Rounds 1 & 2
1. Dolphins – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Jake Long signed a multi-year contract with the Dolphins Tuesday,
assuring him as the first pick of the 2008 draft. He’s got
a big, thick frame, is a field leader with excellent awareness
and instincts, and is technically sound in just about every aspect.
The guy makes all the blocks and plays with a mean streak. Bill
Parcells has stayed away from drafting offensive lineman early
in the past, but he and new head coach Tony Sparano must have
seen something in Long that made them sure he’s the right
2. Rams – Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Chris Long has dominated at every level and possesses all the
skills necessary to make the jump to the NFL. He excelled at the
NFL Combine and while he’s not the fastest defensive end
in his draft class, the ones who are faster aren’t 6-3,
272-pound behemoths. He’s got excellent football instincts,
sheds blockers with ease and can make all the plays. With Jake
Long gone, the Rams should jump on the opportunity to grab Chris
Long and add more beef to their pass rush.
3. Falcons – Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
While it’s entirely possible the Falcons trade this pick
and go for a QB, there are just too many different possibilities
with that scenario to bank on one in particular – and waste
the opportunity to grab Dorsey, a great player in his own right.
He won every award college had to offer last season, including
the Nagurski Award, Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Lott Award.
The only thing that makes him a question mark is the tibia stress
fracture, an injury that he acknowledged dates back to the summer
of ’06.It didn’t impede him last year, so there’s
no reason to believe it will be much of an issue in the NFL. At
his Pro Day workout at LSU, Dorsey (6-2, 297) ran the 40 in 5.13
and 5.12, had a 25.5-inch vertical jump, 8-foot-4-inch long jump,
4.80 short shuttle, and 7.52 cone drill. During position drills,
Dorsey apparently looked very good. Even if the Falcons draft
Matt Ryan (which I don’t think they will) Dorsey will be
a top ten pick.
4. Raiders – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Some mock drafts have the Raiders trading this pick to the Cowboys,
and some even have it going to the Jets. Unless the Raiders can
add a second round pick this year (#36) or next year (undetermined)
from the Jets for dropping two spots, or get a future second and
the Cowboys’ first pick this season, there’s just
no way Al Davis will pass up on snagging an athlete like McFadden
with the fourth overall selection. He’s run into a few problems
on the way to draft day, but he could have an Adrian Peterson-like
effect on the Raiders offense.
5. Chiefs – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
The word a few months ago was that the Chiefs were happy with
the progress Brodie Croyle, and that they wouldn’t go for
Matt Ryan. As tempting as it would be for me to put Ryan Clady
here – since the offensive line has still not recovered
from the loss of Willie Roaf – it makes sense to draft a
guy who by all accounts is the real deal. Ryan could still get
snagged by the Falcons or drop down to the Ravens or Panthers,
but he’s a big name and when it’s all said and done
he could be the difference in turning around this franchise.
6. Jets – Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
If McFadden doesn’t go to the Raiders, he’ll slip
to the Jets. But I’m banking that Al Davis likes the prospect
of improving the offense before the defense – which isn’t
terrible to begin with. The Jets on the other hand, need Gholston.
The OSU product is a man-child who shredded his competition at
the combine, posting a 4.67 in the 40 and a ridiculous 37 reps
– 6 more than his closest competitor, Derrick Harvey. Boasting
a 35.5-inch vertical, 10.5 foot broad jump and has an exceptional
character, he could still go anywhere in the 2-10 pick range.
7. Patriots (from 49ers) – Leodis McKelvin,
With so many great DBs in the draft, it’s very possible
that the Pats trade this pick for a few slots down and future
considerations. The defense took major hits this offseason, losing
both Asante Samuel and Randall Gay to free agency. McKelvin has
drawn comparisons to R.W. McQuarters, and will fit in well on
8. Ravens – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Its possible Clady goes to the Chiefs, but he shouldn’t
go past this slot. If Ryan is still available, it’s conceivable
they take him here. But taking a bookend left tackle like Clady
is the right move for the Ravens, since they’ve most likely
seen the last of Jonathan Ogden’s glory. Clady’s a
future Pro-Bowler who can start right away and help the team –
something no first-round QB is going to do. There’s been
some talk of the Ravens trading this pick or going for Sedrick
Ellis, but since DT isn’t a real team need, I think that
move would be counterproductive – unless they’re just
trying to block their division rivals from snagging him.
