Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

The 2008 NFL Early Entries & Projections
California WR DeSean Jackson
California WR DeSean Jackson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 17, 2008


More players than ever are taking off early for the pros, and while some are obvious, others probably should have returned for another year. With the deadline to leave for the NFL Tuesday, here's the latest list (to be updated as things happen) with where they all might go and if they made a good or bad move.

 

2008 NFL Draft

Early Entries

The Early Entries And Where They're Projected To Go


By Pete Fiutak 

-
The 2007 Early Entries and what happened to them

To go or not to go. Tis nobler to return to school for a senior season than to leave early and get taken late. Even so, it's impossible to tell a legitimate pro prospect not to come out early after what happened to Willis McGahee in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. If you win the lottery, you don't sit on the ticket for a year. Some of these players are going to be instant millionaires while others are making a big mistake. 

My rule of thumb for pro prospects is this: If your game relies purely on speed, come out. Every football player needs speed to some degree, but a receiver, running back and defensive back only has so many years of blazing speed in them. Any slippage in that top gear, and you're out of the league. Running backs can only take so many shots and should come out as soon as humanly possible. Everyone else should stay in school unless they're a sure-fire first or second round pick. With that in mind, here are the early entries with where they're projected to go.

Branden Albert, OG Virginia
Projected:
2nd round
Good or bad move? He probably would've been a first rounder in 2008 if he had returned to get stronger. He has excellent upside with tackle-athleticism in a guard's body, but he'll slip if he doesn't bench well at the combine.

Adrian Arrington, WR Michigan
Projected:
4th round
Good or bad move? He could've grown into a superstar in his senior year as the main man in the Michigan passing game, but that was never going to happen. Speed is going to be his issue needing to get under 4.5 to move into the first three rounds. He's likely to be closer to 4.7.

James Banks, WR Carson-Newman
Projected:
4th to 5th round
Good or bad move? With the right workouts, he could move into the last first round. His excellent all-around skills and speed would make him a steal after the 50th pick. If the character issues aren't a problem, he could end up sneaking into the second round.

Earl Bennett, WR Vanderbilt
Projected:
2nd to 3rd round
Good or bad move? Jay Cutler might have boosted Bennett's numbers early, but it was also vice versa. He's big, fast enough, and was unstoppable at times against some of the best SEC defenses. The only concern is his ability in the open field; he's not a burner.

Martellus Bennett, TE Texas A&M
Projected:
Late 1st round to mid-2nd
Good or bad move? A large, fast specimen of a tight end, Bennett is like a huge wide receiver at 6-6 and 255 pounds, but he doesn't block like a wideout. He should blossom now that he's out of the Texas A&M offense. 

Davone Bess, WR Hawaii
Projected:
3rd to 4th round
Good or bad move? If he was 6-2 instead of 5-10ish, he'd probably be a first round pick. He has tremendous hands, is as tough as nails, and it a fantastic athlete, but he's not fast enough to overcome his lack of size to be a No. 1 target. However, he could easily be Wes Welker or a slightly slower Anthony Gonzalez.

Calais Campbell, DE Miami
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move? He might have the best measurables of anyone in the draft, the 6-8, 280-pound former Cane star has to prove he can be more physical and more consistent when teams are trying to stop him to become a top five pick. With his size, speed and potential, there's no way he lasts longer than the 15.

Jamaal Charles, RB Texas
Projected:
2nd round
Good or bad move? If he's not the fastest back in the draft, he'll be a close No. 2. He overcame a wildly mediocre sophomore season to become a shockingly unrecognized superstar on a national scale. The big problem? Texas history. It's unfair, but he'll have to prove he's not a flake like Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson.

Ryan Clady, OT Boise State
Projected:
Mid-to-late 1st round
Good or bad move? Great size, good feet and a nice résumé, Clady was ready after last year. He dominated in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma to all but seal a top 50 selection.

Anthony Collins, OT Kansa
Projected:
2nd round
Good or bad move? The only question is his brute strength. If he puts up even above-average bench press numbers at the combines, he could move into the first round. His athleticism and size will make him a must-have on the wish lists of many teams.  

