- Todd McShay, Scouts Inc.
Offensive tackles Jake Long of Michigan and Sam Baker of USC were both thought to be leaving school early to become high selections in the 2007 NFL draft, and when neither elected to take the bait the entire 2008 draft pool got an instant upgrade. There is no question that Baker is the better athlete of the two, but after watching both prospects consecutively on film it is obvious that Long is a much more complete player. Not only is he bigger and stronger, but Long is far more physical and also has adequate feet to protect a quarterback's blind side. Long projects as a possible top-five pick and Baker should come off the board shortly thereafter.
As it stands right now, Barry Richardson, Gosder Cherilus and Tony Hills are the three other tackles that could land in the first round.
The recent trend is for one guard to sneak into the first round; Logan Mankins (Patriots, 2005), Davin Joseph (Buccaneers, 2006) and Ben Grubbs (Ravens, 2007) are the last three guards to hear their names called in the opening round. Shannon Tevaga is the top candidate to join that elite company, but only if his feet and conditioning improve as a senior. Adam Kraus is the next best option because of his experience and consistency, but his limited mobility should drop him to the second or third round.
It's never too early to look at the top offensive line prospects for the 2008 NFL draft.