ScoutNFL 2008 Draft Watch

WR DeSean Jackson (J. Ferrey/Getty Images)

It's never too early to be thinking about the talent your favorite team needs to add next season through the NFL Draft. Get the quick hits that will keep you on top of emerging talent that could help your team from Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber.

  • I was starting to doubt DeSean Jackson's ability as a receiver. He was struggling to get off the line of scrimmage and wasn't posting numbers you'd like to see out of a No. 1 receiver (17 receptions for 151 yards and no touchdowns in Cal's first four games). But his performance against Oregon on Saturday opened my eyes. Jackson caught 11 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He's a dynamic player that excels as a return specialist, but it was nice to see him finally put it together as a receiver. Prior to the Oregon game, Jackson's best receiving day was when he caught four passes for 45 yards against Tennessee during Week 1.
  • Kentucky's Andre Woodson is off to a phenomenal start. He's led the No. 8 Wildcats to a 5-0 record and has elevated his draft status as one of the top two quarterbacks in the nation. Woodson has completed 112-of-167 passes for 1,309 yards, 16 touchdowns and an interception so far. His accuracy, poise, and decision-making are the best in college football and will only get better as the season progresses. Woodson faces a tough South Carolina team -- ranked 11th in the country -- this weekend. But without their leading defender Jasper Brinkley (torn ligament in right knee), Woodson's job just got a little easier.
  • All the talk in Louisville surrounds quarterback Brian Brohm, but what about his favorite target Harry Douglas? Douglas is an outstanding speed receiver who runs great routes and has sure hands. He doesn't possess great size (5-foot-11, 170-pounds), but he gets a quick release off the line and is deceptively strong. Douglas is off to a tremendous start this season, hauling in 38 receptions for 679 yards and five touchdowns. He sat out this past weekend's game against NC State due to an injury he suffered against Syracuse. In the game against Syracuse, as well as the prior game against Kentucky, Douglas amassed more than 200 receiving yards. He had 223 yards on 13 receptions against Kentucky and 205 yards on 12 receptions against Syracuse.
  • Sixth-ranked South Florida, who's been a surprise this season with a 4-0 record, features some great talent on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomores George Selvie (28 tackles, 16.5 for loss, and 9.5 sacks) and Nate Allen (30 tackles and three interceptions) have distinguished themselves as two of the top players in the country who have lined themselves up for major play in the 2009 NFL Draft. As for the 2008 draft eligible-players on the South Florida defense, middle linebacker Ben Moffitt (Sr.), linebacker Tyrone McKenzie (Jr.), cornerback Trae Williams (Sr.), cornerback Mike Jenkins (Sr.), and defensive end Woody George (Sr.) are all likely to be drafted next April.
  • Michigan State has two dynamic running backs that form college football's version of "Thunder and Lightning."  But Jehuu Caulcrick (Thunder) and Javon Ringer (Lightning) have been a quiet storm thus far. Caulcrick (6-foot, 255-pounds) is a big, physical back who's excellent in short-yardage situations. He makes quick cutbacks in a small area and is able to wiggle his way through traffic. A hard runner, Caulcrick flashes good burst, easily breaks tackles, and picks up a lot of yardage after initial contact. Ringer (5-foot-9, 200-pounds) is a shifty back who's an explosive playmaker running and receiving the ball. He sets up defenders well and makes them miss; he's a huge open-field threat. This past weekend, Michigan State nearly upset No. 5 Wisconsin, but lost 37-34. Caulcrick and Ringer played a huge role in the near-upset. Ringer finished with 10 carries for 145 yards, along with seven receptions for 88 yards -- a total of 223 yards of total offense. Caulcrick also played well. He had 17 carries for 77 yards and two first quarter touchdowns. Caulcrick, a senior, is likely to be a mid-round selection next April, but he has to improve his receiving ability to improve his draft status. Ringer is only a junior, and it remains to be seen if he'll declare for the draft. Another year of seasoning at the collegiate level should make him a top-rated running back for the 2009 draft.
  • A lot of people were down on Michigan when they got off to an 0-2 start, which included one of the most shocking defeats in NCAA history when they lost to Appalachian State. But don't discredit running back Mike Hart. He's a complete back who has all the tools to be an elite player at the next level. He's carried the Wolverines on his back while they've reeled off three straight wins. During Michigan's win-streak -- one that consisted of victories over Notre Dame, Penn State and Northwestern -- Hart averaged 36 carries for 146 yards and more than one touchdown a game.
  • Another Wolverine's stock has been on the decline in recent weeks. Quarterback Chad Henne, who was mentioned as a top quarterback entering the year but struggled in the first two games of the season, missed the last two weeks with a leg injury. Henne returned to the lineup against Northwestern and had a strong showing, completing 18-of-27 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns. It's important for the Michigan quarterback to continue his progression from that game and take it through the rest of the season. He's competing with a talented crop of quarterbacks that includes Brian Brohm, Andre Woodson, Colt Brennan, Matt Ryan, and John David Booty. During Henne's early-season struggles and his recent leg injury, many of those quarterbacks have distanced themselves from him.
  • The Miami Hurricanes (4-1) have had a good season thus far, and a lot of their success is credited to their defense. This past weekend against Duke, 6-foot-8, 280-pound junior Calais Campbell recorded eight tackles, 3.5 for a loss, and 2.5 sacks against the Blue Devils. Campbell, who's the best defensive end in the country, is a gifted athlete who can take a game over. He's quick around the edge and makes plays in the backfield. Another stalwart on the Hurricanes defense is senior linebacker Tavares Gooden. Gooden is an athletic, instinctive linebacker who's leads the Hurricanes in tackles (48) and displays great playmaking ability. Against Duke, Gooden recorded 14 tackles and recovered a fumble. If Campbell enters next April's NFL Draft, he's a sure top-ten selection, while Gooden -- if he continues his strong development -- is a solid third-round selection.
  • I wonder why Illinois star linebacker J. Leman doesn't get more publicity? All he does is make plays. He's not the best athlete, but he plays with great passion. He's a determined player who's instinctive and has excellent awareness. He's not going to stand out going sideline-to-sideline, but he has great lateral movement and positions himself well to make plays. Through five games, the Fighting Illini linebacker has 59 total tackles (five for a loss), 1.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. In his team's upset victory over Penn State on Saturday, Leman collected 10 tackles and an interception. In a strong draft-eligible class of linebackers, Leman has to be considered among the elite.
  • Two players whose draft stock is plummeting are TCU's defensive end Tommy Blake and Florida's wide receiver Andre Caldwell. Blake had a controversial offseason and is now missing time in-season. Blake took a medical leave of absence and will miss at least one more game for the Horned Frogs. This is the second time Blake has left the team this season for undisclosed reasons, and this has put his professional future up in the air. Caldwell, who suffered an MCL sprain against Troy in Week 2, returns to action this week just in time for the Gators' big game against LSU. He's not 100 percent, but appears ready to give it a go against the No. 1 team in the nation. Caldwell's performance this week will answer questions regarding the highly-touted receiver.
  • A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his NFL draft analysis on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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