver who can impact a game as a possession receiver or deep threat; caught 68 passes for 1,351 yards in '02
Charley Taylor Arizona State 3 1964 Two-time All-American also played defensive back and pitched and played third base for the baseball team
Doak Walker SMU 3 1949 Three-time All-American, won the Heisman Trophy as a junior; his influence at SMU had writers calling the Cotton Bowl "The House That Doak Walker Built"; also lettered in basketball and baseball
Michael Westbrook Colorado 4 1995 A 6-4, 230-pound physical marvel with 4.3 speed and big-play ability, finished with ,060 receiving yards in 1992

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Vernon Davis Maryland 6 2006 Scouts drool over a tight end with 4.38 speed in the 40; ended his college career with 1,371 yards and 83 receptions, average 16.5 yards per catch
Mike Ditka Pittsburgh 5 1961 All-American his senior year (1960), led the team in receiving all three years; also was the team's punter
Kellen Winslow Jr. Miami 6 2004 First-team All-American in junior year and also won the Mackey Award; outruns linebackers; needs to working on blocking

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Tony Boselli USC 2 1995 Three-time all-Pac-10 performer, athletic enough to have played tight end and linebacker in high school
Bob Brown Nebraska 2 1964 Big 6-5 All-American led Nebraska to 10-1 record as senior and first Big 8 title since 1940
Leonard Davis Texas 2 2001 Mountain of man (6-6, 370 pounds) who projects as a devastating run blocker
D'Brickashaw Ferguson Virginia 4 2006 Has height (6-6), long wingspan and frame to add to his 312 pounds; technically sound with terrific footwork
Robert Gallery Iowa 2 2004 Can't-miss prospect won the Outland Trophy with great athleticism (4.99 in the 40) and pass-blocking ability
Chris Hinton Northwestern 4 1983 One of the best players in Northwestern history, earned All-American honors as a senior
George Kunz Notre Dame 2 1969 Notre Dame's co-captain has the size (6-5) and brains (academic All-American) to excel in the NFL
Jake Long Michigan 1 2008 Massive frame (6-7), wingspan and versatile (played left and right tackle), two-time Big Ten Lineman of the Year
Tony Mandarich Michigan State 2 1989 Some scouts call him the greatest offensive line prospect they've ever seen; should be NFL star
Anthony Munoz USC 3 1980 Big and athletic (played baseball at USC), two-time All-American but missed most of senior season with knee injury
Jonathan Ogden UCLA 4 1996 Four-year starter, Outland Trophy winner and NCAA shot-put champ, allowed two sacks his final two seasons
Orlando Pace Ohio State 1 1997 Two-time Lombardi Award winner and Outland winner didn't allow a sack his junior or senior seasons
Chris Samuels Alabama 3 2000 Paved way for Shaun Alexander, winning the Outland Trophy and showing speed (5.0 in the 40) and agility
Dean Steinkuhler Nebraska 2 1984 Outland and Lombardi winner played guard for Cornhuskers but projects to play either guard or tackle in the pros
Ron Yary USC 1 1968 Opening lanes for O.J. Simpson, unanimous All-American helped lead USC to national title

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Bill Fralic Pittsburgh 2 1985 Two-time unanimous All-American finished eighth and sixth in Heisman voting as junior and senior
John Hannah Alabama 4 1973 "In over 30 years with the game, he's the finest offensive lineman I've ever been around," said his coach, Bear Bryant
Tom Mack Michigan 2 1966 An engineering major, Mack helped Michigan win the 1965 Rose Bowl, its first bowl game in 14 years

