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2008 Declared Underclassmen

A list of officially declared underclassmen for the 2008 NFL Draft. I also offer my opinion on whether or not each prospect made a wise move by leaving school early.
This list has been updated as of Jan. 20.

Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Height: 6-2. Weight: 205.
40 Time: 4.43.
Projected Round: Top 3 Pick.

Wow, I am so shocked Darren McFadden declared early.

There's actually a chance McFadden may not come out. Apparently, either he or his father forgot to fill out the paperwork. Whoops!

McFadden has taken care of all the paperwork and is now definitely coming out.

The Verdict: No-brainer.

Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Height: 6-6. Weight: 319.
40 Time: 5.20.
Projected Round: Top 10 Pick.

Ryan Clady will in all likelihood go to the Chiefs if they draft fifth overall. Not a bad payday. Great move, even if it meant becoming the first Boise State Bronco to ever leave school early.

The Verdict: No-brainer.

Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 260.
40 Time: 4.58.
Projected Round: Top 10 Pick.

If Vernon Gholston meets expectations and has a great Combine, he could go sixth to the Jets. I don't see him falling lower than 15th. Not a bad reason to leave school early.

The Verdict: No-brainer.

Kenny Phillips, FS, Miami
Height: 6-2. Weight: 202.
40 Time: 4.40.
Projected Round: Top 10 Pick.

I currently have Kenny Phillips going 10th to the Saints. Barring a miserable Combine and Pro Day, Phillips will undoubtedly be selected within the top 20 picks. He's also the top safety prospect in this class by a wide margin. No need for him to stay in school.

The Verdict: No-brainer.




Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Height: 5-11. Weight: 230.
40 Time: 4.49.
Projected Round: Top 15 Pick.

I'll always say that if you're a running back projected to go in the first round, more bad than good can happen if you stick around an extra season in college.

The Verdict: No-brainer.

Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
Height: 6-4. Weight: 217.
40 Time: 4.47.
Projected Round: Top 15 Pick.

I'd call Malcolm Kelly an idiot if he didn't declare early. He and DeSean Jackson are the top receiving prospects in this class.

The Verdict: Good move.

DeSean Jackson, WR, California (9/30)
Height: 6-0. Weight: 178.
40 Time: 4.32.
Projected Round: Top 15 Pick.

DeSean Jackson and Malcolm Kelly are 1 and 1a in the receiving prospect rankings. There was no reason for either to stay in school.

The Verdict: Good move.

Reggie Smith, CB/S Oklahoma (12/1)
Height: 6-1. Weight: 198.
40 Time: 4.47.
Projected Round: Top 20 Pick.

Reggie Smith had an outstanding 2007 campaign and saw his draft stock soar. A sure-fire first-rounder, there was no reason for him to stay in school any longer.

The Verdict: Good move.

Pat Sims, DT, Auburn
Height: 6-4. Weight: 316.
40 Time: 4.92.
Projected Round: Top 20 Pick.

If you're slated to go in the top half of the first round, no one should question your decision to declare early.

The Verdict: Good move.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Height: 5-11. Weight: 224.
40 Time: 4.43.
Projected Round: Top 20 Pick.

I think any running back projected to go in the first round needs to come out early. Tearing an ACL would have been disastrous for Rashard Mendenhall.

The Verdict: No-brainer.

Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Height: 6-1. Weight: 183.
40 Time: 4.47.
Projected Round: Top 20 Pick.

Though he could probably be a top-10 selection in 2009, I can't blame Aqib Talib for coming out a year early. He could get injured and his stock could drop.

The Verdict: Good move.

Derrick Harvey, DE/OLB, Florida
Height: 6-4. Weight: 245.
40 Time: 4.67.
Projected Round: Top 20 Pick.

Derrick Harvey caught the public's attention when he harassed Troy Smith in the 2007 National Championship. However, his postseason exhibition match this year wasn't as prosperous; Jake Long completely abused the end-linebacker hybrid. To be fair, Long is a top-three prospect, but I don't think it's how Harvey envisioned the completion of his collegiate career at Florida.

The Verdict: Mixed Feelings.

Felix Jones, Arkansas
Height: 6-0. Weight: 200.
40 Time: 4.36.
Projected Round: Top 25 Pick.

Felix Jones could be one of the top players chosen in the 2009 NFL Draft, but seriously, who wants to play for Bobby Petrino. I don't blame Jones for getting out of there.

The Verdict: Good move.

Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
Height: 6-8. Weight: 282.
40 Time: 4.77.
Projected Round: 1-2.

Calais Campbell regressed this year, although he can make up for the lost ground at the Combine. Still, if he flops in Indianapolis, he may fall into the second round. I still think he could have benefited from another year at Miami.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Height: 6-5. Weight: 270.
40 Time: 4.65.
Projected Round: 1-2.

Phillip Merling better have the Combine of his life. Otherwise, he's leaving school early when he could have been a sure-fire first-round pick in 2009.

