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April 22, 2011

How the Class of 2007 should have been ranked

The NFL Draft is a little less than a week away and as is usually the case, the state of Texas will have fingerprints all over the proceedings, with a number of first, second and third round picks (among others) coming not only from the Lone Star State, but from the Class of 2007.

Overall, the class has to be labeled as a disappointment because so many highly rated players didn't pan out as the stars they were projected to become, but there's no question that a number of superstars did emerge from 2007, some rated extremely high and others completely off the radar.

Here's a look at how the Class of 2007 probably should have been rated with a little history to lean on.


1. Dez Bryant

WR - Lufkin - Signed with Oklahoma State
LSR ranking: No.6 in Texas (6.0 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.7 in Texas (6.0 ranking)
Dez Bryant's High School Video

What happened?: Bryant emerged as a superstar at the collegiate level as a wide receiver, earning consensus All-America honors as a sophomore before being suspended by the NCAA as a junior for the entire year. He was a first round draft pick in the NFL In 2010 and proved to be an impact player when healthy.

Final thought: Bryant was the best prospect in the state, but his off-field concerns (including academics) made him a tough guy to rank. On talent alone, he was out of this world.

2. Earl Thomas

DB - West-Orange Stark - Signed with Texas
LSR ranking: No.30 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.19 in Texas (5.9 ranking)
Earl Thomas' High School Video

What happened?: After red-shirting in 2007, Thomas was a two-year starter for the Longhorns that emerged as an All-American in 2009 during a national championship contending run. A first round pick of Seattle in 2010, Thomas was of the best safeties in football as a rookie.

Final thought: Thomas was a four-star prospect in size and stature, but he had a five-star game, which ended up winning out at the highest levels. A Longhorn that was underrated, who would have thought it possible?

3. Von Miller

LB - DeSoto - Signed with Texas A&M
LSR ranking: No.35 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.29 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Von Miller's High School Video

What happened?: Miller emerged over time as the best defensive player from this class and was a two-time All-American at Teas A&M after emerging as a nationally elite pass rusher. Won the Butkus Award in 2010 and is expected to be a high first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Final thought: Miller ended up sticking the tweener label straight up the back-side of a number of us. The one thing he always had was an elite burst off the edge and he found a way to maximize his skill set.

4. Ryan Mallett

QB - Texas High - Signed with Michigan
LSR ranking: No.2 in Texas (6.1 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.1 in Texas (6.1 ranking)
Ryan Mallett's High School Video

What happened?:After transferring from Michigan to Arkansas after his freshman season, Mallett emerged as an all-SEC quarterback for two straight seasons before declaring early for the NFL draft in 2011. He's expected to be drafted in the first couple of rounds next week.

Final thought: Mallett might not have ended up becoming a true superstar, but there's no question that he was an elite college performer.

5. Kendall Hunter

RB - John Tyler - Signed with Oklahoma State
LSR ranking: No.43 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.83 in Texas (5.6 ranking)
Kendall Hunter's High School Video

What happened?: Hunter battled injuries during his time in Stillwater, but he racked up two separate all-American campaigns, including a first-team All-America season in 2008 as a sophomore. Hunter finished his career as Oklahoma State's 4th all-time leading rusher.

Final thought: Hunter was once ranked as my No.1 running back in the state, but a serious ankle injury caused him to drop. I should have left in the top spot.

6. Travis Lewis

LB - San Antonio Lee - Signed with Oklahoma
LSR ranking: No.63 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.37 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Travis Lewis' High School Video

What happened?: Lewis has been a two-time All-Big 12 performer for the Sooners at linebacker and projects as a possible All-American in 2011 as a senior.

Final thought: Lewis was a tough guy to project because he was injured throughout his junior season, looked great at combine and then played running back as a senior. Bottom line - he should have been ranked higher.

7. Dezmon Briscoe

WR - Cedar Hill - Signed with Cedar Hill
LSR ranking: NR in Texas (5.6 ranking)
Rivals ranking: NR in Texas (5.5 ranking)

What happened?: Briscoe was a two-time All-Big 12 receiver with the Jayhawks, who posted incredible stats (208 receptions for 3,240 yards and 31 touchdowns) in his three seasons. He turned pro after his junior season, was a late-round pick by Cincinnati and ended up playing with Tampa Bay at the end of the 2010 season.

