2008 NFL Draft: Top 10 Players Analyzed

Brendan MajevCorrespondent IApril 8, 2008

1. Chris Long, DE, Virginia. He has to be the top of the board because he has a 90 percent chance of being Pro Bowler, and a sure starter barring an unforeseen injury. 

It'd take a lot for me to even consider changing this pick.

He is already technically sound, tremendously strong, plays with high intensity, and has tremendous football awareness.

Players like this don't come along very often and most defensive ends play with finesse instead of power.

Long plays with power and the correct leverage to apply it. He'll be able to overmatch some offensive tackles that you never see beaten, and while he isn't fast, he isn't slow and possesses ability to pursue.

2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, Louisiana State. One of the most decorated defensive players in LSU history, he has the ability to anchor against two blockers and not give ground and uses his brute strength to overpower single defenders.

Leverage is also a key component of Dorsey's play.

He flat-out overwhelms defending centers with regularity, and has a wide variety of moves. Dorsey has some injury baggage, but not necessarily a level to be concerned about.

While he projects as a DT, he could probably play DE in a 3-4 scheme.

3. Jake Long, OT, Michigan. Long is the consensus top lineman in the 2008 draft, and I am inclined to agree.

He is a tremendous run blocker at both the first and second level, and finishes blocks effectively (often with defenders on their butts).

He's somewhat less effective as a pass blocker, but his pass blocking is not a concern as he locked down good pass rushers against Illinois, Florida, and Michigan State during the 2007 season.

While he may end up as a right tackle due to his limited agility, Long warrants a shot at the left tackle position.

4. Sedrick Ellis, DT, Southern California. He is a tremendous force inside and was an exceptionally difficult assignment because of his greatest strengths.

First, his ability to shed blocks. And second his inside quickness.

He has a tendency to occupy two blockers – a tremendously desirable attribute – and he also has a nose for the football.

While he may lack ideal size, he plays with tremendous quickness and shows the strength to bull rush defenders.

5. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas. Clearly the elite runner on anyone's draft board, McFadden has the blazing speed that is so coveted by NFL teams at the RB position.

He has also proven to be a complete receiver out of the backfield and has the ability to be a game-breaking player. However, I'm not convinced about his power and durability between the tackles at the NFL level.

Reggie Bush, famed speed back out of USC, often turned the corner against slower college defenses. NFL defenses have much better lateral speed, and so McFadden will have to prove his mettle running at the teeth of a defense before the corner will open up for him on fakes or pitches.

I can't place him higher than No. 5 when the players above him are closer to being sure stars.

6. Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB Ohio State. What Chris Long is not, Vernon Gholston is.

Long is technical; Gholston is somewhat raw. Long is a tremendous football player; Gholston is a tremendous athlete. Long is strong; Gholston is fast.

He's a potential superstar pass rusher, something that can be very difficult to find, but has so far skated a little bit on sheer athletic ability.

At Ohio State, he was most often rushing the QB or occasionally dropping into zone coverage.

Like McFadden, he has amazing upside. But his lack of polish means that he could end up a bust, however unlikely that may seem given his physical tools. He's a real risk, but he will cause left tackles to lose sleep on Saturday nights.

7. Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College. What separates Ryan from the other QB's is that he is an NFL-ready prospect. He is missing one thing: a proverbial "rifle arm."

However, for a team that needs a game manager-type QB, look no further – you won't find a better one – all but a handful of his interceptions came on the long balls. While he isn't a vertical passer, he made BC a force to be reckoned with a pretty average supporting cast.

He probably won't be the next Brady or Manning, but I'd wager an arm that he'll be a very solid starter for years to come.

8. DeSean Jackson, WR, California. Separation is the key for Jackson. If your defense sees him with the ball in space, hope that you don't give up six points within the next blink of your eye.

He's an explosive return man with elite 40 speed (4.32) and perhaps even better acceleration. He's not that effective against bump-and-run coverage, but if you miss him, you'd better have good recovery speed.

Jackson has improved his route running this past year and is fairly crisp most of the time. However, he's not very strong and might not be an over-the-middle receiver, along the lines of Ted Ginn.

He has the ability of a No. 1 receiver, especially if a team can regularly get him the ball in space.

9. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois. He's not a monster at 5 feet 11 inches, 210 pounds, but has impressive strength and power running inside.

He has good top-end speed, though not like that of McFadden, and reaches it quickly. He's a natural receiver coming out of the backfield, and was often asked to block incoming blitzers.

He does lack a variety of open-field moves, and while he his aforementioned speed is pretty good, he is more of a straight-line type runner when at top speed.

10. Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State. An underclassman, Clady is less polished than Long but is more of an athlete than his more highly ranked competitor.

Whereas Long excels in the running game, Clady may be more of a pass blocker, with great lateral agility, good strength, and good technique. He does finish off run blocks, but isn't quite as "nasty" and compensates with good explosion in his first step.

He's an impressive second-level blocker thanks to his athleticism, able to find a linebacker and take him out of the play. He's almost certainly a left tackle prospect given his aptitude at pass blocking.

OTHER NOTABLES & reasons left out of Top 10

11. Keith Rivers, OLB, Southern California. The top linebacker in the class may be more of a boom-or-bust type with a tendency to get fooled by fakes, nullifying his great athleticism.

12. Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida. A good corner, but maybe a better safety as he lacks great anticipation.

13. Dan Connor, ILB, Penn State. The latest from Linebacker U, Connor sometimes has too much trouble shedding blocks once a defender locks onto him.

14. Kenny Phillips, FS, Miami. Has tremendous upside, but lacks the superior instincts of a former Hurricane safety, Ed Reed.

15. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona. He is a playmaker, but doesn't have the raw athletic talent to keep pace with the best receivers in the NFL. May compare with a Ronde Barber, who fits best in a Tampa 2 scheme.


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