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May 18, 2007

Draft Day 2008: A look ahead

It's never too early to look ahead to the future. After having three players drafted in 2007, how many Scarlet Knights will receive that honor in 2008? Here's a preliminary look at who could wind up getting a phone call on draft day.

Pedro Sosa-Offensive Tackle
Sosa's size and pass-protecting ability should have him ranked in the top 10 offensive tackles in the nation by the season's end. On an offense that could see a lot more passing, the number of sacks rendered could bump or drop Sosa's draft position. Last season, the Scarlet Knights only allowed 8 quarterback sacks. If that number remains the same, Sosa has a good chance of being drafted on the first day. And having Ray Rice rack up a lot of yards on the ground will also help Sosa's cause.
Prediction: Late 3rd round pick.

Jeremy Zuttah-Offensive Tackle
The most polished of the Rutgers offensive linemen is a big reason why Ray Rice is a Heisman Trophy candidate. He is an exceptional run blocker with great size and quick feet. With Cameron Stephenson and Darnell Stapleton gone, Zuttah will receive more attention and should once again earn All-Big East first team honors. He has the versatility to shift to the guard position where he started 9 games in 2005. Zuttah is probably better suited to play the guard position in the NFL and could find himself lining up next to center on Sundays.
Prediction: Mid 4th round pick.

Eric Foster-Defensive Tackle
The only thing that can keep Foster out of the first few rounds of the draft is his size. Weighing in at 265 pounds will have some NFL scouts a bit skeptical. But a dominant senior season could dismiss some of that skepticism. Foster has all the tools to succeed at the next level. Nevertheless, the NFL gurus continue to stress the importance of size. In 2007, of the 19 defensive tackles drafted, only 5 of them weighed under 300 pounds. And only 2 of those players were drafted in the first two rounds. Foster will probably add a little more bulk leading up to the NFL Draft. Even though he is likely to be an All-American, he figures to be a second-day selection.
Prediction: Late 4th Round pick.

Mike Fladell-Offensive Guard
At 6-foot-7 and 325 pounds, Fladell already has the size that NFL scouts crave. Fladell has shown great strides in his physical improvement since the time he was a freshman. As a guard in the NFL, Fladell would need to prove that he can get to the outside quickly on pulling situations. If he can show continued improvement with his footwork, Fladell should have no problem playing on Sundays. If Ray Rice can duplicate last year's rushing performance, Fladell will be one of the beneficiaries come draft day.
Prediction: Early 6th round pick.

Jeremy Ito-Kicker
Last season, Ito showed great range going 2 for 3 between 40-49 yards and 2 for 3 over 50 yards. Ito's ability to put the ball in the end zone on kickoff should help his stock rise. Last season, 38% of Ito's kickoffs were downed for touchbacks. Ito's versatility will also make him an alluring choice. If Ito can prove his worth as a punter this season, it will bump him up in the draft. Although it is unlikely he will be used as a punter, it's always a plus to have a place-kicker that can punt. In 2007, only 3 college kickers were drafted and the first one wasn't selected until the 5th round.
Prediction: Mid 7th round pick.



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