Scout.com 2008 NFL Draft Rankings

Scout.com's Lead NFL Analyst, Tom Marino, shares his look at this year's top ten seniors and his top-rated defensive players from this year's senior class as Scout.com launches our 2008 NFL Draft Rankings, loaded up so far with the top 100 seniors! Get the link to the rankings and Tom's scouting report in this exclusive feature.

Scout.com is launching our 2008 NFL Draft Rankings today, 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. 

The 2008 NFL college football draft is still some 250 days away, but not far enough for us at Scout.com to give our assessment as to the relative strengths and weaknesses of the draft-eligible seniors by position -- along with taking a peek at the top ten preseason prospects.

Four defensive corners are included in our projected preseason first round, while 12 overall are listed in our top 100 prospects. That may sound like a representative group, but I'm sure personnel directors throughout the league are lamenting and consider this group as a whole "thin." 

I can't stress the importance of the cornerback position enough with teams now carrying as many as eight corners on their active roster. With all of the sub-packages employed in today's pro game throughout the league, you can better understand the position's importance in the mind of NFL general managers, coaches and scouts.

USC's Terrell Thomas
Christian Peterson, Getty Images
Terrell Thomas out of USC, Alabama's Simeon Castille -- the son of former NFL star Jeremiah Castille -- ball-hawking DeJaun Tribble of Boston College, and Arizona's Antoine Cason lead the way. But keep your eye on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State, an impressive looking athlete who accounted for himself well this past spring at the Penn Relays -- the largest early-season track and field meet in the country. And also watch out for Zack Bowman, a big athletic match-up corner who was injured and subsequently redshirted for Nebraska in 2006.

Look for as many as 14 corners to be selected on the first day of the draft alone, with possible juniors Aqib Talib of Kansas, Randy Phillips from the University of Miami, Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State, Justin King of Penn State, and Brandon Flowers from Virginia Tech receiving more than just a passing glance from professional scouts throughout the league this fall.

The second most critical position on the defensive side of the football is unquestionably the defensive end position. In simple terms, in order to have a successful, cohesive, defensive unit, a club must be able to put consistent sustained pressure on the quarterback, thus hastening his delivery (upsetting his throwing timing), with the ultimate goal being to put the quarterback on his back.

The four top senior prospects at this position are truly outstanding football players who have a chance to impact early at the position. I absolutely love Chris Long from the University of Virginia. The son of Hall of Fame member Howie Long, in many way I see a lot of his dad in this player's game. TCU's Tommy Blake and Auburn's Quentin Groves are two other player who will hear their names called early on the last weekend of April in 2008. Three of the four first-round projections at this position are amongst our top ten senior prospects, and with a solid senior campaign Lawrence Jackson of USC has a legitimate chance of joining the group. Kendall Langford from Hampton has some real natural tools and athletic ability, but is going to have to play with more intensity (dance every dance), and needs a great deal of work on his playing technique. 

Looking for a potential impact junior at the position? If so, then look no further then Miami's Calais Campbell, Vernon Gholston from Ohio State, and Clemson's pass rusher Phillip Merling, three young men with a first-rate tools.

Tennessee's Jonathan Hefney
Christian Peterson, Getty Images
As is the case with virtually every season, the safety position has always been a deep position in terms of numbers, but not in terms of star power. Such is the case with the safety group of 2008. Jonathan Hefney of the University of Tennessee, Tierre Green from Nebraska, Darien Williams of Oklahoma, Jamar Adams -- the latest in a long line of University of Michigan safeties -- and Arizona State's Josh Barrett all have a chance to be the first inside defender off the board, but up to this juncture, none have pulled away from the rest of the pack. Juniors Kenny Phillips from Miami and Nic Harris from Oklahoma are two players that with a solid season have a chance to contend for that top spot.

Like their outside counterparts, the defensive tackle position -- although lacking in depth -- has some outstanding prospects led by my choice as the top senior player in the nation, LSU's Glen Dorsey. Undersized Sedrick Ellis from USC is a disruptive, one-man wrecking crew with outstanding quickness and balance.  And DeMario Pressley, another potential high first-round selection, will soon become the latest in a long line of Wolfpack defenders to take his game to the professional ranks. Jeff Owens of Georgia and Roy Miller from the University of Texas are two junior defensive tackles whom the professional ranks covet. They are big and have a great deal of talent.  

