It's the prime of NFL Draft season, football die-hards. Tis' the season when Big Boards make their presence known. Here's my crack at identifying the top 10 prospects for this April's go-round.
1. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
I recently wrote en extensive article singing the praises of "DMac" that can be found here.
The short of it is that DMac succeeded under difficult circumstances at Arkansas, particularly this past year.
When considering this, along with gaining an appreciation for his rare athleticism and physical skills, I can't understand why he could be anywhere but No. 1 on anyone's big board.
Most Likely Destination: Jets, No. 6 pick. One of the best bargains in recent draft history if it happens.
2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Lately there have been concerns voiced over the litany of Dorsey's lingering injuries\health problems.
While I don't question the relevance of such inquiries, I'm inclined to let Dorsey's explosive, dominating play trump said health concerns in considering where he ranks among this year's elite talents.
He's got rare quickness and disruptive ability for a DT, and he may be the best prospect at his position we've seen in a while.
Most Likely Destination: Raiders, No. 4 pick. Anyone else think Glenn Dorsey would look exceedingly intimidating in Silver and Black? I sure do.
3. Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Long is a classic top drawer tackle prospect.
Though he doesn't project as well as last year's premier offensive lineman, Joe Thomas, does, he still seems like a lock to offer great edge protection for years to come.
Most Likely Destination: Rams, No. 2 pick. If the Rams nab Long, their playoff woes may soon be over.
4. Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
Gholston's draft profile offers not only excellent production, including a dismantling of Jake Long this past season, but also rare workout numbers and measurables.
He's exceptionally explosive off the edge with the ability to bull-rush effectively as a result of his fantastic upper-body strength (37 reps of 225 lbs—nuff' said).
Most Likely Destination: Pats, No. 7 pick. I don't even want to think about the Pats with the freak Gholston in the mix.
5. Chris Long, DE\OLB, Virginia
Chris is the son of Howie Long, former Raider and NFL Hall of Famer. Talk about an advantageous pedigree.
Long had an exceptional combine. He has the ability to play DE in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, and OLB in the 3-4 as well. Long is best known for his superb "motor," and he’s got some great strength and athleticism to go along with it.
It was difficult to drop Long below Gholston, but in the end it was Gholston's raw athleticism that rendered my decision.
Most Likely Destination: Dolphins, No. 1 pick. Not really surprising given Bill Parcells' infatuation with high-motor "football" players.
6. Malcom Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
Kelly isn't in many experts Top 20, much less Top 10.
So what’s got me marching to the beat of a different drummer than the experts?
Well, when I watch Kelly on tape, I see an exceptional athlete with top-notch hands and ball skills. In my opinion, he's the best athlete among this year's crop of wideouts, and perhaps one of the top three or four athletes in the draft.
Add in the fact that he's got a nearly prototypical wide receiver's body at 6-foot-4, 219-pounds, and I, at least, am inclined to project this guy as a future star in the NFL.
Most Likely Destination: Bills, No. 11 pick. As of right now, Texas WR Limas Sweed is the favorite for this pick, however, I'm confident the Bills will come to their senses after Kelly works out.
7. Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Ryan isn't a prototypical top notch QB prospect with awesome physical tools across the board.
However, his arm strength is more than sufficient, and his intangibles are top notch. I really like what I see in Ryan, and though he may never become a star, I'd bet my lunch money he develops into a solid starter.
Most Likely Destination: Falcons, No. 3. You can pretty much lock this one up.
8. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Mendenhall seems to be the "flavor of the month" after a very nice combine and a highly productive 2007 season.
He's probably the most complete runner in this year's draft, with some great feet, a solid top gear, and the ability to consistently dole out punishment between the tackles. Not to mention a perfect frame for an NFL running back—5-foot-11, 225-pounds.
I'm not ready to dub Mendenhall a future elite NFL runner, as I am McFadden, but I do see a sure thing who will be a rock for years to come.
Most Likely Destination: Panthers, No. 13. I could also see a team trading up to the top 10 to nab the fast-rising Illini product.
9. Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Ellis had an eye-opening Senior Bowl week, clearly establishing himself as the top lineman in attendance.
Looking at Ellis, I don't quite see the dominating force like Dorsey, but there's no denying he'll be a disruptive gap-plugger—something that is always highly coveted at the top of an NFL Draft.
Most Likely Destination: Saints, No. 10. Talk about an improved defense with the addition of Ellis and former Jets LB Jonathan Vilma. They should get good Super Bowl odds with those two in the mix.
10. Keith Rivers, LB, USC
Exceptional athlete for the position, highly productive for a USC team that sported arguably the best LB core in the country this past season.
What else is there to say? Rivers is one of the lone bright spots among an uncharacteristically weak class of linebackers.
Most Likely Destination: Broncos, No. 12. Keith would be an immediate impact player for the Orange and Blue.