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January 15, 2008

Analysis of draft early entrants

(* - Denotes redshirt sophomore. Players must be three years removed from high school to be eligible for the NFL Draft.)

Entering NFL Draft
OG Branden Albert, Virginia
This developing guard had an outstanding 2007 season, but he needs further developemnt to be ready to handle NFL power rushers. Albert must also work on his drive-blocking skills.
WR Adrian Arrington, Michigan
This smooth junior receiver developed nicely over the 2007 season and has interesting skills. After many changes in the Michigan offensive philosophy, he decided to enter the NFL. He is a good prospect with definite upside as a pro if he improves his overall game.
WR James Banks, Carson-Newman
This prospect began his college career at Tennessee but was dismissed from the team for repeated offenses after two seasons. He has fine talent with size, speed and leaping ability. He could be one of the top boom or bust prospects in this draft class.
WR Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt
This fast junior wideout set several SEC records and has the ability to be a legitimate deep threat as a pro. He will challenge for the top spot at the position with a strong postseason - especially with good time in the 40-yard dash.
TE Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M
A very athletic tight end, Bennett has been underutilized in the Aggies' struggling passing game. He has enormous upside, and is one of the premier prospects at this position.
WR Davone Bess, Hawaii
Bess is a smaller receiver who has flourished in the Hawaii passing game. He should be able to step in and produce in any pro air attack - especially as a slot receiver.
DE Calais Campbell, Miami
This tall, athletic defender developed nicely over the 2007 season. Campbell has the package necessary to rank with the blue-chip prospects.
RB Jamaal Charles, Texas
This tough tailback has been productive this fall especially late. However, he may be surprised to find out that he likely won't be a first-round pick if he declares in January. He is a talented runner with a NFL starting grade.
OT Ryan Clady, Boise State
This agile left tackle has been a dominant performer over recent seasons. He is physically ready to move on to the NFL.
OT Anthony Collins, Kansas
A nimble tackle, Collins was a key component in Kansas' surprising season. He has fine pro potential. Collins would have benefited from another season to refine his skills, but has opted to joing the pro ranks now.
DE Johnny Dingle, West Virginia
This big and mobile end has been a force in the Big East over the past three seasons. He could be one of the gems of from the underclassmen group.
OT Franklin Dunbar, Middle Tennesse State
A young, developing left tackle, Dunbar had an outstanding 2007 season in which he did not allow a sack. However, he needs further development to be ready to handle NFL speed rushers. He will need some time as a backup to refine his skills.
TE Jermichael Finley, Texas *
Third-year sophomore displays fine receiving skills with the speed to get deep in the middle seam. He needs development as a blocker and was a surprise addition to the underclassmen list.
CB Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech
Flowers is a fast cover man who came on strong late in the 2007 season. He ranks with the top prospects at this demanding position. He runs as well as any player in the nation at this point.
DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
This explosive outside defender came on strong over the 2007 season to rank with the nation's top ends. He had impressive games against top talent, and should be an elite defensive prospect this April.
This young receiver developed nicely in the potent Hawaii passing game. Coach June Jones leaving the program was probably a bigger factor than his readiness for the next level.
DT Letroy Guion, Florida State
Guion is an athletic junior tackle who started eight games this season. He flashed some playmaking ability that will warrant interest from NFL clubs. Guion would have benefited from another season of development.
WR James Hardy, Indiana
This big, athletic wideout is one of the key reasons Indiana made it to a bowl game. Hardy has developed nicely over this season. He will be one of the first receivers selected in April, and could go in the late first/early second round area.
DE Derrick Harvey, Florida
This fast edge rusher has shown big-play ability for the Gators. He has the burst of speed necessary to come off the edge despite issues related to his size and development.
LB Geno Hayes, Florida State
Fast junior linebacker could be the next Seminole underclassmen to surprise early in his NFL career.
LB Erin Henderson, Maryland
This fast linebacker has drawn raves from NFL scouts over the past two seasons. He is talented enough to compete for an NFL starting job early in his career.
CB Jack Ikegwuonu, Wisconsin
Athletic junior corner had an inconsistent 2007 season. He would have benefited from further development, but could still be a top-50 selection in April.
WR DeSean Jackson, California
This fast junior wideout/returner can be a difference-maker every time he touches the ball. Despite a very average 2007 season, he will be one of the premier receivers in this class. He carries a first-round grade.
RB Felix Jones, Arkansas
Fast all purpose performer coupled with Darren McFadden to form the most explosive backfield in recent memory. He has the talent to be a difference maker in the NFL in a few roles.
WR Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma
This big-play wideout has fine skills and has been a productive player for the Sooners. Though he would benefit from another season of development in college, he is a blue-chip prospect with a first round grade.
