|Updated August 2, 2008 JunkyardJake.Com
#1) Darren McFadden,RB
1st Round (#4) (6'2" ,210) 40 Time=4.34
Complete RB with the size, speed and nifty moves. Compares to Adrian Peterson, with the receiving ability of Marshall Faulk. Updated 8/2 - Jason Fargas figures to begin the season as the starter, but McFadden has dazzled with his speed and play-making ability so far in Oakland camp.
#2) Jonathan Stewart,RB
1st Round (#13) (5'11" ,235) 40 Time=4.45
Power RB that can run over or sprint away from defenders. Only concern is his injury history, but Carolina is apparently considering the use of Stewart as the primary back over incumbant D'Angelo Williams, who is probably better suited for 3rd downs anyway.
#3) Rashard Mendenhall,RB
1st Round (#23) (5'10" ,225) 40 Time=4.42
Mendenhall has a nice combination of strength, speed, acceleration and smarts. He is probably the superior choice over current starter Willie Parker, but Pittsburgh will likely use both backs, with Mendenhall the better bet for goalline carries.
#4) Kevin Smith,RB
3rd Round (#64) (6'1" ,222) 40 Time=4.51
Kevin Smith is not a track star, but has good vision, instincts, durability and work ethic. Updated 8/2 - Smith has worked hard in camp, and has ascended to #2 on the depth chart behind Tatum Bell. Given Bell's flaky history and poor blocking skills, Smith remains an intriguing prospect for 2008.
#5) Matt Forte,RB
2nd Round (#44) (6'2" ,220) 40 Time=4.44
Updated 8/2 - Matt Forte has been everything that the Bears expected so far in camp. He is a determined runner with good quickness, a willing blocker, and displays good receiving skills. Adrian Peterson and Kevin Jones may factor into the RB rotation, but Forte should be the primary RB in Chicago this season.
#6) Chris Johnson,RB
1st Round (#24) (5'11" ,198) 40 Time=4.25
Chris Johnson becomes the leagues fastest RB, but more importantly, he is an instinctive football player who should become a versatile weapon for the Titans as runner, receiver and kick returner. Updated 8/2 - The Titans are enamored with Johnson's big play potential and ability to learn the offense so quickly. In addition to 3rd downs, Johnson could also be in the mix w/ LenDale White on 1st and 2nd downs.
#7) Felix Jones,RB
1st Round (#22) (6'0" ,200) 40 Time=4.42
Blazing speed, great elusiveness and a threat to score from anywhere. Likes to run outside, and he's also a dynamic receiver. Is not known as a proficient inside runner, so he should be a nice complement to Marion Barber and Tashard Choice. Updated 8/2 - The Cowboys are projected to use Jones on 3rd downs, but Barber remains the primary RB.
#8) Ray Rice,RB
2nd Round (#55) (5'8" ,200) 40 Time=4.43
For a small RB, Rice shows a lot of strength and power to go along with his great cut-back ability and lateral movement. Updated 8/2 - Rice has already secured a spot as McGahee's backup, and the Ravens have been very pleased with his work ethic, and pass-catching skills. He figures to get at least 10 carries a game to spell McGahee.
#9) James Hardy,WR
2nd Round (#42) (6'6" ,219) 40 Time=4.45
At long last, Lee Evans has a legitmate teammate to take some of the attention off him. At 6'6", he has the size of a tight end, and while he is not going to run behind the secondary, he shows decent quickness, and runs good routes. Could be an immediate starter for the Bills.
#10) DeSean Jackson,WR
2nd Round (#49) (6'0" ,188) 40 Time=4.35
Jackson, arguably the best deep-threat WR in the 2007 draft, is a very talented receiver with rare speed and agility. Updated 8/2 - Jackson has overcome an early hamstring injury, and has been picking up the Eagles offense pretty well. He probably won't contribute early in this season, but he is someone to keep an eye on.
