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Presents

2008 NFL DRAFT 2008 PREVIEW

No

Number
One?

In This Issue:
Why there’s no #1 It’s all in the family Changing Face of Day 1 1st Round Mock Draft Super Sleepers 100+ Player Ratings

Path to the Draft: It’s a Bumpy One this year!
Only one thing is for sure about the 2008 NFL draft, and that’s nothing’s for sure. There is no consensus number one overall pick this year, and scouts appear to be all over the place in rating their players. The top three players heading into this year’s college football season – RB Darren McFadden, DT Glen Dorsey and QB Brian Brohm - aren’t even rated at the top of their position on many draft boards. What this year’s draft does offer is quality into the later rounds. Quarterbacks like San Diego’s Josh Johnson or running backs like Tashard Choice offer tons of upside for a small gamble of a 3rd or 4th round pick. Where the pitfalls lie are in the enigmas like North Carolina DT Kentwan Balmer or Miami DE Calais Campbell. The asking price is high - probable first rounders - but the risks are steep. Balmer is a one-year wonder and Campbell is raw, yet freakishly athletic. Bodog.net should think about sponsoring this year’s draft, because it’s going to be quite a crapshoot. QB: Matt Ryan surpassed Brian Brohm this year as the unquestionable number one. Came back from an ’06 broken foot which limited his athleticism this season, but he showed scouts what he could do in his workouts. It wasn’t so much Brohm hurting his stock – he had a good senior season – than Ryan improving his. Division IAA stud Joe Flacco is shooting up the charts and may sneak into the first round. Flacco: Stock Rising RB: We could see as many as five running backs taken in 2008. There are three players sitting at the top: Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall. Each offers a different kind of concern for coaches. McFadden has some off the field issues; Stewart recently had toe surgery and may not be ready for training camp; Mendenhall is a one-year starter who hasn’t produced consistently. Looking past the big three, McFadden’s backfield mate Felix Jones should be a first round lock, and don’t be surprised if mighty-mite Ray Rice sneaks into the bottom of the round as well.

Ray Rice: 1st Round Surprise?

TE: If you ask the 32 NFL teams how important a tight end is to them, you’ll receive 32 different answers. Some teams rank their value just above that of the all-but-forgotten fullback. Others will say the position is the centerpiece of their offense. This year offers enough to satisfy everyone’s needs. If you need a receiver comparable to the Colts’ Dallas Clark, Purdue’s Dustin Keller and Missouri’s Martin Rucker should suffice. If you want a more complete TE, USC’s Fred Davis and Notre Dame’s John Carlson are at the head of the class. There is no shortage, and the ’08 draft may see more TE’s drafted in the first three rounds than in recent memory.

Dustin Keller: Receiving Threat

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Laws: 112 tackles senior year

DT: Glen Dorsey was the consensus #1 at the position until Sedrick Ellis started turning heads at the Senior Bowl. That combined with injury concerns surrounding Dorsey’s knee have caused Dorsey to fall behind Ellis on many boards. Both should become solid pros. The diamond in the rough is Notre Dame’s Trevor Laws, who recorded more than 100 tackles his senior season, something unheard of from the DT position. He is a solid tackler with a motor that doesn’t quit. This year’s draft also features some big boys for the 3-4 teams, such as Texas’ Frank Okam and Texas A&M’s Red Bryant.

CB: The top three corners taken in the 2008 draft will likely be from Troy, Tennessee State and South Florida. So much for paying in the big time programs to boost your draft stock! McKelvin is a solid cover corner with added value as a return man. Rodgers-Cromartie, cousin of Chargers Pro Bowl CB Antonio Cromartie, could add some weight to his frame, but also gives you a lockdown cover guy with kick return ability. Jenkins comes from the largest program and offers the most versatility, playing both corner and safety. Rogers-Cromartie is the project of the group, but his natural ability should allow him to contribute as a rookie. Teams could also fall in love with Porter: Surprise Indiana’s Tracy Porter, perhaps the fastest and most athletic corner of the group. of group?

All in the Family
No, Meathead, it’s not Archie Bunker…check out these future NFL players with talented bloodlines
Chris Long, DE, Virginia: The best known son in this year’s draft. Father was legendary Raider Howie Long. Could go number one overall. Marcus Griffin, S, Texas: Not as talented as his twin brother, 2007 1st rounder Michael Griffin, but is a solid run-stuffing safety. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State: D.R.C. as his teammates call him lets his play speak for him and not his cousin, current Charger Antonio Cromartie. Jeremy Geathers, DE, UNLV: Geathers is the son of “Jumpy” Geathers, and his cousin Robert currently plays for Cincinnati. Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida: Younger brother of Reche Caldwell, may end up having a better career. Also has the trademark Caldwell crazy eyes. Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville: Brother Jeff was a career backup in the NFL. He was also Brian’s QB coach at Louisville. Dominique Barber, S, Minnesota: The brother of Cowboys RB Marion Barber III, this Barber delivers hit out of the defensive backfield in a similar physical fashion.

