Rating the top senior prospects

Updated: September 13, 2004, 1:53 PM ET
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
For obvious reasons, teams with multiple players on this list are typically the ones that dominate the top-25 polls. This year's class is no different, as USC (3), Oklahoma (5), Georgia (2) and LSU (2) boast 12 of the top-70 senior defensive prospects on our preseason list.

There are, however, always going to be some exceptions to the rule. Take South Carolina (4) and UNLV (3), for example. Both entered last weekend unranked but have more senior talent on defense than many of the programs in legitimate BCS contention, such as Miami (1), Ohio State (1) and West Virginia (0). Underclassmen obviously play a big part in the equation, but if you look at the success South Carolina had against a vaunted Georgia offense and UNLV's ability to keep things close against Wisconsin at Camp Randall on Saturday, it proves that veteran defensive talent can help make up for a lot of other team weaknesses – at any level of football.

Last week we broke down the top offensive talent in the 2005 draft class. This week we look at the top senior defensive NFL draft prospects. The list also includes the top punter, place kicker and return specialists in this year's senior class. Next week we will rank the top underclassmen at each position.

Defensive prospects:
DE | DT | IL | OL | S | CB | P | K | RS | Grade explanation

Offensive prospects:
QB | FB | RB | WR | TE | C | OG | OT

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer