Every year we see draft analysts review the draft just after it happens and give their insight on how the draft will turn out. In this article we will be taking a different way of reviewing the draft…by an in depth review of the 2008 draft, three years afterwards (a good timetable for seeing whether a player will or won’t succeed in the long run) and give the first round a detailed pick-by-pick analysis on how the draft went based on performance and play since the draft.
Updated: July 2011
This is our 3rd year of reviewing past drafts (2006 and 2007) but the 2008 Draft Class has definitely proven to be the best of the 3. There wasn't an epic Top 5 QB Bust, and throughout the first round, and even rounds 2 through 3, teams did a good job wisely selecting players. Most teams were able to find a building block with their first round selection, as well as drafting an above average starter or two somewhere along the line. Guys like Chris Johnson and Jake Long highlight the draft's stars, but really, the depth of the '08 draft is what is most impressive, and the limited amount of busts' make it a very good draft class overall.
#1) Miami Dolphins- Jake Long (OT Michigan)
This pick should serve as an example for how a team can so quickly go from being a doormat, to a contender. Even though the Dolphins did not have a franchise quarterback, they took the guy who they thought was the best player in the draft, and he in turn would make all the players around him better. Jake Long stepped in at left tackle day one and hasn't looked back. Even as a rookie, Long established himself as an elite left tackle, and was one of the main reasons the Dolphins were able to go from 1-15 one year, to 11-5 the next.
#2) St. Louis Rams- Chris Long (DE Virginia)
Up until this past year, this pick would have been labeled as a huge bust, as Chris Long battled injuries, and struggled mightily to be a factor in his first 2 years. Under the tutelage of Steve Spagnuolo this year however, Chris Long turned his career around, recording 8.5 sacks, which was the same amount he had in his first 2 years. He hasn't lived up to being the #2 overall pick, but he showed a lot of promise this past year, and so the book on the Chris Long pick has yet to be written.
#3) Atlanta Falcons- Matt Ryan (QB Boston College)
Most people thought that the Falcons were going with L.S.U DT Glenn Dorsey here, who was widely viewed as the best player in the draft, but instead, they went with Ryan to be their new franchise quarterback, in the wake of Michael Vick fiasco. There were a lot of question marks about Ryan leading into the draft. Mainly that he threw 20 interceptions his last year at Boston College. However, Ryan has been nothing short of amazing in his first three years in the NFL. He has taken every snap, and is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, leading the Falcons to the best record in the league last year.
#4) Oakland Raiders- Darren McFadden (RB Arkansas)
Much like the Chris Long pick at #2, Darren McFadden looked like a bust coming into year 3. He was constantly getting injured, and didn't even hold the starting gig coming into the 2010 season. However, 2010 proved to be McFadden's breakout season, as he rushed for 1,157 yards and a 5.2 YPC Average, to go along with 10 Touchdowns. Despite his breakout year, and my belief that McFadden will be a very dynamic NFL Player, he has not, and probably never live up to the hype, and earn being the 4th overall pick in the draft.
#5) Kansas City Chiefs- Glenn Dorsey (DT L.S.U)
Glen Dorsey was the top rated player by many going into the '08 draft after dominating the SEC, winning a National Title at LSU, and even getting some serious Heisman consideration. So him being available at #5 was viewed as a huge steal for the Chiefs. However, Dorsey struggled with injuries his first year and then a coaching change lead to a new defensive philosophy. Ideally suited to be a 3 technique penetrator for a 4-3 defense, he didn't project well to the 3-4. Dorsey was then forced to slide over to the 5 technique and play two gaps instead of one. Dorsey struggled in the first year and was almost traded to Atlanta. However the Chiefs stuck with him and he ended up having a solid season in year 3. If Dorsey can stay healthy going forward, he will be a solid player in the league, but overall he has been a big disappointment.