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Cover Story: Why There’s No #1 in 2008
You can usually count on three things in life: Death, taxes, and a consensus number one overall draft pick. If you look back at recent years, from Drew Bledsoe to Keyshawn Johnson, Troy Aikman to Carson Palmer – there’s almost always a consensus number one pick. Occasionally you’ll have two players worthy of the top slot. In the case of Mario Williams in 2006, people were surprised but not shocked at his selection over Reggie Bush. 2008 presents a scenario not seen in the modern day draft era – no one is quite sure who should be number one. There are as few as four and as many as six players who pundits claim could be worthy of the coveted top slot of the draft. LSU defensive tackle Glen Dorsey entered the season as the top rated player on most boards, but a solid but not incredible senior season, coupled with injury questions, has lowered his stock. Darren McFadden, the top offensive player entering the ’07 college season, seems to have holes in his game after closer scrutinizing by pro scouts. Chris Long, the son of NFL great Howie Long, made his case with 79 tackles and 14 sacks in his senior season. Every draft has its freakish athlete, and this year delivers Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston. He matched Long’s sack total with 14, but is more of a raw talent than Long. You always have to include a quarterback when discussing the top pick and Matt Ryan heads this year’s class. Ryan has prototype size, and is known to spend as much time in the film room as Peyton Manning. Some coaches put a higher value on the guy protecting the QB, and Michigan’s Jake Long is the top tackle available this year. So who goes number one this year? That has become a more complicated issue than figuring out Jimmy Johnson’s draft chart. The likely answer is whoever signs the most affordable contract for the Miami Dolphins. Miami will begin negotiations with two or more of these six players. Whichever player agrees to the most cap-friendly deal stands a good chance to be the pick. Unfortunately in today’s NFL, huge rookie contracts are risky business, and a player’s willingness to sign a friendly deal makes him more attractive to most teams. If you take the financial issue out of the equation, our prediction at number one is Chris Long. Looking at Bill Parcell’s recent draft history shows he loves defense in round one. Miami’s current defense is aging, and DE Jason Taylor has hinted at retirement this offseason. Long is NFL ready and gives them the best shot to begin turning things around in south Florida. The other Long – OT Jake Long, could also hear his name called at the top. To win in the NFL, you have to run the ball and protect your quarterback. Long can help you do both and should become a franchise tackle for whichever team drafts him.

Gholston: Freak of 2008

Ryan: Prototype QB

Long: NFL Ready

Dorsey: Stock is falling

Long: Franchise tackle

McFadden: The next Bo?

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The Changing Face of Day One

A new logo isn’t the only thing new this year in the draft
Day One of the NFL Draft – the day conjures up images of hope and intrigue for 32 teams and their fans. The goal is to draft the top player available and net three potential starters by the end of the day. You can kiss those days goodbye. The first big change is number of rounds. Day one now ends after round 2. The reasoning behind this was time consideration, as the draft will now begin two hours later (2 p.m. central time). This change was made with consideration to television viewers on the west coast. Another change is the time allotted between picks. The first round picks will now be separated by ten minutes – down from fifteen – and the second round will allow for seven minutes between picks – down from ten. Day two will begin at 10 a.m. EST, with five minutes still allotted between picks.

Teams can’t afford to miss with the top pick, but not every player is a Peyton Manning. Perhaps the biggest change is one that can’t be seen. Teams now have to factor in rookie contracts into draft day decisions. A top ten pick used to be highly coveted, but now teams have trouble trading out of the top ten. Owners don’t see the value in paying millions in guaranteed money to a player who only has a 50% chance at becoming a solid pro. For every Carson Palmer there is a David Carr. We’re essentially seeing a league where having the top pick is an unenviable position. It is a sad state of affairs, and not what the NFL draft is supposed to be all about. Teams should be free to select the player they think gives them the best chance to improve, and not worry about the salary cap implications. Preliminary discussions about a rookie salary cap have begun, and that may be the only thing to restore the true meaning and spirit to the draft process.

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Wipe the drool from your mouth…

It’s time for Super Sleepers!
With so much attention given to player evaluation between the end of the college football season and the NFL draft, not many players go unnoticed. Most media, however, can’t see past the first round. That’s when we kick it into gear to give you players you may not have heard of. Quarterback Josh Johnson, San Diego: Johnson’s stats are off the charts, with 113 career TD’s to only 15 interceptions. He runs as smooth as any mobile QB we’ve ever seen, and proved he could play against top talent at the East-West Shrine game, where he was named offensive MVP. Kevin O’Connell, San Diego State: O’Connell stands 6’6” and a mobile 225 lbs. All the tools are there, and with proper coaching he should develop into a quality starter in the NFL. He reminds us of a mobile Philip Rivers. Johnson: Mobile and efficient

Wide Receiver Jerome Simpson, Coastal Carolina: Simpson has good size and speed, and should provide a passing team with a more than serviceable deep threat once he adjusts to the upgrade in competition. Kevin Robinson, Utah State: Robinson was the nation’s top kick returner with four return TD’s and led Utah State in receiving. Bruce Hocker, Duquesne: Great size and a physical player. Hocker impressed at the Hula Bowl.

