Looking at NationalFootballPost's top 100 list from January 4 reminded me of some of the players who nearly came out this year but didn't, as well as some who surprisingly made the jump, and how they can affect the character of a draft. Consider 5 of the following players who almost came out this year but didn't, and 5 who unexpectedly came out: Players who almost came out, but didn't: 1. Brandon Spikes, ILB. Was rumored to be declaring up to the last minute. Would have been a nice choice at #23, and a much better complement to Mayo than Maualuga as a 3-down SILB. 2. Gerald McCoy, DT. Would probably have been a top-10 pick and might have pushed BJ Raji down into the teens, within reach. Penetrating DTs tend to go higher than wide-bodies, kind of like Tommie Harris vs. Vince Wilfork. 3. Taylor Mays, S. No one can figure out why he didn't come out. Would be a concensus top-15 pick and probably the first DB off the board, whereas he may well be the second S taken in 2010 after Eric Berry. 4. Eric Norwood, DE/LB. Declared and then withdrew his name. Would have been a great SILB prospect in the #58 or 89 territory. 5. Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB. Announced he was staying at Texas at the last minute. An uber-athletic freak, 6'4", 250#, with LB experience. Would have given Connor Barwin a run for his money as the most athletic 3-4 OLB candidate. Honorable mention: Sam Bradford, QB; Ciron Black, OT; James Hardy, DE/OLB; Brandon LaFell, WR; Jermaine Gresham, TE. Players who unexpectedly came out: 1. Mark Sanchez, QB. The Matt Cassel situation might have played out differently with one less first round caliber QB in the draft. 2. Josh Freeman, QB. See Mark Sanchez. Not NFL ready, but will be a 1st round pick anyway. 3. Eben Britton, OT. Probably filled in where Ciron Black was expected to fall. 4. Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB. Generally not considered NFL ready, but will probably go top 20 anyway. 5. Michael Crabtree, WR. Was 50/50 for a while. Should be ready, and will likely go top 10. It's a very different draft if you swap those players around, or if you add/subtract just a couple of them. The Pats seem pretty good at finding players no matter how deep the draft or where they pick. If picking at the end of a very weak draft, as in 2005, they seem to find a lot of good prospects.