NFL Draft Team Spotlight: Virginia Tech

(AP Photo/S. Morton)

NFL Draft analyst Chris Steuber believes Virginia Tech will have plenty of talent to offer in the 2008 NFL Draft. Take a look at the Hokies that NFL scouts have been evaluating on both sides of the ball -- and Chris' projections of when they'll be picked.


2008 Draft Spotlight
Virginia Tech
West Virginia
Oklahoma
Missouri
Boston College
Ohio State
LSU

Virginia Tech has a solid tradition of winning, and a lot of their success is attributed to their ability to recruit players from Virginia. It's known that the state has produced some of the best athletes over the years, and Virginia Tech has produced some of the nation's most prized athletes. But with all the talent the Hokies have had recently, they haven't produced a first-round draft pick since 2004. The last first-round pick was Atlanta Falcons All-Pro cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

The Hokies have another talented crop of prospects this season that includes defensive end Chris Ellis, cornerback Brandon Flowers, linebacker Vince Hall, and linebacker Xavier Adibi. Although these players are highly touted, the only one that will receive first-round consideration is Ellis.

The streak of non-first round picks continues, but that doesn't mean these prospects won't become quality players at the next level. In 2006, the Hokies had nine players drafted, and not one of them was a first-round pick.

The fifth-ranked Hokies will lose a lot of defensive leadership to the NFL next season as six of their 11 starters will likely be drafted. Here's a look at the potential 2008 Virginia Tech draft class:

DE, Chris Ellis (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 1st - 2nd Round
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 267

Ellis is a hard working defensive end who plays with a great motor. He's quick off the snap, plays with good leverage, and uses his hands effectively against a bigger opposition. He's an aggressive player who holds his own against a bigger lineman and is rarely off his feet. He has good body control and changes direction well in pursuit. He has quick feet, good lateral movement, and consistently makes big plays. Ellis is a tenacious defensive end who's been very productive in the ACC and had 8.5 sacks this season for the Hokies. He's one of the better DEs available in the draft and will be a first-day selection.

CB, Brandon Flowers (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 200

Flowers is a naturally-gifted defender with excellent ball skills. He has excellent footwork and back pedals fluidly. He has great agility and doesn't lose momentum transitioning in coverage. He breaks well on the pass and instantly gets into an offensive position in defense. He's an instinctive defender who has a great burst of speed, diagnoses a play, and defends the run well. Flowers is an underclassman who's physically ready to take his game to the next level, but it remains to be seen if he'll do so. He's an elite corner with promising ability and is a definite Day One selection.

LB, Vince Hall (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 238

Hall is a ferocious linebacker who has the ability to be used inside or outside. He plays with a lot of aggression, explodes through the hole, and takes good angles against the opposition. He has great sideline-to-sideline range and is great in pursuit. He's a sure tackler who has a knack for making a big play. He covers a large area, drops well in coverage, and flashes on the scene quickly. He's disciplined in defense and understands his assignments. He commands respect from his teammates and is a leader on and off the field. Hall brings a fiery attitude to the field and his effort is never questioned. He's a leader who should have an instant impact at the next level.

LB, Xavier Adibi (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 2nd - 3rd Round
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 236

Adibi is an athletic defender who has the ability to play inside or outside linebacker. He has excellent instincts and uses his speed to explode through the hole and make plays in the backfield. He has a great burst and closing speed to get around the edge to defend the run. He covers a large area, plays well in coverage, and possesses excellent ball skills. He's a disciplined player who understands his assignments and doesn't get caught out of position. Adibi is a tremendous athlete that brings a lot of intangibles to the field. He'll be a standout on special teams and has a chance to be an exceptional WILL linebacker at the next level. Adibi will be a second- to third-round selection next April.


Victor Harris intercepts a pass.
AP Photo/John Bazemore

CB, Victor Harris (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 203

Harris is a well-built defensive back with tremendous skills. He's an aggressive defender who jams opponents at the line, stalling their progress getting into their routes. He has good footwork and flips his hips well in transition. He has excellent instincts, immediately locates the ball in the air, and displays great timing in pass defense. He's a willing defender in run defense, but has to improve his tackling technique. Just like Flowers, Harris is an underclassman. But unlike Flowers, Harris would benefit from staying in school for his senior season. If Harris decides to forego his final season, he'll be an early second-day selection.

