Posted by Walter
Wow, with the NFL Draft less than a month away I can hardly contain my excitement. So much so, that I've decided to look ahead to the 2008 NFL Draft and provide some ridiculously early pre draft rankings. Since the 2007 college football season hasn't been played yet, obviously, these rankings will look nothing like the final product we will provide next Spring. In essence these lists are just the top Sr. and Jr. (who may come out early) players in college football, and those who we should all be keeping an eye on come August.
1) Brian Brohm, Louisville - The cream of the crop. Many observers, myself included, have long believed Brohm to be a superior NFL prospect to Brady Quinn. Brohm has everything you look for in a franchise QB: size, strength, mobility, an NFL arm, deadly accuracy and a strong football pedigree. Brohm projects best as a hybrid West Coast QB because of his accuracy and athleticism. The ideal fit for Brohm would be a Jon Gruden type passing attack......think Rich Gannon with a stronger arm and the ability to stretch the field vertically.
Frazier's Option: Brohm is an absolute phenom. He was one of the most polished quarterbacks in the country last year, and will only be better playing fully healthy all season. He'd be giving Russell a run for his money if he'd opted to go pro.
2) Colt Brennan, Hawaii - Brennan made a wise decision to stay in college and polish his skills. Perhaps the most skilled QB to ever play at Hawaii, Brennan's best attribute is his insane accuracy, especially on deep balls. He doesn't have the protoype NFL arm of some of these other players, but he can make all the throws, and his accuracy on the deep seam routes makes up for any arm strength deficiencies. Brennan is a classic gunslinger with some mobility, and really reminds me of Jake Plummer.
FO: Brennan isn't just a Hawaii passing stat freak. He was supposed to be the next big thing at Colorado before some character issues sent him packing. Still, he's a legit talent, but he needs to make it clear that he's not just a system guy.
The best of the rest.......
3) Chad Henne, Michigan - Throws the best deep ball since Rex Grossman, but needs to work on moving the chains with shorter stuff.
FO: After seeing him in the Rose Bowl, I don't have a lot of faith in this guy. But he'll have weapons.
4) Erik Ainge, Tennessee - Has all the physical tools to be a top 10 pick, but needs to show marked improvement in the mental part of the game.
FO: Well, he has been backsliding since his promising freshman season, but has new coaching which may help.
5) Sam Keller, Nebraska - Even after starring at ASU, Keller needs to prove himself on a wildly talented Nebraska offense.
FO: Well, he'll probably out-play the kid who replaced him at ASU...
Keep an eye on.......
Andre Woodson, Kentucky - Just an absolute protoype. Strong, accurate, mobile, and still improving. Kentucky has tons of offensive talent and no defense so expect Woodson to put up other worldly numbers in 2007. He has perhaps the best skill set among all college QB's (yes, better than Brohm) and if he can improve on his breakout 2006 campaign, we could be looking at Woodson playing Jamarcus Russell to Brohm's Brady Quinn in 2007.
FO: If this were the NBA, Woodson would have declared this year and been wildly overrated based on tremendous upside potential. But since it isn't, he'll actually have to prove himself on the gridiron.
1) Darren McFadden, Arkansas (Jr.) - If McFadden has the type of season we've grown accustomed to him having, I think he'd be hard pressed to stay in school and put more mileage on his body. McFadden is the new breed of RB in the mold of Ladainian Tomlinson: strong, compact, fast, quick, and deadly catching the football. McFadden is just such a great athlete that you get the feeling he could play any position on the field if he wanted to, and everything about him screams top 5 pick. McFadden is a COMPLETE running back.
FO: I couldn't be higher on the swiss-army running back. If you have a top five pick, DRAFT HIM! It doesn't matter if you don't need a RB, because he'll fill that middle linebacker spot that has been plaguing you. Or he can be your backup QB, starting WR and nickel back. The sky is the limit.
