PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

April 22, 2008

Gil Brandt among many trumpeting Charles’ NFL skills

Bob West column for Wednesday, April 23

Three hectic months after announcing he would skip senior season at Texas for the NFL draft, Jamaal Charles has pretty much done all he could possibly do to enhance his value. He impressed scouts with his pass catching ability at a skills competition in Arizona, ran a 4.38 40 at the NFL combine in Indianapolis and has gotten high marks across the board in the increasingly important area of character.

Slowly but steadily, as NFL personnel types have studied tape and observed, the stock of Port Arthur’s all-time leading schoolboy rusher has climbed. Only three backs — Arkansas’ Darren McFadden, Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois — are locks to be taken before him on Saturday.

After that, there’s divided opinion on whether Jamaal, Felix Jones of Arkansas or Chris Johnson of East Carolina will be the next back taken. Most projections have him going in the first half of the second round, although there are those who think he could slip into the first round.

“I put him between 31 and 40, with an arrow pointing up, saying he could wind up in the 21-to-30 area,” said former Dallas Cowboys talent guru Gil Brandt of NFL.com. “If you went strictly on the fourth quarter of the Nebraska game, he’d be the first pick out of the box.

“He’s got really good running skills and the way he can catch the ball coming out of the backfield is going to cause a lot of problems for defenses. I think he’s going to be a good player at this level.”

Charles, for his part, knows it’s now out of his hands. On the Saturday that will be the biggest day of his young life, he’ll be at home to watch the draft with family. He says he’s won’t start getting too excited until the first round reaches its latter stages.

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