Curtis Lofton, ILB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-0. Weight: 239.
40 Time: 4.66.
Projected Round: 1-2.

Tough call - Curtis Lofton was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, but he's entering the deepest draft class in NFL history. He could have been a sure-fire Top 15 selection next year.

The Verdict: Mixed Feelings.

James Hardy, WR, Indiana
Height: 6-7. Weight: 220.
40 Time: 4.53.
Projected Round: 1-2.

James Hardy had the best season of his career, catching 79 passes for 1,125 yards and 16 touchdowns. At his size, Hardy could be selected in the lower part of the first round. However, waiting another season could have displayed a sign of maturity. Plus, instead of competing with Malcolm Kelly, DeSean Jackson, Adarius Bowman, Limas Sweed, Devin Thomas and Early Doucet, Hardy would have only had to worry about Michael Crabtree and perhaps Darrius Heyward-Bey.

The Verdict: Mixed Feelings.

Jack Ikegwuonu, CB, Wisconsin
Height: 6-1. Weight: 201.
40 Time: 4.38.
Projected Round: 1-2.

There are so many cornerbacks in this extremely deep class that Jack Ikegwuonu probably won't be selected in the first round. That would have been a realistic possibility in 2009.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
Height: 6-2. Weight: 218.
40 Time: 4.45.
Projected Round: 1-2.

In the same boat as James Hardy... Coming off a career year, but probably would have had a better shot at being selected in the first round come 2009.

The Verdict: Mixed Feelings.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M
Height: 6-7. Weight: 248.
40 Time: 4.72.
Projected Round: 1-2.

Martellus Bennett is currently the No. 2 tight end in this class. I can't fault him for leaving school early.

The Verdict: Good move.

Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee
Height: 6-2. Weight: 230.
40 Time: 4.67.
Projected Round: 1-2.

If James Laurinaitis and Rey Maualuga stay in school, Jerod Mayo could be the first inside linebacker taken. I can't fault him for leaving early.

The Verdict: Good move.

Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
Height: 5-9. Weight: 205.
40 Time: 4.47.
Projected Round: 1-2.

There's a chance Ray Rice could go in the first round, but I think the second round will be his likely destination. Still, an ACL tear next year could be disastrous for him or any running back.

The Verdict: Good move.

Erin Henderson, OLB, Maryland
Height: 6-3. Weight: 233.
40 Time: 4.58.
Projected Round: 1-2.

Erin Henderson has a shot at going in the first round. With a solid Combine, he can make that dream come true. I have no problem with his decision.

The Verdict: Good move.

Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
Height: 5-10. Weight: 190.
40 Time: 4.42.
Projected Round: 2.

Brandon Flowers is a solid cornerback, but I don't think it was wise to leave school to be part of one of the deepest cornerback classes the draft has ever seen. He would have had a great chance to go in the first round next year.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt
Height: 6-0. Weight: 200.
40 Time: 4.46.
Projected Round: 2.

Earl Bennett could have made a lot more money as a sure-fire first-round pick next year. Unfortunately, he entered into one of the best draft classes of all time.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan
Height: 6-0. Weight: 185.
40 Time: 4.42.
Projected Round: 2.

I'd say the same thing about Mario Manningham that I commented about Earl Bennett, but I can't fault the Michigan receiver for trying to get away from the greedy, classless jerk that his school hired to be its head coach.

Chilo Rachal, G, USC
Height: 6-5. Weight: 315.
40 Time: 5.10.
Projected Round (2009): 2.

In the wake of declaring early, Chilo Rachal has become the best guard prospect in this class. And from the sound of things, his family desperately needs money.

The Verdict: Good move.



Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia
Height: 5-10. Weight: 195.
40 Time: 4.42.
Projected Round: 2-3.

A new coaching staff might have meant that Steve Slaton wouldn't have gotten as many carries.

The Verdict: Good move.

Jermichael Finley, TE, Texas
Height: 6-5. Weight: 240.
40 Time: 4.60.
Projected Round: 2-3.

I had Jermichael Finley going late in the first round of my 2009 NFL Mock Draft. He won't go in the first round this year. Way too early for this redshirt sophomore to come out.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Anthony Collins, OT, Kansas
Height: 6-5. Weight: 310.
40 Time: 4.98.
Projected Round: 2-3.

Though I can't really fault Anthony Collins for capitalizing on a great season and a tackle class that isn't very deep after the first four or five guys, he could have used another year at Kansas.

The Verdict: Mixed Feelings.

Justin King, CB, Penn State
Height: 6-0. Weight: 186.
40 Time: 4.32.
Projected Round: 2-3.

I know Justin King's decision to leave early seems dumb, but let me argue on his behalf for a second. For some reason, King has been getting worse. I'm not sure whether it's the coaching or party atmosphere, but King really needs to get away from Happy Valley. I just don't know if another year would have done him any good.

The Verdict: Mixed Feelings.

Kevin Smith, RB, Central Florida
Height: 6-1. Weight: 211.
40 Time: 4.47.
Projected Round: 2-3.

