Here is a list of the top quarterback prospects for the 2008 NFL draft. This list was compiled through a series of conversations with scouts, and through game tape evaluations.
1. Matt Ryan, Boston College: A polished signal-caller with all of the tools to develop into a franchise player. His accuracy, touch and arm strength are all rated above average; but it is his leadership that scouts find most impressive.
Ryan is best described as a winner who has all of the intangibles needed to lead his team to victory. He has consistently shown the ability to direct his team to wins in adverse conditions (Boston College defeated three ranked opponents on the road in '07), and his penchant for orchestrating late game comebacks has cemented his status as the ultimate competitor. Although there are other quarterbacks in this draft class that may possess better physical tools, Ryan's overall package of skills and intangibles pushes him to the top.
2. Brian Brohm, Louisville: The ultra-productive passer combines outstanding physical tools with poise and patience in the pocket. His extensive experience running a pro-style offense at Louisville puts him ahead of other prospects in terms of reading and diagnosing coverage. Scouts will downgrade him for his durability problems, but a look at his career production (almost 11,000 passing yards with 71 touchdowns and 24 interceptions) and upside makes it unlikely that he will fall out of the first round.
3. Joe Flacco, Delaware: The former Pitt transfer put together an impressive career as a Blue Hen (completing 63 percent of his passes for 7,046 yards with 41 touchdowns and 15 interceptions over two seasons), and opened the eyes of many with his solid performance at the Senior Bowl. Blessed with a strong arm and delicate touch, Flacco is one of the few quarterbacks in this draft who is capable of making all of the throws. Although his impressive career statistics were compiled at a lower level of competition, Flacco's impressive ability as a pocket passer is too enticing to ignore.
4. Andre Woodson, Kentucky: The SEC's two-time leading passer has torched top defenses for over 7,200 passing yards with 71 touchdowns and only 18 interceptions. He has outstanding arm strength, but his long windup and delivery is a cause for concern. The hitch in his release prevents him from throwing consistently on time, and his accuracy suffers from the inconsistent release point. Despite his mechanical flaws, Woodson is an intriguing prospect. He lacks the ability to be an immediate starter, but is capable of developing into a starting quarterback in time. Look for a team to make a play for Woodson near the end of the second round.
5. Chad Henne, Michigan: He's a polished drop-back passer with a strong arm and adequate touch who is most effective when working off play-action.
Although Henne was a four-year starter in the Big Ten, scouts have questions about his decision-making and durability. He missed three games last season, and only completed 58 percent of his throws as a senior.
He had a strong showing during Senior Bowl week and will likely land near the bottom of the second round. He is an ideal developmental prospect who could eventually become a starter in the right system.
6. John David Booty, USC: He completed over 62 percent of his passes in his two years as the Trojans' starter, and his 52 touchdowns are offset by only 19 interceptions. He doesn't dazzle in any one area, but his steady play in the pocket is a big plus. Look for him to develop into a game manager with enough skills to lead a solid offensive unit to victory.
7. Josh Johnson, San Diego: He led all FCS players in total offense (371.4 yards per game) and passing efficiency (198.3). He's 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, a quick decision maker with excellent athleticism and passing skills. He has three years of experience running a pro-style offense, and his development as a passer can be credited to his time under former San Diego coach Jim Harbaugh, who's now at Stanford. Johnson's standout performance in the East-West Shrine Game has solidified his status as a solid prospect.
8. Erik Ainge, Tennessee: A classic drop-back thrower with excellent size and above-average physical tools, Ainge dramatically improved his decision-making and overall awareness under the tutelage of David Cutcliffe the past two seasons. But Ainge still needs work polishing his footwork and fundamentals to become a more consistent passer. Some offensive coordinator will be tempted to develop him as a mid-round prospect.
9. Colt Brennan, Hawaii: Despite finishing his career as one of the most prolific passers in college football history (14,193 yards, 131 TDs), Brennan is scrutinized by scouts for his size (6-2, 190 pounds), arm strength and preparedness for the pro game. After watching him struggle during Senior Bowl practices, scouts continue to have more questions than answers about Brennan and his pro potential.
10. Dennis Dixon, Oregon: The 2007 Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Year put together an impressive season for the Ducks, but a torn ACL will keep him from being a top pick. At his best, Dixon is an athletic, dual-threat on the perimeter, but he will need time to develop as a pocket passer as a pro. He still locks onto his primary receivers and doesn't have a complete grasp of the passing game.
A team will take a flier on him late, hoping to find a Vince Young-like talent for its offense. But Dixon is also a solid pro baseball prospect -- selected by the Braves in the fifth round of the '07 Draft -- and may pursue a career on the diamond instead.