Alright, here we go. A maybe quick, maybe not, we'll see summation of my thoughts on the 2008 draft class. I'll be liveblogging, at the very least, the first day of the draft tomorrow - the second day's still up in the air, I may have some family commitments due to Greek Easter, but I'll definitely chime in early next week on my second day thoughts at the worst. FOOTBALL SEASON IS STARTING BACK UP. So, let's kick it off with my top five prospects:
1. Jake Long, OT, Michigan: The Dolphins got it right, although honestly, that says more about the lack of a standout player in this draft than anything else. I don't think Long is quite Joe Thomas, but he's an extremely safe pick. At worst, he'll be very good, and at best, he'll be a ten-year franchise tackle and a Pro Bowl mainstay.
2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU: The knee injuries are a bit of a concern - God, what cheapshots by Auburn - but he's every bit the prospect as Long. I gave Long the #1 ranking because of the premium I put on his position, and again, the minor injury concerns with Dorsey, but Dorsey's also a guy who, at worst, will be a very good player (and may have a reputation to get voted to the Pro Bowl a bunch of times anyway.)
3. Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville: Yes, really. Brohm is the best QB in this class by a mile, and the only one with superstar potential. He's a four year starter with a wonderful pedigree, and the only real concern is injuries - ironic that he actually stayed healthy his senior year, but got knocked down possibly a round because...well, his team's defense was awful? Louisville was only a 6-6 team, but that was no fault of Brohm, as without him they'd...well, probably still be 6-6, but that's only because backup Hunter Cantwell may be the best QB in the '09 class. But the point stands.
4. Chris Long, DE, Virginia: Barely over #5. Probably the safest pick in this draft, kind of like A.J. Hawk a few years ago - he'll step in and contribute immediately, even if he doesn't have the supposed upside of some other guys. That's not really much of a knock though - the other guys have the potential to be the best in the NFL at their position (well, Indy and New England have pretty good QBs, so maybe not Brohm), while Chris Long will probably "only" be a many-time Pro Bowler at best. Not bad when there seems to be no real worst case scenario.
5. Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State: He's going to be very good. He's going to need time to develop, so someone could possibly fuck it up, which is why I have him below Chris Long. But still - dude's scary, and if bad coaching hasn't ruined him (say, if he winds up in Oakland and God only knows what happens) in two or three years, he'll be one of the league leaders in sacks.
1. Brian Brohm, Louisville
2. Chad Henne, Michigan: I went back and forth between him and Ryan, but gave Henne the edge for consistency throughout his college career. Four year starter, completion percentage around 60%. The fact that there's really nothing to say about Henne and I have him #2 in the class kind of underscores the blahness of this group. He's projected about where he should go - second-roundish. He'll be a fine NFL quarterback, best case have a career path like Chad Pennington, where he'll be a decent starter with maybe a top-tier year or two sprinkled in, and worst-case he'll wind up as a Brian Griese-type spot starter/top backup.
3. Matt Ryan, Boston College: The same guy as Henne, except he's been doing it only three years and tied for #2 in the NCAA in interceptions (thank you, North Texas's Giovanni Vizza). Ryan's a fine QB, nothing more, nothing less - though, to be fair, he WAS the best offensive player in the ACC when Clemson didn't feel like showing up. God the ACC was horrible last year. Anyway, let's play WHICH QUARTERBACK WOULD YOU WANT BASED ON THEIR 2007 STATS:
1. 388/654 (59.3%), 4507 yards, 6.9 yards/att, 31/19 TD/INT
2. 308/473 (65.1%), 4024 yards, 8.5 yards/att, 30/12 TD/INT
3. 359/510 (70.4%), 4343 yards, 8.5 yards/att, 38/17 TD/INT
QB #2 looks the best - efficient both in terms of completions as well as TD's vs. INT's. That's Brian Brohm. QB #3's also pretty good - the TD/INT ratio isn't as shiny, but man, look at that completion percentage. That's Colt Brennan, he of the supposedly untouchable statistics in the Hawaii offense that does nothing but pass. Yet Matt Ryan, QB #1, somehow had 25% MORE attempts than Brennan (and I realize Brennan had some injury problems, but 25%?) and...meh. He looks like a decent guy who got a bunch of counting stats because his team threw the ball a hell of a lot. I don't mean to dump on Ryan, but the man's just not worthy of a top 10 pick. He should probably go around the same place as someone who I saw as a comparison, a perfect comparison for the disappointing but perfectly fine career that I see Ryan having - the last pick of the 2002 first round, Patrick Ramsey. Please wind up somewhere with an offensive line, Matt!
4. John David Booty, USC: A more intriguing/risky version of the two guys above. He'll probably be a safe pick, as he has a pedigree and excellent college numbers, he's not viewed as much of an "upside" guy, but still, I have the lingering feeling this guy is undervalued. His one healthy year as a starter was comparable to one of Henne's or Ryan's best years, and he still put up very good numbers despite struggling with a thumb injury. I don't think he has the superstar potential of Brohm, but he could wind up the #2 QB in this class pretty easily.
