Picks 'n' Prospects: Ed Bouchette breaks down top players on NFL's 2008 draft
Matt Ryan, Boston College, 6-5, 225
Best of a relatively weak crop. He's accurate but lacks a strong arm. Can you say "Chad Pennington?"
Brian Brohm, Louisville, 6-3, 230
He's overcome injuries and continued to be extremely productive. No gun for an arm, either, but moves well and should go in second half of the first round.
Joe Flacco, Delaware, 6-6 1/2, 236
A transfer from Pitt, Flacco flourished with the Blue Hens. Has strong arm, performed well in postseason and could overtake Brohm as No. 2.
Chad Henne, Michigan, 6-3, 230
He has a strong arm, but not so quick a release. A real leader for the Wolverines. His accuracy has come into question.
Andre Woodson, Kentucky, 6-4, 230
He's lost weight since he played at nearly 250 last season. Has big upside, but has mechanical flaws. Not considered a real leader.
Darren McFadden, Arkansas, 6-1, 210
Best runner in the draft. Exciting, outstanding, dominant. Has fumble issues and hits holes too quick sometimes, but he can do it all.
Jonathan Stewart, Oregon, 5-10, 235
Big, strong, powerful inside rusher who piled up 1,722 yards and had a 6.2 average last season. March surgery to repair turf toe is his only negative, but teams believe he will have no problem with it.
Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois, 5-10, 225
Ran 4.41, excellent speed for his size. First-rounder. Ran for 1,681 yards last season and averaged a whopping 6.4 ypc.
Felix Jones, Arkansas, 5-10, 207
Second round. Not strong, more of a finesse runner. More of an outside runner who tends to run upright at times. Averaged 8.7 yards a carry last season.
Ray Rice, Rutgers, 5-8, 200
Rushed for Big East-record 2,012 yards last season and 24 TDs. His stock has been rising. Powerful runner in a small package.
Owen Schmitt, West Virginia, 6-2, 247
No fullback will be drafted on the first day, but Schmitt could go first at his position. He's a big, powerful man who can block and run, and he's a good athlete.
Peyton Hillis, Arkansas, 6-1, 240
Many rank him higher than Schmitt because of his versatility as a blocker, receiver and short-yardage runner.
Jacob Hester, LSU, 5-10 1/2, 225
Not as big as the top two but also versatile as a blocker, runner and receiver. Better suited for a West Coast offense.
Jerome Felton, Furman, 6-0, 240
One scouting service compared him to Jerome Bettis and actually wrote he's quicker than the Bus. Not much of a receiver, so he'll either have to show he can block or perhaps make a move to RB.
Carl Stewart, Auburn, 6-1, 230
Not much of a blocker, but his ability to run and catch makes him a good fit for the West Coast offense.
Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M, 6-6, 260
Best combination blocker and receiver at his position in this draft, but nothing like Heath Miller. Played some basketball early on for the Aggies.
Dustin Keller, Purdue, 6-2, 242
Had a great combine and is considered the top receiver at his position. Forget him, though, if you need a tight end who blocks.
Fred Davis, Southern California, 6-3, 255
A productive college player with 62 catches last season for a 14.2-yard average, he did not do well in the combine. Not much of a blocker.
John Carlson, Notre Dame, 6-5, 250
Rated No. 1 tight end before last season Poor Irish offense dragged him down, then he fared poorly in the postseason.
Craig Stevens, California, 6-3, 254
Decent combination blocker and receiver. Not fast but smart and catches the ball best over the middle, which is tight end territory.
Devin Thomas, Michigan State, 6-2, 215
Neither exceptionally tall nor speedy, yet productive with 79 receptions last season. He also knocked 'em dead in all the postseason drills.
Limas Sweed, Texas, 6-4, 215
Some will be scared off because of a wrist injury that ruined his 2007. But he may be the best of the bunch with good height, decent speed and outstanding play before he was hurt.
DeSean Jackson, California, 5-9 1/2, 169
Has the best speed of the top prospects, but he's short and slight. Averaged only 11.7 yards per catch last season. Excellent returner.
Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma, 6-3 1/2, 224
Has big upside after playing in a run-oriented offense. Not fast, but long-strider who can be a deep threat. Quad injury limited him.