2) Steve Slaton, West Virginia (Jr.) - Ditto for Slaton in terms of coming out as a Jr. Unlike McFadden, there are holes in Slaton's game. While he catches the ball very well, and, to his credit, is willing to run between the tackles, Slaton just isn't the same type of punishing runner McFadden is. However, what Slaton does bring to the table is big play ability, and a TD every time he touches the ball. Slaton is the type of player who has to be accounted for on every play, and with his speed and vision will be an outstanding NFL player.
FO: If he could catch he'd be Reggie Bush Jr. But since he can't, well, he's still a major homerun threat, but not an every-down kind of guy.
The best of the rest.....
3) Mike Hart, Michigan - Small but tough, if only Hart's physical size matched his heart we'd be talking about the #1 overall pick.
FO: The kid has heart, but he'll probably peak in college.
4) Allen Patrick, Oklahoma - Needs to prove he can fill AP's shoes for a full season, but was impressive in limited duty in 2006.
FO: Seemed like he really could be something, but we only got a limited view.
5) Rafael Little, Kentucky - Big play ability will be on display every week while teaming with Woodson.
FO: He needs Kentucky to be better than they have been for a long time to get any love.
Keep an eye on.....
Jonathan Stewart, Oregon - Stewart showed his explosion on special teams as a true freshman in 2005, and had flashes of brilliance as a starter in 2006. However, nagging injuries hampered him for most of the season, and he was never able to live up to the expectations. Now he's flying under the radar for 2007, and, fully healthy, should be primed for a huge year. Stewart is a versatile back who, despite his tremendous size (5'11'' 230 lbs.) is extremely explosive.
FO: This kid is legit. When he was on and healthy, the Ducks were very good. He's going to punish some of the softer Pac-10 fronts.
1) Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State - Bowman burst onto the scene with a monster season in 2006, and is primed to repeat those numbers in 2007. Bowman has tremendous size at 6'4'' and 220 lbs., but his big play ability is what separates him (his yards per reception average has increased from 18.1, to 18.3, to 19.7 in the last three seasons). Bowman will have to prove that last year was no fluke, but the Cowboys have enough offensive talent surrounding him that he could actually improve in 2007.
FO: Every year Ok. State puts up some huge numbers on some unsuspecting big-name defense, and Bowman will be one of the reasons it continues in '07.
2) Limas Sweed, Texas - Since Sweed arrived in Austin he has been compared to Longhorns great Roy Williams. And while he has shown flashes of Williams, Sweed just hasn't ever lived up to those lofty comparisons. Still, it's not like Sweed has been a slough. He has improved his numbers each season, including an 800 yard season in 2006. With Colt McCoy back under center, Sweed could finally put up a 1000 yard season and live up to his potential.
FO: Time for his production to meet his talent. There is no reason why Texas shouldn't put a hurting on the Big 12.
The best of the rest.......
3) Marcus Monk, Arkansas - Not very fast, but a HUGE target who is virtually uncoverable in the red zone.
FO: Hopefully it won't be another year where Monk has to battle for every pass thrown his way, and when his most reliable quarterback isn't an all-american RB.
4) Andre Caldwell, Florida - Not very big, not very fast, but like every Gator wideout he is smart and knows how to get open.
FO: Tebow will need Caldwell to step up and help the development.
5) Mario Manningham, Michigan (Jr.) - Big play threat finally broke out in 2006, and could be an all american if he can stay healthy in 2007.
FO: An astounding homerun hitter who will have highlight reel plays if he's on the field.
Keep an eye on.......
Harry Douglas, Louisville - In 2006 Douglas put up perhaps the quietest 1200 yard season in the history of college football. Deemed too slow and too small by many, at 5'11'' and 170 lbs. Douglas reminds me of a former Cardinal receiver who had the same knocks: Deion Branch. Douglas has the best QB in college football throwing the ball to him, and one of the best running mates in the nation as well (Mario Urrutia) flanking him. He should have a huge year in 2007.
FO: With Brohm throwing the ball, Douglas couldn't be in better hands. He'll be part of an incredibly productive tandem.
