2008 NFL Draft - Top 50 Players, No. 1 - 25
LSU DT Glenn Dorsey
LSU DT Glenn Dorsey
Posted Apr 22, 2008

From the college football perspective, who are the top 50 players in the draft? Here are prospects 1 through 25.

2008 NFL Draft Position Rankings
Top 50 Players - No. 1 through No. 25

Rankings & Breakdowns
Top 50 Players - 1 to 25 |
Top 50 Players - 26 to 50 | Quarterbacks
Running Backs |
Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Offensive Tackles  
Offensive Guards |
Centers | Defensive Ends | Defensive Tackles    
Linebackers |
Safeties | Cornerbacks | Punters & Kickers

By Pete Fiutak

Here's how CFN ranks prospects on an overall basis. First, is he a sure-thing starter? If there's any hesitation on this, he can't be taken in the first round; the investment is simply too great. Second, how much upside is there? Is the realistic ceiling the Pro Bowl or a cog in the system? Third, flaming bust potential. Save the projects for the mid-rounds. For example, North Carolina DT Kentwan Balmer is a YP, your problem. If he's there in the middle of he second round, great. If you want to take him in the first round and he turns into a superstar, hats off to you. Simply put, the further away you get from the No. 1 overall pick, the bigger the chance you can take.

And finally, the most important rule of all; if the guy was average in college, he'll likely be a mediocre pro. This seems so basic, but this simple concept gets lost in 40 times, bench presses and hip snaps. When trying to decide between two players, go with the guy who proved he could actually get it done.

1. Glenn Dorsey, DT LSU
Everyone's trying to poke holes in a near-perfect prospect, but there aren't any. An ultimate warrior who'll play through injury, pain, triple teams, and everything you throw at him, he played over the second half last year when most players who project to be a top five pick would've sat out and not risked his future. Dorsey would've been fully justified to sit out the rest of the year after the nasty chop block on his knee against Auburn, but he ended up battling his way through the national title season as the anchor of fantastic defense. Strong, agile, and as hard a worker and as high a character guy as any in the draft, he's exactly what you want in a leader. For some reason his height, at under 6-2, is a knock, but if anything that helps him with his leverage. Yes, the durability concerns are legitimate, to a point, but it'll take something serious to keep him off the field. He's a player you build a defense around for the next ten years.
CFN Projection: Top Five Overall

Vernon Gholston, DE Ohio State
It's all about the motor. If Gholston has the fire lit under him and goes full-tilt all the time, he's the best defensive player in the draft and he could be the best overall talent available. The question will be his game-in-game-out consistency. Oh sure, when it's Monday Night Football and the spotlight is on, he'll blow up and come up with the game needed to make a big splash and create a Pro Bowl buzz, but will he show up for that non-descript 1:00 early November game against Buffalo? Versatile enough to be used as an outside linebacker and more than strong enough to be an every down end, he can do it all for a defense and when he's on, he'll be unstoppable. He has safety athleticism and proved at the Combine he's as strong as any offensive lineman. While he's not the sure thing Chris Long is, there's a much, much bigger upside.
CFN Projection: Top Ten Overall

Jake Long, OT Michigan
Huge, tough, and surprisingly agile, Long's a mammoth all-around blocker who does almost everything at a high level. Tremendously strong and with an attitude that punishes defenders, he's a sure-thing NFL run blocker who can step in on day one and produce. The big issue, for a player worthy of a top selection and all the money that comes with it, is his potential against speed rushers. He had a problem against Ohio State and now he'll have to show he can consistently handle NFL ends with quick first steps. He can step in right away and play right tackle; he'll make a lot of money and will be paid a ton to not be a sure-thing left tackle. That's not to say he can't play on the left side, but he might be better on the right.
CFN Projection: Top Five Overall

Chris Long, DE Virginia
Motor, motor, motor, motor, motor. A natural pass rusher, Long is a tremendous all-around end who can get into the backfield any time he wants to and is a playmaker against the run. Even when nothing seems to be happening, he finds a way to make a play on sheer drive and desire. He got stuffed in the Gator Bowl loss to Texas Tech and there's a question about just how good he'll be against the elite tackles. He'll dominate from time to time at the NFL level when going against average linemen, but he'll likely be erased by the top OTs. There's no real downside; he'll be a sure-thing starter for the next ten years, but is there any upside? Unlike Vernon Gholston, Phillip Merling or Calais Campbell, what you see with Long might be exactly what you get. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
CFN Projection: Top Ten Overall

