NFL Draft NFL DRAFT: Underrated prospects in ’08

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Adrian Arrington, wide receiver – Michigan (Sixth round)
Arrington would have been better suited to go back for his senior year at Michigan but decided to go pro rather than be a part of Rich Rodriguez’s spread option offense.  Overshadowed by teammate Mario Manningham, Arrington has some physical tools of his own.  He has good size (6-foot-3, 205) and leaping ability but lacks the speed to get down the field and really needs to work on his route running.  Arrington improved catching the ball as a junior but his hands are still inconsistent as he will make a spectacular catch one play then drop a very catchable pass the next.  Arrington could have been a second or third round pick next year if he had gone back to school and continued to refine his skills but instead will have to settle for being a late second day pick.
Earl Bennett, wide receiver – Vanderbilt (Third Round)
One of the most consistent receivers in the country, Bennett may not have an overwhelming physical skill set but manages to get the job done every time he touches the field.  Despite playing only three years at Vanderbilt, Bennett set an SEC conference record with 236 career catches.  Bennett lacks the deep speed to be a vertical threat at the next level but is a great route runner that just knows how to get open.  Bennett is fundamentally sound with very good hands.  The former Commodore is also very physical and gives tremendous effort as a blocker.    
Quintin Demps, safety – UTEP (Third-Fourth Round)
A true ballhawk in the secondary, Demps shows impressive awareness and is quick to read and react.  Showcasing a nice combination of hands and ball skills, Demps managed to haul in 17 career interceptions while also adding 24 pass breakups during his career at UTEP.  While he is a playmaker in coverage, Demps is not very physical, misses tackles and does a below average job supporting the run.  
Dennis Dixon, quarterback – Oregon (Fifth-Sixth Round)
A knee injury prematurely ended a season that could have realistically finished with a National Championship and Heisman for Dixon.  Before the injury, Dixon was soaring up draft boards and it would not have been out of the question for Dixon to have gone in the first round if he had stayed healthy.  The injury has obviously changed things as only eight teams attended Dixon’s Pro Day workout.  Nonetheless, Dixon remains a very intriguing prospect with rare dual-threat ability as a quarterback.  There is some question as to whether Dixon will give up football and pursue a baseball career (5th round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2007) but Dixon has insisted he is completely focused on football.
Xavier Omon, running back – Northwest Missouri State (7th round-undrafted)
With the influx of junior running backs in this year’s draft class, many of the top have fallen completely off the radar.  Coming from Division II Northwest Missouri State, Omon did not get the publicity of some of the other top backs but you would be hard-pressed to find a more durable workhorse over the last four years.  Omon has a lot of tread on his tires, having carried the ball 1,271 times over the last four years (over 250 more carries than Mike Hart over the same span) and lacks the speed to be a big play threat at the next level.  Regardless, Omon has good size (5-foot-11, 228) and is very tough to bring down, showcasing excellent power between the tackles.  Decorated as the NCAA Division II 2007 rushing leader, Omon displays good vision and has underrated shiftiness as he shows the ability to make the first guy miss as well as elude defenders in space.  A complete back, Omon is also a very good blocker and could potentially make the move to fullback in the NFL.

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About Matt Zenitz

Matt covers the Ravens for the Carroll County Times and Annapolis Capital. He is also a Ravens correspondent for the Associated Press. More from Matt Zenitz

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