2008 NFL Draft Rankings and Analysis: Offense

Former pro scout Tom Marino provides his analysis of this year's top talent on offense out of the senior class of collegiate players. And you can check out the launch of the Scout.com 2008 NFL Draft Rankings of the top 100 seniors as well!

Scout.com has launched our 2008 NFL Draft Rankings, which will be updated frequently through draft weekend next April. We've loaded up the top 100 senior draft prospects for the launch. Watch for more feature articles announcing the addition of more players, including the top junior prospects who may declare for the draft, right here at Scout.com. If you missed Tom Marino's first article on the top ten seniors in this year's draft and his analysis of the top defensive talent available, click here to read it.

The 2007 senior quarterback group is solid throughout in terms of numbers, but scouts and draft enthusiasts need to look at and closely scrutinize the type of throws, system of play, and characteristics of each individual athlete -- both on and off the field -- rather than just looking at their numbers. In order to become a true scout, one must be able ask and answer one seemingly simple question before putting his name on a report -- "Is it real, or is it Memorex?" In other words, is the person I have just watched capable in his own right? Or is he just the product of the system? In my opinion, NFL talent evaluators have made some very critical mistakes when evaluating players at the quarterback position which have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars in the last decade alone! Aside from the crazy money Major League Baseball clubs throw at mediocre starting pitchers or setup men, I know of no other business in the country where mediocrity is rewarded as it is in professional football. 

For the record, I like Chad Henne of Michigan's size, arm, and I think he has surprising mobility for a big man. But his track record in big games is questionable, he appears to have some tunnel-vision and aside from Tom Brady, when was the last time the University of Michigan developed a top professional signal-caller? 

I want to see Brian Brohm, the big, experienced, and productive signal-caller from Louisville throw the football down the field more consistently and effectively.  In my mind, I've seen far too many shallow crosses, screens, delays, hitches, slip screens, and high-percentage throws to running backs and tight ends in the games I've viewed. Based on my exposure, I didn't see him as having a particularly strong throwing arm. 

Hawaii's Colt Brennan
Harry How, Getty Images
Hawaii's Colt Brennan has a funky throwing delivery (so did Philip Rivers) and made virtually all of his throws from the gun.  But I've got to tell you, his skills and playing demeanor really intrigue me. He has no fear, and believes he will get the job done with the game in the balance. 

Matt Ryan from Boston College has a nice stroke and has been well-schooled.  If he continues to make the type of strides he has made over the last two years, he has a real chance of passing over all of his senior counterparts. Kentucky's Andre Woodson has everything you look for physically at the position but he hasn't done it consistently over his career for the Wildcats. The only knock I had on him was his ability to get the ball out quickly. But he does have talent and I really look for him to put up some big numbers in 2007. If LSU's Matt Flynn can hit his stride quickly in 2007, he also has the skills to really surprise and move up among this year's group of QBs. 

Junior Chase Holbrook from New Mexico State has excellent size (built like a tight end) and like the aforementioned Colt Brennan, put up some very impressive numbers for passing guru Hal Mumme, but so did another Mumme protégée by the name of Tim Couch at the University of Kentucky in 1998. In fairness to Holbrook, this writer has yet to see him perform either live or on tape, so I am basing his relative value at this time strictly on his incredible passing numbers (396-566 for 4,619 yards, 70.0% completion rate - 34 TDs - 9 INTs). Ben Olsen of UCLA -- by way of BYU -- can really spin the ball, but if he is to be given some early draft consideration, he must prove to the pro scouts he can stay healthy and put up the kind of numbers that were expected of him before he left school for two seasons to complete his LDS mission.

The offensive tackle position does not have an Orlando Pace, a Walter Jones or a Jonathan Ogden, but is solid with good depth. Upwards of five players have a chance of being selected in the top round with Michigan wide-body Jake Long leading the way. A player to watch this fall is Boston College's Gosder Cherilus who hails from my hometown of Somerville, MA. Cherilus is quite obviously a massive man (6'7, 319 pounds) who in terms of size can block out the sun. In 2007 he moves from the right to left side, and if he continues to show steady improvement he could well turn out to be something very special (Go Highlanders)!

Notre Dame's John Sullivan
Joe Raymond, AP
John Sullivan of Notre Dame heads up the always lean offensive center position which includes only three players in the mythical top 100 rankings. Texas A&M veteran Cody Wallace and Wake Forest' Steve Justice have both played a lot of football over their college careers and should become solid professionals.