CB Justin King, Penn State
Quick junior cover man had a fairly good '07 season.
LB Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma
This explosive junior is a tackling machine. He has been a dominant performer in the Big 12 this season. Lofton has a chance to be a premier pro prospect. He could still use some development, but may be a good workout player.
WR Mario Manningham, Michigan
This smooth junior receiver has well-developed skills for the position. He is a blue-chip prospect with a big upside as a pro, though he would have benefitted from another year to develop.
LB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee
This fast junior linebacker declared after an outstanding 2007 season in which he led the SEC in tackles. He has sideline-to-sideline speed and good instincts. His presence improves an average group at this position
RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas
This blue-chip feature back is probably the best player in the NFL Draft. He has all the skills necessary to be a success in the pros. He has a strong chance to make an immediate impact in the right setting.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
This large tailback had a monster season in the Big Ten, which led to his decision to turn pro. He is a complete feature back and carries a first-round grade at this point of the evaluation process.
DE Phillip Merling, Clemson
This big, mobile end has been a force in the ACC over the past three seasons. He will be one of the gems from the underclassmen group and should impress in workouts.
DT Alphonso Moran, Kansas State
This short tackle failed to play during the 2007 season after being a part-time starter the previous two seasons. He is a strong run defender who needs to prove he is healthy in the postseason.
SS DaJuan Morgan, North Carolina State
This instinctive junior safety had a breakout 2007 season and decided to join the NFL underclassmen group. He continued a strong defensive back tradition at N.C. State.
LB Lamar Myles, Louisville
This mobile middle linebacker has started less than two seasons for the suspect UL defense. He is a fierce hitter who can cause turnovers, but he has only average instincts and is limited in pass coverage.
FS Kenny Phillips, Miami
This talented safety has the athleticism necessary to become a premier selection in April.
OG Chilo Rachal, Southern Cal
This huge guard was a two-year starter who displayed the physical skills to play in the NFL. However, his level of development may keep him on the bench as a pro because he needs more time to fine-tune his skills.
RB Ray Rice, Rutgers
Compact, strong tailback has been a workhorse for the Rutgers club the past three seasons to rank among the nation's leaders. He had little left to prove at Rutgers, and moves on to the pros after another huge performance in bowl victory.
CB Orlando Scandrick, Boise State
This quick junior corner combines fine size and speed with the instincts and toughness the position demands. He hopes to impress in workouts to move into the second tier of cornerback prospects.
DT Pat Sims, Auburn
This wide-bodied tackle can stack the middle and has shown the explosiveness necessary to make plays in the backfield. He was only a one year starter for the Tigers, which leaves questions about his level of development
RB Steve Slaton, West Virginia
This fast junior scatback is effective as both a runner and receiver. Slaton is capable of being a big-play performer early if he proves to be durable.
RB Kevin Smith, Central Florida
Rare 2,000-yard rusher has natural running skills and a high level of development - which made him reverse his earlier decision to stay in school. He received a top-50 grade from the advisory committee, and he could land in the first round with a strong postseason.
CB Reggie Smith, Oklahoma
Blue chip athlete has rare triangle numbers for the corner and the size and instincts to play the free safety position. He needs his position defined, but is a defender with all the tools to succeed as a pro. He should be a solid first-round selection.
WR Taj Smith, Syracuse
Fast wideout/returner can be a difference-maker every time he touches the ball. He had a good '07 season, which led him to declare for the draft instead of returning to school.
RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
This powerfully built back is big and has breakaway speed - a rare combination for the position. He will have to prove his durability in the NFL, but he has the package to be an elite pro feature back.
CB Aqib Talib, Kansas
This agile corner is a gambling cover man with big play ability in coverage and in the return game. He will be one of the premier junior corners headed for the NFL.
WR Devin Thomas, Michigan St
Fast-rising receiver displayed both deep speed and run-after-the-catch ability this season. He made the decision to turn pro after a breakout performance in the Big Ten.
WR Mario Urrutia, Louisville
A big receiver, Urrutia struggled through an erratic season. He must impress in the offseason to be more than a second-day selection.

Frank Coyle is a nationally known NFL scout who publishes Draft Insiders' Digest and www.draftinsiders.com. Draft Insiders' Digest is dedicated to year-round coverage of NFL and NCAA Football. Coyle covers the NFL Draft and free agency extensively with a veteran scouting staff that provides insightful and unique information on players and team potential in the coming seasons. Draft Insiders' Digest is an extensive publication that produces more than 20 issues throughout the year, beginning with an Online Pro Prospects Preview and Fantasy Football Rankings in August and a 200-page Draft Yearbook in March.

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