Hocker: Will fight for the ball

Safety Jamie Silva, Boston College: Silva is the classic overachiever. 125 total tackles and 8 interceptions in senior season campaign.

Corey Lynch, Appalachian State: Lynch is the definition of a football player. Took over the starting role as a freshman, and led the Mountaineers to two straight FCS titles. He’ll start someday in the NFL. The only question is how early will a team snag this sleeper in the draft?

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Don’t Mock Me! This year we get it right in the

2008 Mock Draft!
1. Miami Dolphins Chris Long, DE, Virginia: There’s a lot of equal talent at the top, but we think team president Bill Parcells goes with the most polished defender with this pick. 2. St. Louis Rams Jake Long, OT, Michigan: The Rams always seem to need help on defense, but last season was a wash after Orlando Pace went down. Long is the pick. 3. Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College: A franchise QB will help ease the pain from the Michael Vick fiasco. 4. Oakland Raiders Glen Dorsey, DT, LSU: Dorsey fills the large void left by retiring Warren Sapp. Good pick to help stop the ground games of San Diego and Denver. 5. Kansas City Chiefs Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State: The Chiefs have other needs, but can’t pass up on a talent like Gholston at this spot. 6. New York Jets: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas: McFadden will learn from a pro in veteran Thomas Jones before taking over as the newest character in Jets lore. 7. New England Patriots Brandon Albert, G, Virginia: Albert the versatile lineman that Belichick loves, and losing the battle in the trenches in the Super Bowl isn’t lost on the coach. 8. Baltimore Ravens Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy: Baltimore’s corners are aging, and McKelvin will jumpstart this aging unit. 9. Cincinnati Bengals Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC: Something finally goes right for the Bengals when they get lucky and grab the big tackle at number nine. 10. New Orleans Saints Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State: Although Rodgers-Cromartie is a work in progress, this is a pick that should pay off in the long run.

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Mock Draft Cont. 11. Buffalo Bills Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State: Thomas joins QB Trent Edwards and RB Marshawn Lynch as the core of a young and powerful offense. 12. Denver Broncos Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State: The Broncos are notorious for a solid offensive line, but they are aging. Broncos begin to rebuild the unit with this pick. 13. Carolina Panthers Jeff Otah, OT, Pitt: The Panthers need help on both sides of the line. With tackles going fast, the Panthers grab the best one available with this pick. 14. Chicago Bears Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt: Chicago’s offensive line looks like a Florida retirement Villa. Williams becomes the fourth tackle off the board in the top 15. 15. Detroit Lions Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida: When the Lions let Fernando Bryant go, you figure their plan all along was to grab the top corner available at number 15. 16. Arizona Cardinals Kenny Phillips, S, Miami: Arizona struggled on defense last season. Phillips is a welcome addition as the Cardinals grab the top rated safety. 17. Minnesota Vikings Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida: Minnesota officially begins the Tarvaris Jackson era by passing on Brian Brohm and opting for a pass rush specialist. 18. Houston Texans Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois: Head coach Gary Kubiak takes approximately 2.3 seconds to run to the podium himself and turn this pick in. 19. Philadelphia Eagles Keith Rivers, LB, USC: Philadelphia forgets the failed Takeo Spikes experiment with this selection. 20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Donnie Avery, WR, Houston: Tampa Bay grabs perhaps the fastest player in this year’s draft. Avery looks and plays like a Joey Galloway clone. 21. Washington Redskins Calais Campbell, DE, Miami: With Philip Daniels on his last leg at age 35 now is the perfect time to take this raw yet extremely talented prospect.

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Mock Draft Cont. 22. Dallas Cowboys Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas: It’s no secret Jerry Jones loves McFadden. He’ll settle for his equally fast counterpart from the Arkansas backfield. 23. Pittsburg Steelers Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College: Ben Rothlisberger was sacked nearly 50 times last year. This pick is no surprise. 24. Tennessee Titans Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma: Vince Young may plead for his former Longhorn teammate Sweed, but Kelly is more proven. 25. Seattle Seahawks Fred Davis, TE, USC: Davis fits the Seahawks offense as a pass-catching TE, and may take pressure of the Seahawks wideouts. 26. Jacksonville Jaguars: Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson: Any team facing Peyton Manning twice a year can always use fresh legs at DE to rush the QB. Merling fills that need for the Jags. 27. San Diego Chargers Dan Connor, LB, Penn State: Connor’s versatility makes him the perfect fit for the Charger’s 3-4 defense. 28. Dallas Cowboys Limas Sweed, WR, Texas: The Cowboys give Romo another weapon and infuse an aging WR core with youth. 29. San Francisco 49ers DeSean Jackson, WR, California: Jackson should be fun to watch in a Mike Martz led offense, and gives whoever plays QB a downfield weapon. 30. Green Bay Packers Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona: Al Harris and Charles Woodson are both past their prime and there’s no depth behind them. Cason is a nice understudy. 31. New York Giants Pat Sims, DT, Auburn: The Giants continue adding to an already dominant defensive line. It was the key to their Super Bowl victory, so why not? *New England Patriots forfeit their selection due to penalty from NFL