#11) Dustin Keller,TE
1st Round(#30) (6'2" ,245) 40 Time=4.5
Updated 8/2 - Keller is a converted wide receiver, and while he could use some work on his blocking, the Jets have already been contemplating how to deploy his great speed and receiving skills by spliting him out wide. He could immediately supplant Chris Baker as the primary pass-catching TE for the Jets.
#12) Limas Sweed,WR
2nd Round (#53) (6'4" ,215) 40 Time=4.47
Sweed needs to improve his route running, but there is a lot to like about his natural quickness, change of direction and strong work habits. Updated 8/2 - The Steelers have been pleased with Sweed's progress so far, and he could assume the #3 receiver spot over Nate Washington sooner than expected.
#13) Malcolm Kelly,WR
2nd Round (#51) (6'4" ,225) 40 Time=4.65
Kelly joins Devin Thomas to give Washington an impressive pair of young receivers. Thomas is faster, but Kelly is the more physical, natural pass catcher who has amazing hands. Updated 8/2 - Kelly was a slight favorite over Thomas in camp, but has been setback with a slight hamstring injury.
#14) Eddie Royal,WR
2nd Round (#42) (5'10" ,185) 40 Time=4.39
Eddie Royal makes up for his small stature with elite breakaway speed, and a football intelligence that is advanced for a young player. Updated 8/2 - Royal has surprised Denver with his ability to digest the playbook, and has made an immediate impression during the early stages of camp with his speed, hands and route-running.
#15) Will Franklin,WR
4th Round (#104) (6'1" ,215) 40 Time=4.38
Franklin's physical attributes and raw speed potential compare favorably to any receiver in the 2008 draft class. He fell to the 4th round because of doubts that he can learn a complicated pro offense. He has only Jeff Webb and Devard Darling to beat for a starting spot , so he is a player to watch.
#16) Tim Hightower,RB
5th Round (#149) (6'0" ,225) 40 Time=4.55
Hightower has the prototypical size, vision and power you want in an RB, but the knock on him is his slow 40 time. He lands in a great situation in Arizona, where Edgerrin James is turning 30 this year. Updated 8/2 - Hightower has looked good in camp, running with good power and quickness. His receiving ability has also been stronger than expected.
#17) Ryan Torain,RB
5th Round (#139) (6'1" ,220) 40 Time=4.53
Updated 8/2 - Although he is not known for breakaway speed or elusiveness, Ryan Torain is effective in a one-cut, power running scheme. The Broncos obviously have no reservations using a rookie RB if he can produce, so Torain has as good a chance as Selvin Young, Andre Hall or Michael Pittman in the Broncos RB rotation.
#18) Steve Slaton,RB
3rd Round (#89) (5'9" ,198) 40 Time=4.45
Slaton is a small back who will need to add some weight, but he could be an effective change of pace RB by virtue of his speed, burst and acceleration. Updated 8/2 - Slaton has impressed with his speed and receiving ability in camp so far. Given the injury history of Ahman Green and Chris Brown he could become a factor this year.
#19) Devin Thomas,WR
2nd Round (#34) (6'2" ,215) 40 Time=4.41
He seems like he could be a perfect fit for the new west-coast offense that Jim Zorn brings to Washington. He has the best size/speed combination of the 2008 class of receivers, but has only one solid college season on his resume. Updated 8/2 - A hamstring injury sustained in late July will keep Thomas out until about mid-August.
#20) Matt Ryan,QB
1st Round (#3) (6'5" ,227) 40 Time=4.85
Matt Ryan was the most NFL-ready QB in the draft, and has the intelligence, mobility and accuracy to become a quality starter. Although he throws a decent long-ball, he is better managing a quick strike attack. Updated 8/2 - Chris Redman appears to be the early favorite to start in Atlanta, so Ryan may need to wait for his chance.
Other Rookies to Watch:
#21) Jamaal Charles,RB
#22) John Carlson,TE
#23) Earl Bennett,WR
#24) Tashard Choice,RB
#25) Andre Caldwell,WR
#26) Joe Flacco,QB
#27) Chad Henne,QB
#28) Jerome Simpson,WR
#29) Mario Manningham,WR
#30) Early Doucet,WR