5. Andre' Woodson, Kentucky: Hey, this guy. This forgotten guy. Not ready to be a starter at all at this point, but please explain why JaMarcus Russell was the slam dunk #1 pick in '07 and Woodson may fall to the second day. Because Russell beat Notre Dame in a bowl game? Everyone does that! Anyway, Woodson's an excellent developmental QB, and falling far could be a blessing if he winds up in a position to be brought along slowly. This guy, he has the potential to be the top QB in this class when all's said and done. Or he could be out of the league by 2011 because of bad mechanics.
6. Joe Flacco, Delaware: ???. These I-AA guys are a crapshoot - Flacco has nice numbers, nice size, but again, who knows with these guys. He's a better prospect than Tarvaris Jackson - how's that for faint praise? This is where "guy who may be pretty good" rates in this class relative to the other known quantities.
7. Dennis Dixon, Oregon: Another crapshoot guy. Who knows with the knee. Who knows if he had the capability to be a starter before the knee. Dixon had a 12/14 TD/INT ratio splitting time as a junior, then broke the fuck out his senior year, with a 67.6 completion percentage, a 20/4 TD/INT ratio, and hey, the guy can run too. He could very well be a one-year wonder, but hey, worth a shot.
8. Colt Brennan, Hawaii: There's SOMETHING there. Whether it's NFL talent or just the skill set to be the fucking awesomest Arena League QB ever, we'll see.
9. Paul Smith, Tulsa: He could easily be #6, as Smith is sort of Kevin Kolb Lite. Three year starter, not four. Tulsa wasn't quite as highly touted as Houston. And while both run neato offenses, Smith's college stats are a hair worse. Still, the guy's pretty good, and while a backup/3rd QB career is likely his future, I wouldn't be surprised if he wound up like, say, Tim Rattay, getting drafted very late and starting at the occassional point in time.
10. Erik Ainge, Tennessee: He really was awful those first two years. Still, he's gotten much better. Not much to get excited about, he'll probably stick around as...I dunno, whatever Chris Simms is sticking around as. Is Chris Simms still in the league? Wikipedia says Chris Simms is still in the league! Good for him.
OTHER PEOPLE, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
Josh Johnson, San Diego: His 2007 stat line, just because it should be posted: 206/301 (68.4%), 2988 yards, 9.9 yards/att, 43/1 TD/INT. Yes, 43/1. And he ran for 726 yards and 2 TD. He probably won't stick, and if so it'll probably be at WR or something, but still - that's neat.
Kevin O'Connell, San Diego State: Looks like a quarterback, but as far as playing like one? Ehhhh.
Anthony Morelli, Penn State: See Kevin O'Connell, add in laughter instead of "Ehhhh."
Matt Flynn, LSU: Matt Mauck stuck around the league for a few years, so there's hope.
Alex Brink, Washington State: Like Paul Smith, could stick around the league for quite awhile, and maybe even start occassionally. He had a great individual college career while accomplishing pretty much nothing. He's like Ken Dorsey at Miami, but stuck in some horrible alternate universe.
Sam Keller, Nebraska: Ehhhh. I like him more than a lot of the other guys in this section (I definitely have him behind Brink, others I'm not so sure), but he probably won't amount to much.
Ricky Santos, New Hampshire: Named the top I-AA player of 2006, and put up some wacky stats (if not quite Josh Johnson wacky) over his career. Has an excellent four-year track record, and is regarded as having leadership and such, so he'll probably stick around for quite a bit.
Omar Haugabook, Troy: Raw as shit, but there's definitely something there, both physically and statistically. Definitely a guy worth a late-round flier as something more than training camp fodder.
T.C. Ostrander, Stanford: I've seen him in mock drafts. Why?
1. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon: Yeah, fuck it. He could easily be a bust, especially with his recent surgery, but if any guy has a chance to have an Adrian Peterson-esque impact, it's this guy. He's strong, he's fast, he's underrated for playing in the Pac 10, I'm a fan.
2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas: I don't see it. He's a top-15 talent, yes, probably a top-10 one, but I don't see the arguments that he's the best player in this class. He's not quite as overrated as Matt Ryan, but I see it as a similar situation, where Arkansas ran their offense through the man, and he was able to put up excellent counting stats that way. But yeah, he's still starting material, he could see a Pro Bowl or two, but as far as an absolute stud sure thing? Meh.
3. Felix Jones, Arkansas: Worth a late-first pick. He holds the NCAA career record for yards per carry, so there's definitely something there. Just don't know what. At least Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams had years where they carried a whole workload in college - Felix Jones is much more of an unknown. He's an unknown quantity that will almost surely be very good - and in this class, that's where that ranks.
4. Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois: Meh. Never overly impressed me, but he's a solid back without much wear and tear on him. Probably shouldn't go top 15 or whatever people are projecting, but he should stick as long as he isn't run out of the league for being a supposed bust.