Kevin Smith had one of the best seasons any running back has ever had in college football, so his stock can't get any higher than it is now. Plus, an ACL tear next year would have been disastrous.

The Verdict: Good move.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas
Height: 6-1. Weight: 200.
40 Time: 4.34.
Projected Round: 3.

Jamaal Charles rushed for 1,619 yards and 18 touchdowns this year. I don't see him beating that production in 2008, so it seems like he's doing the right thing by entering the draft on a high and averting injury.

The Verdict: Good move.

Branden Albert, G, Virginia
Height: 6-7. Weight: 310.
40 Time: 5.19.
Projected Round (2009): 3.

I'm never a big fan of guards declaring early. Branden Albert will be drafted at the top of the third round. With a solid senior year, he could have bumped himself up to the bottom of the second round. Not much of a difference, so I'm OK with him coming out in a very weak guard class.

The Verdict: Good move.

Geno Hayes, OLB, Florida State
Height: 6-2. Weight: 218.
40 Time: 4.53.
Projected Round: 3.

I don't get this. A projected third-round prospect declaring early? I'm not sure if I understand why he's leaving school.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

DaJuan Morgan, FS, N.C. State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 203.
40 Time: 4.44.
Projected Round: 3.

DaJuan Morgan may not go in the first three rounds without a stellar Combine, but I can't fault him for trying to exploit a weak safety class.

The Verdict: Mixed Feelings.




Adrian Arrington, WR, Michigan
Height: 6-3. Weight: 190.
40 Time: 4.48.
Projected Round: 3-4.

I can't blame Adrian Arrington for getting away from colossal greedy jerk Rich Rodriguez. Great move getting out of Ann Arbour.

The Verdict: Good move.

Darius Reynaud, WR, West Virginia
Height: 5-10. Weight: 205.
40 Time: 4.42.
Projected Round: 4.

Darius Reynaud won't get drafted high, but I can't really fault him for leaving school early with a new coaching staff coming in.

The Verdict: Good move.

Taj Smith, WR, Syracuse
Height: 6-1. Weight: 188.
40 Time: 4.37.
Projected Round: 4-5.

Not sure what the motivation is here. No reason for Taj Smith to come out early.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Johnny Dingle, DE, West Virginia
Height: 6-3. Weight: 270.
40 Time: 4.76.
Projected Round: 5.

Johnny Dingle had the best season of his career (eight sacks). Still though, he's a fourth-round prospect at best. With another solid year, he could have moved into Round 2-3 range.

However, as Matt McGuire pointed out to me, Dingle, 23, will be playing for a new coach next year. So, I can't really blame him for coming out.

The Verdict: Good move.

Mario Urrutia, WR, Louisville
Height: 6-6. Weight: 220.
40 Time: 4.56.
Projected Round: 5.

This guy can't do anything right. He has a bad attitude and drops a lot of passes. Now, instead of working on his character, focus and hands, he decides to leave school early, thinking he can somehow go in the first two rounds. Get real.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Orlando Scandrick, CB, Boise State
Height: 5-11. Weight: 187.
40 Time: 4.43.
Projected Round: 5.

The fifth-round projection I have for Orlando Scandrick is pretty generous. There's a chance he won't even be drafted.

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Ryan Grice-Mullen, WR, Hawaii
Height: 5-11. Weight: 179.
40 Time: 4.45.
Projected Round: 5-6.

Ryan Grice-Mullen won't be drafted high, but I can't blame him for coming out; his production could drop if June Jones leaves.

The Verdict: Good move.

Franklin Dunbar, OT, Middle Tennessee State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 320.
40 Time: 5.27.
Projected Round: 5-6.

Franklin Dunbar reportedly has financial problems. Let's hope that unlike Latrell Sprewell, Dunbar can feed his family once he gets his first paycheck.

The Verdict: Unknown.

Branden Ore, RB, Virginia Tech
Height: 5-11. Weight: 202.
40 Time: 4.47.
Projected Round: 6.

W00t! Sixth round in the NFL Draft, here we come!

The Verdict: Stay in school.

Davone Bess, WR, Hawaii
Height: 5-10. Weight: 187.
40 Time: 4.51.
Projected Round: 6-7.

Davone Bess may not get drafted. If he does, he's going sixth or seventh round. That said, he has made a smart move because his production will fall off if June Jones takes the SMU job.

The Verdict: Good move.

James Banks, WR, Carson Newman
Height: 6-3. Weight: 218.
40 Time: 4.49.
Projected Round: FA.

A 24-year-old who has three suspensions on his record. Nice. Maybe he should have stayed in school and gotten into trouble a few more times to pique Marvin Lewis' interest.

The Verdict: Who cares?

Xavier Lee, QB/WR, Florida State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 235.
40 Time: 4.57.
Projected Round: FA.

Ah crap... Xavier Lee declared. Now my mock is ruined.

The Verdict: Who cares?



2008 NFL Mock Draft

2009 NFL Mock Draft

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