Jonathan Dingle, DE West Virginia
Projected:
3rd to 4th round
Good or bad move? One of the Big East's most dominant linemen, he could shoot up the draft charts with a great combination of size, quickness and motor. If nothing else, he can get into the backfield.

Franklin Dunbar, OT Middle Tennessee
Projected:
Late 5th round to undrafted
Good or bad move? A bad move considering he would've likely been a fourth round or higher pick with more development. He needs a lot of work, but he has excellent size and fine pass blocking skills. He could be a good late round flier for someone with a little bit of patience and an O line coach strong on teaching technique.

Jermichael Finley, TE Texas
Projected:
Late 2nd to 3rd round
Good or bad move? In a year of tight ends with great potential, Finley might have the biggest
upside with a big body and wide receiver athleticism. He has to learn to put someone on his back and has to get more physical, but the measurables are there to get at least one general manager drooling.

Brandon Flowers, CB Virginia Tech
Projected:
Late 1st to early 2nd round
Good or bad move? The only potential knock is his size. He's not a big, physical corner, but he can run and he has excellent skills. There's no questioning his speed, but he might not have the jaw-dropping wheels of past Hokie-to-NFL DBs. A sub-4.4 at the combine might make him the first corner taken.

Vernon Gholston, DE Ohio State
Projected:
mid-to-late 1st round
Good or bad move? He made himself a ton of money with his performance against Michigan, but he was erased far too many times for a player of his caliber. While not huge, he's a speed rusher with the skills to be a difference maker against mediocre tackles.

Ryan Grice-Mullen, WR Hawaii
Projected:
5th round
Good or bad move? A solid possession receiver prospect, he has nice hands and great route running ability, but he doesn't have the wheels. Of course he was a function of the Hawaii system, but he was also ultra-productive and instrumental in making the machine go.

Letroy Guion, DT Florida State
Projected:
4th round
Good or bad move? Guion could grow into one of the more interesting prospects over the next few months. He's athletic and has big-time upside, but he's far from a finished product. The fourth round projection is a bet-hedger; it could swing wildly either way.

James Hardy, WR Indiana
Projected:
2nd-to-early 4th round
Good or bad move? He was the focus of everyone's defensive gameplan and it still didn't matter. Ultra-productive on the field with his basketball-player size and athleticism, it's his off-the-field history that he'll have to overcome to be a top 50 pick. Talent-wise, he has first round potential.

Derrick Harvey, DE Florida
Projected:
Mid-1st round
Good or bad move? While he didn't come up with a huge 2007, he had his share of big moments, including in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan. He might not be that big and there will be issues against the run, but speed rushers with this kind of talent get snapped up in a hurry.

Geno Hayes, LB Florida State
Projected:
2nd to 3rd round
Good or bad move? While undersized at around 225 pounds, his quickness and athleticism will make him a likely top 75 selection. Seminole linebackers usually get the benefit of the doubt from the NFL types.

Erin Henderson, LB Maryland
Projected:
2nd to early 3rd round
Good or bad move? Fast enough to do a little bit of everything well, he'll start from day one and should be around for the next ten years. With a great combination of combine skills, the only concern could be a knee injury from a few years ago.

Jack Ikegwuonu, CB Wisconsin
Projected:
2nd round
Good or bad move? A terrific but occasionally inconsistent number one corner at the collegiate level, he's a flake who didn't play through a slew of bumps and bruises. While his talent will make him a top 75 pick, he could've been the number one corner taken in 2009 if he had returned and proved he could be reliable for a full season.

DeSean Jackson, WR California
Projected:
mid-to-late 1st round
Good or bad move? If you like the Ted Ginn experience in Miami, here's the same thing but without the receiving résumé. He has blinding speed and tremendous potential. While not necessarily overrated as a collegian, he didn't live up to his ability this year.

Felix Jones, RB Arkansas
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move? With phenomenal speed and quickness and decent power, he can do a little of everything well and doesn't have a lot of tread on the tires. Yes, he's a No. 1 back, but someone's going to be interested in him as a kick returner, too.