But the very best of the senior and junior group after Dorsey might actually be a freshman from little Shaw University in Raleigh, NC by the name of Callahan Bright. Signed originally by Florida State, he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA clearing house prior to the start of the 2005 season, and after briefly attending Hargrave Military Academy disappeared from the football landscape. Earlier this month he reappeared and enrolled at Shaw. And based on his preseason workouts, one respected pro scout has already called him the most dominant inside defender he has seen in the last decade of scouting. It is unlikely that Bright will challenge the NFL eligibility rule in 2008 (he is still very raw, has been away from the game for two full seasons and needs to improve hand use significantly), but if and when he does, he has the ability to become a top professional for a very long time.

Penn State's Dan Connor
Doug Benc, Getty Images
After two lean seasons, it now appears that the linebacker group has both talent and depth to offer in 2008. In my opinion as many as six senior linebackers have a chance to be selected in the top round of next spring's player draft, and if Ohio State's James Laurinaitis, Sean Lee out of "Linebacker U" (Penn State), or Brian Cushing from USC decide to forego their final season of eligibility, the ranks could well increase significantly. With seniors like Keith Rivers out of USC, Dan Connor from Penn State, Philip Wheeler of Georgia Tech, Xavier Adibi from Virginia Tech, LSU's Ali Highsmith and the aforementioned, I wouldn't be opposed to playing a few double-headers.

Tomorrow, I'll share my analysis of the top senior offensive players in this year's draft, but here's a sneak preview as two of them are in with my Preseason Top Ten Picks overall out of this year's seniors:

1.  Glenn Dorsey, DT - LSU
Shows excellent initial get-off quickness with the ability to push and collapse the pocket. Also shows excellent gap quickness. Plays on his feet (gets over trash well). Has excellent playing range. Good instincts and ability to locate the football.

2.  Chris Long, DE - Virginia
Plays all-out, all of the time.  I love his intensity, he's an explosive player who plays with good pad level (leverage). I like his stride length and ability to trim the edge as an outside pass rusher. Shows a closing burst.

3.  Early Doucet, WR - LSU
Has both speed and quickness.  Can close the cushion on his open releases quickly. Gets in and out of a route, showing good feet and the ability to adjust to the ball, particularly on vertical routes. Good, but not exceptional hands. A true vertical threat.

4.  Sedrick Ellis, DT – USC
Not as tall as one would like, but I like his athletic skills, inside rush potential, and feel he is a physical tackler.  Good playing range, pursuit, and angles.  I like his intensity level. Good ability to key and diagnose and locate the football. I see a lot of Tamba Hali (the way he plays the game) in this player.

5.  Jake Long, OT - Michigan
Has rare size and plays with power.  Impressive ability to get off and engage inline. Good short-setting skills and footwork particularly for a big man. Good blocking range, adequate knee bend.

6.  Quentin Groves, DE - Auburn
A quick-twitch athlete with rare speed and playing range.  Showed an impressive burst to the football, a real threat as a speed rusher.  Also showed a quick inside counter move. Has the athletic skills to possibly project to an outside backer position.  Can be run at some, but this is a player who must be accounted for on every play, a Manny Lawson-type athlete and player.

7.  Keith Rivers, LB - USC
I like his size and stature, he's physical, tough, and aggressive. Like the way he takes on his opponent, locates and moves to the football.  Good playing range and striking power.

8.  Limas Sweed, WR - Texas
This player only needs to become more consistent catching the football and to protect the ball better after the catch. Is a matchup nightmare and was very effective in the red zone. Better vertically than on his underneath routes.

9.  Tommy Blake, DE - TCU
Former running back with excellent pass rushing potential.  Has very good snap reaction and ability.  Very quick to get to the top of his rush and trim the edge.  Plays with bent knees, can counter and close to the ball.  Needs to play hard all of the time.

10.  Terrell Thomas, CB - USC
This player is a big, physical corner with athletic ability, feet, supple hips and the ability to turn and go.  Can hit a point and close underneath. Can matchup physically against big receivers, competes hard. Has adequate ball skills.

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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