5. Anthony Alridge, Houston: Curveball! Alridge has been alternately listed as a RB and WR where I've seen him, and he's done both in college. He's a very good return man, a pretty good receiver, and oh yeah - as a junior he ran for 10.1 yards a carry. And not as a fluke, it was over 95 carries. Alridge has elite level speed and athleticism, versatility, and college production, and while it may be a bit of a flier, in a class this weak, he could at least be, say, a poor man's version of what Reggie Bush was supposed to be. Hey, that'd make him the real Reggie Bush! Neat.
6. Ray Rice, Rutgers: He's been flying a bit under the radar, though there's not much to say about him. He's very good, probably doesn't have the size or athleticism to be great, but should stick around as a committee back/backup for quite awhile.
7. Matt Forte, Tulane: A hard-nosed back with potential as a receiver who was productive as fuck at Tulane. Like Rice, probably doesn't have the physical tools to be a stud or anything, but he could easily be a physical back that winds up having an out of nowhere year, like say, Justin Fargas.
8. Jamaal Charles, Texas: Ehhh. Would've liked to see him do it again after his breakout junior year. Still, talent and potential are there, and hey, he had one more breakout year than a lot of guys do.
9. Mike Hart, Michigan: Good enough to stick, but too tiny/injured to guarantee doing much else.
10. Chris Johnson, East Carolina: Another one-year wonder, and much more of an out of nowhere one. Sure is fast, though. I'm not convinced.
11. Kevin Smith, Central Florida: 450 carries? Really? Based on talent, Smith could be bumped up past Hart at the worst and Rice at the best, but after 450 carries, I'm not sure he has anything left in him.
OTHER RUNNING BACKS:
Steve Slaton, West Virginia: I've said for years he's a system back, I just figured before a few months ago that someone would waste a first-round pick before figuring it out.
Chauncey Washington, USC: Has been stuck with the "dumb" tag. I am skeptical of him.
Tony Temple, Missouri: Had the awesome Cotton Bowl, which pretty much assures him a chance to stick. Could be a solid backup, could be out of the league due to injuries by 2010.
Dantrell Savage, Oklahoma State: A solid running back, nothing more, nothing less. The type of guy who winds up undrafted and starting for the Broncos in two years.
Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech: Like Temple, another high-production, high-injury risk type. Probably has more upside than Temple.
Allen Patrick, Okahoma: Intriguing - never was a full-time back for the Sooners, but always looked pretty good. Could be the surprise of this class.
Justin Forsett, California: Meh. Size and speed (or lack thereof) are working against him, sadly. The type of guy who could stick if the stars align just right, but will probably wind up cut in training camp or some such.
Yvenson Bernard, Oregon State: Small, but was consistently productive and has the talent to stick. Probably not durable enough to ever be a starter, but there's committee back-type upside here if things play out correctly.
Ryan Torain, Arizona State: Physical back that had one great year coming out of junior college before missing most of his senior year with a foot injury. If he can get back to 100%, he could be a steal as a developmental back. If.
Jehuu Caulcrick, Michigan State: An intriguing prospect, just a big ol' dude who, at the very least, will be an excellent short-yardage/goal-line back. Which actually probably makes him the surest thing out of these guys.
Owen Schmitt, West Virginia and Peyton Hillis, Arkansas: TOKEN FULLBACKS
Devin Thomas, Michigan State: What? Because Malcolm Kelly sucked at his workout, Thomas may actually be the first receiver off the board. Um, I guess Troy Williamson was a better pick than Mike Williams, but does nobody learn from these workout warriors?
Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt: Probably the best receiver in a class I don't really like. Kind of like Chris Long, there's not much of a downside, and while he may not have "upside", the upside is a very good player while a lot of the other guys could be busts.
Limas Sweed, Texas: The other contender for best WR in this class - a bit of an unknown thanks to a wrist injury that cost him most of 2007. Should stick fairly easily, but I'm not sure if the star potential is there.
DeSean Jackson, California: His small size is a killer, but he should be an excellent return man at the very least. Definitely behind Bennett, but #3 behind Sweed at the worst.
Mario Manningham, Michigan: Hey, this guy. A forgotten man thanks to some sort of character issues. Chris Henry showed that's a concern and all, but in a class this weak, he's probably still worth a high second-rounder or so for a team jonesing for a WR. Could wind up being the best receiver in this class, or could wind up out of the league by 2012 or so.
Early Doucet, LSU: Like Bennett, a fairly safe pick, although Doucet comes with the downside of an injury history.
Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma: OU receivers - meh. His horrible workouts were a killer, and just...blah. My gut feeling is he'll probably be a Rashaun Woods-type bust. (Yes, I know Woods was OK State, for the record.)
Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State: Speaking of OK State, another forgotten man for reasons I'm not entirely sure of. Should wind up being a solid #2 or #3, and could easily be a steal if he drops to the later rounds.
James Hardy, Indiana: ATHLETICISM! Hardy was at least consistently decent before his breakout junior year, so I think his workouts are less of a red herring re: his potential than, say, Devin Thomas's.
THERE ARE SOME!
You know, I'll leave the rest for the liveblog - frankly, the skill position players are always the most interesting to write about, and this took way longer than I had figured on. See you in 16 hours!