Malcolm Kelly, WR Oklahoma
Projected:
Late 1st round to mid-2nd
Good or bad move? Going into the season he was everyone's first or second top WR prospect. He didn't have the elite season expected, but he has great speed for his size, nice hands, and No. 1 upside if he can sell someone he can be a go-to guy.

Justin King, CB Penn State
Projected:
2nd to 3rd round
Good or bad move? Having already graduated, he's ready. After coming to Penn State as a top receiver/defensive back prospect, he moved from offense to defense after his freshman season and became one of the Big Ten's better corners. He projects to be a good pro, but not a great one.

Xavier Lee, QB Florida State
Projected:
6th round to undrafted
Good or bad move? Florida State wanted to make Lee a tight end, Lee didn't want to be a tight end. Thus ends one of the most disappointing careers in Seminole history as off-the-field issues combined with on-the-field inconsistency led to a rough career. He wants to be a quarterback, but he needs to be ready to switch positions in a hurry if he wants to get paid to play.

Curtis Lofton, LB Oklahoma
Projected:
2nd-to-early 4th round
Good or bad move? He'll be an interesting call. He's not tall and he's not a speedster, but he's extremely quick and is versatile enough to see time anywhere needed. While considered ready for the pros, he might slip big-time if he doesn't time well.

Jerod Mayo, LB Tennessee
Projected:
Mid-2nd to early 3rd round
Good or bad move? Ultra-productive and a huge hitter, Mayo might have the best functional speed of any linebacker in the draft. The only question could be next-level durability.

Mario Manningham, WR Michigan
Projected:
2nd to 3rd round
Good or bad move? If Manningham was on the fence before, he jumped over it with the hiring of Rich Rodriguez. While he's not a physical target, he's enough of a gamebreaker to go as high as the late first round with the right workout, and as low as the late third if he doesn't time well.

Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas 
Projected:
Top five overall
Good or bad move? How much do the off-the-field issues matter? Not a lick. He's a special player who makes something happen every time has has the ball in his hands. Want a comparison? A slower Robert Smith in size and potential, but he has better moves. Not a thick back, he's built more like a wide receiver raising questions about his potential to pound away against an NFL line. 

Rashard Mendenhall, RB Illinois
Projected:
Top 20
Good or bad move? Don't be shocked if there's an underground movement of scouts projecting the Big Ten Player of the Year as the No. 1 RB prospect. He's nowhere near as fast as Darren McFadden, but he's bigger and tougher to bring down. The only question mark is his history having only done it for one year.

Phillip Merling, DE Clemson
Projected:
2nd round
Good or bad move?
Last year it was Gaines Adams off the Clemson line, and this year the pros will be drooling over the 6-5, 280-pound pass rusher who made seven sacks last year. He's not Adams, but he has the upside to get someone interested around the 25-30 range.

DaJuan Morgan, S NC State
Projected: 3rd to 4th round
Good or bad move? Draft-wise, he would've benefited from coming back for his senior year coming off a huge 2007. However, he could become an early second day steal with the hitting ability to play strong safety and the potential to be a free safety at the next level.

Lamar Myles, LB Louisville
Projected:
4th
round
Good or bad move? Despite making 128 tackles last year, he'll be better in the workouts than he will be on the field. He's not all that big and not all that instinctive, but he's very fast and very strong. He'll have to prove he can play on the outside.

Branden Ore, RB Virginia Tech
Projected:
5th round to free agent
Good or bad move?
He has the talent and the potential to stick on a roster and be used in a rotation, but off-the-field issues including testifying in a drug case and an assortment of problems that landed him in the Hokie doghouse meant he might not have been welcomed back for his senior year.

Kenny Phillips, S Miami
Projected:
1st round
Good or bad move? He has excellent size, good speed and fantastic all-around skills, but he's skinny. He could be as high as the first defensive back taken and as low as the 25 if scouts question his toughness. He's built more like a corner than a big safety.

Chilo Rachal, OG USC
Projected:
3rd
round
Good or bad move?
A strong run blocker who missed time this year due to a knee injury, he's ready for the next level and isn't far off from getting his degree. Family medical issues made this a necessary move.