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THE RATINGS
Quarterback: Deep class with talent across the board and a few very intriguing prospects.

1. Matt Ryan, Boston College: Ryan has the size, mobility and leadership traits you want in a franchise QB. Spends as much time in the film room as any QB in this class. 2. Joe Flacco, Deleware: Flacco started his collegiate career in Pittsburg before transferring to IAA (now FCS) Deleware. He has the confidence to match his prototype size and should be a solid pro. 3. Brian Brohm, Louisville: Brohm put together a solid senior season, but injuries and a passing offense make scouts look twice. 4. Josh Johnson, San Diego: Johnson has a smooth delivery reminiscent of Randall Cunningham, and the mobility to match. This may take a while, but Johnson will become an exciting player on Sundays. 5. Chad Henne, Michigan: Henne is a four-year starter in the Big Ten Conference, which says something. He has the physical tools to make it in the pros, but will have to improve his accuracy and decision making. 6. Dennis Dixon, Oregon: Intriguing prospect who tore his ACL mid-season. Dixon was in the Heisman Trophy hunt before the injury. Where he goes will prove just how important postseason workouts are in the pro scouting process. Strong arm and good leader. 7. Kevin O’Connell, San Diego State: We expect O’Connell to develop into a mobile Philip Rivers. A talented QB on a bad Aztec team. 8. John David Booty, USC: Booty is certainly not either of the two QB’s he succeeded at USC (Palmer & Leinart) but has the physical tools to put it together in the right situation in the NFL. 9. Andre Woodson, Kentucky: Woodson is still a work in progress. His delivery needs improvement, he played out of the shotgun, and has trouble reading coverages. 10. Paul Smith, Tulsa: Despite a long windup delivery, Smith put up very impressive numbers at Tulsa. A coach like Jon Gruden may see the next Rich Gannon in this gunslinger.

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Running Back: Ahmad Bradshaw and Ryan Grant proved last season that NFL quality backs can come from the 7th round, or even as a college free agent.

1. Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois: Mendenhall offers the most complete package in this year’s class. McFadden has the speed, Stewart has the power, but Mendenhall offers both. While he only started one year, he rushed for a respectable 640 yards as the #2 back as a sophomore. 2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas: McFadden elicits memories of Bo Jackson when he runs, but he doesn’t have Bo’s power. Most of his size appears to be in his upper body and he goes down easy when his legs are attacked. He’s a home run hitter, but a few concerns persist about his maturity and toughness. 3. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon: Stewart is a large load who runs with power and speed. He recently had toe surgery and as common with power backs, he’ll fight lingering injuries. 4. Felix Jones, Arkansas: Jones is nearly as fast as McFadden and has less mileage as the number two back. He catches the ball better than McFadden and may begin as a third down back or the speed back in a combo backfield. 5. Ray Rice, Rutgers: Height-challenged backs continue to thank Maurice Jones-Drew for erasing doubts they can succeed in the NFL. Rice runs with power and is a willing blocker. 6. Chris Johnson, East Carolina: Johnson led the NCAA in total yards from scrimmage in 2007. He’s a receiving threat out of the backfield and can return kicks. He may never be an every down back, but if used correctly, he’ll pile up yardage in the NFL. 7. Matt Forte, Tulane: Forte ran for more than 2,100 yards last year as the focal point of Tulane’s offense. He will fare well as the power back in a two-back situation. 8. Steve Slaton, West Virginia: Slaton lost some of the hype after a so-so junior season, rushing for just over 1,000 yards. Much like Johnson, Slaton isn’t an every down back but is dangerous as an outside runner, receiver and return man. 9. Kevin Smith, Central Florida: 1,000 yard rusher in 2005 and 2,500 yard rusher in 2007. No one questions his talent, just the level of competition he faced in Conference USA. 10. Jamaal Charles, Texas: There’s no denying his world class speed, but Charles has too many other holes in his game to warrant a higher rating. He doesn’t run inside and struggles to block, two things necessary for a pro back. Keep an eye on some talented backs that may slip because of their size. Dantrell Savage, Oklahoma State, 5’9” – Two time 1,000 yard rusher in college. Justin Forsett, Cal, 5’8” – Successor to Marshawn Lynch delivered in lone season as starter. Anthony Alridge, Houston, 5’8” – 2,000 yards from scrimmage in the mold of Garrett Wolfe. Thomas Brown, Georgia 5’8” – Brown will not shy away from contact even though he’s fast enough to run away from defenders. Mike Hart, Michigan 5’8” – Put up big numbers in the Big Ten.