9. Bengals – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
This selection is from the no-brainer department of draft picks,
unless, of course, Ellis gets taken sooner. Then, I think, the
Bengals would be wise to add either a top RB or a top offensive
lineman. Ellis, however, is big, tough and just the kind of combination
run/pass stuffer the Bengals need to anchor their weak defensive
line. He’s got great footwork and balance and can immediately
jump in as a starter for Cincy. With a couple of years under his
belt, he’ll have Pro Bowl potential.
10. Saints – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie,
DB, Tennessee State
I still like the Saints taking a DB here, unless one of the top
DTs falls to the 10th pick – a possibility if the Falcons
or Bengals take somebody other than Dorsey and /or Ellis. There
are just so many good corners to choose from. The Saints might
snag Jenkins, if he’s still available, but now my feeling
is that it’ll be Rodgers-Cromartie at this spot. Antonio’s
cousin blew up at the combine – impressing everybody with
his speed and athleticism. He’s 6’1” and has
room to develop into a solid NFL safety.
11. Bills – Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
While the Bills have glaring needs at DT and LB, I think taking
a player like Jenkins makes the most sense, although he’s
been exposed as an occasionally poor tackler on film. Many have
the Bills going WR here, but I think the top CBs are just too
strong to ignore this early in the game. There will also be a
glut of receivers available in round 2, if the Bills choose to
even go that direction.
12. Broncos – Keith Rivers, LB, USC
Rivers is considered by many to be the best in the draft, although
Shanahan could take a RB. While the Broncos have other needs (OL,
WR) I think it’s imperative they select a linebacker here
– all the good ones will be gone by their next selection
at Round 2, with the exception of possibly Maryland LB Erin Henderson
or Xavier Adibi from Virginia Tech – who could go somewhere
in Round 2 or early Round 3. If that’s their thinking, they’ll
take Vanderbilt tackle Chris Williams and opt for Henderson or
Adibi in Round 2 if they’re still available.
13. Panthers – Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
This team needs a big tackle that can protect Jake Delhomme’s
blind side, and Williams is just the guy to do it. He’s
a rangy 6-6, 315 with solid pass-blocking skills, although he’s
far from the strongest offensive tackle in the draft. The other
standout tackle who could be selected here is Jeff Otah (see below,
14. Bears – Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Mendenhall is a hometown product from nearby Skokie that will
go a long way toward forgetting Cedric Benson, who’s just
not developing into the player the Bears had envisioned when they
selected him with the fourth pick overall in 2005. The Illini
back is a physical inside runner with quickness and superb balance
– and many have said he’s as good as McFadden, maybe
even better. The Bears need a solid running back, and it’s
probably going to be him or Jonathan Stewart.
15. Lions – Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
Otah, with his huge frame (6-6, 332), great instincts and raw
talent, could prove to be the best offensive lineman in the draft,
although he’ll have to tighten up his physique and improve
his speed and strength if he wants to dominate at the next level.
I think the Lions need a solid offensive lineman before they start
worrying about the skill positions, but they could also opt for
a RB like Stewart here and take a tackle in Round 2.
16. Cardinals – Jonathan Stewart, RB,
Turf toe injuries this early in a career are always a concern,
but you just can’t ignore what Stewart did at Oregon –
even while playing in pain. He’s a complete back with few
weaknesses, and has even drawn comparisons to LaDainian Tomlinson.
It’s hard to imagine the Cardinals – who need a back
with a little more punch than the aging Edgerrin James –
letting Stewart fall past their hands.
