Authored by Jeff Risdon - 29th January, 2008 - 6:45 pm
The Senior Bowl has come and gone, with the risers and faders pretty well established. This mock extends out to two rounds; the next mock update will feature three full rounds.
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1. Miami Dolphins--Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
This pick is for sale to the highest (if any) bidders as Bill Parcells knows the Dolphins have numerous chasms to fill. Ryan has a lot of Tom Brady in him but just enough Kyle Boller to keep him from being a lock. The Tuna knows he needs someone better than John Beck to resuscitate this team, and the OL has enough good pieces to not get Ryan killed. Signability will be more of a factor than usual in the #1 overall pick.
2. St. Louis Rams--Jake Long, T, Michigan
Their OL is a mess, and Orlando Pace can no longer be counted on. Long is capable of playing either LT or RT and is the best run blocking T to enter the draft in a long time. His height gives him issues with smaller, quicker DE's, but Long is no slouch in pass protection either. Trading down for an extra pick or two is a distinct possibility. Floating my own shameless rumor: Rams trade this slot to the Jets for the #6 pick and Laveraneus Coles, and the Jets take Chris Long here with the Rams still able to get Jake Long at #6.
3. *Atlanta Falcons--Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
With all the negativity surrounding this team the past year, the Falcons desperately need a new face of the franchise. McFadden is a popular southerner with humility and class, and that might matter as much to Arthur Blank as how freaking awesome he is with the football in his hands. With Warrick Dunn done and Jerrious Norwood not built for fulltime duty, a potential gamebreaking RB like McFadden is more of a need than most people realize. He?s not as dynamic as Adrian Peterson, but McFadden is pretty close.
4. *Oakland Raiders--Chris Long, DE, Virginia
His HOF-er old man did Al Davis proud, and the Raiders need an impact lineman to help against both the run and pass. Long is a great leader and relentless competitor, two other qualities in short supply in Oakland. The Raiders would love McFadden, who reminds some scouts (including two of their own!) of Marcus Allen.
5. *Kansas City Chiefs--Ryan Clady, T, Boise State
An early entrant, Clady has perhaps the highest ceiling of any lineman in this draft, and he?s already well off the floor. The Chiefs OL is in disparate desperation, and Clady can step right in and make a difference. The Chiefs are another team that wouldn?t mind moving down.
6. New York Jets--Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Surprise! The consensus top defensive player falls in this mock and don?t be surprised if it actually happens. Dorsey is an intimidating menace who would capably fill the NT needs of the Jets, and his ability to make plays in the backfield gives him the chance to be special. But the numbers have not matched the hype, and the excuse of nagging injuries isn?t exactly endearing to NFL coaches. If Dorsey is off the board, they?ll happily take Vernon Gholston or Chris Long.
7. New England Patriots (from SF)--Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State
What?s that, you say, with the ?OLB? tag for Gholston? Consider this: he?s smaller than both Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel and certainly faster than the latter, and everything positive he brings to the NFL (speed/power rush package, death to screen passes and draws) translates well to 3-4 OLB. Don?t forget Vrabel was a 1st rounder miscast as a DE once upon a time; Bill Belichick certainly hasn?t, and he needs freshness at LB to keep the dynasty humming along.
8. Baltimore Ravens--Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
Scouts are divided on Brohm, who can make all the throws with great velocity and touch but lacks mobility and durability. I?m personally bullish on Brohm, who has handled all kinds of adversity with a calmness and maturity that bodes well for handling the rigors of the NFL. Know this: there was at least one Ravens' scout or front office higher-up at every Louisville game this past season, and it sure as heck wasn?t to watch Mario Urrutia. If the Ravens pass on Brohm and take Ellis or a corner, Brohm might very well fall from the first round.
9. Cincinnati Bengals--Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
The root of the Bengals' woeful defense is right up the gut, and Ellis is the active space-eater they sorely need. Ellis proved unblockable throughout Senior Bowl week and closed the gap between himself and Dorsey. The comparisons to both Kevin Williams and Warren Sapp are lofty but not out of the question for Ellis, who has that rare knack for always picking the right gap to plug.
10. New Orleans Saints--Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Talib is not the fastest corner in this draft, but his excellent size and instincts, coupled with a flair for the reliably dynamic and WR-worthy hands, make him the first CB off the board in what?s become a pretty impressive class. The Saints' CB's weren?t as awful as their reputation, but that bad rep wasn?t exactly wrong either. Talib has a chance to be the next Champ Bailey although he reminds me more of Charles Woodson.
11. Buffalo Bills--Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
A speedy edge rusher who has made some current and future NFL tackles look silly at times. He?s fairly one-dimensional, but the Bills can live with that as long as that one dimension is great since their pass rush needs obvious help. The loss of Anthony Hargrove makes a DL an even bigger draft imperative.