WR, Eddie Royal (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 4th Round
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 180

Royal is an outstanding return specialist who's still developing into a consistent receiver. He's a good route runner who displays quickness in and out of his breaks, gets separation from defenders and comes back to the ball. He has excellent vertical speed and times deep passes very well. He's always looking to make a big play and shows great acceleration after the catch. Royal is a work in progress as a receiver. He shows flashes of greatness, followed by moments of inconsistency. Although he's still working on his game as an offensive threat, Royal presents a unique element on special teams.

DT, Barry Booker (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 4th Round
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 290

Booker is a versatile defensive lineman who has intriguing size and good skills. He's quick off the snap, plays with good leverage and makes plays in the backfield. He's strong at the point of attack and is able to hold his own against bigger interior linemen. He slides off blocks, wedges between blockers and is able to alter the direction of a ball carrier. Booker is an interesting player because he's got very good size and speed to play inside or outside on the defensive line. He's played very well for the Hokies this season, and his 43 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, and four sacks have improved his draft stock.

WR, Justin Harper (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 4th Round
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 214

Harper is an outstanding athlete who has great upside for the next level. He has great size, speed, and hands and has the ability to run away from defenders in the open field. He gets a good release off the line and is quick in and out of his cuts. He's a strong receiver who runs good routes and is able to make tough catches by muscling up defenders. He has good instincts and consistently comes back to the quarterback making himself an available target. Harper has a chance to improve his draft status during the offseason with a good showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. He's got a lot of skills, but at this point he's a mid-round selection.


RB Branden Ore
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

RB, Branden Ore (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 4th - 5th Round
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 205

Ore is a hard-working runner with a well-rounded game. He's a patient runner who waits for blocks to develop and displays excellent vision. He has quick feet, bounces around piles, and keeps moving up the field. He's an aggressive runner, who plays with some shiftiness and runs low to the ground. He has good hands and is a good receiver out of the backfield. He's a solid blocker and gives a good effort on every play. Ore had an outstanding sophomore campaign rushing for 1,137 yards on 241 carries (4.7 YPC) and 16 touchdowns, but his production this season slipped. He had 244 carries for 876 yards (3.6 YPC) and eight touchdowns. Ore should stay in school for his senior season and try to improve on his disappointing junior season.

OT, Duane Brown (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 5th Round
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 308

Brown is a good technician who has good size and mobility. He takes good angles, keeps his feet moving in pass protection, and uses his hands effectively. He's patient at the point of attack and seals defenders from making plays. He has good strength and is able to knock defenders off their rush. He picks up blitzes and works well with his linemates. He has good lateral movement and is able to get to the second level in run blocking. Brown has a lot of potential and is a solid prospect. He has good mobility, but may need to add more bulk to standout.

FS, D.J. Parker (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 5th Round
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 198

Parker is a versatile defender who can play either corner or safety. He's an instinctive defender who takes good angles in coverage and has playmaking ability. He has good awareness and always looks to take part in the action. He reads a play well and has a good burst to the ball carrier. Parker's versatility will make him a solid prospect. He has a chance to have an immediate impact on special teams and be a quality backup at the next level.

DT, Carlton Powell (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 6th Round
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 293

Powell is a quick interior lineman who has some upside. He plays with good pad level, gets leverage on the opposition, and displays a good motor in pursuit. He has good instincts and is able to read the action and react. He uses his hands well and fights off the opponent with his strength. He's a hard worker and stays with the play consistently. Powell is a consistent player inside and gives a good effort, but he doesn't produce elite numbers and isn't always the first to arrive on the scene.

Undrafted Virginia Tech Prospects:

WR, Josh Morgan (Sr.)
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 220

WR, Josh Hyman (Sr.)
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 190


A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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