James Hardy, Indiana, 6-5 1/2, 217
Good speed (4.45) for a big man. He was recruited to play basketball but switched to football after one season at IU. Needs to add weight, strength.
Mike Pollak, Arizona State, 6-3 1/2, 300
Excellent blocker who will improve his strength when he gets into a NFL program. Probably second round.
Steve Justice, Wake Forest, 6-3 1/2, 293
Picked top lineman in the ACC. Needs to add weight. Quick, athletic and knows how to use leverage.
Kory Lichtensteiger, Bowling Green, 6-2, 298
Versatile, can play guard as well. Squat center with ability to add weight. Excellent run-blocker.
John Sullivan, Notre Dame, 6-3 1/2, 300
Strong, performed well in postseason workouts after poor Irish offense and sprained knee held him back in 2007.
Doug Legursky, Marshall, 6-3, 312
Biggest of the top centers. Three-year starter who can play guard and might be able to long-snap, saving a roster spot.
Branden Albert, Virginia, 6-5 1/2, 309
His stock shot him out of Steelers range, or he would have been a perfect replacement for Alan Faneca. Only first-rounder of the group.
Chilo Rachal, Southern California, 6-5, 315
Better pass blocker than on the run, although that can improve. Knee injury issues.
Roy Schuening, Oregon State, 6-3 1/2, 305
Strong and tough, but not as quick. Played last four games at right tackle.
John Greco, Toledo, 6-5, 325
Four-year starter, all at tackle -- first on the right, the last three years on the left. Arms little short to be a left tackle, so many project him at guard.
Mike McGlynn, Pitt, 6-4, 311
Excellent athlete who plays with fire and is versatile -- pros think he can play any position in the line, but for starters, looks like a guard.
Jake Long, Michigan, 6-7, 313
Dominant tackle. Will be a fixture for years on the left side. Lost 20 pounds since last season.
Ryan Clady, Boise State, 6-6, 309
Will put on weight. Can be used on either side, but right may be best. Level of competition may be questioned, but little else.
Jeff Otah, Pitt, 6-6, 322
Played through ankle sprain last season and still dominated. Big, strong, fast enough and quick. Can play RT or LT.
Chris Williams, Vanderbilt, 6-6, 315
Left tackle who also may be able to play guard. Will be fourth tackle to go in the first round and likely before Steelers' turn.
Gosder Cherilus, Boston College, 6-6 1/2, 314
Should return to RT after spending last season under-performing on the left side. Someone also might try him at guard.
Chris Long, Virginia, 6-3, 272
Howie's kid is the real deal with 14 sacks last season and postseason workout numbers that were numbing. He likely will be the first or second player drafted.
Vernon Gholston, Ohio State, 6-3, 266
Also had 14 sacks last season and followed with outstanding workouts in the postseason. He's a 4-3 end or a standup rusher in a 3-4.
Derrick Harvey, Florida, 6-5, 271
He too can play end in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4 because of his speed. Ideally, he will gain about 15 pounds and spend most of his time rushing the passer in the pros.
Philip Merling, Clemson, 6-4, 275
He's falling because of hernia surgery, and the Steelers are taking a strong look at him. Junior but might not be an ideal 3-4 end because of lack of power inside.
Lawrence Jackson, Southern California, 6-4 1/2, 271
On the rise. Needs to add some weight, and looks like an ideal 3-4 end if he can. Had 10.5 sacks last season.
Glenn Dorsey, LSU, 6-1 1/2, 297
Everything anyone can want in a 4-3 defensive tackle. He has been compared in style to Warren Sapp. Top five pick.
Sedrick Ellis, Southern California, 6-0 1/2, 309
An outstanding, pure 4-3 DT, although he could play nose tackle in a 3-4. Not a great 40 time but quicker than the rest.
Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina, 6-4 1/2, 308
Had a great senior season after nondescript previous years for the Tar Heels. Looks like a lower-end first-rounder and would fit as an end in Steelers scheme.
Dre Moore, Maryland, 6-4, 305
Pulls off great plays that make scouts drool but not consistent enough. Tempting pick based on highlights, but inconsistencies are usually a red flag.
Pat Sims, Auburn, 6-2, 310
Played last season with a cast on his hand. Postseason workouts not great. Good inside rusher.
