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Assessing the top NFL prospects on offense as the 2008 season begins

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Matt Stafford/Georgia (Underclassman): The Bulldogs' gunslinger needs some polish to his game but will be a nice fit during the second half of round one if he declares for the draft.

Cullen Harper/Clemson: National Scouting and Blesto, the league's two scouting services, grade Harper as the number one senior quarterback. He has the arm strength to play at the next level, though his accuracy is suspect.

Tim Tebow/Florida (U): College football's premier quarterback hopes to repeat his Heisman Trophy performance from a year ago. His physical skills are unquestioned. However, his fundamentals coupled with the freelance style of play he is accustomed to on the college level has some NFL scouts concerned.

Hunter Cantwell/Louisville: As a backup to Brian Brohm, Cantwell has started just four games at Louisville. But he has the size and arm strength teams want in a No. 1 quarterback. A big senior season could stamp him as a first rounder in April.

Tom Brandstarter/Fresno State: He's a smart passer with an accurate arm. He looks best suited to play in a west coast offense at the next level, where his intelligence would be extremely valuable.


Stephen McGee/Texas A&M: He was out of place running the Aggies option offense the past three seasons. Mike Sherman's pro-style passing game should suit McGee perfectly.


Curtis Painter/Purdue: One of college football's most prolific passers the past two seasons, Painter's poor mechanics, decision-making and inability to come through in the clutch does not translate well to the next level.

Like quarterback, the top prospects at running back can be found in the ranks of the underclassmen.

Chris Wells/Ohio State (U): He's a complete back and a potential franchise player for the next level. He is a dominant interior ball carrier who shows great skill running in the open field. He could end up as the highest rated player and the draft's first selection if he opts in.

Knowshon Moreno/Georgia (U): The sophomore possesses a great combination of size, physical skill and running instinct. He's a north/south runner who would fit most offensive systems.

James Davis/Clemson: He made the right choice earlier this year by withdrawing his application for the 2008 draft. The tough, straight-line runner is at his best running between the tackles.

Ben Tate/Auburn (U): He shares the ball with Auburn's other talented runner, Brad Lester, yet has better size and physical skills than Lester for the next level.

C. J. Spiller/Clemson (U): Yet another back who plays second fiddle to a headlining senior. He is a game-breaking threat every time he touches the ball, yet plays a very passive game, which has sent up red flags.


Aaron Brown/TCU: He is an outstanding pass catcher and could rank as the top third-down back in April's draft.


Arian Foster/Tennessee: Scouts feel Foster never capitalized on the talent he showed early in his career.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The senior class is loaded with talented tight ends with the ability to turn into NFL starters. On the flip side is wide receiver, which is very thin on quality prospects.

Percy Harvin/WR/Florida (U): The Gators multi-dimensional offensive threat is a game breaker whenever he handles the ball. His field stretching speed could push him into the first round if he opts for the NFL in April.

Darrius Heyward-Bey/WR/Maryland (U): He's another pass catcher with the blazing speed that strikes fear in defensive backs. He's developed enough in the past two seasons to grade out as a first-round prospect.

Brandon Pettigrew/TE/Oklahoma State: He is the most complete tight end in the nation. He creates mismatches in the secondary and gets the job done as a blocker.

Travis Beckum/TE/Wisconsin: The Badgers leading pass catcher last season, Beckum looks and plays like a tall possession receiver and offers multiple uses in a creative offense.

Chase Coffman/TE/Missouri: Another terrific pass catching tight end with terrific size. He is expected to perform in a big way this year as former starter Martin Rucker has graduated to the NFL.

Brian Robiskie/WR/Ohio State: The son of Atlanta Falcons receiver coach Terry Robiskie is the most polished pass catcher in the senior class. He can't stretch the field as well as some other receivers, but has enough skill to start in the NFL.

Shawn Nelson/TE/Southern Mississippi: This tremendous athlete looks like a power forward and has made some difficult receptions in the secondary with defenders draped on him. His game has a large upside.

Jacoby Ford/WR/Clemson (U): Ford is a well-sized receiver with NFL-type speed. He fights for playing time on a Clemson roster deep at wideout, yet consistently produces on the field.


Brennan Marion/WR/Tulsa: He could be the best receiver you've never heard of. He made a major impact at Tulsa last season after transferring from junior college, averaging 31.9 yards on 39 receptions, 11 of which resulted in touchdowns.


Ryan Purvis/TE/Boston College: Purvis is solid but lacks the speed and blocking skills to be rated as a top NFL prospect.

Seven offensive tackles were selected in last year's first round, a league record, and this April could come close to matching that number. The center crop is also very good and there is strong talent at the top of the guard position too.

Eugene Monroe/T/Virginia: Monroe is a bigger and better version of D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the fourth player selected in the '06 draft. He is set to be a very early pick in next year's first round.

Andre Smith/T/Alabama (U): He's a tremendous pass protector who also turns defenders off the ball as a run blocker. If Smith enters the draft he'll compete with Monroe to be the first tackle drafted.

Jamon Meredith/T/South Carolina:Steve Spurrier's passing offense always requires a top blind side tackle, and Meredith fits the bill. His footwork and athleticism translate well to the next level, though scouts question his passion for the game.

Jason Smith/T/Baylor: He began his career at tight end before sliding to left tackle as a sophomore and starting the next two seasons. His athleticism has been compared to Jonathan Ogden's. Smith will likely be a first round choice next year.

Alex Mack/C/California: Cal's dominant center is one of the nation's fiercest blockers. Mack combines toughness, power and intelligence to defeat opponents. He will be the first center selected, possibly late in round one.

Michael Oher/T/Mississippi: He is solid on the left side but needs a lot of work on his overall game. He's not the top 12 pick many are making him out to be.

Herman Johnson/G/LSU: He's a behemoth at 6-feet 7-inches, 391 pounds, and plays to his size. He needs a bit more polish but offers starting ability.

Duke Robinson/G/Oklahoma: Another well-sized mauler who could eventually develop into a first teamer in the NFL.

Antoine Caldwell/C/Alabama: The Tide's starting center the past three seasons, Caldwell is most effective in motion. He's a good fit in round two for a zone blocking offense.


Russell Okung/T/Oklahoma State (U): He's a terrific athlete who effectively mans the left side of the OSU line. He is dominant as both a pass protector and run blocker and could move into the draft's top 25 picks with a good junior campaign.


Jonathan Luigs/C/Arkansas: He's a tough blocker who plays with power, but doesn't deserve the first-round grade some have bestowed upon him.