#6) New York Jets- Vernon Gholston (DE/OLB Ohio State)
Vernon Gholston was thought be a boom or bust player when he was drafted, so it shouldn't be that big of a surprised that he busted out so bad. Along with JaMarcus Russell he is the poster boy for top 10 busts. Gholston tore up the combine and put up unreal test scores, but scouts and draft experts looked past his inconsistent play at Ohio State. Everybody thought he'd be a force in the 3-4 where he could better utilize his athletic ability. However Gholston rarely saw the field and when he did he did nothing to show the coaches to leave him out there, NEVER EVEN RECORDING A SINGLE CAREER SACK. Rex Ryan moved him to the 5 technique to try and salvage something, but that failed as well, and they cut him. Gholston is the only defensive end drafted in the top 10 to never record a single sack.
#7) New Orleans Saints- Sedrick Ellis (DT L.S.U)
New Orleans had one of the best offenses going in the NFL but needed to upgrade their defense, which was at the time, horrendous. They really liked Ellis, but they the Bengals were eyeing him too at pick #9 so the Saints moved up ahead of them to get Ellis. Ellis has gone on to be an anchor inside of their defensive line, and given them a run stuffing tackle that has turned their defense from a liability to a strength.
#8) Jacksonville Jaguars- Derrick Harvey (DE Florida)
In this draft the Jaguars wanted to upgrade their pass rush and did so by taking Derek Harvey here and Quinton Groves in the 2nd round. Harvey was considered a reach at the time, and is now considered a bust. Despite the Jaguars doing everything in their power to turn Harvey into a functional player, he just has never done anything. Recording only 8 sacks in 3 seasons, while rarely seeing the field. Jacksonville would have been better off going with value over need, but I guess that's why they are continuing to draft in the top half of the draft year in and year out.
#9) Cincinnati Bengals- Keith Rivers (OLB U.S.C)
Cincinnati really wanted DT Sedric Ellis, but New Orleans beat them to the punch when they traded with New England to move ahead of the them. So instead Cincinnati went with Keith Rivers, and have had their starting weakside linebacker for the past three years. Rivers hasn't been an impact player, but overall, he has been a very solid player, and one of the few consistent, reliable players the Bengals have on the defensive side of the ball.
#10) New England Patriots- Jerod Mayo (ILB Tennessee)
When the Patriots took Jarod Mayo at #10 many people where surprised, as Mayo was considered to be a late 1st, early 2nd round talent. But with the Patriots track record, not too many people question when they make a selection. Mayo has turned into one of the best linebackers in the NFL, and helped the Patriots transition to a new generation of young players once guys like Tedi Bruschi, and Willie McGinnest moved on. Mayo can do it all inside for the Patriots. He can stuff the run, blitz, and drop into coverage. He has developed into a leader for this young up and coming defense. This is just another one of the great picks that Bill Belichek has made over his tenure with the Patriots.
#11) Buffalo Bills- Leodis McKelvin (CB Troy)
The jury is still out on the Leodis McKelvin pick, as his career with the Bills has been a roller coaster of sorts. After year 1, the Bills thought they had one of the best young cornerbacks in the league, as he recorded 2 Interceptions, and 11 passes defended, not to mention being named to the All-Pro team as a kick returner. However, he broke his leg early in the '09 season which resulted in him missing the entire season, and he just did not look like the same player at all this past year. His speed and explosiveness did not seem to be there, and he struggled mightily in every aspect of the game. Hopefully McKelvin can regain is old form, and move on from the injury, but serious leg injuries have a way of sapping a players explosiveness, lets just hope that isn't the case for Leodis who showed a ton of promise as a rookie.
#12) Denver Broncos- Ryan Clady (OT Boise State)
Brandon Albert and Chris Williams were thought to be the top two tackles behind Jake Long. So when Mike Shanahan took Clady out of Boise State it raised some eyebrows to say the least. However, Shanahan liked Clady's athletic ability for his zone blocking scheme and his risk payed off. Clady has developed into one of the best left tackles in the league, making 2nd team All-Pro as a rookie, and then making the 1st Team All-Pro, and Pro-Bowl in his second year. Clady has turned out to be infinitely better than both Albert, and Chris Williams.