Life as a little guy: Always an uphill climb

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Fullback: The position has become more versatile in the pros with guys like Brian Leonard and Greg Jones. They will see something rare – a football in their hands.

1. Peyton Hillis, Arkansas: Here’s some useless trivia knowledge – who led the 2007 Arkansas backfield in receptions? Not McFadden or Jones; it was Hillis. Good runner and receiver who could help open up an offense. Had some nice runs in the Senior Bowl. 2. Jacob Hester, LSU: A classic “tweener” in the mold of Brian Leonard. 1,000 yard rusher in ’07, but could be utilized as a traditional fullback as well. 3. Owen Schmitt, West Virginia: Schmitt is the old-school blocker that many teams, such as San Diego (Lorenzo Neal), still use today. He’ll pave the way for future 1,000 yard backs in the NFL. 4. Jerome Felton, Furman: Felton is a load to bring down, and teams may choose to utilize him as a power back instead of the traditional fullback. 5. Jed Collins, Washington State: Converted tight end who knows the game well after beginning his career on defense. Collins is an attractive player to a team like New England who value versatility.

Wide Receiver: Chances are no team’s draft board will look the same in this category. There’s a ton of talent starting at the top and stretching all the way to the final rounds.

1. Devin Thomas, Michigan State: Thomas turned it on as a junior with more than 1,200 yards receiving on 79 catches. He has electrifying moves and the size to make it at the next level. He loves to have the ball in his hands by any means possible, including returning kicks. 2. Malcolm Kelly, Okalahoma: Idolizes Michael Irvin, and the rangy wideout plays like him too. Not the fastest receiver, but certainly has the size to match up with opposing DB’s. 3. James Hardy, Indiana: Hardy offers the best size/speed ration in this year’s class. At worst, he’ll be a scoring machine in the red zone. At best, he’ll be a quality number one in the mold of Randy Moss or Terrell Owens. 4. Donnie Avery, Houston: Avery played in a spread offense which inflated his stats, but he has the speed to get open and the moves to make yards after the catch. Good kick return value as well. If you need a #2 receiver to stretch the field, Avery is your guy.

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5. DeSean Jackson, California: Jackson’s senior season was somewhat of a disappointment – teammate Lavelle Hawkins actually had more receptions - but he still has the big-play ability that NFL coaches love. 6. Limas Sweed, Texas: Sweed has the most unrealized potential of the group. A lingering wrist injury could be one reason why his college stats don’t match his talent. 7. Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt: Classic possession receiver who looks comfortable catching the ball. No outstanding talents, but solid all-around game. 8. Jordy Nelson, Kansas State: Nelson was second in the nation with 122 receptions and has the quickness to get off the line in the pros. He may not become a household name, but should have a solid NFL career. 9. Jerome Simpson, Coastal Carolina: Simpson could be this year’s Marques Colston. He is a great downfield threat that could develop into an eventual number one receiver. 10. Paul Hubbard, Wisconsin: Hubbard is a developmental project, but has great size at 6’4” and the speed to get downfield. He’s also a willing blocker. He’ll work his way up the pro depth chart.

Tight End: A team’s draft board at this position depends on what type of offense they run. There’s plenty of each type to choose from.

1. Fred Davis, USC: Davis is more of a receiver than a blocker, but has the size to become the complete package at tight end. 2. John Carlson, Notre Dame: Like Davis, Carlson is in the mold of a complete tight end. He is a better blocker at this point, but doesn’t have the speed to stretch the field like Davis. 3. Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M: Bennett is an amazing athlete with good size for the position. He’s a bit raw, but has as much talent as anyone in the group. 4. Dustin Keller, Purdue: If teams are looking for a Dallas Clark tight end, they can stop looking. Keller won’t offer much as a blocker, but will help open up the middle of the field. 5. Martin Rucker, Missouri: Most of his catches came lined up as a wide receiver, which makes you question his overall polish at the position. 6. Jermichael Finley, Texas: Finley is a work in progress, but has all the tools necessary to develop into a starting TE. 7. Kellen Davis, Michigan State: Davis has the look of an NFL tight end, but questionable character and work ethic. How far he goes depends on his attitude. 8. Jacob Tamme, Kentucky: Try-hard player who excels despite the lack of size at the position. Tamme should offer teams versatility as an H-back. 9. Tom Santi, Virginia: Santi knows the position as a 4-year starter and could contribute as an H-back and reserve TE.