Ryan Clady, OT Boise State
A little thought about recruit, Clady turned into pure gold for Boise State as he was a dominant all-around blocker from the start. He proved in the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma that he could produce at the highest level with a fantastic performance, and he was consistently fantastic his entire career. Arguably the best pass blocker in the draft, he's quick on his feet and can pound away when needed. Already a great prospect, he could be a perennial Pro Bowl performer if he becomes a bit more physical.
CFN Projection: First Round

Rashard Mendenhall, RB Illinois
Back in 1999, Ricky Williams was the sure-thing, must-have running back who appeared to be the obvious choice as the first back taken. The Colts made a big call by taking Edgerrin James fourth, with Williams going fifth, and they turned out to be right. This might be the same dynamic between Darren McFadden and Rashard Mendenhall. Late on the draft scene with only one big year at Illinois, Mendenhall has some questions about his long-term ability; why wasn't he a star right away? Whatever. While not as fast as McFadden, he's fast enough with 4.45 wheels on a 225-pound frame. Very strong, very fast (just ask USC) and very good both inside and out, he's about as sure a prospect as can be; at least physically. The key will be how much he wants it. If he can find the fire and the drive to be special, he'll be a yearly Pro Bowl performer.
CFN Projection: First Round

Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas
While it might be easy to blow off the off-the-field issues and the character questions, they do merit attention. Is he Rashaan Salaam/Curtis Enis once he hits the big time? The speed is jaw-dropping, the burst and quickness are phenomenal, and the college résumé is unquestioned. Physically, at the next level, his issues could be with ball security and getting into the open to make the long runs he'll need to make a big impact. NFL backs don't get into the clear all that often; the breakaway speed won't matter as much outside of roughly six times a year. Just ask Reggie Bush. It'll be the ability to pound it inside on a regular basis that'll be the key, and his upright running style will get him popped a little too often. With his frame, body-type, and speed, he could be the next Robert Smith. That's not a negative.
CFN Projection: Early First Round

Sedrick Ellis, DT USC
Lost in the Glenn Dorsey spotlight was the tremendous 2007 season had by Ellis. A phenomenal interior pass rusher who took his game up another level in his senior season, Ellis anchored the USC line and showed the strength and toughness to handle double team after double team and still produce. He's a more creative pass rusher than most ends and it a brick wall against the run. He's not the warrior Dorsey is and he was too good at getting into the backfield for his own good sometimes, missing out on a few run stops here and there trying to get to the quarterback, but he's strong, quick, and a rock to build around. In any other year he'd be the tackle everyone would be raving about.
CFN Projection: Top Ten Overall

Jonathan Stewart, RB Oregon
So he has a big toe problem. Injuries heal. A special back who could be an elite difference maker for about ten games a season, it'll be the other six games that'll be an issue. Sort of because the way he's built, at 230 pounds, and with the way he cuts, he's always going to have problems with ankle injuries. Backs his size who try to cut like Barry Sanders simply don't hold up over the long haul without a variety of problems. However, speed and quickness-wise, he's the total package. He has the cutting ability to make defenders miss at the line, and the breakaway speed to tear off yards in chunks once he gets to the second level. He does everything well with the ability to catch out of the backfield and be used on kickoff returns on a regular basis. While he could be a workhorse who becomes a team's running game, he'll be absolutely devastating over the long haul if he's the No. 1 back on a team with a good No. 2 option to share a bit of the load.
CFN Projection: First Round

Phillip Merling, DE Clemson
The upside is limitless if a coaching staff is willing to be patient and will work with him on becoming a more refined pass rusher. He's great at getting to the quarterback and creating pressure, but he needs to become a better closer, which likely would've happened if he had stayed for his senior season. With excellent size, he can be a near-perfect end in a 4-3 and has the quickness to grow into a top pass rusher in a 3-4. Always working and always on, he never dogs a play and is always going full-tilt. While he was hurt and wasn't able to work out as expected this off-season, that only got some teams excited about the possibility to get him on the cheap. There's no real downside, and he could become special in a few years.
CFN Projection: First Round

