2008 NFL Draft Analysis - Round One

Posted Apr 25, 2008

Who went where and how good are each of the draft picks?

2008 NFL Draft - First Round

- 2008 NFL Draft Breakdown and Analysis
2nd Round
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Pick Team
1 1 Miami  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    CFN Position Rank: 1
2 2 St. Louis     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
    CFN Position Rank: 2
3 3 Atlanta    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   CFN Position Rank: 1
4 4 Oakland    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   CFN Position Rank: 2
5 5 Kansas City  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  
CFN Position Rank: 1
6 6 NY Jets  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   CFN Position Rank: 1
7 7 New Orleans (from New England)  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   CFN Position Rank: 2
8 8 Jacksonville (from Baltimore)  Derrick Harvey, DE Florida
While he looks like a pass rusher and has the athleticism and ability to become a top end, he still has to tap into his talent. Very strong and good against the run, he's not going to get moved around by the stronger tackles. The problem is his résumé. While he was good at Florida, he wasn't as dominant as he should've been and was far more hype than production when it was time to become the main man. While he was a good college player, there's a chance he could be much better pro talent after a little more coaching and a little more time in the weight room. There's an upside to him, but it's not quite as limitless as Phillip Merling or Vernon Gholston.
CFN Projection: First Round   CFN Position Rank: 4
9 9 Cincinnati   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   CFN Position Rank: 1
10 10 New England (from New Orleans)   Jerod Mayo, OLB/ILB Tennessee
One of the high risers among scouting circles, everyone came late to the party; this guy was one of the SEC's best players for a few years even with his knee problems. While he looks more like a pumped up safety and a thick, blow-'em-up linebacker, he's a great tackler who can play inside and out in any system. He makes a lot of mistakes, but they're usually errors coming from trying too hard. He needs to be on the outside to be a star, and both will happen.
CFN Projection: Second Round  
   CFN Position Rank: 3
11 11 Buffalo   Leodis McKelvin, CB Troy
He wasn't even the best defensive back on his own team last year; Elbert Mack had the better season. McKelvin has the speed, clocking in a 4.39 40, and he's big and strong enough to make plenty of big hits and not be pushed around by the bigger receivers. Not afraid to step up against the run, he's hardly a prima donna when it comes time to get dirty. He got banged up a bit and he needs to prove he can be consistent against the better receivers, but everything else is there, including the return skills, to be a starter for a long time.
CFN Projection: First Round    CFN Position Rank: 3
12 12 Denver   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    CFN Position Rank:
13 13 Carolina    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
    CFN Position Rank: 3
14 14 Chicago   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    CFN Position Rank:
15 15 Kansas City (from Detroit)  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    CFN Position Rank: 1 (OG)
16 16 Arizona    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 sized 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     CFN Position Rank: 1
17 17 Detroit (from Kansas City)   Gosder Cherilus, OT Boston College
One of the high risers after a good off-season, he's a 6-7, 315-pound athlete who destroys defenders when he gets the chance. He'll bust his tail to get better and will be coachable. The concern will be how well he handles a No. 1 pass rusher if he plays on the left side. More than fine if he spends his career on the right, there are concerns that the Virginia Tech games might have shown the real player he is.
CFN Projection: First Round   CFN Position Rank:
18 18 Baltimore (from Houston)  Joe Flacco, QB Delaware
The hot prospect coming out of the off-season workouts, the 6-6, 232-pound bomber has the best arm of anyone in the draft and it's not even a debate. While he might not have JaMarcus Russell's cannon, he can fit the ball into any space, anywhere on the field. The biggest question will be his consistency which was a big problem in his workouts and will be an even bigger issue under pressure. He can't move, doesn't have a quick release, and will be a sitting duck at times unless he can make quicker reads and can get the ball out of his hands. If he has the tools around him, especially a killer pair of tackles to provide protection, he could be a superstar. If he has make everyone around him better, it's not going to happen.
CFN Projection: Second Round   CFN Position Rank: 6
19 19 Carolina (from Philadelphia)   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  
CFN Position Rank: 4
20 20 Tampa Bay    Aqib Talib, CB Kansas
