The NFL Draft is a few days away.
The best players in 2008 will make the leap from amateur to pro in the blink of an eye and will forever say goodbye to the unique experience that is college football.
The excitement of the draft got me thinking. If I could draft a fantasy team made up of current college football players, who would I pick?
Keeping in mind what type of offense (balanced spread) and defense (4-3 base), who would best fit into my system? Do I take character issues into account? What guys fit best together?
Keep in mind that this isn't meant to be an all-star list. There very well could be a better player at any given position. The players I've selected are the players I would want on my team.
I will be selecting players to fill a 25-man roster—11 each on offense and defense, 1 kicker, 1 punter, and 1 return specialist.
The best part about my draft is that every player is available because I'm the only one picking.
On to the draft!
6'4" — 218 lbs.
2008 stats: 4,720 yards, 50 TDs
Hard to argue with taking the current Heisman Trophy winner.
Bradford, Oklahoma's amazingly accurate and quick-thinking passer, led the highest-scoring team in major college history to the BCS title game last season.
Also considered: Colt McCoy (Texas), Case Keenum (Houston), Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State), Tim Tebow (Florida)
5'10" — 193 lbs.
2008 stats: 1,580 yards, 15 TDs
Best had a breakout year in 2008 and enters the 2009 season as a bona fide Heisman contender. Whether taking a hand-off or catching a pass, the speedy back just makes things happen.
Also considered: Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), John Clay (Wisconsin)
6'2" — 210 lbs.
2008 stats: 1,480 yards, 19 TDs
Bryant's 2008 wide receiver rating (1924) ranks as the strongest wide receiver performance in the past five seasons of FBS college football.
This season, Bryant is a Heisman contender.
Also considered: Julio Jones (Alabama)
6'3" — 200 lbs.
2008 stats: 1,407 yards, 15 TDs
Briscoe was a second-team All-Big 12 selection last year and was third in the NCAA in receiving yards.
Briscoe was suspended for spring practices for breaking an unspecified team rules. Mark Mangino announced his reinstatement on April 22.
Also considered: Golden Tate (Notre Dame), Antonio Brown (Central Michigan)
6'4" — 190 lbs.
2008 stats: 963 yards, 8 TDs
Considering that he had a nagging groin injury all of last season, the production Green gave Georgia last season is all the more impressive.
Now completely healthy, the sophomore will be primed for a breakout season.
Also considered: Jimmy Young (TCU)
6'5" — 250 lbs.
2008 stats: 1,083 yards, 6 TDs
Pitta had the third-most catches of any FBS tight end (78) and the most receiving yards. Strange that he wasn't one of the three finalists for the John Mackey Award last season.
Also considered: Jermaine Gresham (Oklahoma), Garrett Graham (Wisconsin)
6'5" — 308 lbs.
Oklahoma coaches considered Trent Williams the most underrated member of the offensive line last season.
After starting the final 13 games of the 2008 season at right tackle, Williams will slide to the left side where he will protect Bradford's blind side. How's that for responsibility?
6'6" — 305 lbs.
Okung has built himself into one of the best left tackles in the country. Though the long and athletic tackle seems perfectly built for the NFL, he decided to return to Stillwater for his senior season, despite many believing he was a sure first-round pick.
6'5" — 300 lbs.
O'Dowd started all season at center as a sophomore in 2008 and proved to be among the nation's top young centers.
He made the 2008 All-Pac-10 first team, College Football News Sophomore All-American second team, and won USC's Offensive Lineman of the Year Award.
6'5" — 312 lbs.
Pouncey started in all 14 games last season and was named to the second-team All-SEC team and College Football News' All-Sophomore team. Pouncey is quick and great at knocking defenders to the ground.
6'6" — 305 lbs.
Johnson was a force for the Tide all last season. Playing alongside Andre Smith, the left side was solid as a rock. When Smith was suspended for Alabama's bowl game, Johnson showed his versatility by filling in.
6'2" — 248 lbs
2008 stats: 52 tackles, 15 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions
Hughes was one of the biggest revelations of the 2008 season. He led the nation with 15 sacks and had 3 interceptions. Not bad for a guy who came to college as a running back.
Also considered: Brandon Graham (Michigan)
6'4" — 265 lbs.