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10. Brad Cottam, Tennessee: No one defines the term “project” more than Cottam. Great red zone size at 6’8” and a willing blocker at 270 lbs. Injuries have limited him to 21 catches in three seasons. If he stays healthy, could define the term “steal” instead “project.” Offensive Tackle: The Giants proved how valuable a pass rush could be in Super Bowl 42. That will put a premium on pass protectors this year.

1. Jake Long, Michigan: Long only allowed one sack his entire college career against some big time defenders in the Big Ten Conference. Franchise left tackle. 2. Ryan Clady, Boise State: Clady is the prototype left tackle, but there is a little work still to be done on this stud. Facing the WAC is different than facing pro defensive ends. 3. Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh: Much like Clady, Otah is a work in progress. He only played two years of division I football but may be the most talented of the group. 4. Chris Williams, Vanderbilt: Williams has tremendous size at 6’6” and 320 pounds, but scouts question his motivation. He’ll have plenty of motivation staring back at him on Sundays. 5. Gosder Cherilus, Boston College: Cherilus did a fine job protecting Matt Ryan, and at 6’7” he should be a fine tackle in the pros. The next five: Sam Baker, USC; Carl Nicks, Nebraska; Anthony Collins, Kansas; Oniel Cousins, UTEP; Josh Coffman, East Carolina. Offensive Guard: It seems guards are drafted less and less these days because tackles are at a premium, and if prospects can’t cut it on the edge, coaches will move them inside. This year’s crop is no different, with only one sure-fire 1st rounder.

1. Branden Albert, Virginia: A starter since his freshman year, Albert has an amazing combination of size and athleticism. Can play both tackle and guard. 2. Eric Young, Tennessee: Young played left tackle in college, but projects to move inside as a pro. Good size as a run blocker and has experience in pass protection as former tackle. 3. Roy Schuening, Oregon State: Yet another converted tackle forced to move inside. Schuening has the size but not quickness to handle edge rushers. 4. Mike McGlynn, Pittsburgh: McGlynn is a technician who may move inside to center. 5. Chad Rinehart, Northern Iowa: Small school scrapper who has the size and attitude to survive in the pro game.

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The next five: Robert Felton, Arkansas; Donald Thomas, Connecticut; Chilo Rachal, USC; Chris McDuffie, Clemson; Andrew Crummey, Maryland. Center: After fullback, this position is the most forgotten on the offensive side of the ball. There are a few intriguing prospects this year.

1. Mike Pollack, Arizona State: Has the power to take on big DT’s and the experience to make calls at the line of scrimmage. 2. Cody Wallace, Texas A&M: Strong, intelligent and technically sound. Wallace should start for years to come. 3. Kory Lichtensteiger, Bowling Green: Passionate player who can play anywhere on the line. 4. Steve Justice, Wake Forest: Makes up for lack of strength with smarts and savvy. 5. John Sullivan, Notre Dame: Will certainly become a valuable reserve and possibly a starter down the line. Defensive End: The trend of defensive ends projecting as outside linebackers in the pros continues this year, especially with the growing popularity of the 3-4 defense.

1. Chris Long, Virginia: Long is polished, ready to start, and one of the few DE’s who can play in both the 3-4 and 4-3. 2. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State: Gholston will likely move to OLB in a 3-4, but could be an explosive pass rusher off the end in a 4-3 as well. He’s as physically gifted as any athlete available. 3. Derrick Harvey, Florida: Harvey is a poor man’s Vernon Gholston; talented sack artist who could project to OLB or bulk up in a 4-3 situation. 4. Phillip Merling, Clemson: Merling has tremendous size and is surprisingly agile for such a big man. After Long, Merling is the most complete end of this class. 5. Calais Campbell, Miami: Campbell is the classic boom or bust pick. Sack production dropped from 10.5 as a sophomore to 6.5 as a junior. Amazing size – 6’8” 280 lbs. 6. Quentin Groves, Auburn: “Tweener” sack artist who may have to move to OLB at 255 lbs. An injury slowed him during his senior season. 7. Tommy Blake, TCU: Blake was on the fast track to being a 1st round pick until he missed most of his senior year with an injury. Plays the pass and run with explosiveness. If he regains form, could be a steal.

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8. Jeremy Thompson, Wake Forest: Consistently improved during his four years at Wake. Has the physical tools, but scouts question his work ethic. 9. Lawrence Jackson, USC: Jackson finished off a nice career at USC with 10.5 sacks, and hopes to buck the trend of lackluster USC DE’s in the NFL. 10. Cliff Avril, Purdue: If Avril adds weight to his 250 lb frame he could become a complete end in a 4-3 defense. Defensive Tackle: This year’s class features two top ten picks and a rare 100 tackle prospect.