12. Denver Broncos--Phillip Merling, DE/DT, Clemson
His ability to be effective as both a run stuffer and a pass rusher while playing any of the 3-5 techniques makes Merling a valuable commodity, a la Adam Carriker last draft. The Broncos need help in the pass rush and at keeping blockers off their LBs', and Merling should be able to excel in that capacity. Sleeper Pick: Keith Rivers
13. Carolina Panthers--Sam Baker, T, USC
With both starting tackles hitting free agency and Travelle Wharton not worth keeping, the Panthers have to add an immediate starter up front. Baker has not met his hype, but much like Levi Brown last draft, most of the questions are about his mentality and not his physical tools. If he answers those the way Brown did at the Combine (gaining 10 functional pounds would help too,) Baker?s stock will climb back to where this pick seems like a steal.
14. Chicago Bears--Jeff Otah, T, Pittsburgh
So many glaring needs, so many options. The Bears need to upgrade starters at RT, G, RB, QB, WR, and also replace Lance Briggs and Mike Brown on defense; every other position features above-average talent and depth. Otah is still in ?project? status after playing football for just 5 years, but many scouts believe Otah will develop into a dominant bookend tackle. At 6?6? and 340 pounds with quick feet, there?s certainly much to like. Don?t rule out the Bears moving up to snare Ryan if the cost in picks isn?t too steep.
15. Detroit Lions--Keith Rivers, LB, USC
Rivers is a perfect fit for what Detroit needs in the middle of their defense--a smart, instinctive, sure-tackling rock with range and tons of experience playing with the big boys. He would be the best MLB they?ve had since my hero, Chris Speilman, donned the silver and blue. Even though he isn?t great in coverage, nobody else on the team is either. That will be addressed later in the draft and in free agency.
16. Arizona Cardinals--Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
He flashed his breakaway speed and great balance in the Rose Bowl and against Ohio State. Mendenhall plays with a similar style and demeanor of Willie Parker, who played under Coach Whisenhunt in Pittsburgh. Edge James needs someone to share the load, and it sure as heck won?t be JJ Arrington.
17. Minnesota Vikings--Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
Campbell is remarkably quick for such a tall (6?8+) end and has the frame that can hold more bulk. A bit of a disappointment in 2007, when he disappeared for prolonged stretches on a team that desperately needed him to dominate, Campbell has the tools to become a premier pass rusher. Playing outside a pair of stud DT's in Minnesota will help him achieve that if he can consistently avoid getting stood up straight. Sleeper Pick: Malcolm Kelly.
18. Houston Texans--Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
With surprising burst for such a low center of gravity (read: big butt), Stewart represents a great fit for a Houston team in need of a home-run hitting back. He plays like Tiki Barber, only with the body of a young Jerome Bettis; it sound strange, but he?s remarkably effective at what he does. They would love Talib here because he?s from the area and would also fill a huge need.
19. Philadelphia Eagles--Desean Jackson, KR/WR, California
I listed KR first on purpose because his impact as a return man is what elevates what otherwise would be a 3rd-4th round WR. Think Devin Hester as a more polished WR but less freakishly awesome return man. The Eagles need both attributes. Sleeper Pick: Leodis McKelvin, and I will venture that if they do pass on McKelvin to take Jackson, in 3 years Eagles' fans will be crying in their Yuenglings.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers--Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
Disregard his injury-plagued, disappointing senior season; Sweed has the size, ability to get separation, and hands that the Bucs sorely need to complement (and eventually replace) Joey Galloway. His physical strength and footwork remind some of Terrell Owens although Sweed is far from flamboyant. Jeff Garcia wholeheartedly endorses this pick.
21. Washington Ethnic Slurs--Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
The reanimation of the Smurfs at WR didn?t go so well for the Skins. Enter Kelly, a smooth playmaker with 4+ inches on any other wideout on the roster and a knack for making big catches when they?re most needed. The best big-play threat of the taller WR's, he will make Santana Moss? life much better and get Antwan Randle El back in the slot where he belongs. Sleeper Pick: Lawrence Jackson.
22. Dallas Cowboys (from CLE)--Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
A scouts? darling with a great attitude to go with his nice size and great closing speed, McKelvin also brings value as a dynamic return man. He will allow Cowboys to move Anthony Henry to safety, where he is a better option than any safety they could draft here. Don?t rule out the Cowboys packaging their two picks to move up and get Darren McFadden, and the Ravens and Bengals would be happy to oblige if McFadden somehow falls to their slots.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers--Branden Albert, G, Virginia
The best interior linemen in this draft, Albert comes from a pro-style offense where he thrived at both run blocking and sight adjustments. He could probably play any OL spot except LT without hurting the team, and the Steelers look to be in the process of a major OL shuffle. If Alan Faneca walks without the Steelers even trying to keep him, that?s an indication they?re going OL with this pick. Sam Baker would be a preferred option if he?s still on the board.