#13) Carolina Panthers- Jonathan Stewart (RB Oregon)
Carolina had a big need at running back because former 1st rounder DeAngelo Williams hadn't shown that he could be a starting caliber running back. Stewart was the most talented back after McFadden, but because of a chronic toe injury many thought he could slide down in the first round. Since joining the team Stewart has been a very good back, and combined with the emergence of Williams they have given the Panthers one of the best running back tandems in the NFL. But because Stewart is nearing a new contract and DeAngelo Williams is entering free agency the Panthers had to pick which running back they were going to stick with. It looks like the Panthers will choose Stewart, allowing DeAngelo Williams to walk.
#14) Chicago Bears- Chris Williams (OT Vanderbilt)
When the Bears were able to get Chris Williams Bears fans were happy. They needed somebody to step in at left tackle and help them in pass protection, and Williams was considered to be a day 1 starter, however a long holdout, and then a back injury limited Williams to only two games. In year 2, Williams was moved over to the right side to make room for future hall of famer Orlando Pace. Williams struggled at the right side, but excelled on the left side for the final two games of the season, and there were a lot of expectations heading into year 3. In year 3 the wheels fell off. Williams struggled mightily at the beginning of the season, and then hurt his hamstring. When he came back, he was moved inside to guard but he was completely overmatched there. Williams now faces uncertainty of what position he will be playing in year 4, which should not be the case with the 14th overall pick.
#15) Kansas City Chiefs- Brandon Albert (OT Virginia)
This was the pick the Chiefs got in return for Jared Allen. Albert played guard his entire career at Virginia because they had another talented tackle named Eugene Monroe. However, Brandon Albert was projected to be a tackle based on his size, athletic ability, and length. Albert has gone on to be the starter at left tackle since his rookie season. He hasn't challenged for an Pro Bowls, and there has been plenty of rumors about the Chiefs drafted a new tackle and moving Albert inside, but Albert has been a steady force for the Chiefs, and helped pave the way for Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones to combine for one of the best rushing attacks in the league.
This was viewed as a Boom-or-Bust selection, as it is not often you see high picks like this come out of a Division 2 school, but D.R.C has definitely hit the mark for the Cardinals. He has recorded 61 Passes Broken up over the past 3 years, which is the most out of anybody in the league, to go along with 13 Interceptions and 4 Touchdowns. D.R.C is one of the most athletic, dynamic cornerbacks in the league, and now that the Cardinals have drafted Patrick Peterson who I think will be a hall of famer, I have no idea how teams play to throw against Arizona.
#17) Detroit Lions- Gosder Cherilus (OT Boston College)
Cherilus is just another in the long line of bad picks by Matt Millen. Detroit needed a Tackle to help fix the worst offensive lines in football, but Cherilus has turned out to be just what everybody expected him to be, extremely average. He hasn't been atrocious, but the Lions current staff has been trying to replace him with somebody better. A mediocre offensive tackle is not what you should get with the 17th pick in the draft.
#18) Baltimore Ravens- Joe Flacco (QB Delaware)
Matt Ryan was clearly the top quarterback in the draft and Joe Flacco was seen as a developmental prospect that had all the tools to be successful. Baltimore has long been looking for their franchise quarterback and didn't want to miss out, so they traded up to get Flacco who some considered a 2nd round prospect, so this was definitely a risky pick. Their gamble payed off. Flacco was forced into playing his rookie year due to injuries to Kyle Boller and Troy Smith, and has never looked back. Flacco is developing into one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, and the Ravens have invested a lot to add weapons to help him.
#19) Carolina Panthers- Jeff Otah (OT Pittsburgh)
Carolina gave up a lot to get Otah here, trading their '09 1st round selection, but the gamble has worked out for them. In selecting Jeff Otah the Panthers were able to improve two positions with one pick. Otah played left tackle at Pittsburgh but is at this best on the right side where he can just physically maul defenders. Otah stepped in day 1 and has started there ever since. The selection of Otah allowed the Panthers to keep Jordan Gross at left tackle and move Travell Wharton inside to guard to solidify one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.
