NFL DRAFT 2008: Profiles of The Top Players by Position Print
Written by Anthony Rome   
Saturday, 19 April 2008 14:37
NFL Headline News

Draft Outlook

Take a look at the notable offensive players such as Matt Ryan, Jake Long and Darren McFadden in the NFL draft, which is April 26 and 27.

Notable offensive players in the NFL draft, grouped by projected NFL positions.
QUARTERBACK
Position Outlook: There's no golden boy for everyone to drool over this year, but lots of teams will be hoping to unearth their franchise cornerstone among some of the good, but not flawless, prospects.
MATT RYAN, 6-foot-5, 224 pounds, Boston College: Has all the tools to succeed in the modern NFL. Is tall enough to see over defenses, quick to check down through receivers, and can avoid the rush and throw on the run. His one weakness is the deep ball. Calm under pressure. Showed toughness when dealing with left foot injuries in junior year, but had surgery in January 2007 and a successful senior year.
-Brian Brohm, 6-3, 227, Louisville: Sharp, quick to digest offenses. Makes all throws accurately, but lacks elite arm strength. Some injury and durability concerns.
-Chad Henne, 6-2, 225, Michigan: Four-year starter with good arm strength and vision. Not an improviser; accuracy degrades with any pressure.
-Joe Flacco, 6-7, 236, Delaware: Raw ability is there, but footwork and mechanics need improvement. Comes from shotgun system (after transferring from Pittsburgh). Elite arm strength, and improving vision moved him up boards at workouts and postseason games.
-Andre Woodson, 6-5, 224, Kentucky: Has the smarts and physical tools to be an NFL starter. Was given freedom to call own plays at the line in college. Slow release and quiet huddle presence are drawbacks, as are occasionally crossed-up mechanics.
-John David Booty, 6-3, 213: Southern Cal: Efficient and effective on short and intermediate passes, but to make deep throws he must be flawless in technique. Still learning to make reads effectively. Some injury history there.
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RUNNING BACK
Position Outlook: After Darren McFadden, there's plenty of choice, including a player named Tashard Choice (Georgia Tech). McFadden's Arkansas teammate, Felix Jones, is a budding star in his own right, as could be Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall.

s an issue there in college.
-Rashard Mendenhall, 5-11, 210, junior, Illinois: A load who relies on superb vision more than quick cutting or outright speed. Downhill, one-cut style runner, but not totally a runaway truck type.
-Jonathan Stewart, 5-11, 235, Oregon: Compact, agile bowling ball of a back who doesn't fear contact and doesn't get brought down easily. Decent speed, but not going to blow people away. Struggled with nagging injuries.
-Felix Jones, 6-0, 200, junior, Arkansas: If he didn't play on the same team as McFadden, he'd be much more known. As it is, he's an explosive, shifty back who does his best work in open space. Needs to run with a lower pad level, gain strength to shake initial tacklers. Could be factor on kick returns.
-Ray Rice, 5-8, 199, junior, Rutgers: Size is biggest concern, but durability and lack of top gear are also issues. Keeps legs driving and can change directions quickly. Not easy to bring down.
-Jamaal Charles, 5-11, 200, Texas: Built like a sprinter, and accelerates like one, too. Too easy to bring down right now, but has the frame to add size and strength.
-Chris Johnson, 5-11, 195, East Carolina: Explosive outside runner with natural hands and plenty of experience running routes; he even lined up at WR some. Could be a nice weapon in the right scheme and on kick returns.
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WIDE RECEIVER
Position outlook: Judging future booms and busts at this position is difficult, but there's no doubting the depth at this position. With the pass so in vogue in the NFL these days, look for several wideouts to come off the board in the mid-to-late first round.

EARLY DOUCET, 6-0, 212, LSU: Long strider with excellent hands and the vision to adjust to the ball in flight. Can come down with the jump ball and stay focused in traffic. Not the greatest deep threat, and occasionally rounds off his cuts. Strong, and hard to bring down. Can be an aggressive blocker. Missed half of senior season due to injuries.
-Devin Thomas, 6-2, 215, junior, Michigan State: Major threat after the catch due to superior speed and strength. Needs to improve deep-ball skills and coverage reading.
-Malcolm Kelly, 6-4, 218, junior, Oklahoma: Weak workouts, followed by his complaining about conditions, dropped his value. Can change direction quickly, but more a long strider than actually fast. Great hands. Excellent, aggressive blocker.
-Desean Jackson, 6-0, 178, junior, California: Speedster who is a threat after the catch as well as on deep balls. Good agility, he can cross up defenders who would otherwise overwhelm his because of his small size. Some injury history. Terrific punt returner.
-Mario Manningham, 6-0, 181, Michigan: Wiggly, elusive receiver who's at his best on deep and outside routes, where he can use his burst to create separation and avoid taking hits. Not a great blocker. Turned off some teams during interviews.
-Limas Sweed, 6-4, 212, Texas: Big receiver who uses his body and arms well, going up for jump balls and overpowering defenders rather than attempting to juke.
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TIGHT END
Position outlook: This position lacks the game-changers of drafts past, but teams with specific holes to fill might find their man here.
M: Played basketball for the Aggies as well, and has the athletic ability to be a nice red-zone target. Lack of speed means he's not a deep threat, but once he improves his routes, his strength and size should make him an asset. Needs to improve zone recognition, too. Good, aggressive blocker.
-Fred Davis, 6-4, 248, Southern Cal: Has the burst off the line and eye for defenses to consistently get open, and especially long arms help him snare off-target passes. A strong prospect to develop into a weapon in the passing game.
-Dustin Keller, 6-3, 242, Purdue: Can develop into a productive receiver with more reps. Hands, speed and athletic ability are there. Some durability concerns.
-John Carlson, 6-5, 251, Notre Dame: Uses his body and jumping ability well enough to become a productive short-area receiver. Blocking needs work.
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OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Position Outlook: A deep and talented tackle class features two blue-chippers in Jake Long and Ryan Clady, and a couple more players just a small step below them. Guards and centers, especially centers, are going to be harder to find.

JAKE LONG, 6-7, 315, Michigan: Bulldozer of a tackle in the run game who can also be a solid insurance policy for any franchise QB. Has the strength to move the pile and aggressiveness and smarts to clear out second-level blockers. Lacks the nimbleness of the truly great LTs, as he'll occasionally get beat by quick edge rushers or a strong second move. Could be the first overall pick.
-Ryan Clady, 6-6, 316, junior, Boise State: This tackle's strengths are mostly the opposite of Long's. Clady is quick and nimble, but not a great drive blocker. Long arms, intelligence also pluses.
-Jeff Otah, 6-6, 340, Pittsburgh: Bulk and lack of athleticism point to his future as a right tackle for a run-heavy team. Raw, but has the tools (including nearly 3-foot long arms) to become a nice choice.
-Chris Williams, 6-6, 315, Vanderbilt: Nimble feet help tackle in pass protection, but needs to get more aggressive and physical in running game. Smart player who uses good technique.
-Branden Albert, 6-6, 309, junior, Virginia: Guard who is strong in the upper body but needs to add leg strength to be at his best. Skilled at trap-blocking, but struggles to get out to the second level. Could wind up at tackle.
-Gosder Cherilus, 6-7, 315, Boston College: Four-year starter at tackle (first three on the right side) who is better in the running game. Huge arms and hands. Needs coaching to fix poor technique in pass protection.
-Mike Pollak, 6-4, 299, Arizona State: The best center prospect of a thin group. Strong, but limited vs. bigger NTs and struggles to find LBs.

 

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