Ranking the top underclassmen who declared for the draft

Ranking the top underclassmen who declared for the draft

Ranking the top underclassmen who declared for the draft
Sporting News

Here's a quick look at the top 30 underclassmen to enter the 2008 NFL Draft:

1. Darren McFadden, RB, 6-1/215, Arkansas
McFadden is the class of the junior class with the size, strength and speed to be a great NFL tailback.

2. Ryan Clady, OT, 6-5/320, Boise State
Clady is a top-level athlete with the talent to be an elite NFL left tackle once he adds 15 pounds or so.

3. DeSean Jackson, WR, 5-11/175, Cal
Jackson shows the hands, open-field running ability and ability to make clutch plays to be a special NFL player.

4. Jonathan Stewart, RB, 5-10/230, Oregon
Stewart stepped up in '07 and showed he is an elite big back with a rare combination of size and speed.

5. Ray Rice, RB, 5-9/195, Rutgers
Rice is the most underrated of this year's running backs because he is only 5-9. Still, he is a top-notch prospect who will become a productive NFL starter.

6. Felix Jones, RB, 6-0/207, Arkansas
Jones is the most versatile back of the juniors but must prove his durability.

7. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, 6-1/210, Illinois
Mendenhall is a strong and physical runner who consistently attacks the hole, breaks tackles and gains yardage after contact.

8. Kenny Phillips, S, 6-1/205, Miami (Fla.)
While Phillips' '07 season was not as good as his '06 season, he still is a top athlete and good all-around safety.

9. Calais Campbell, DE, 6-8/280, Miami (Fla.)
Campbell must be more aggressive but has an uncommon combination of size, athleticism and strength. He reminds us of the Texans' Mario Williams.

10. Malcolm Kelly, WR, 6-4/220, Oklahoma
Kelly is a big, strong receiver with surprising athleticism and quickness.

11. Adrian Arrington, WR, 6-2/190, Michigan
Arrington was Michigan's best receiver the last two seasons and has all the tools to be a productive NFL starter.

12. Curtis Lofton, LB, 6-0/240, Oklahoma
Despite being shorter than ideal, Lofton flies around the field and makes a ton of big plays and will start early in his pro career.

13. Aqib Talib, CB, 6-1/205, Kansas
Talib is a talented cornerback who consistently stays on receivers' hips, but the one knock is lack of elite speed.

14. Kevin Smith, RB, 6-1/212, Central Florida
Smith is another underrated back because he lacks elite explosiveness and speed, but he has the size and strength to be a productive feature back.

15. Reggie Smith, CB/S, 6-0/205, Oklahoma
Smith is instinctive and competitive. He is aggressive and consistently shows the ability to break up passes and deliver violent hits after the catch.

16. Earl Bennett, WR, 6-1/205, Vanderbilt
Bennett is super productive and with excellent route-running skills and hands, and he knows how to get open.

17. Devin Thomas, WR, 6-1/215, Michigan State
Thomas is a big, physical receiver who plays much bigger than his measured size would indicate.

18. Brandon Flowers, CB, 5-9/180, Virginia Tech
Flowers is an instinctive and athletic cornerback who consistently closes fast to make plays on the ball.

19. Erin Henderson, LB, 6-2/236, Maryland
Henderson, the little brother of the Vikings' E.J. Henderson, has the size, strength and athleticism to be a good NFL starter.

20. Derrick Harvey, DE, 6-5/250, Florida
Harvey is an athletic defensive end who flashes explosive pass-rush skills but is inconsistent.

21. Mario Manningham, WR, 6-0/180, Michigan
Manningham is a polished receiver with top-notch hands, but he lacks the explosiveness and speed to be anything more than a possession receiver.

22. Phillip Merling, DE, 6-5/275, Clemson
Merling is a big, well built defensive end who shocked many scouts by leaving school early. He must have a strong performance at the NFL Combine and other pre-draft workouts to move up draft boards.

23. Pat Sims, DT, 6-3/315, Auburn
Sims is a big, strong defensive tackle with good athleticism and has the talent to move up draft boards fast because there are not many elite defensive tackles in the '08 draft.

24. James Hardy, WR, 6-6/220, Indiana
Hardy is a huge receiver who was a star at Indiana from the get-go, but he lacks elite speed and does not work hard on every snap.

25. Vernon Gholston, DE, 6-4/260, Ohio State
Gholston is a premier but raw athlete. He is inconsistent and must greatly improve to reach his potential.

26. Jerod Mayo, LB, 6-1/235, Tennessee
Mayo is undersized but makes a ton of plays. He must perform well in pre-draft workouts to get drafted on Day 1.

27. Jake Ikegwuonu, CB, 6-0/200, Wisconsin
Ikegwuonu is tall and athletic. He looked like a star as a sophomore but struggled in '07, so he needs a big spring to claim a good draft spot.

28. Geno Hayes, LB, 6-2/220, Florida State
Hayes always is around the ball making tackles, but he lacks ideal size and speed. He will fall to the third round unless he runs well at the NFL Combine.

29. Anthony Collins, OT, 6-5/310, Kansas
Collins is big, strong and aggressive, and he should move up draft boards this spring.

Note: This list initially was a top 30, but the No. 12 player, Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher, decided Wednesday he would return to college for his senior season.

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