Updated player rankings

John Murphy
Yahoo! Sports

With the 2008 NFL draft less than four months away, here are my updated player rankings, broken down by position.

I have only rated senior players and underclassmen who have already declared themselves eligible for the draft. Juniors have until Jan. 15 to declare.

There will be even more movement after scouts continue their evaluations at postseason all-star games and players go through workouts at pro days and the NFL Combine on Feb. 20-26 in Indianapolis.

The NFL draft is April 26-27 in New York.


Matt Ryan, Boston College

Brian Brohm, Louisville

Joe Flacco, Delaware

Andre' Woodson, Kentucky

Colt Brennan, Hawaii

Update: Ryan is the clear-cut favorite to be the first quarterback off the board, but then come question marks. Brohm is rated by some as the top prospect at this position, if not overall, but others, myself included, feel he might lack all the top intangibles to handle being "The Guy" in the NFL. He is not a great vocal leader and leaving the nest of Louisville could be a bigger deal than most realize. Flacco is on the move thanks to an eye-opening arm and strong pocket passer skills. It would not be shocking to see Woodson and Brennan rated outside of the top three. Woodson has great toughness, but has a bit of a long release and some feel he will take longer to adjust to the NFL than others. Brennan has to get rid of the system QB stigma, needs to fill out and there are questions about his attitude. To me, it seems he has created a bit of bravado to help guide him through some tough times.


Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech

Matt Forte', Tulane (FB)

Jacob Hester, LSU (FB)

Xavier Omon, NW Missouri State

Mike Hart, Michigan

Update: Choice might not necessarily be the top pick among running backs, but he is the best senior. He's a tough runner who plays bigger than his size, but his lack of home-run speed could hurt him. Forte' has the best stats and could become a favorite because he can run, catch and play some fullback. Hester burst onto the scene this year, but several teams still see him as more of a West Coast-style fullback. Omon is a gifted natural runner who gained more than 1,500 yards in each of his four seasons. Hart is a tough, but undersized runner who has been nicked up a lot and does not have blazing speed. He's seen as more of a mid-round back by most scouts.


Peyton Hillis, Arkansas

Owen Schmitt, West Virginia

Carl Stewart, Auburn

Jerome Felton, Furman (RB)

Mike Cox, Georgia Tech

Update: Hillis is a playmaker, but his receiving skills put him over the top. Schmitt is second because he is the best banger of the bunch, but can also run better than you would expect. Stewart is a straight-line blocker who needs to play with more aggressiveness, but can also run 4.6. Felton is more of a one-back, so scouts are still wondering if he can handle the blocking aspects of the position. Cox is more of an old-fashioned head-knocker, but also has decent hands.


Limas Sweed, Texas

Jordy Nelson, Kansas State

Early Doucet, LSU

Lavelle Hawkins, California (RT)

Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State

Update: Sweed should still maintain his high grade, but will need to show at the NFL Combine that his wrist is fully healed. Nelson has proven to be a gifted receiver with deceptive speed, but just great routes and above-average hands. Doucet has very good speed, has shown some run-after-catch moves, but needs to prove he can be a true playmaker at the next level to avoid slipping when the juniors enter. Hawkins is the speedster, but also runs fearless routes and has the ability to hit his high gear in stride while the ball is in the air. Bowman was banged up late in the season, but has great size and some compare him to a Anquan Boldin-type in terms of being to beat defenders with size/strength. But he has average straight-line speed.


Fred Davis, USC

John Carlson, Notre Dame

Dustin Keller, Purdue (H-B)

Martin Rucker, Missouri

Brad Cottam, Tennessee

Update: Davis has shown the best receiving tools of the senior tight ends, but he lacks ideal height and might not have the game-breaking speed to maintain this grade. Carlson is a steady prospect, but he failed to excite at Notre Dame and was not as effective as either a receiver or blocker as he was during his junior year. Keller is undersized, but runs well and has good hands. Rucker plays faster than he times, but it will be hard for teams to judge him as more than a mid-round prospect if he runs 4.8s. Cottam is still high on the list after missing most of the season with a wrist injury. The postseason will be huge for him.


Steve Justice, Wake Forest

Mike Pollak, Arizona State

Jameson Richard, Buffalo U.

Fernando Velasco, Georgia (OG)

Cody Wallace, Texas A&M

Update: Justice is a fine technician who has held onto the top spot at this position by showing the ability to make all the line calls and handle his spot. Pollak has been steady and improved his grade. Richard's tenacity and nasty streak jumps out at you on game film. Velasco can play either center or guard and made quite an impact as a first-year starter in the middle. Wallace is a wide-body who has the ability to start in the NFL, but had an up-and-down senior season.


Michael McGlynn, Pittsburgh (OL)

Roy Schuening, Oregon State

Chad Rinehart, Northern Iowa (OT)

Robert Felton, Arkansas

Donald Thomas, Connecticut

Update: There are 12-20 senior prospects who could fit into the top 10. McGlynn is a tackle who will convert inside based on his short arms and the fact that he could also play some at center. Schuening is a big-framed kid who moves fairly well for his size. Rinehart has ascended and earned a Senior Bowl invite. Felton really has come on and helped lead the way for Darren McFadden. Thomas has made the biggest move since he has the best movement skills of any senior OG.


Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh

Jake Long, Michigan

Chris Williams, Vanderbilt

Carl Nicks, Nebraska

Oniel Cousins, UTEP

Update: Where is USC's Sam Baker? Not high on my list although most others disagree. He has health issues and I am not totally sold on him being a franchise-type tackle. Otah is an amazing athlete for his size and position, but while he lacks experience, he can be a premier left tackle for the next 10-12 years. Long has dropped after scouts saw his game film against Ohio State. Williams and Nicks have risen based on their senior years. Williams needs to show more of a nasty streak. Nicks might need to show some finesse. Cousins has gone from mediocre grades to a Senior Bowl berth. But he needs to show improved strength to keep up those positive vibes.


Chris Long, Virginia

Chris Ellis, Virginia Tech

Tommy Blake, TCU (OLB)

Jeremy Thompson, Wake Forest

Jason Jones, Eastern Michigan

Update: Long has been on a fast track to the first round, so now it's just a question of how high will he go. Ellis is making a big move thanks to his ability to play a number of roles. He is a guy to keep an eye on during the Senior Bowl practices. Blake has had a long senior season, but if he can shrug off some of his own issues, he can be the premier senior pass rusher in this draft. Thompson grows on you when watching his tape as he can collapse the pocket, but also has the strength to play strong-side end. Jones was an undersized interior defender, but with 4.65 range speed he is sure to jump on the radar.


Glenn Dorsey, LSU

Sedrick Ellis, USC (NT)

Dre' Moore, Maryland

Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina (DL)

Ahtyba Rubin, Iowa State (NT)

Update: Dorsey is a top-10 pick as long as he comes out of the postseason with a clear medical chart. Ellis is a terrific, yet undersized, interior defender who is sure to grab the attention of teams in the mid-first round. Moore flashes loads of potential, but will now need to live up to that ability or his grade will slip. Balmer is a kid who excites teams playing a 3-4 as they see him as a guy that can play 3-4 DE or 4-3 DT. Rubin is a man on the move and at 335 pounds, has teams searching for a nose tackle in hot pursuit.


Dan Connor, Penn State (OLB)

Tavares Gooden, Miami (OLB)

Spencer Larsen, Arizona (LB)

Vince Hall, Virginia Tech

Jolonn Dunbar, Boston College

Update: Connor is a solid if not spectacular defender, but if a slew of junior linebackers declare, his grade could slip. Gooden has risen, but will need to show that he has the intangibles to match his size/speed to make the play calls at the NFL level. Larsen is a blue-collar throwback who has the versatility to play any linebacker position. Hall has great production and film, but will beat few to the line in the 40-yard dash. Dunbar is short, but stout at the point of attack, and has very good leadership tools.


Quentin Groves, Auburn (DE)

Keith Rivers, USC

Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech

Beau Bell, UNLV (ILB)

Philip Wheeler, Georgia Tech (ILB)

Update: Groves is either a 3-4 OLB or an edge rush guy for a 4-3 team, but most feel he lacks the bulk to play DE on an every-down basis. Rivers is a speedy weak-side linebacker with playmaking skills, but lacks great play strength and will over-run the play at times. Adibi might be the best coverage linebacker, but is under-sized for some schemes. Bell is a great workout guy, but a bit of a straight-line athlete and does not always show up strong on game film. Wheeler is a versatile defender who has played both inside and outside, but lacks the desired instincts to man the middle.


Michael Jenkins, South Florida

Leodis McKelvin, Troy (RT)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State

Patrick Lee, Auburn

Charles Godfrey, Iowa

Update: Jenkins has ideal size and his skill set has shown vast improvement over the past two years. Some scouts like his senior teammate Trae Williams as much if not more. McKelvin is an electrifying return man and super quick, so his man cover skills have him rising. Rodgers-Cromartie is this year's small school stud. He is training with Tom Shaw, the same guy who trained Deion Sanders back in the day. Lee and Godfrey are height/weight/40-time prospects who have the ability to wow in workouts. How they practice during the Senior Bowl week will determine their final grades.


Kenny Phillips, Miami (JR)

Thomas DeCoud, California

Quintin Demps, UTEP

Tyrell Johnson, Arkansas State

Simeon Castille, Alabama (DB)

Update: Phillips played all season on a bad ankle, but opted to declare. DeCoud is a former cornerback turned free safety, while Demps has the best size/speed combination. Johnson is an under-rated, heady ballplayer and Castille has the versatility to play a number of roles in the secondary.


Brandon Coutu, Georgia (K)

Steven Hauschka, N.C. State (K)

Durant Brooks, Georgia Tech (P)

Art Carmody, Louisville (K)

Michael Dragosavich, North Dakota State (P)

Update: Coutu has a terrific leg and has shown consistency throughout his career. Hauschka is a former Division III soccer player who used a new NCAA rule to play one season with the Wolfpack after graduating last year. Brooks is the top-rated punter in the class. Keep an eye on "Drago," a strong-legged, boomer who will get his chance to impress at the Senior Bowl.

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