Keith Rivers, Southern California, 6-2 1/2, 240
Not a top-10 pick, but good at every aspect of the game and has great character as well. Should be able to step in quickly for a team needing that.
Quentin Groves, Auburn, 6-3, 255
He's an OLB in 3-4, DE in a 4-3. Great pass-rushing skills. March heart surgery not serious. Dislocated toes limited him as a senior.
Tavares Gooden, Miami, 6-1 1/2, 235
Can play inside or outside. Has great speed and athletic ability, good range and can cover or rush.
Cliff Avril, Purdue, 6-2 1/2, 253
Played defensive end but not big enough for that in the pros. Some have him projected as an inside linebacker. 'Tweener who must find the right spot in the right defense.
Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech, 6-1 1/2, 232
Brother Nathaniel drafted as LB in fifth round by the Steelers in 2004, but did not make it. Career inside linebacker and may have to be backup at both.
Dan Connor, Penn State, 6-2 1/2, 230
Can play inside or out, but most pros believe he'll be better here, as long as his line can keep blockers away from him. Extremely smart, competitive and always around the ball.
Jerod Mayo, Tennessee, 6-2, 242
Pure middle linebacker with a great 4.54 in the 40. Some boards have him above Connor. Great athlete, smart, dominant player for Vols.
Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma, 6-0, 245
Steady, unspectacular player who will stop the run as well as anyone inside. Not great on the various tests, but plays well above them.
Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt, 6-2, 245
Good football skills, although not a highlight-film actor. Another steady, productive inside player who can be a good pro.
Philip Wheeler, Georgia Tech, 6-1 1/2, 245
Stock fell in postseason games and workouts. Once thought to be best of the inside men, he's now considered a more limited player best used against the run.
Aqib Talib, Kansas, 6-0 1/2, 202
Best coverage corner of the bunch and has decent size to go with it. Supremely confident. Not super speedy but knows how to play the position.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State, 6-1 1/2, 184
MVP of Senior Bowl proved he can play in the big leagues. Has outstanding speed with ball skills to match. Only drawback is level of competition and jersey nameplate.
Leodis McKelvin, Troy, 5-10, 190
Moved up with great showing in Senior Bowl practices and in postseason workouts, assuaging small-school concerns. Can also return.
Mike Jenkins, South Florida, 5-10, 197
Good speed and not afraid to make a tackle. Turned down Senior Bowl invitation but tested well in postseason.
Justin King, Penn State, 5-11, 192
Fastest of corners at 4.31. His outstanding postseason tests shot him up the board to likely high second-round pick for this Gateway High School grad.
Kenny Phillips, Miami, 6-2, 212
Three-year starter who played all over the field. Free safety. Not a lot of interceptions, and did not test well at combine but best of a weak class.
DaJuan Morgan, North Carolina State, 6-0, 205
Played both safeties last season. Might have benefited greatly with another year in college. Likely to be placed at free safety.
Tyrell Johnson, Arkansas State, 5-11 1/2, 207
Had a great combine, boosting his stock. Holds Sun Belt records for most tackles and career interception return yards, and was Sun Belt defensive player of the year. Strong safety.
Josh Barrett, Arizona State, 6-1 1/2, 223
Injuries and inconsistent play last season, but rebounded with great combine tests, including Justin King-like 4.34 in the 40, outstanding for his size. Strong safety.
Craig Steltz, LSU, 6-1 1/2, 213
Unavailable for Senior Bowl or combine because of shoulder injury, tested well in Senior Bowl. Should be good, solid strong safety.
Art Carmody, Louisville, 5-8 1/2, 177
Leg strength questioned but accuracy is not. He holds NCAA record for kickers with 433 points. Made 60 of 73 career field goal attempts. Lefty.
Brandon Coutu, Georgia, 5-11 1/2, 187
Strong-legged and consistent, he made 51 of 64 field goal tries, five from beyond 50 yards. Missed more than half of 2006 with torn hamstring.
Durant Brooks, Georgia Tech, 6-0, 204
Ray Guy Award winner and showed he deserved it in postseason. Possible fourth rounder. Good directional punter with 45.3 career gross average.
Mike Dragosavich, North Dakota State, 6-5 1/2, 212
Tall, big-legged with booming ability on his punts. Mis-hits at times, though, and his net was 12 yards below his 45.4 gross last season.
First Published April 20, 2008 12:00 am