1. Sedrick Ellis, USC: While questions about Dorsey’s injury history grew, Ellis cemented his top spot by impressing during the Senior Bowl, combine and USC pro day. Ellis is a dominant run stopper with the ability to pressure the QB. 2. Glenn Dorsey, LSU: Dorsey is solid on the inside, but we saw too many games where he disappeared to agree with the “dominant” label. He should be a quality starter for years, but whether he’s a future hall of famer is yet to be seen. 3. Trevor Laws, Notre Dame: Watching Laws play makes you want to jump off your couch and get in the game. Had 112 tackles as a senior, a rare feat for an interior lineman. He also had no help from a poor ND team. With his talent and infectious energy, Laws may end up being the top DT in this draft when it’s all said and done. 4. Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina: Balmer is a one-year wonder, which scares many teams. He started the last three years, but didn’t produce until senior year. Has the physical talent to be a starter in the NFL. 5. Dre Moore, Maryland: Moore improved each of his four years at Maryland, and finished his senior season with 63 total tackles, 8 for a loss, and 6 sacks. Big body at 311 lbs. 6. Red Bryant, Texas A&M: Bryant is still improving after an ACL tear at the end of 2006. At a towering 6’4” and 325 lbs. Bryant can play in the 3-4 or 4-3 defense. 7. Pat Sims, Auburn: Boom or bust pick who quit team in 2005. Returned for final two years and had a solid senior season. Can play in multiple defensive schemes because of size. 8. Frank Okam, Texas: Okam has been compared to former Longhorn Shaun Rodgers because of his lackadaisical approach to the game. Showed up 20 pounds heavier than normal weight of 320 lbs. at NFL combine. If he dedicates himself to the game, could become a dominant all-pro caliber player. 9. Ahtyba Rubin, Iowa: At 6’3” 325 lbs. Rubin is a force in the middle. He’s not a sack artist but he’ll do what you want in clogging the lanes and stuffing opposing backs. 10. Jason Shirley, Fresno State: Shirley takes the cake as largest DT at 6’5” 338 lbs. and will probably eat the cake as well. Off field baggage will scare some teams away.

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Linebacker: No top ten picks this year, but nice talent through the first few rounds.

1. Dan Connor, Penn State: Connor is just another reason Penn State is known as “Linebacker U.” He has sideline to sideline range and can play all three LB spots. Only weakness could be coverage ability, and he’s no slouch there with 4 career interceptions. 2. Jerod Mayo, Tennessee: Mayo has the size and speed to play in the middle and the coverage ability to move outside. A tackling machine with 140 tackles his senior season. 3. Keith Rivers, USC: What Rivers lacks in physical talent he makes up for in football IQ. Good size and projects as an OLB. 4. Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma: If a team needs instant results against the run, Lofton is their guy. He will knock opposing backs on their rear. His pass defense is suspect, but he does have the speed to improve this area of his game. 5. Erin Henderson, Maryland: Back to back 100+ tackle seasons, Henderson offers a solid player in the mold of Carolina LB Landon Johnson. Brother of Vikings LB E.J. Henderson. 6. Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech: Adibi consistently improved and finished with 115 tackles as a senior. His specialty is pass coverage; may fit best in a pass-happy division like the AFC South. 7. Jordan Dizon, Colorado: Small Sam Mills type linebacker with a motor that doesn’t stop. Dizon will have to earn his way into a starting job, but once he gets it, he won’t let it go. 8. Ali Highsmith, LSU: Highsmith is undersized but makes up for it with heart. Whether that is enough to make it in the pros is another story. He fits best in a cover 2 scheme due to lack of speed. 9. Bruce Davis, UCLA: Davis racked up 24.5 sacks in the last two years at DE, but he’ll move to OLB because of his size. Proved he could manage the move during Senior Bowl week. 10. James “Beau” Bell, UNLV: Bell plays with reckless abandon, similar to 2005 rookie standout Odell Thurman – but without the baggage. Needs improvement in the passing game, but will be fun to watch on Sundays nonetheless.

Cornerback: Much like 2007, this year offers starting talent through the first two rounds.

1. Leodis McKelvin, Troy: McKelvin has the size, speed, cover skills and return ability. Despite the sub-par level of competition, there’s no question McKelvin can cover top wideouts in the NFL. An added bonus – he won’t shy away from tackling.