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Mike Bell Colorado State 2 1979 Senior season cut short by knee injury, but dominated as a junior with 103 tackles and 15 sacks
Courtney Brown Penn State 1 2000 Playmaker who finished his Penn State career with 33 sacks and 70 tackles behind the line of scrimmage
Chris Doleman Pittsburgh 4 1985 Versatility -- fast enough to play linebacker, big enough to play defensive end -- makes him dangerous on the outside
Eddie Edwards Miami 3 1977 Consensus All-American averaged two sacks a game his senior season
Steve Emtman Washington 1 1992 Outland winner required three linemen at times to block him in leading Huskies to national title and finishing fourth in Heisman voting
Claude Humphrey Tennessee State 3 1968 With Humphrey anchoring the defense, Tigers lost just three games during his three varsity seasons
Ed "Too Tall" Jones Tennessee State 1 1974 Dominated his small college foes and, despite his height (6-9), has the speed to play outside; but will he pursue a pro boxing career?
John Matuszak Tampa 1 1973 No denying his dominating presence (6-8, 280 pounds), but concerns abound about his bad-boy reputation
Keith McCants Alabama 4 1990 Big, strong and fast, McCants dominated the SEC with his sideline-to-sideline play
Walt Patulski Notre Dame 1 1972 The leader of the Irish defense, the Lombardi winner totaled 74 tackles, 17 behind the scrimmage, as a senior
Julius Peppers North Carolina 2 2002 A great athlete who also played basketball for UNC, the 6-7 Peppers recorded 30.5 sacks and 43 quarterback pressures during his career
Simeon Rice Illinois 3 1996 The two-time All-American with 4.5 speed in the 40 draws comparisons to Lawrence Taylor
Lee Roy Selmon Oklahoma 1 1976 With Selmon anchoring the D, Sooners went 32-1-1 during his three years as a starter; Outland and Lombardi winner
Kenneth Sims Texas 1 1982 "He has the highest grade of any player this year, a grade similar to that of an O.J. Simpson," Redskins GM Bobby Beathard said in '82
Bruce Smith Virginia Tech 1 1985 "The Sack Man" destroyed offensive tackles, compiling 22 sacks as a junior and winning the Outland Trophy as a senior
Bubba Smith Michigan State 1 1967 An imposing physical specimen at 6-7, 280 pounds, the two-time All-American led MSU to a 19-1-1 mark his final two seasons
Neil Smith Nebraska 2 1988 The All-Big 8 defensive tackle should be a feared pass-rusher in the pros with his 4.55 speed
Art Still Kentucky 2 1978 The 6-7 All-American led the Wildcats to an impressive 10-1 record in '77
Andre Wadsworth Florida State 3 1998 The onetime 217-pound walk-on grew into a can't-miss 267-pound end who recorded 16 sacks as a senior
Mario Williams N.C. State 1 2006 Possesses great combo of size, speed and athletic ability, although scouts worry that he took too many plays off in college

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Buck Buchanan Grambling State 1 1963 NAIA All-American; at 6-7, 270 pounds, scouts rave about his size and speed (reportedly ran the 100-yard dash in 10.2 seconds)
Tony Casillas Oklahoma 2 1986 Consensus two-time All-American and Lombardi Award winner led Sooners to '85 national championship
Ray Childress Texas A&M 3 1985 Two-time All-American had 117 tackles and 15 sacks as a junior and 124 tackles and 10 sacks as a senior
Sean Gilbert Pittsburgh 3 1992 Only played two years at Pitt but has three main stats going for him: 6-5, 318 pounds, 4.8 speed in the 40
Joe Greene North Texas 4 1969 A consensus All-American, Greene's "Mean Green" defense allowed less than 2 yards per carry during career
Cortez Kennedy Miami 3 1990 The 300-pounder helped the Canes win the national title as a senior with 92 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 16 quarterback pressures
Russell Maryland Miami 1 1991 The consensus All-American became the first Miami player to win the Outland Trophy
Steve Niehaus Notre Dame 2 1976 Consensus All-American who finished 12th in the Heisman voting as a senior
Merlin Olsen Utah State 3 1963 Won the Outland Trophy as the Aggies allowed just 50.8 yards rushing per game; has professed interest in acting career
Darrell Russell USC 2 1997 "It's amazing how quick he is for such a big man. He moves around like an adagio dancer," says former Cowboys GM Gil Brandt
Randy White Maryland 2 1975 A fullback as a freshman, White moved to defense and became the ACC Player of the Year and Outland and Lombardi winner as a senior
Dan Wilkinson Ohio State 1 1994 "Big Daddy" can bench-press 500 pounds and jump 30 inches; what's not to like?