Branden Albert, OG/OT Virginia
While he's not D'Brickashaw Ferguson as far as a prospect, he has a lot in common with the former Virginia star. Albert is a great athlete who only cemented himself further as the top guard prospect in the draft with some nice off-season workouts. Even though he has the range and the moves to be a tackle, even on the left side, he could be a superstar if he stays inside. A killer run blocker who started from day one, he can be plugged into any NFL line and be a starter somewhere. It would be nice if he had a little seasoning and he's a bit tall (6-7) for a guard, but he has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler.
CFN Projection: Late First Round To Early Second Round

Matt Ryan, QB Boston College
Ryan is tough as nails, a great leader, and a winner who'll make a Pro Bowl or three, but he's not a once-in-a-generation type. While he's considered head-and-shoulders ahead of everyone else in the race to be the top NFL quarterback prospect in this year's draft, he's not a supreme talent like a Peyton Manning or Troy Aikman, and he doesn't do anything special like a JaMarcus Russell or Michael Vick. However, he's not David Carr or Alex Smith. Tall, mobile, smart, and with the poise and the skills to be a productive pro for the next ten years, there's no real downside; he looks the part. However, he's not the type of quarterback who'll carry an NFL team to greatness on his own, but he could eventually take a very good team over the top. Interceptions were a problem when he tried to do too much on his own, and he didn't handle the pressure well when defenses were able to hit him on a regular basis. Then again, neither did Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.
CFN Projection: First Round

Brian Brohm, QB Louisville
The brother of former New York Jet Jeff Brohm was groomed to be a pro passer. He's as NFL ready as any quarterback prospect having been a star for his entire career. The pressure was on from day one to produce, and he did. He's not the greatest athlete and his arm is just average, but he can make the throws needed. The big issue will be his durability. While he's an abnormally quick healer, he suffered a few major injuries throughout his career and can't be counted on for a full 16-game NFL slate. He took his lumps in a disappointing senior season, at least for Louisville, and that could be a good thing; he never quit on his team during a dud year.
CFN Projection: Late First Round

Felix Jones, RB Arkansas
He'll be the back for someone trying to get a speed runner on the cheap. Don't want to pay the high price to get a McFadden, Mendenhall or Stewart? Then wait for Jones and roll the dice on a jack-of-all-trades back with a ton of tread on the tires and devastating breakaway speed. The big question is whether or not he's a workhorse No. 1 back. He wasn't in college and he's not built like a 25-carry-a-game NFL runner. Ideally he fills a Reggie Bush role on a team with a Deuce McAllister and is used to run and catch on the outside and not between the tackles. With his ability to go from 0-to-60 in a heartbeat, he's the type of player who makes offensive coordinators drool at the possibilities. He'll be a fun toy to play with.
CFN Projection:
Late First Round To Early Second Round

Chad Henne, QB Michigan
With the right coaching and a little bit of time to fine-tune his arm and his mechanics, he could turn out to be a steal. Strong with a gun of an arm, he can make any throw and can drive the ball to any spot needed at a high NFL level, but he needs time to throw and he needs a good line to work behind. He's not going to move too much and he needs to step up and fire or else his accuracy wavers; he's not going to make anything happen on his own. He could become another Matt Schaub who sits behind someone for a little while and builds a big buzz before getting a big payday in the free agency market.
CFN Projection: Late Second Round

Chris Williams, OT Vanderbilt
The range of opinion on what Williams is, and what he could become, runs the gamut. One of the most athletic linemen in the draft in a 6-6, 315-pound body, he looks the part and should grow into an elite pass blocker. He can eventually be plugged in on the left side and let roll for a decade. However, he had a mediocre workout on his pro day and he's not necessarily a killer. If he can grow into more of a powerful run blocker, he should be terrific.
CFN Projection: Late First Round

Trevor Laws, DT Notre Dame
112 tackles as a senior. For a tackle. Again, 112 tackles in one season. While he's not necessarily a tackle to build a defense around, he has the drive and the fire to become a bear of a starter and a phenomenal second interior option next to a bigger established starter. Very active and with a great motor, he can be used in a variety of ways and will still produce. At only six-feet tall, he's a bit of a bowling ball and he isn't a good interior pass rusher, but he'll make plays and will always keep working.
CFN Projection:
Second Round