1) John Carlson, Notre Dame - A classic Notre Dame tight end, Carlson does nothing great but everything well.....and he always seems to make the big catch. Carlson is reliable in the passing game and is a willing blocker, and is a virtual clone of the man he replaced (current Cowboys TE Anthony Fasano).
FO: He'll be an essential piece of getting a young QB's feet wet.
2) Martin Rucker, Missouri - Rucker is extremely talented, yet he may only be the second best TE on his own team's roster (see below). Either way, Rucker has outstanding size at over 6'6'', and is a good bet to reach 500 receiving yards for the third straight season.
FO: Needs to continue his productivity, and show some fight for such a big man.
The best of the rest.....
3) Fred Davis, USC - Solid overall prospect, with good size, but who will always be overshadowed by the rest of USC's skill position talent.
FO: USC tight ends don't always get the hype, but the Trojans will spread the ball, and Davis is a good option on a stacked team.
4) Korey Sperry, Colorado State - Another massive prospect whose production dipped a bit in 2006 and will be looking to bounce back in 2007.
FO: Being an athlete isn't good enough, especially when you're being covered by guys who shouldn't be able to hang with you.
5) Cornelius Ingram, Florida - A TE/WR hybrid, who at 6'4'' has the frame for a TE but the hands of a wideout. The most intriguing prospect of the group.
FO: A potential security blanket for a young QB.
Keep an eye on......
Chase Coffman, Missouri (Jr.) - Not as polished as Rucker, but Coffman has far more natural ability. Coffman is huge at 6'6'' and nearly 250 lbs., yet he runs like a wideout and has arguably the softest hands of anyone in the nation. With over 600 yards and 9 TD in 2006, he actually outperformed Rucker on pure athleticism alone. Coffman is the type of athletic TE NFL teams covet, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him and Rucker get drafted on the first day in 2007.
FO: It's tough to split time at the TE position, so he has to be able to do great things in the time he has.
1) Jake Long, Michigan - Long is clearly the class of a very solid group of senior tackle prospects. Long is a classic LT. He is very tall at 6'7'' and has very long arms. However, unlike most prior Michigan lineman, Long separates himself with outstanding athleticism. Not a trule mauler like former Wolverine, and frequent comparison, Jon Runyan, Long is a true technician at left tackle and is particularly adept at pass blocking. Long looks like a sure fire top 10 pick.
FO: An absolute stud. Michigan linemen are a tough, dependable breed, and Long is carrying on that proud tradition.
2) Will Arnold, LSU - Arnold is clearly the best guard in America and is a true mauler at the point of attack. It will be interesting to see how much LSU runs behind him to get their running game going, but if his performance against Notre Dame is any indication it should be a lot. Arnold is the rare guard who has the talent to go in the first round.
FO: With a new quarterback, Arnold will get a chance to plow the road for the running game for awhile. I think he'll take to the task like a man on a serious mission.
The best of the rest......
3) Sam Baker, USC - Some consider him a better player than Long, but Long is battle tested and Baker needs to show more of a mean streak.
FO: USC produces pro-bowl linemen. Baker may be the next.
4) Kirk Barton, Ohio State - Will be overshadowed by super sophomore (and future top 5 selection) Alex Boone, but is a fantastic prospect in his own right.
FO: With a whole new offense Barton will get a chance to flash his stuff making holes for Beanie Wells.
5) Shannon Tevaga, UCLA - Not even in the same stratosphere as Arnold, but a solid player in and of himself.
FO: He'll be showing that UCLA is a nastier team than their powder blue would lead you to believe.
Keep an eye on......
King Dunlap, Auburn - At 6'8'' and 320 lbs. Dunlap has the size to absolutely demolish his opponents. Dunlap was a top recruit and was supposed to be the second coming of Marcus McNeil at Auburn. Well unlike McNeil, who started fast and slumped as a Sr., Dunlap has steadily improved each year. If Dunlap dominates as a Senior, he could vault himself into the discussion for first tackle off the board.
FO: He's the King. No, seriously, get out of his fucking way.