17. Chiefs (from Vikings) – Derrick Harvey,
With the exception of Gholston, no defensive end turned more
heads at the combine than Harvey, whose massive 6-4, 271-pound
frame and superior athleticism remind many of Jevon Kearse. He
has the required speed to be a dominant edge rusher, and could
even switch to OLB with the right personnel and scheme. Since
the Vikes traded the pick to the Chiefs, along with two Round
3 picks, for DE Jared Allen, I’m assuming the Chiefs will
take the opportunity to grab Harvey, if he’s still available,
or a another top DE like Philip Merling or Calais Campbell. Sure,
they’ll will be lucky to have Harvey drop this far, but
I think it could happen, given some of the previous teams glaring
needs at other positions.
18. Texans – Agib Talib, CB, Kansas
The Texans biggest needs are at RB and CB. If the big-name running
backs are gone, you can bet the Texans will be selecting a top
corner. There will still be several to choose from. Depending
on your view of a corner’s best assets, Talib could be a
boon or a bust. He’s not that tough, has solid – but
not exceptional – speed, is very athletic with a 38-inch
vertical leap, and can broad jump almost 11 feet. He’s also
a bit of a gambler and he loves smoking pot, but he hasn’t
reached his full potential and everybody smokes pot in the NFL
– so I think he’ll be a first-rounder.
19. Eagles – Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
The Eagles could also go a variety of ways with this pick, filling
needs at WR, DE and even LB. But Phillips – easily the best
safety prospect in the draft, is a banger with solid coverage
skills in the mold of Sean Taylor and Brian Dawkins. If they wait
until Round 2, he’ll be gone, so they’ll have to grab
him now and take a DE or WR they can live with in Round 2.
20. Buccaneers – DeSean Jackson, WR, California
Jackson, who was considered the third-best all-around athlete
in the Major League Baseball draft prospect pool in 2005 by Baseball
America, is a rare specimen with impressive speed, agility and
intensity. While the Bucs could go for another receiver like Limas
Sweed or Devin Thomas, take a QB, opt for a top linebacker, or
take of the many solid defensive backs that remain, I think they’ll
draft Jackson based simply on his intangibles – a la Ted
“Family Matters” Ginn.
21. Redskins – Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
Limas Sweed might be the best value of any first-round player.
With his prototypical size (6-4, 216), speed and athleticism (and
ultra-cool sounding name), the guy’s poised for greatness
at the next level, something the Redskins need at the WR position.
22. Cowboys (from Browns) – Devin Thomas,
WR, Michigan State
They could easily go CB here, but if the top dogs are gone, they
should wait until round 2. Like I’ve said before, Terry
Glenn is moments away from being euthanized, and T.O. isn’t
necessarily of sound mind. Dallas needs a guy with a dependable
future, and Thomas could be the one. He’s not great yet,
but he’ll offer a nice complement to Owens in ’08
and could be the #2 WR in Bid D for years to come. Originally,
I had them drafting Thomas at #28, but with a few of the top WRs
dropping down boards, Thomas will be a hot commodity late in Round
#1 and could even go a lot sooner as he’s moved up the draft
boards quite a bit in the past few weeks.
23. Steelers – Branden Albert, G, Virginia
Albert’s the biggest (6-6, 309), quickest guard in the
draft, so it makes sense the Steelers select him to fill the shoes
of Alan Faneca, who signed on March 1 with the Jets. He may go
a lot earlier than #23, but if he falls this far, the Steelers
won’t pass him up. And I’m sure Albert, who’s
from Rochester, NY, will enjoy being close to home and playing
for his favorite team. And if the Steelers don’t opt for
a top CB or stud WR here – and they really don’t need
to – then Branden’s their guy.