At offensive guard, another thin position in terms of top prospects, the versatile Eric Young from the University of Tennessee leads the way. Shannon Tevaga from UCLA, Will Arnold from LSU, USC's Drew Radovich, and Michigan tough-guy Adam Kraus are all solid prospects -- although unlikely to crack the top round. Former BYU freshman starter Ofa Mohetau, transferred to pass happy Texas Tech U, but appears to have entered college football's witness protection program. He had some physical skills and if he resurfaces this season, he may well be one to watch.

The receiver group doesn't have anyone with the skills of a Calvin Johnson, but I believe there are some people in this group who could well become front-line receivers quickly. After sharing the spotlight with not one, but two first-round selections last season, LSU's Early Doucet enters the 2007 season with very high expectations. He is explosive, and I like his ability to adjust to the deep ball. Texas' Limas Sweed has his detractors but his great size and speed will create many mismatches at both the college and professional level. 

Although Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman does not have racehorse speed, he does possess excellent hands and has been a very productive player since transferring from the Univesity of North Carolina. Like Sweed, Bowman's size and leaping ability give him some real advantages, particularly when working versus man coverage. Kentucky's Keenan Burton, Virginia Tech's Eddie Royal, Loiusville's Harry Douglas, and Houston's Donnie Avery are the best of the rest.  They should all become solid, productive, professional players quickly. 

He quit football in 2005 to concentrate solely on his track & field career, but proactive NFL scouts and draft enthusiasts everywhere have not forgotten the name of former LSU receiver Xavier Carter. In 2006, the Palm Bay, Florida prep football and track star ran the third-fastest time in history in the 200M and is widely considered today to hold the mythical title of "The World's Fastest Human."

Missouri's Martin Rucker
Charlie Riedel, AP
As a group, the tight end position is not deep, but talented. Missouri' Martin Rucker, Southern Cal's Fred Davis, Jacob Tamme from the University of Kentucky and Notre Dame's John Carlson are all big, athletic athletes with excellent receiving skills. Which one of them is the most complete is not readily known at this juncture, but all have a chance to develop into front-line performers at the professional level. Texas A&M's giant junior tight end, Martellus Bennett, also has a great deal of ability and his progress will be followed closely by the "pay for play" evaluators.

The senior running back position is better overall then last season's group, but is somewhat flawed. Mike Hart from the University of Michigan is a talented player and one tough hombre, but he is a "little guy" -- and little guys at this position have a history of not holding up physically in the NFL's "Land of The Giants."  I also was a tad disappointed in his vision. Allen Patrick from the University of Oklahoma flashed some very impressive skills as a replacement for the injured Adrian Peterson in 2006, but his ability to handle the full load over an entire season has yet to be determined. 

The rest of the senior group shows promise, but will need to stay healthy and step up big time during their senior campaigns. It's an adequate group overall -- but wait, the junior class of ball carriers, led by Darren McFadden from the University of Arkansas is among the best I have seen in years!!!

McFadden, last season's Heisman runner-up, is -- at this stage of his development -- on par with any and all of the greats to have ever lined up at the position at the college level. He is explosive, instinctive, and has enough juice to take it to the house every time he touches the football. Look for him to be the number one selection in the country should he choose to pack it in at the end of the 2007 season. West Virginia's Steve Slaton, explosive little men Antone Smith from Florida St and Ray Rice of Rutgers, and -- if you can believe this -- McFadden' backup Felix Jones (who in 2006 ran for 1,168 on just 154 touches for an amazing 7.6 yard per carry average), are all quality backs who will make an impact at the professional level very quickly.

Bookmark this page: 2008 Scout.com NFL Draft Rankings and visit it often to learn more about the players who could land on your favorite team's roster next year! You can sort your view of the players by overall ranking, name, position, college or home state. And each player is rated on a five-star system based on the following table:

  1st-round talent
      2nd- to 3rd-round talent 
        4th- to 7th-round talent
           Priority free agent
              Low-rated free agent 

Tom Marino has over 35 years of experience as a professional scout working for the NFL's Bears, Saints, Rams, Giants and Cowboys along with both the WFL and USFL. As Scout.com's Lead NFL Analyst, he has primary responsibility for network reporting, the NFL Draft, Free Agency databases and rankings.

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