Grades in the 80s nothing to sneeze at

Time to dip back into the old mailbag. I appreciate all of the questions you are sending in -- please keep them coming.

Drew in Grand Rapids, Mich.: As an ESPN Insider, I have been reading and learning a lot from everything you guys have to say about the recruiting for the Michigan Wovlerines. I have one question regarding the rating of Ryan Mallett: the other services consider him one of the top 10 recruits in the country, and you guys at Scouts Inc. have him rated at 81, well behind many others. I know Scouts Inc evaluates differently than the other services, and there is bound to be some difference of opinion, but how can there be such a discrepancy? Keep up the great work, love your chats and evaluations of the players.

Craig: Drew, thanks for the kind words, and we are glad that you are enjoying what ESPN Insider recruiting has to offer. You are not the first to ask about Mallett.

A grade of 81 is an excellent grade, if you really think about. As far as others in the recruiting business having him among their top 10 players overall, I can't answer for them and do not know how they arrive at their rankings. All I can tell you is how we view him. Outside of believing he is a fine quarterback prospect, we also think he is a great fit for Michigan. It was even pointed out in his report -- which was done before he committed -- that he reminded us of former Wolverines quarterback John Navarre. He is a big and physical pocket passer with great arm strength. He can complement Michigan's ability to run the ball with his play-action skills.

Why he is not rated a little higher has to do with his mobility. While he can single-handedly beat you with his arm, he also can struggle to move around and buy second chances. He is very much like a Drew Bledsoe; if you let him sit back there and throw, he will make your life miserable, but if you can get pressure on him, you can really disrupt his ability to beat you.

Overall, he is one of the top quarterback prospects in this class but is at the grade he is at because of mobility issues. I stress again that while a grade of 81 is not as high as a handful of other quarterback prospects, it is still a great grade.

Also, if you are a Michigan fan you have to be happy with this pick-up, whether you agree with the grade or not, because he fits so well. He will be complemented by what is usually a strong Wolverine running attack that will help to keep defenses honest.

Chris: On all the Clemson message boards, everyone is talking about Will Korn as being one heck of a phenomenal QB. I see that you guys have him as an 84. Did you guys under-rate him, or are the Clemson faithful just overdoing it?

Craig: Well, let's talk about another quarterback grade. Once again, we think Korn is an excellent prospect, and he currently sits among the top three quarterback prospects in this class. He has a very high -- and what we feel fitting -- grade. I have not been on any Clemson message boards but agree that they have a lot to be excited about with the very likely addition of Korn in February.

I will say this about where we have Korn graded in comparison to the buzz he seems to be generating in Tiger nation: We are totally unbiased, and where and when a player commits has no bearing on his grade. Whether he committed to Clemson or Mount Union, his grade would be solely based on his ability to play the position.

So to answer your question, I think we have Korn rated properly and, to be fair, are probably a little more impartial then the die-hard Clemson fans on the team's message boards. Bottom line though, they have landed a very good player and should be excited, even if they might be overdoing it tad.

Daniel in Newton, N.C.: Say a tailback was third-string his junior year due to having two really good seniors in front of him, but he did start on defense that same year and had 63 tackles and 1 interception. If he has a sensational senior year at tailback and cornerback, does he have a shot at playing Division I football?

Craig: Based on your description, I would say yes. It happens from time to time when a good player is forced to sit because there is an equally talented upperclassmen in front of him. A great recent example of this is 2006 Alabama commit Greg McElroy. He only started his senior year but was still a hot commodity (especially after his senior campaign) because of his abilities and what he was able to do when it was his turn.

So if the prospect you are referring to steps up and takes advantage of his opportunity to play at tailback and has the abilities to compete at the Division I level, then recruiters will find him. If you can play, word will usually get around. The only thing is, when you don't really get your chance until your senior year, it sometimes takes a little longer for the word to get out there.

Pat in Cleveland: hey Craig, I was curious as to how a 7.0 would match up exactly with this years rating scale. Would an 80 be comparable?

Craig: You got it. An 80 is exactly equal to a 7.0 from a year ago. We adjusted the grading scale so it would match the one we also use for our college football and NFL reports. We wanted there to be uniformity with all the Scouts Inc. football reports available on ESPN.com.

Jon in Clemson, S.C.: When can we expect to see the ESPN 150 for 2007? I've looked all around and can't seem to find the date.

Craig: No official release date yet, but it will be out in early July. As soon as we have an official date, we will post it. Right now we are grinding away at reports so the pool we have to choose from for the initial ESPN 150 will be as deep as it can be.

Craig Haubert is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN's Scouts Inc.