2008 stats: 17 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 interception
Injuries forced Hardy to miss six games last season, but he still posted a team-high 8.5 sacks. He had 10 sacks in '07. If he maintains his focus, he could lead the SEC in sacks this season.
Also considered: Corey Wootton (Northwestern), Carlos Dunlap (Florida)
6'4" — 295 lbs.
2008 stats: 26 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 interception
He possesses stunning quickness for someone of his size, which makes him arguably the country's best inside pass rusher. McCoy is mobile enough to make plays up and down the line of scrimmage.
Also considered: Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska)
6'5" — 365 lbs.
2008 stats: 24 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 1 forced fumble
The Crimson Tide ranked second nationally in rushing defense last season and Cody was a big reason – literally and figuratively. Cody, a 6-5, 365-pound wall, is the country's premier run-stuffer. He likely would have been a first-round NFL draft choice, but he opted to return for his senior season.
Also considered: Tyson Alualu (Cal)
6'3" — 245 lbs.
2008 stats: 87 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions
Little wonder why fans in Gainesville have given him the nickname "Predator".
The dreadlocks, Fu Manchu-like mustache, menacing stare and muscular frame make Florida All-American linebacker Brandon Spikes look like a beast. He plays like one, too.
Also considered: Navarro Bowman (Penn State)
6'2" — 230 lbs.
2008 stats: 122 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions
After leading North Carolina in tackles in his first full season as a starter, he’s on the cusp of a statement season for one of the country’s fast-rising programs.
Still learning the position, Sturdivant figures to be even more stingy and disruptive in his second year as a full-timer.
Also considered: Sean Lee (Penn State)
6'4" — 238 lbs.
2008 stats: 110 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 5 interceptions
Painting his face with eye black adds to his intimidating presence, but it's really not needed. The reigning ACC defensive player of the year, Herzlich made 110 tackles last season, including 81 solo stops.
He also led the nation's linebackers with six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns.
Also considered: Travis Lee (Oklahoma)
5'9" — 187 lbs.
2008 stats: 70 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions
Thompson may be slight in size, but don't let that fool you. He packs a powerful punch when making an open field tackle or getting after the quarterback.
Oh... and he can cover too. Thompson is primed for a very special year and could very well be the best corner in the country.
Also considered: Joe Haden (Florida)
6'0" — 180 lbs.
2008 stats: 50 tackles, 5 interceptions
Lindley, arguably the best cover corner in the country, turned down an opportunity in the pros to return to UK for his senior season. His reason? "There's always room for improvement." The All-American is humble, too.
Also considered: Ras-I Dowling (Virginia)
5'11" — 195 lbs.
2008 stats: 72 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 interceptions
Although he plays defense, Berry was one of Tennessee's greatest offensive threats last year. He had seven interceptions for 265 return yards—a record 37.9 yards per return. His yardage would have made him the Vols' fourth most-productive receiver.
Also considered: Morgan Burnett (Georgia Tech)
6'3" — 230 lbs.
2008 stats: 53 tackles
Would you want to go over the middle with a 6-3, 230-pound free safety lurking? A two-time All-American, Mays packs a powerful punch and always seems to be in the right place.
Also considered: Kurt Coleman (Ohio State)
6'1" — 202 lbs.
2008 stats: 18 of 20 field goals, 40 of 40 PATs
Bosher isn't your average kicker. He gets in his licks along with his kicks. He bench presses 325 pounds, squats 455 pounds and registered more tackles last season than several members of the defense. Oh... he's also deadly accurate, which doesn't hurt.
Also considered: Kai Forbath (UCLA)
6'5" — 235 lbs.
2008 stats: 80 punts (43 yard average) for 3,436 yards, 24 punts inside the 20
Last year, Mesko bailed Michigan out of a lot of tough situations by booting the ball well down field close to the sidelines to prevent long returns.
But what's really turning heads in the college football world is Mesko's ability to bring specialization to different situations.
Also considered: Derek Epperson (Baylor)
5'7" — 186 lbs.
2008 stats: 1,402 all-purpose yards, 5 TDs
Florida's pint sized speedster has eyebrow-raising moves and a knack for making game-changing plays. James is also the best returner in the country, hands down.
Also considered: No one. James is a no-brainer.