Akwasi Owusu-Ansah l Cornerback/Safety l Indiana (PA)
When you pair 4.32-second forty-time speed with a 6-foot tall, 207-pound
frame, NFL scouts are going to take notice. Then add in the ability to play any
position in the secondary, dangerous speed and skill as returns specialist, and
a couple of strong public performances during the months leading up to NFL Draft
week and you've got a legitimate early-rounds draft pick on your
"Taking advantage of my opportunities on big stages--at the Combine and
at my Pro Day--definitely helped," Owusu-Ansah told me this week.
Owusu-Ansah, at minimum, can make an immediate splash at the next level as a
returns specialist. He returned three punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns last
year for IUP.
"Having the ball in my hands has always been natural for me--I enjoy
it," he said. "I played running back in high school, so when I'm
returning kickoffs and punts I just let my natural instincts take over."
The aggressive and confident defender snared eight interceptions during his
junior year, so teams avoided throwing his way during his senior year. But he
still managed to grab two interceptions, break up four passes and make 27
"It was a show of respect, but at times it got frustrating, because you
want to help the team as much as possible," Owusu-Ansah said. "But you
play through it and look for other ways that you can impact the game."
The versatile athlete has drawn the strongest interest from the Dolphins,
Vikings, Chiefs, Bears and Cowboys over the past few weeks. Some teams would
like to insert him on their depth chart as a safety while others are interested
in him as a cornerback.
Andre Roberts l Wide Receiver l Citadel
As you would expect from a prospect coming out of a military school, Roberts
is a focused, disciplined and mature player who knows that hard work is one of
the keys to success when pursuing a goal.
"I think work ethic is what helps people succeed. Some people work to
get there, but once they're there, they stop working as hard," he told me a
few weeks ago. "My goal is to be the best receiver in the league, so I'm
going to be working to reach that goal the entire time I'm in the NFL."
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound pass-catcher has 4.40-second forty-time speed and is
very precise with his route running. And he's got such great acceleration at the
snap that cornerbacks at the Senior Bowl quickly learned to back up a step or
two in an attempt to compensate for Roberts' quick burst.
"I take a lot of pride in my route running," he said during an
interview at the Senior Bowl. "With me being a shorter guy and being in the
slot, that’s something I do take a lot of pride in."
Roberts posted a team-high 77 receptions for 792 yards and eight touchdowns
last year. He averaged 15.5 yards per punt return and 22.0 yards on the three
kickoffs that he returned.
The talented receiver and returns specialist has been drawing interest from
numerous clubs, but the Patriots, Browns, Ravens and Falcons have been showing
the strongest interest in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft.
Austen Lane l Defensive End l Murray State
The 6-foot-6, 274-pound player has startling quickness off the snap of the
ball and good technique off the edge that allows him to be a real menace to
quarterbacks. But with his 4.84-second forty-time speed and his effectiveness
while playing in space, he might not be lining up as a defensive end in the
"There are some 3-4 teams that are looking at me as an outside
linebacker and 4-3 teams who see me as a defensive end. My junior year, we
played a little 3-4, so I'm used to dropping back into both man and zone pass
coverage," he told me this week.
Lane showcased his consistency during his last two seasons at Murray State.
In 2008, he logged 68 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks. He followed
that up with another impressive campaign last year with 64 tackles, 19.5 tackles
for a loss and 11 sacks.
In addition to his official visit with the Bills, Lane has drawn interest
from plenty of teams, including the Jaguars, Titans, Saints, Panthers and
Jets. He's got a contagious, upbeat personality that will be a welcome
addition to any NFL locker room.
"When you cross these white lines, nothing else matters, everything else
goes away. I'm like a kid at a playground out here," he told me at the
Senior Bowl. "When I'm out here, I'm smiling every day."
John Skelton l Quarterback l Fordham
At 6-foot-6, 243 pounds, Skelton is an imposing figure behind the center who
stands tall in the pocket.
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
The projected third- to fourth-round pick finished a highly successful
collegiate career as Fordham's all-time leader in passing yards (9,923) while
tossing an impressive 69 touchdowns. Since he took the reins as the team's
starting quarterback halfway through his freshman year, Skelton has plenty of
field experience. But at the NFL Combine, he spoke of the special challenge he
faced while trying to secure his draft position this year.
"Being from a [Division] I-AA program, a lot of teams haven’t seen me
play live. If they did see me, it’s maybe 1-2 films," Skelton explained.
"I think there’s a lot of mysteries about me, really."
But over the past few months, the strong-armed quarterback has been able to
show scouts and NFL front office talent evaluators that he can throw a ball
fifty yards or more with relative ease, and that he's highly intelligent about
the game when they put him on the board. All Skelton really needs at this point
to make the leap successfully onto an NFL roster is some polish on the finer
details of the position.
"Ever since I was training out in Phoenix with Fisher Sports, the main
focus was getting my footwork where it needs to be," he said.
The two-time team captain threw for more than 300 yards in eight games during
his senior year. According to an NFL source, the Cardinals, Vikings, Bills,
49ers and Redskins have been showing the strongest interest in him recently.
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