Bobby Reid, QB Oklahoma State
Projected:
Free agent
Good or bad move? The one-time super-recruit for the OSU program became the story for all the wrong reasons thanks to Mike Gundy's all-timer of a rant. He has already graduated and has the raw skills to get a look in a camp or two if someone doesn't take a late-round flier.


Darius Reynaud, WR West Virginia
Projected:
Late 2nd to early 3rd
round
Good or bad move?
With his degree almost a lock and a family to think about, Reynaud is taking off even though he says he was wavering. With good speed and quickness, he'll be projected as a No. 3 target. He lacks the size to be considered a true No. 1 by the scouts.

Ray Rice, RB Rutgers
Projected:
Late 2nd to early 3rd round
Good or bad move? While he was ultra-productive, he put up big numbers against a lot of bad teams and in a lot of garbage time. Does he have too much tread on the tires? Is he big enough to handle the pounding at around 5-9 and 195 pounds? He might be fantastic for a short time.


Orlando Scandrick, CB Boise State
Projected:
4th
round to 6th round
Good or bad move? It's all about the workout. There's a ceiling on his draft projection as he's unlikely to crack the top 100, but he could be a mid-4th round pick if he runs well. He could've used another year to build some sort of a résumé; he wasn't even All-WAC.

Pat Sims, DT Auburn
Projected:
Late 1st round to mid-2nd
Good or bad move? While he's still raw and could use a lot more playing time, 6-3, 310-pound interior pass rushers like Sims don't come around often. All that's standing between him and a certain top 20 pick is overall experience having started just one year for the Tigers.

Steve Slaton, RB West Virginia
Projected:
2nd
round to 4th round
Good or bad move?
There's absolutely no questioning his speed or his ability once he gets in space, but he was a no-show in a few big games thanks to injuries and isn't big enough to be a banger inside. Many will compare him to Clinton Portis in terms of a size-speed ratio, but he isn't Portis.

Kevin Smith, RB UCF
Projected:
2nd to 3rd round
Good or bad move? A good character back with workhorse talent, Smith might not time well enough to get into the first round. A slew of speed backs could slip in ahead of him, but someone will jump run the card up to the podium in a hurry hoping to get a No. 1 back for a bargain basement pick.

Reggie Smith, CB Oklahoma
Projected:
Late 1st to early 2nd round
Good or bad move? He's ready. He was ready as a sophomore. While he'll give up a few big plays here and there, he has the potential to grow into a No. 1 corner if given a little time to work on his technique. If he's a No. 2, he'll put up big numbers to make up for the mistakes.

Taj Smith, WR Syracuse
Projected:
3rd to 4th round
Good or bad move? He had a relatively good year in the Syracuse offense ... that's saying a lot. He could become a strong home-run hitter with excellent speed, but he's not nearly consistent enough to be a No. 1. His age, 24, meant the time was now to get out.

Jonathan Stewart, RB Oregon
Projected:
Late 1st round, early 2nd
Good or bad move? He has it all with speed, power, moves, and superior talent as both a runner and kick returner. You won't get 16 games out of him, but he could lead the league in rushing for the ten or so games he's able to stay healthy for.

Aqib Talib, CB Kansas
Projected:
2nd-to-3rd round
Good or bad move? Does he have the elite speed? There's no question he's a starting NFL corner and top all-around playmaker, but he might not have the top-end wheels to be a No. 1 cover-corner worthy of a first round pick

Devin Thomas, WR Michigan State
Projected:
Mid-2nd to early 3rd round
Good or bad move? If someone's willing to be patient, Thomas could be a bargain from around 50-to-75. He has the speed, the size, and the home run ability to blossom after a year or two, but he's not going to rock out of the gate.

Mario Urrutia, WR Louisville
Projected:
4th round to 5th round
Good or bad move? Unstoppable at times early in his Cardinal career, he disappeared for too many stretches this year. He has excellent size and is a good fighter around the goal line, but he's not going to run away from anyone.