#20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Aqib Talib (CB Kansas)
On the field Talib has given the Buccaneers everything they would want out of their 20th pick. Talib is a tough, physical corner, that is perfect for the Cover 2 defense. He quickly found the starting lineup and never relinquished it. However, off the field has been another story. Talib had been in and out of trouble throughout his career, but things reached a climax earlier this year when he and his mother of all people were involved in a shooting. Talib could be facing some serious jail time and will probably be heavily punished by the NFL also. Talib will likely never play for the Bucs again, and they now have a big hole in their secondary that they shouldn't have.
#21) Atlanta Falcons- Sam Baker (OT U.S.C)
After selecting their new franchise quarterback with the #3 pick the Falcons wanted to protect him. Sam Baker was once considered a top 15 pick but injuries really hurt his stock. Baker immediately started for the upstart Falcons, and helped them to a successful 2008 season. However, much like his time at USC, Baker has struggled to stay healthy with the Falcons, and been in and out of the lineup. If he can stay healthy, he is one of the better tackles in the NFC, but that's if he stays healthy.
#22) Dallas Cowboys- Felix Jones (RB Arkansas)
This was a flawed pick from the start, as Jerry Jones, an Arkansas Alumni, clearly had his Razorbacks hat and jersey on when he made this selection. He desperately wanted to get Darren McFadden, but instead had to settle for McFadden's smaller, weaker teammate in Felix Jones. Jones has not been a bad player, but he isn't a #1 back, and never was, so this pick could have been better served somewhere else. This pick looks even worse when you look at the 2 Runningbacks who went the 2 picks immediately after Jones.
Fresh off a career year, where he helped Illinois get to the Rose Bowl of all places. Mendenhall was the #2 rated running back only behind Darren McFadden, as he had an excellent blend of size and speed. However Mendenhall fell down the first round and ended up being the 4th running back taken. Mendenhall didn't start off his career strong, breaking a bone in his shoulder as a rookie and missing half the season. But he has been superb these past 2 years for the Steelers, giving them somebody who can carry the ball 25+ times a game, with breakaway speed, and power to pick up the short yards and TD's
#24) Tennessee Titans- Chris Johnson (RB East Carolina)
Had NFL Draft Geek been around in 2008, all of you would still be hearing about how right I was about Chris Johnson. But unfortunately we didn't come around until 2009, the next year, and honestly my being so right about Chris Johnson was one of the main reasons I decided that I realistically could do this for a living. Chris Johnson was a man among boys at Eastern Carolina, and how so many people didn't see him coming, surprises me. I have never seen anybody with the acceleration that Chris Johnson has. His ability to stop, and start, and change directions and re-acclerate at will, is unbelievable. I applaud the Titans for seeing the talent Johnson had, and Johnson has developed into arguably the best running back in the league.
#25) Dallas Cowboys- Mike Jenkins (CB South Florida)
Mike Jenkins has been insanely inconsistent in his career so far, as he has flashed the talent to be a lockdown cornerback, but he has often looked lazy and disinterested. Jenkins was good enough in 2009 to be selected to the Pro-Bowl, and help the Cowboys to one of the better defenses in the league. However this past year Jenkins was atrocious, and was even on the verge of getting cut. In my opinion, I don't think Jenkins is smart enough, or cares enough to be a good cornerback moving forward, but if he wants to be, its there for him.
#26) Houston Texans- Duane Brown (Guard/Tackle Virginia Tech)
Houston really needed to improve at Left Tackle and when Sam Baker was taken at 21 by the Falcons, Houston must have thought that Duane Brown wasn't going to be around when they picked again, and went ahead and reached on him. Brown was a former tight end is a good athlete with quick feet and was viewed as a excellent fit for the zone blocking scheme that the Texans run. But Brown just does not have the talent level to be a top notch NFL Left Tackle. They went for need over value, and normally those picks blow up in your face. Brown has become their starter at left tackle for the past three years, but his play hasn't locked him into the positron. Brown has faced some injuries, and there was some talk of drafting another tackle and moving him inside to guard. Overall Brown has been average, and hasn't earned this selected, but when you get a starter for three years at left tackle you can't really complain too much..can you?
