News, Analysis & UpdatesNovember 15, 2004


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Early NFL Draft Rankings

By Fantasy Football Cafe Regular

I don’t know if anyone around here loves the NFL Draft as much as me, but I must say I am absolutely obsessed. I enjoy the Draft as much as the Super Bowl, and I’m already pumped for it. So to pass the time I’m going to kick you off with my very early positional rankings for the NFL Draft. For everyone else already wondering what next year will bring, enjoy.

QUARTERBACKS

1. Aaron Rodgers, California*
2. Matt Leinart, USC*
3. Kyle Orton, Purdue
4. Andrew Walter, Arizona St.
5. Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson
6. Dan Orlovsky, Connecticut
7. Adrian McPherson, Indiana Firebirds (AFL)
8. Charlie Frye, Akron
9. David Greene, Georgia
10. Jason White, Oklahoma

This is a decent QB class, obviously not as strong as last year’s stellar crop, but with two legitimate top-10 prospects, four possible first-rounders, and a slew of later round steals (McPherson, Whitehurst), it’s definitely not a bad year to look for a QB.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Cedric Benson, Texas
2. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Auburn
3. Ronnie Brown, Auburn
4. Vernand Morency, Oklahoma St.*
5. Cedric Houston, Tennessee
6. TA McLendon, North Carolina St.*
7. Kay-Jay Harris, West Virginia
8. Maurice Clarett, Ohio St./No university
9. Marion Barber III, Minnesota
10. Darren Sproles, Kansas ST.

This is a better RB class than last year’s by leaps and bounds. The #1 back in last years draft, Steven Jackson, would probably go after Ronnie Brown. There will probably be two and possibly three backs selected in the first round. The class is relatively deep and there are even a few players that didn’t make the list (Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Davis) that could turn out to be solid NFL contributors.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Mike Williams, USC/No university*
2. Braylon Edwards, Michigan
3. Mark Clayton, Oklahoma
4. Chris Henry, West Virginia
5. Fred Gibson, Georgia
6. Craphonso Thorpe, Florida St.
7. Jason Anderson, Wake Forest
8. Geoff McArthur, California
9. Craig Bragg, UCLA
10. JR Russell, Louisville

Everyone knows about the Mike Williams saga last year, and a year off won’t hurt his stock much as he can pull up his weak 40 time this time around. Edwards and Clayton are both legit top 15 prospects, with the edge going to Edwards because of his size advantage. Chris Henry will probably go in the latter half of the first round. This is a decent group of players, but it doesn’t compare to last year’s phenomenal class, which was the best in recent memory.

FULLBACKS

1. Zach Tuiasosopo, Washington
2. Kyle Eckel, Navy
3. Brandon Joe, Ohio St.

Fullback is a tough position to gauge since RBs can be converted to FBs (see: Greg Jones), but these guys are solid FBs who can be true difference makers in the NFL.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Heath Miller, Virginia*
2. Alex Smith, Stanford
3. Tim Massaquoi, Michigan*
4. Kevin Everett, Miami
5. Alex Holmes, USC

No Kellen Winslow Jr., Ben Watson, or Ben Troupe in this class. Miller is a pretty good tight end who should declare and could be a fringe first rounder, but the time for an NFL team to look for a TE would have been last year.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

1. Jamaal Brown, OT, Oklahoma
2. Alex Barron, OT, Florida St.
3. Andrew Whitworth, OT, Louisiana St.*
4. David Baas, OG, Michigan
5. Michael Munoz, OT, Tennessee
6. Elton Brown, OG, Virginia
7. CJ Brooks, OG, Maryland
8. Vince Carter, C, Oklahoma
9. Wesley Britt, OT, Alabama
10. Ben Wilkerson, C, Louisiana St.

I just lumped all the linemen into one group as most FF players are only really looking for impact players on the line and not for specific positions. This is a solid OL group and there should be good depth throughout the draft. Wilkerson would be my top rated C had he not suffered a season-ending injury, and if Winston Justice is in the draft he could be a monster steal for some team late.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

1. Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College*
2. Erasmus James, Wisconsin
3. Marcus Spears, Louisiana St.
4. David Pollack, Georgia
5. Justin Tuck, Notre Dame
6. Sean Cody, USC
7. Dan Cody, Oklahoma
8. Chris Canty, Virginia
9. George Gause, South Carolina
10. Demarcus Ware, Troy St.

“Kiwi” is a legit top ten prospect, and James is flying up draft boards with a great senior season. Spears and Pollack will be first rounders while Tuck and both Codys are possible first rounders. This is a rock solid DE class.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

1. Rodrique Wright, Texas*
2. Anttaj Hawthorne, Wisconsin
3. Orien Harris, Miami*
4. Lorenzo Alexander, California
5. Mike Patterson, USC

Harris, Hawthorne and superstud Wright are all great prospects, but after them there isn’t that much left. Sean Cody who plays DE could possibly be converted to DT in the NFL.

LINEBACKERS

1. Derrick Johnson, Texas
2. Ahmad Brooks, Virginia*
3. Lance Mitchell, Oklahoma
4. Chad Greenway, Iowa*
5. Darryl Blackstock, Virginia*
6. Odell Thurman, Georgia
7. Kevin Burnett, Tennessee
8. Barrett Ruud, Nebraska
9. Michael Boley, Southern Miss
10. Lionel Turner, Louisiana St.

The top dog in a very strong LB corps, Johnson could be the best player in the entire draft. Super soph Brooks will also be a great NFL player. There is fantastic depth as I would take any of the first seven in the opening two rounds of the draft. DJ would have been the best LB in the draft last year, so that gives you a good barometer of his skill.

CORNERBACKS

1. Antrel Rolle, Miami
2. Marlin Jackson, Michigan
3. Corey Webster, Louisiana St.
4. Justin Miller, Clemson*
5. Fabian Washington, Nebraska*
6. Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma
7. Travis Daniels, Louisiana St.
8. Domonique Foxworth, Maryland
9. Antwuan Rogers, Purdue
10. Carlos Rogers, Auburn

There might be three top ten corners here, especially Rolle who will be a true lockdown CB in the NFL. The same is probably true for Jackson and Webster, but they are not in the same class as Rolle. Perkins is a good corner and should go fairly high if only for his kick returning skills.

SAFETIES

1. Donte Nicholson, Oklahoma
2. Thomas Davis, Georgia*
3. Brodney Pool, Oklahoma
4. James Butler, Georgia Tech
5. Jamaal Brimmer, UNLV

This is a pretty good safety class, and it will be fantastic if super soph Darnell Bing and Michigan standout Earnest Shazor enter. I like the potential of a lot of the safeties that could be in this year’s draft class.

Overall this is a fairly strong draft, perhaps not quite as good as last year’s, but with solid players from top to bottom. Later on in the year I will be doing stock watches, and of course many a mock draft once the time comes. Hit me back with your thoughts on this article if you can.

 
Ben Kearon is always around the Cafe’s forums where he posts as Canadian_Cheesehead. He enjoys playing basketball or watching football, and is already counting down the days until the next NFL draft. Only 164 left…

Questions or comments for Ben? Post them in the Cafe’s forums!

* Denotes underclassmen who I feel will enter the draft.

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