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2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State: Senior Bowl defensive MVP is a work in progress, but proved he can cover elite wideouts at the college all-star game. 3. Mike Jenkins, South Florida: Classic cover corner with good size and speed. Jenkins occasionally gives up the big play, and isn’t the best tackler of the group. 4. Tracy Porter, Indiana: With another year in college, Porter may have become the top rated corner available. He’s still improving, but has good cover skills, great speed and returns kicks. 5. Antoine Cason, Arizona: Playmaker who isn’t afraid to tackle. Lack of speed may dictate a career in the cover 2 scheme. 6. Charles Godfrey, Iowa: Former safety who is still learning the nuances of the position. He has amazing speed and his ball skills should continue to improve. He won’t slide far on draft day. 7. Aqib Talib, Kansas: Much like Cason, Talib is a revered corner who makes plays at the position. He’ll get torched in the pros if he’s not protected by a zone scheme. 8. Terrell Thomas, USC: Thomas will match up well against the bigger receivers in the NFL, but may struggle against quicker wideouts like Carolina’s Steve Smith. 9. Antwaun Molden, Eastern Kentucky: Opposing QB’s threw away from the FCS star. Track star has the size and speed to compete in the NFL. 10. Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech: Lesser version of Leon Hall. Flowers should make a solid nickel corner in a cover 2 system, but not enough size or speed to be a shutdown guy.

Safety: There aren’t any household names in this class, but a few intriguing prospects.

1. Kenny Phillips, Miami: Phillips may not be the second coming of Ed Reed, but he does offer great size, speed and physical play needed at the position. He should be the first safety off the board. 2. DaJuan Morgan, N.C. State: Morgan is raw, but has all the talent in the world. If a team is patient, they should get a future pro-bowl player. 3. Jonathan Hefney, Tennessee: Hefney has experience at both corner and safety. He’s drawn comparisons to NFL Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders. While he’s not quite as physical, Hefney should be a solid pro. 4. Tom Zibikowski, Notre Dame: Zibikowski is quite an enigma. He plays with heart and passion, which masks his lack of top-notch physical skills. If he doesn’t make it in the pros, it won’t be from lack of trying. 5. Simeon Castille, Arizona: Can play corner or safety, but better suited at safety because of lack of speed. Great football instincts and ball skills. 6. Corey Lynch, Appalachian State: Five year starter who racked up 24 career interceptions. Played with a cast on a broken elbow in 2006. One tough kid.

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7. Marcus Griffin, Texas: Run stuffing safety that may not have his twin brother’s (Michael Griffin) physical skills, but shares the same football instincts. Lack of coverage skills will probably land Griffin as a free safety. 8. Quintin Demps, UTEP: Demps has the ball skills to force his way into a starting role in the NFL, but he’ll need to play more physical to stay there. 9. Dominique Barber, Minnesota: Barber will knock some people around in the pros. He played for an awful Minnesota defense, and raising the level of talent around him may net some team quite a surprise in later rounds. 10. Jamie Silva, Boston College: Silva had 125 total tackles and 8 interceptions his senior season. He always seems to be around the ball, either making tackles or creating turnovers.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We don’t call the NFL Draft “Christmas in April” for nothing. After pouring over more than 100 prospects, your team will no doubt be opening a few of these “gifts” for the 2008 NFL season. You may think you get a sweet remote control car, only to find out it came with the wrong size battery. Or worse, you may get coal in your stocking. Whatever happens, sit back and enjoy the two-day extravaganza known in our world as “Christmas in April!”

TY2K Productions would like to thank Draft IQ, Inc. partner Scott Schwindt for his contributions to the 2008 NFL Draft Preview. Each year we delve deeper into the crazy world of NFL scouting and rating prospects until our heads are swimming. It’s good to share the passion/insanity with such a good friend.

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Report Card

How we fared last year

Our grades for last year’s projection of the 2007 NFL rookie class:

Trent Edwards, QB (Drafted by Buffalo): We had Edwards rated as the top QB after Quinn and Russell. Took starting job from J.P. Losman and nearly led Buffalo to playoffs as a rookie, starting 9 games. Verdict: HIT!

Robert Meachem, WR (Drafted by New Orleans): Our second rated wide receiver didn’t play in a single game as a rookie after a knee injury. Team hopes Meachem returns to collegiate form. Verdict: Undecided

Darius Walker, RB (Signed as college free agent by Houston): Frankly we were shocked no team drafted our fifth rated RB last year. Houston ended up reaping the benefits late in the season. Started two games down the stretch and averaged 4.6 yards a carry with 264 yards rushing along with 13 receptions. Verdict: Hit!

Jon Abbate, LB (Signed as college free agent by Houston): For some crazy reason, the Texans moved Abbate to FB in the pre-season. He ended up on injured reserve before seeing regular season action. Abbate re-signed with the Texans in the offseason, but we’re not sure where he’ll line up. Verdict: Miss!

Rufus Alexander, LB (Drafted by Minnesota) Alexander was placed on injured reserve and never saw regular season action. Seeing our #4 OLB slip to the sixth round was a surprise. He should surprise the Vikes in ’08. Verdict: Undecided

Jacoby Jones, WR (Drafted by Houston): Tiny Lane College product cracked our top ten and was used in a variety of ways as a rookie. Caught 15 passes, took some handoffs and returned kicks. Jones should see an expanded role in 2008. Verdict: Hit!

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