24. Tennessee Titans--Fred Davis, TE, USC
He doesn?t look much like the athletic presence that most teams have at TE, but Davis has an uncanny knack for getting open and great hands with enough speed to stretch the field. He?s one of the worst blocking TE's to enter the draft in a long time (just 30 knock-down blocks in 2 full seasons, less than most TE's get in one conference season), but the Titans can live with that if he can catch 60 balls for 800 yards and 7 TD's. And, he might.
25. Seattle Seahawks--Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
The decline of Shaun Alexander is overstated but still real, and Jones has the sudden-ness and experience sharing the load that the Seahawks are looking for. Two different scouts have told me they believe Jones will be a better NFL RB than his more heralded Razorback mate, Darren McFadden. One of those scouts works for the Seahawks. The loud rumors about signing premier FA G Alan Faneca to help pave the way would probably allow Jones to outgain McFadden as rookies.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars--Quentin Groves, DE/OLB, Auburn
He?s a bit light for a 4-3 DE at just 262, but Groves is far from just a speed rusher. His polished barrage of moves and relentless drive remind me of Darrell Tapp or possibly Osi Umenyiora. The Jags need to replace Bobby McCray and upgrade their pass rush in a division full of talented QBs. Sleeper Pick: Chris Williams.
27. San Diego Chargers--Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
A late bloomer who reminds me of a cross between Cullen Jenkins and Cory Redding, Balmer has enough bulk to play the nose but enough lateral agility and quickness to play in the one-gap. The Chargers struggled when Jamal Williams was hurt, and Balmer would ease that struggle.
28. Dallas Cowboys--Early Doucet, WR, LSU
The biggest knock on Doucet is that he?s never really been ?the man?, but that?s irrelevant while the Cowboys still have TO.
29. Green Bay Packers--Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana
Porter is the best pure cover man in this deep CB class, and he?s fared well against current and future NFL receivers. The Harris/Woodson combo is getting long in the tooth, and Porter would represent an upgrade at nickel until those guys are gone and can play the physical style they employ. Porter gets a bonus for his skills at PR. He?d go much higher, but his tackling makes Dre Bly look positively ferocious.
30. San Francisco 49ers (from IND)--Chris Williams, T, Vanderbilt
A technically proficient tackle with ideal size and loads of experience facing future NFL DE's, Williams answered numerous questions about his tenacity and fierceness during Senior Bowl week. Mike Martz learned in Detroit that his offense cannot work without good QB protection, and with last year?s 1st rounder Joe Staley looking good, this pairing of bookend tackles allows them to tap into the deep poll of WR's later on.
31. New York Giants--Erin Henderson, LB, Maryland
He?s a slightly smaller, slightly faster version of his older brother EJ, who is coming off a breakout season in Minnesota. His ability to run the field with TE's and open field tackling ability will help the Giants' D.
32. New England Patriots--forfeited, but if they were picking it would be Dan Connor, LB, Penn State
Spots 3-5 will be determined by a coin flip at the Combine. Kansas City cannot pick before Oakland based on the divisional record tiebreaker but could pick before Atlanta.
The two Super Bowl combatants pick 31st and 32nd regardless of regular season records. Since New England lost their pick, the Giants will make the 31st selection.
33. Miami--Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
34. St. Louis--Dan Connor, LB, Penn State
35. Atlanta--Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M
36. Oakland--Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC
37. Kansas City--Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
38. New York Jets--Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida
39. San Francisco--Lavelle Hawkins, WR, California
40. Baltimore--Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma
41. Cincinnati--Ali Highsmith, LB, LSU
42. New Orleans--Pat Sims, DT, Auburn
43. Buffalo--James Hardy, WR, Indiana
44. Denver--Curtis Lofton, LB, Oklahoma
45. Carolina--Devin Thomas, WR/KR, Michigan State
46. Chicago--Kenny Phillips, S, Miami FL
47. Detroit--Gosder Cherilus, T Boston College
48. Arizona--Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
49. Minnesota--Chad Henne, QB, Michigan
50. Atlanta (from HOU)--Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
51. Philadelphia--John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame
52. Tampa Bay--Carl Nicks, T, Nebraska
53. Washington--Andre Fluellen, DL, Florida State
54. Cleveland--Kendall Langford, DE, Hampton
55. Pittsburgh--Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt
56. Tennessee--Bruce Davis, OLB, UCLA
57. Seattle--Kellen Davis, TE, Michigan State
58. Jacksonville--Chilo Rachal, G, USC
59. Miami (from SD)--Jordon Dizon, LB, Colorado
60. Dallas--Chris Johnson, RB/KR, East Carolina
61. Indianapolis--Xavier Adibi, LB, Virginia Tech
62. Green Bay--Roy Schuening, G, Oregon State
63. New York Giants--Patrick Lee, CB, Auburn
64. New England--Matt Forte, RB, Tulane
For the cadre of Bears' fans who question ?Where the bleep is a QB?!??, I think the Bears take Erik Ainge or Andre Woodson in the 3rd round.