Final thought: Briscoe was a guy that all of the recruiting services missed on, but he had offers from a ton of schools. He was a borderline top 100 selection for me that barely missed the cut.

8. Sam Acho

DE - Dallas St. Mark's - Signed with Texas
LSR ranking: No.37 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.41 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Sam Acho's High School Video

What happened?: Acho was a cornerstone player on national-championship contending teams for Texas for the Longhorns, twice earning All-Big 12 honors, while also making several All-America teams as a senior. He's expected to be drafted in the first couple of rounds in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Final thought: Acho's private school locale made him a difficult guy to evaluate at times, but the physical ability made him a player then and it'll make him a career moving forward.

9. Tejay Johnson

DB - South Grand Prairie - Signed with TCU
LSR ranking: No.69 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.54 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Tejay Johnson's High School Video
What happened?: Over the course of his career, Johnson emerged as one of the best defensive backs in the history of the TCU program. After an All-WAC season in 2009, Johnson earned All-America honors as a senior.

Final thought: The Horned Frogs have done a great job of finding some under-the-radar sleepers and turned them into big-time college players. Johnson falls into that category.

10. Curtis Brown

CB - Gilmer - Signed with Texas
LSR ranking: No.3 in Texas (6.1 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.4 in Texas (6.1 ranking)
Curtis Brown's High School Video

What happened?: Brown was a three-year starter for the Longhorns, which included two national championship contending seasons, and he earned All-Big 12 status in his final two seasons. He's expected to be drafted in the first couple of rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.

Final thought: Brown never quite developed into the superstar corner that most projected him to become, but he was without question one of the best defensive players in the Big 12 during his win with the Longhorns.

11. Keenan Robinson

LB - Plano East - Signed with Texas
LSR ranking: No.5 in Texas (6.0 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.13 in Texas (5.9 ranking)
Keenan Robinson's High School Video

What happened?: A two-year starter for the Longhorns at linebacker and a multi-year contributor for two national championship contending teams. After earning 2nd-team All-Big 12 honors as a junior, Robinson projects as one of the nation's top linebackers in 2011.

Final thought: Robinson is one of the players on the list that still has a chance to move to a higher spot when the dust finally settles.

12. Tank Carder

Ath - Sweeney - Signed with TCU
LSR ranking: NR in Texas
Rivals ranking: NR in Texas (5.2 ranking)

What happened?: There's no better success story in this class than Carder, who went from virtual nobody on the field to the MWC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and an All-American. He'll enter the 2011 season as a probably first-team All-American candidate in the pre-season.

Final thought: Gary Patterson wins again. Seriously, is he sprinkling magic dust on these guys? Carder might be slotted a little low, but if we're projecting NFL talent, he still doesn't rank as high as a few others. Of course, I could be wrong and next year he might very well be in the top five. We'll see.

13. Nick Foles

QB - Austin Westlake - Signed with Michigan State
LSR ranking: No.96 in Texas (5.6 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.99 in Texas (5.5 ranking)
Nick Foles' High School Video

What happened?: Foles transferred to Arizona and has developed into one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac-10, having earned honorable mention All-Pac 10 the last two seasons. Foles will be a pre-season All-America candidate as senior in 2011.

Final thought: I was flat out wrong about Foles. I saw him in person several times and just didn't get it and now he's making me look petty foolish.

14. Brandon Burton

CB - Houston Clear Creek - Signed with Utah
LSR ranking: NR in Texas
Rivals ranking: NR in Texas (5.2 ranking)

What happened?: Burton was a two-year starter for the Utes and was one of the best defensive backs in the MWC for both seasons. He declared for the NFL draft after his junior season and is expected to be drafted in the third or fourth round next week.

Final thought: Burton wasn't a complete unknown as a recruit, but nobody could have ever predicted this kind of success at the collegiate level. Flat out, he's another guy all of us in the business (including college coaches) missed on. Only UTEP and SMU offered among in-state schools.

