When players come into the NFL, it's hard to identify who the superstars are going to be.
Some players break out in their rookie year, others take time to develop. Matt Ryan is one of the elite QBs in just his third year, yet Brian Brohm has not shown the ability that made him a second-round draft pick.
Let's take a look back at the 2008 draft class and see which players are having great seasons this year.
QB Matt Ryan (first round, Falcons)
Ryan’s sophomore slump is a thing of the past. “Matty-Ice” is living up to his nickname and is proving to be one of the most clutch QBs in the league despite his young age. This is one position the Falcons shouldn't have to worry about for a long time.
Honorable Mention: Joe Flacco (first round, Ravens)
RB Jamaal Charles (third round, Chiefs)
Charles is second in the league in rushing yards and has an amazing 6.3 YPC, yet the back is incredibly underutilized by the Chiefs. The big-play back is quickly becoming a household name in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: Chris Johnson (first round, Titans), Peyton Hillis (seventh Round, Browns*), Darren McFadden (first round, Raiders)
*originally drafted by Broncos
WR Steve Johnson (seventh round, Bills)
Despite last week’s disappointing drop in the end zone and twitter controversy, Johnson is putting together a terrific season and already has nine touchdown grabs. He is a reason for hope for the bottom-dwelling Bills.
Honorable Mention: DeSean Jackson (second round, Eagles)
TE Dustin Keller (first round, Jets)
Keller is having his best season as a pro and is one of Sanchez’s favorite targets, especially around the red zone.
Honorable Mention: Jacob Tamme (fourth round, Colts)
OT Jake Long (first round, Dolphins)
The first-overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft had high expectations, yet has found a way to exceed them. Long is already considered to be one of the top two lineman in the league along with the Brown’s Joe Thomas.
Honorable Mention: Sam Baker (first round, Falcons)
OG Josh Sitton (fourth round, Packers)
He’s a big reason why the Packers have improved their protection of Aaron Rodgers, which was terrible last season.
Honorable Mention: Carl Nicks (fifth round, Saints)
C Mike McGlynn (fourth round, Eagles)
Important part of the Eagles offensive line, which has their work cut out for them with Vick’s scrambling abilities. He is a very good run blocker who is able to create holes for LeSean McCoy up the middle.
Honorable Mention: John Sullivan (sixth round, Vikings)
DE Chris Long (first round, Rams)
Howie Long’s son was the second-overall pick in the draft and has been steadily improving each year. He is already one of the Ram’s best players and is second on the team in sacks with 6.5.
Honorable Mention: Wallace Gilberry (undrafted, Chiefs)
DT Sedrick Ellis (first round, Saints)
The Saints defense has been improving the last few years ever since they drafted Ellis. He is the anchor of the D-line and is a good pass rusher and run stopper. Ellis will likely keep improving to become one of the best tackles in the league.
Honorable Mention: Jason Jones (second round, Titans)
LB Jerod Mayo (first round, Patriots)
A tackle machine, Mayo has been one of the Patriots’ best players. Mayo’s defensive leadership has helped smooth the transition of a Patriots defense that has gotten younger.
Honorable Mention: Curtis Lofton (second round, Falcons)
CB Aqib Talib (first round, Buccaneers)
This young ball-hawk is helping Tampa Bay fight for a playoff spot, which is a surprise to many who didn’t expect much from a young Buccaneers team. He isn’t far from becoming one of the top two or three corners in the league.
Honorable Mention: Antoine Cason (first round, Chargers)
S Charles Godfrey (third round, Panthers)
He is unfortunately on a team going nowhere this season, but Godfrey has been a playmaker in the Panthers’ respectable pass defense. He is a very solid tackler and reads QBs well.
Honorable Mention: Kenny Phillips (first round, Giants)
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