At 6-1 and 197 pounds with 4.49 speed, Talib has the measurables. He had few problems against any receiver with size and could stay with most speed receivers, but he had a few problems in some big games. Kansas State's Jordy Nelson ate Talib alive. A superior athlete, he was used as a receiver before finally settling into the defensive backfield full-time last year. There's an attitude, for good and bad, and he's been used to being a special player on a team full of overachievers. He'll have to be ready to be humbled a bit and use it for motivation to get better; he can't just assume he's the most talented player on the field anymore.
CFN Projection: Second Round   CFN Position Rank: 7
21 21 Atlanta (from Washington)   Sam Baker, OT USC
The son of the Arena Football League's commissioner is an athletic big man who was tremendously productive for four years playing at the highest level each and every week. While he's good in pass protection and is great on the move, he's not necessarily a rock against speed rushers and isn't quite as dominant a run blocker as many would like. He's a technician; not a mauler.
CFN Projection: Second Round   CFN Position Rank:
22 22 Dallas   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    CFN Position Rank:
23 23 Pittsburgh    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   
CFN Position Rank: 1
24 24 Tennessee     Chris Johnson, RB East Carolina
4.29. For some reason, while everyone was oohing and ahhing over Darren McFadden's workout, along with the size/speed dynamic of Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Stewart, and rightly so, Johnson ripped off a 4.29 in 40 at the Combine. One of the best all-around backs in America last year rushing for 1,423 yards and 17 touchdowns, catching 37 passes for 528 yards and six touchdowns, and returning 1,009 yards worth of kicks, he can do it all. However, he was held to 29 yards and a touchdown on ten carries against Virginia Tech and ran for 76 yards and a score on 14 carries against West Virginia. The biggest problem is his size at around 5-10 and under 200 yards; he's not built like an every-down runner. However, he's a dream of a third down back who'll have to be a complementary back.
CFN Projection: Late Second Round to Early Third Round    CFN Position Rank: 8
25 25 Dallas (from Seattle)   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   CFN Position Rank:
26 26 Houston (from Jacksonville)   Duane Brown, OT/OG Virginia Tech
The former tight end beefed up to well over 300 pounds without losing much of his athleticism. However, he's not a pure pass protector and had big problems with the better defensive ends. He had a nice off-season and was good on the workout circuit, and he has great upside, but he needs the time and the work to develop. He could be a guard now, or a starting tackle in a few years.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round    CFN Position Rank: 12
27 27 San Diego    Antoine Cason, CB/FS Arizona
Arguably the best defensive back in the Pac 10 for the last four years, Cason was a consistently great playmaker doing a little of everything well from making 253 career tackles to picking off 15 throws to breaking up 37 passes, including 19 in his senior year alone.  Not a blazer, but with good size, he could end up moving to free safety. He'll find a spot somewhere and will be a longtime starter, but he's not going to be a superstar.
CFN Projection: Third Round    CFN Position Rank:
28 28 Seattle (from Dallas)   Lawrence Jackson, DE USC
In this draft, Jackson is a poor man's Vernon Gholston. A little bit bigger than the former Ohio State star but not quite as fast, he's a versatile defender who could project as an outside linebacker in the right system. Unlike Gholston, there's room to beef up with another ten pounds of muscle. A decent pass rusher, but not an elite one quite yet, he needs a fire lit under him to become a top-shelf closer. He was good at USC and was certainly a good producer for four years, but he didn't blossom into the superstar All-American that he should've.
CFN Projection: Second Round    CFN Position Rank: 6
29 29 San Francisco    Kentwan Balmer, DT/DE North Carolina
Easily the toughest call among the tackles, Balmer went from being a nice inside presence for the Tar Heels to a major producer in his senior season. With his 6-4, 308-pound size and shocking quickness, he has the power to be an anchor who occupies a few blockers at a time, and he has the athleticism to dominate as an end in a 3-4 scheme. Now the question is whether or not he wants it badly enough. He looks the part, but he's the type of prospect who gets scouts fired or promoted depending on how he turns out.
CFN Projection: First Round    CFN Position Rank:
30 30 NY Jets (from Green Bay)    Dustin Keller, TE Purdue
Considered around the third or fourth best tight end prospect after the season, Keller blew everyone away at the Combine running a 4.57 and proving to be the most athletic of the bunch. While he's not going to block anyone and he doesn't have prototypical size, coming in at 6-2 and around 245 pounds, he has the potential to be a dangerous receiver with the potential to grow into a plus for r the ground game.
CFN Projection: Second Round      CFN Position Rank: 1
31 31 NY Giants     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    CFN Position Rank: 1

- 2008 NFL Draft Breakdown and Analysis
2nd Round
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