15. Jamell Fleming

CB - Arlington Seguin - Signed with Oklahoma
LSR ranking: No.36 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.35 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Jamell Fleming's High School Video

What happened?: Fleming emerged as one of the Big 12's best cornerbacks in 2010, leading the Sooners in interceptions and ranking among the nation's best in pass break-ups. Academic issues forced him to miss the spring, but most expect him back by the fall where he'll be a pre-season All-America candidate.

Final thought: Fleming was a player that everyone knew had a chance to develop into a top-end college player and that's exactly what has happened.

16. Jeremy Kerley

Ath - Hutto - Signed with TCU
LSR ranking: No.50 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.38 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Jeremy Kerley's High School Video

What happened?: Kerley was mostly a special teams ace as a collegiate player, but what a special teams ace he became. Twice he was named MWC Special teams Player of the Year and three separate seasons he was named as an All-MWC return man. As a senior, he was a second-team All-MWC receiver and he's expected to be drafted in the first five round sin the upcoming NFL Draft.

Final thought: Kerley is a strange guy to rate now because he didn't have a conventional career, but he the guy was an impact performer for a nationally elite team for multiple seasons.

17. Terrence Toliver

WR - Hempstead - Signed with LSU
LSR ranking: No.8 in Texas (6.0 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.2 in Texas (6.1 ranking)
Terrence Taylor's High School Video

What happened?: Toliver was a pretty damn good player for the Tigers, having started for three seasons and catching almost 2,000 yards worth of passes. Although he's not considered a high-end NFL prospect, he'll mostly likely be drafted next week.

Final thought: Although he never emerged as a superstar at LSU, he was a quality starter/performer for the Tigers.

18. Denarius Moore

WR - Tatum - Signed with Tennessee
LSR ranking: No.33 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.40 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Denarius Moore's High School Video

What happened?: Moore played with three different quarterbacks with the Vols, but he emerged as a three-year starter and was only the 7th receiver in the program's history to catch 2,000+ yards worth of passes. Moore will be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft

Final thought: I liked Moore a little more than Lennon Creer (a fellow Tatum star) and I should have had the guts to flip-flop them in recruiting.

19. Kyle Hix

OL - Aledo - Signed with Texas
LSR ranking: No.20 in Texas (5.9 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.28 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Kyle Hix's High School Video

What happened?: Although Longhorn fans often look at Hix's career and focus on what he didn't do as a player, the facts are he was a three-year starter for one of the nation's top programs and was a key starter for two national championship contending teams. Hix will likely be a late round choice in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Final thought: Hix was never a great player for the Longhorns, but he fulfilled the expectations of his ranking.

20. Lonnie Edwards

OL - Brownsboro - Signed with Texas Tech
LSR ranking: No.40 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.32 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Lonnie Edwards' High School Video

What happened?: Edwards has emerged as a multi-year starter for the Red Raiders and earned some All-Big 12 mention as a junior in 2010. Look for him to be on a ton of pre-season All-Big 12 lists in 2011.

Final thought: Although he didn't get as much love as a lot of the other linemen in this class, he might end up being the best of the bunch.

21. James Rodgers

WR - Lamar Consolidated - Signed with Oregon State
LSR ranking: NR in Texas
Rivals ranking: NR in Texas

What happened?: Rodgers was a first-team All-Pac 10 performer in 2009, but injuries continue to rob him of his promise and there's concern that he might not be able to play in 2011 after missing a lot of the 2010 season.

Final thought: Rodgers was completely overlooked as a recruit and had he stayed healthy, a top 10 spot on the list wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities.

22. G.J. Kinne

QB - Gilmer - Signed with Texas
LSR ranking: No.49 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.58 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
G.J. KInne's High School Video

What happened?: Kinne transferred from Texas and emerged as a one of the best non-BCS quarterbacks in the country in 2010. Is expected to put up big numbers as a senior in 2011.

Final thought: Kinne might not be an NFL prospect, but he's in the right situation at Tulsa and has emerged as a quality player.