#27) San Diego Chargers- Antoine Cason (CB Arizona)
Without any player that fit a glaring need available the Chargers went with who they thought was the best player on the board and took the cornerback out of Arizona. Not much was expected right away out of Cason. Because of Cromartie, and Quintin Jammer, the Chargers were able to bring him along slowly. He spent his first two seasons as a reserve but they felt comfortable enough with him that they traded Antonio Cromartie to the Jets. Cason had his ups and downs in his first year of full playing time, but I really do think he will be a very good player when its all said and done.
#28) Seattle Seahawks- Lawrence Jackson (DE U.S.C)
The pick of Lawrence Jackson surprised a lot of people. Jackson was a talented player, but he wasn't a 1st round talent, and defensive end wasn't a huge need position for the Seahawks. With with the Seahawks, Jackson struggled to make a contribution, and then in year 3 when Pete Carroll was hired, Jackson was traded to the Lions for a late round pick, where he was a reserve defensive end. You know its bad when your former college coach gets hired, and then trades you away.
#29) San Francisco 49ers- Kentwan Balmer (DT/DE North Carolina)
I still think that one of the toughest positions to draft is a 3-4 5 technique defensive end. Because so few teams in college run the 3-4 you are basically guessing that a defensive tackle or bigger end can fit into the position. Kentwan Balmer came from a one gap system at North Carolina and struggled with San Francisco. Then before the start of his 3rd season Balmer was unhappy and decided to just not show up to training camp without telling anybody. The 49ers then shipped off Balmer to the Seahawks where he still hasn't been able to make a contribution.
#30) New York Jets- Dustin Keller (TE Purdue)
With players like Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates making an impact at tight end, teams are always looking for the next athletic tight end. Dustin Keller was an offensive weapon at Purdue, but many didn't consider him a first round talent. But the Jets were lacking playmakers on offense and took the chance on Keller. That chance payed off as Keller has develop into one of the better tight ends in the NFL. His flexibility and athleticism, have allowed the Jets to take advantage of mismatches and given quarterback Mark Sanchez a nice safety blanket.
#31) New England Patriots
Pick Forfeited due to "Spygate" Scandal
#32) New York Giants- Kenny Phillips (Safety Miami)
Kenny Phillips had a fantastic rookie season, and everybody expected him to emerge into one of the best safeties in the league in year 2. However, Phillips was diagnosed with patellofemoral arthritis in his left knee before the season, and the condition worsened through the first two games of the 2009 season, which resulted in him missing the rest of the season. There was question as to whether Kenny Phillips would ever even play again, but he returned at the start of the 2010 season, and while he didn't play as well as he did as a rookie, he was solid. Hopefully after another offseason of rest, Phillips can return to 100% and be the player he can be.
Notable Later Round Picks
Brandon Flowers (#35)
Tracy Porter (#40)
Matt Forte (#44)
Desean Jackson (#49)
Ray Rice (#55)
Jamaal Charles (#73)
Jermichael Finley (#91)
Carl Nicks (#164)
Pierre Garcon (#205)
Stevie Johnson (#224)
Peyton Hillis (#227)
Best and Worst of the Draft
Best Pick: Tennessee with Chris Johnson at pick #24 Worst Pick: Jets with Vernon Gholston at #6
Best draft class: Kansas City- (Brandon Albert, Glenn Dorsey, Brandon Flowers, Jamaal Charles, Brandon Carr, Barry Richardson). Flowers and Charles are Pro-Bowlers. Other 4 are starters.
Worst Draft class: Jacksonville- Gave up the 26th pick, 2 third rounders, and a 4th to get Derrick Harvey who has been a bust. 2nd round pick #52 Quintin Groves was also a collosol bust. Had 3 more later picks who never played either.
There you have it, we have closed the book on the 2008 NFL Draft. Hope you enjoyed it. See you next July for our 2009 draft review.
Special Thanks to: Brian Johannes
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