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
LaVar Arrington Penn State 2 2000 A two-way star in high school, Arrington became a two-time All-American at outside linebacker for the Nittany Lions
Carl Banks Michigan State 3 1984 A three-time All-Big Ten selection, at 6-4, 235 pounds, Banks has speed to rush the QB and the size to take on RBs
Chuck Bednarik Penn 1 1949 All-American who played linebacker and center; finished third in the Heisman voting and won the Maxwell Award
Cornelius Bennett Alabama 2 1987 His devastating sack of Notre Dame QB Steve Beuerlein shows how unstoppable he can be on the rush
Brian Bosworth Oklahoma N/A 1987 "The Boz" captured the Butkus Award twice as college football's top linebacker, but is he more hype than talent?
Aundray Bruce Auburn 1 1988 At 6-5, 255 pounds and possessing 4.53 speed in the 40, Bruce's physical gifts are unlimited; but some question his intensity
Dick Butkus Illinois 3 1965 Nobody questions the intensity of Butkus, the Big Ten MVP and two-time All-American who never takes a play off
Johnie Cooks Mississippi State 2 1982 Ranks third in school history with 24.0 sacks and fifth in total tackles with 392
Quentin Coryatt Texas A&M 2 1992 Second-team All-American his junior year, known for his famous hit on TCU's Kyle McPherson
Tom Cousineau Ohio State 1 1979 Prototypical inside linebacker, two-time All-American once recorded 29 tackles in a game
Kevin Hardy Illinois 2 1996 Consensus All-American as a senior when he won also won the Butkus Award
Marvin Jones Florida State 4 1993 An intimidating hitter whom scouts compare to Mike Singletary, Jones has all the tools: 4.51 speed and benching 225 pounds 20 times
Bronko Nagurski Minnesota N/A 1929 Some call him the greatest college player ever; can play anywhere: tackle, linebacker, end, guard or fullback
Tommy Nobis Texas 1 1966 Known for his aggressive play, two-time All-American won the Outland Trophy his senior season
Junior Seau USC 5 1990 A ball hawk with a motor. Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 with 72 tackles -- 27 for loss.
Billy Ray Smith Arkansas 5 1983 Two-time All-American made 299 career tackles for Razorbacks -- with school-record 63 for loss.
Lawrence Taylor North Carolina 2 1981 Unanimous All-American as a senior in 1980. That season, he had 16 sacks and forced three fumbles -- recovering all three.
Derrick Thomas Alabama 4 1989 Butkus Award winner as a senior in 1988 with 88 tackles. Made 204 career tackles.

Player School Draft Pos. Year Comment
Bennie Blades Miami 3 1988 Anchored Miami's defense during 1987 national championship season with big, bruising hits from safety position
Kenny Easley UCLA 4 1981 Three-time All-American, school leader in career interceptions with 19; also drafted by the Chicago Bulls
Quentin Jammer Texas 5 2002 First-team All-American and team co-MVP senior year also tied school record with seven interceptions
Mike Haynes Arizona State 5 1976 Two-time All-American; led the Sun Devils with 11 interceptions as a junior
Terence Newman Kansas State 5 2003 All-American, Jim Thorpe Award winner and a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as a senior in 2002
Bruce Pickens Nebraska 3 1991 Set Huskers' single-game record for yards lost on tackles with 29; All-Conference in 1989
Johnny Robinson LSU 3 1960 First-team All-SEC in 1958, the Tigers' national championship year; member of the LSU Hall of Fame
Deion Sanders Florida State 5 1989 Known for his speed, the two-time All-American had 14 interceptions in his career and also returned punts; ran track and played baseball at FSU
Shawn Springs Ohio State 3 1997 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 1996; had 152 career tackles, six interceptions and five tackles for loss; averaged 25.2 yards on kickoff returns
Sean Taylor Miami 5 2004 Ranks first all time in interceptions with 10 and second all time in interception return yards (306) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (3)
Eric Turner UCLA 2 1991 Intercepted 14 passes for UCLA-record 315 return yards. Ran a 4.49 in the 40 and bench-pressed 408 pounds
Charles Woodson Michigan 4 1998 Became first primarily defensive player to win Heisman and intercepted eight passes as a junior in 1997


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