Kenny Phillips, SS Miami
While he was considered a bit of a disappointment last year thanks to some ridiculously high standards, he still came up with 82 tackles and two interceptions. No, he's not Ed Reed or Sean Taylor, and he's a bit lanky and thin at 6-2, 212 pounds, but he's a nice athlete who doesn't miss many tackles. The biggest problem isn't raw speed or his inability to live up to the tremendous hype, but it's his lack of big plays. He's a steady player, not a spectacular one. While he'll be plugged in and will start for a long time, he's not going to be a highlight reel performer.
CFN Projection: First Round

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB Tennessee State
The high riser of the corners after the Combine, Rodgers-Cromartie blazed off a 4.34 40. At 6-1 and 184 pounds he has great size to go along with that phenomenal speed and athleticism, and he's great at going after the ball and making something happen when he gets his hands on it. While he didn't see a high level of competition at Tennessee State, he looked like he could've been from LSU or Ohio State with the way he matched up against top receivers at the Senior Bowl. He needs to get stronger and he needs to be willing to become a better tacklers, but he has everything else you'd want in a No. 1 corner.
CFN Projection: First Round

Keith Rivers, OLB USC
Is he really good, or does he stand out because this is such a miserable year for linebackers? It's a little of both. He has the body, the quickness, and the pop to be an impact playmaker on the outside and he plays faster than he actually is. Tough enough to play on the inside and quick enough to wreak havoc on the outside, he could end up being a better pro than a college player if he's turned loose more often into the backfield. He's not going to be a top-shelf run stuffer and he's not a sure-thing Pro Bowl star, but he'll start for a long time.
CFN Projection: First Round

Mike Jenkins, CB South Florida
A tremendous three-year starter on a good USF defense, Jenkins is a true shut-down corner who isn't afraid to get physical and can all but erase the top receivers when he has his game on. The question is his motor. If it's going full-tilt and he wants it, he looks like an all-star. When he suffers lapses or doesn't get up for the competition, he can be beaten by average receivers. He needs to bring it game in and game out. It would be nice if he picked off more passes, taking away just six despite being a four-year regular, but that's a bit misleading.
CFN Projection: First Round

Tyrell Johnson, SS Arkansas State
Kind of like a critically acclaimed underground movie that's finally getting a wide release, Johnson goes from being a star that most college football junkies knew about for the last four years to a possible big-value selection. A tremendous starter from day one, Johnson can do it all with 363 career tackles and 13 interceptions to go along with good leadership skills. Forget about the stigma of playing in the Sun Belt; he showed up against the big boys, too. A huge hitter with fantastic speed, timing a 4.44 at the Combine, he just needs a little bit of coaching to put it all together and be a possible star. He'll be an instant impact player
CFN Projection: Second Round

Jeff Otah, OT Pitt
A massive run blocker who will plow over everyone at the next level, he's ideal for anyone with a power running game and has the attitude to punish and destroy anyone who gets in his path. While he's not all that athletic and isn't going to be great on the move, he should be able to get by on his strength and his 6-6, 325-pound size. There's still work to be done, he's not a finished product, and that's a plus. The ceiling is limitless.
CFN Projection: First Round

Jamaal Charles, RB Texas
So which Jamaal Charles will the pros be getting? Will he be the breathtaking speedster who beat Oklahoma State and Nebraska by himself last year, or will be the one who struggled as a sophomore and didn't play up to expectations or his talent level? Probably a little of both, but the upside is too great to pass up. The big issue could be Texas. After the Ricky Williams situation and Cedric Benson turning into a dog of a pro, is there going to be an anti-Longhorn bias? Built like a smaller Darren McFadden, Charles is a sprinter who can be used in a variety of ways. While he showed he could handle a big workload last season, he's not going to be a pounding back who can handle a full-season NFL schedule if he's asked to pound away. He's not a power back by any stretch, but if he's able to keep his touches to around 15-to-20 per game, he'll be a difference maker.
CFN Projection:
Second Round

DaJuan Morgan, FS NC State
Considering this is a weak year for safeties, Morgan made a great move leaving early. In most years he would've been better served coming back for his senior season having only started for one year, but he has decent 6-0, 205-pound size, good-enough 4.54 speed, and the versatility to play corner or free safety. He cares about being good and will make himself better. He'll need a little more time, a lot of patience to work through his mistakes, and some serious coaching on consistent technique, but he'll grow into a nice starter.
CFN Projection: Second Ro