23. Ryan Tannehill

Ath - Big Spring - Signed with Texas A&M
LSR ranking: NR in Texas (5.6 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.88 in Texas (5.6 ranking)
Ryan Tannehill's High School Video

What happened?: Tannehill has been a solid player for the Aggies from the jump, but after being a solid wide receiver for most of his career, he ended up being a hell of a quarterback for the team down the stretch in 2010 and big things are expected in 2011.

Final thought: Tannehill is a real wild-card heading into the 2011 season because a great season at quarterback could earn him a much higher spot in the final evaluation of this class.

24. Shawnbrey McNeal

Ath - Dallas Madison - Signed with Miami
LSR ranking: No.46 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.42 in Texas (5.7 ranking)
Shawnbrey McNeal's High School Video

What happened?: After transferring from Miami to SMU, McNeal emerged as a starter at running back in 2009 and rushed for 1,188 yards, before electing to turn pro and he spent some time on the Washington Redskins practice squad in 2010.

Final thought: In a year where top running back prospects flamed out at every turn, McNeal was a solid college player.

25. Richetti Jones

DE - Dallas Lincoln - Signed with Oklahoma State
LSR ranking: No.27 in Texas (5.8 ranking)
Rivals ranking: No.9 in Texas (6.0 ranking)
Richetti Jones' High School Video

What happened?: Jones hasn't been a star for the Cowboys, but he flashed some big-play ability as a junior in 2010 and he projects as one of the better returning defensive linemen in the Big 12 for 2011.

Final thought: Jones has been exactly the kind of player through the first three years of his playing career that I expected. While I never envisioned him as a big star at this level, he's been a quality multi-year starter and he has a chance to boost his profile in 2011.

Biggest Busts…

1. Tray Allen (OL) - South Grand Prairie - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 1/Rivals rank: 3)
2. John Chiles (Ath) - Mansfield Summit - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 4/Rivals rank: 5)
3. Ben Wells (S) - Beaumont Ozen - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 9/Rivals rank: 12)
4. William Cole (Ath) - Cedar Hill - Signed with Oklahoma State (LSR Rank: 10/Rivals rank: 14)
5. Lennon Creer (RB) - Tatum - Signed with Tennessee (LSR Rank: 25/Rivals rank: 8)
6. Andre Jones (DT) - El Paso Andress - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 13/Rivals rank: 10)
7. Desmond Jackson(DB) - Seguin - Signed with Oklahoma (LSR Rank: 18/Rivals rank: 39)
8. Jason Hannon (OL) - Waxahachie - Signed with Oklahoma (LSR Rank: 23/Rivals rank: 23)
9. Derrick Stephens (LB) - Houston Cy Falls - (LSR Rank: 44/Rivals rank: 17)
10. Brandon Williams (Ath) - Beaumont Central - Signed with Texas A&M (LSR Rank: 31/Rivals rank: 26)

10 guys who still have a final chapter to write…

1. Garrick Williams (WR) - DeSoto - Signed with Texas A&M (LSR Rank: NR/Rivals rank: NR)
2. Tekerrein Cuba (S) - Tyler Lee - Signed with TCU - (LSR Rank: 76/Rivals rank: 67)
3. Troy Woolfolk (S) - Sugar land Dulles - Signed with Michigan (LSR Rank: 79/Rivals rank: NR)
4. Christian Scott (S) - Dallas Skyline - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 15/Rivals rank: 16)
5. Jarvis Jones (OL) - Lamar Consolidated - Signed with LSU(LSR Rank: 21/Rivals rank: 20)
6. Malcolm Williams (WR) - Garland - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 11/Rivals rank: 11)
7. Aundre McGaskey (OL) - La Marque - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 16/Rivals rank: 15)
8. Fozzy Whittaker (RB) - Pearland - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 26/Rivals rank: 27)
9. Tray Allen (OL) - South Grand Prairie - Signed with Texas (LSR Rank: 1/Rivals rank: 3)
10. James Thomas (DB) - La Marque - Signed with Oklahoma State (LSR Rank: 51/Rivals rank: 59)

11. Lennon Creer (RB) - Tatum - Signed with Tennessee (LSR Rank: 25/Rivals rank: 8)


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