Hardesty, Scott are draft-worthy

Projecting football potential to the next level is just as much a crap shoot for NFL teams scouting college talent as it is for college teams scouting high school talent.

For instance, tailback Arian Foster left Tennessee as the school's No. 2 all-time rusher but went undrafted last April. Yet, the guy who played behind him for three years, Montario Hardesty, is projected to be a third-round pick this April.

There are a lot of NFL Draft magazines available these days but the one I like the most is Pro Football Weekly's. These guys cover nothing but football 365 days a year, and they seem to be reasonably accurate.

Of course, the term "accurate" used in relation to the NFL Draft is a misnomer. All it takes is one impressive 40-yard dash clocking in a private workout for a guy to zoom from a third-round pick to Al Davis' first-round pick. Likewise, all it takes is one character question - whether it's true or false - to send a top-10 pick plummeting into Round 2.

That said, here's how Pro Football Weekly's 2010 Draft Guide ranks the Tennessee offensive players available for this year's draft:

Hardesty is rated No. 8 among running back prospects and projected as a third- to fourth-round pick. Among the positives listed are "Runs hard and competes. Is not afraid of contact - runs behind his pads and will lower his shoulder. Keeps his legs moving on contact and fights for extra yardage."

The negatives listed are that he lacks "elite foot quickness and does not have speed to gain the edge.... Shows little shake or wiggle. Is not overly elusive or creative to string multiple moves together. Gears down to cut."

Only two SEC backs are rated ahead of Hardesty. Ole Miss' Dexter McCluster is rated No. 6 and tabbed to go in Round 2 or 3. Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon is rated No. 7 and, like Hardesty, pegged to go in Round 3 or 4. LSU's Charles Scott is rated No. 10 and projected as a Round 4 or 5 pick. Auburn's Ben Tate is No. 11 and LSU's Keiland Williams is rated No. 12, with each pegged to go in Round 5 or 6. Kentucky's Alfonso Smith is rated No. 24 and Arkansas's Michael Smith No. 30, although neither is projected to be drafted.

Former Vol Chris Scott, a three-year starter on The Hill, is rated No. 16 among offensive tackle candidates and pegged as a Round 6 to 7 draft pick.

Pro Football Weekly tabs his primary strengths as "a thick trunk and good lower body mass to create some push in the run game and anchor in pass protection." The magazine lists his shortcomings as "inconsistent effort" and that he "tends to wear down later in games."

The only other SEC tackle pegged as a possible draft prospect by PFW is Vanderbilt's Thomas Welch, who is rated No. 23 at the position.

Former Vol Jacques McClendon is not among PFW's 15 draft-worthy guard prospects but is listed among 10 "Best of the Rest" candidates with the notation: "Short-armed, but brings it on every snap."

Ex-Vol Jonathan Crompton, rated as highly as No. 2 among quarterbacks in some quarters, is not among PFW's 15 draft-worthy QBs or its 10 "Best of the Rest" candidates. Quintin Hancock is not ranked among PFW's top 40 receivers and Jeff Cottam is not listed among the magazine's top 25 tight ends.

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