24. Titans – Philip Merling, DE, Clemson
I honestly can’t see this guy going much later than this
or the Jags pick at #26. Calais Campell is another option if Merling
and Harvey are already gone, but Merling’s value diminished
following an extremely limited showing (just 17 reps on the bench
press) at the combine that failed to give scouts a true idea of
his speed and strength. His uncle and former position coach at
Clemson, Chris Rumph, informed the media that Merling had recent
surgery to repair a sports hernia. While he needs to work on his
technique before he’ll succeed as a pro, he’s still
a hot commodity than should escape a first-round selection.
25. Seahawks – Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue
Just about every mock draft I’ve encountered lists Dustin
Keller as the Seahawks first-round selection, and after tossing
about 10 different names of DLs, OTs and WRs in this slot and
adjusting the second round ramifications accordingly, it just
didn’t make any sense. Keller could be the blocker/possession
receiver that Matt Hasselbeck – and the rest of this unit
– needs to open up the offense and allow their talented
skill starters to flourish once again. See also: Fred Davis, TE,USC
– a raw talent and former high school running back with
good athleticism and hands, but needs technique work and additional
development to be an every-down TE.
26. Jaguars – Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
Campbell wasn’t as good as expected at the U, but he’s
still got the requisite size and speed to be a disruptive pass
rusher. His stock has gone down some, but he’s still a great
NFL prospect that the Jaguars could use to bolster their pass
rush. He’s been touted highly on many mock drafts, but I
think there are some concerns about his durability, so he could
fall to the Jags.
27. Chargers – Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston
Cherilus isn’t among the elite tackles in this year’s
draft, mainly because he’s not a great pass-blocker and
was penalized quite a bit at BC, when he switched to left tackle
for his senior season. But he’ll make a good fit as the
right tackle for the Chargers, who already have Marcus McNeill
– a Pro Bowl alternate in 2007 as a rookie. There are some
areas where the Chargers need some improvement, but Cherilus is
a perfect fit and the selection that makes the most sense –
if he falls this far.
28. Cowboys – Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
As a Cowboy fan, it would be nice to think they might trade up
for McFadden,but with so many highly touted backs available in
the first two rounds, why bother? Jerry Jones loves Arkansas running
backs, and if he can’t have their best, how about the other
half of the devastating backfield duo? Fayetteville Felix is a
relatively unknown commodity,but he could be as productive at
the next level as McFadden-especially with his propensity for
big plays and electrifying kick returns. This Jones could definitely
be the Yin to Marion Barber’s Yang in the Dallas backfield
– and provide a boost they just didn’t get with Julius
Teaser. I originally had the Cowboys drafting him at #22, but
he should still be available at #28.
29. 49ers (from Colts) – Dan Connor, LB,
Connor has drawn comparisons to fellow Penn State product Paul
Posluszny and would be a nice fit on this improving defense. Connor
might not fall this far, but I think some teams will pass on him
because of obvious needs in other areas and draft value quandaries.
And I think the 49ers won’t like the value of the remaining
lineman at this early point. They could trade up or down for a
standout tackle, but if they stay here, Connor will be the best
they can do.
30. Packers – Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
Like I said before, you can never have too many good corners.
Cason has got great football instincts and can make all the plays
to be a shutdown corner at the next level. With the Packers, he’ll
have an opportunity to develop at a normal pace and eventually
be a ProBowl- type player.
31. Giants – Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
The Giants could really use a top-notch offensive lineman, but
they’ll be lucky to get a versatile linebacker like Mayo
with this pick. There are flashier linebackers with bigger upsides
out there, including Quentin Groves, but Groves is a pass-rushing
tweener – and the Giants are stacked with edge rushers.
Mayo was effective as an OLB – and on the inside last season
at Tennessee, so he could eventually be moved back to the outside
in the Giants 4-3. Wherever this fast, instinctive tackler ends
up, he’ll have an impact. Other options for this pick include
Penn State LB Dan Connor and Maryland’s Erin Henderson.
Tavares Gooden, an ILB out of Miami, has been mentioned a lot
lately, but he’s really a serious reach in Round 1 and only
a marginal Round 2 selection.