Some general salad before the meat and potatoes: This draft is significantly thinner than the last 2 years, particularly for premium offensive skill position players. There are a lot of quality WRs but none are close to Calvin Johnson or Dwayne Bowe from last year in overall talent. As always, QBs tend to get overdrafted, but this could be one year where you might not see a QB before the Vikings pick, or later if Derek Anderson, Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb are dangled as trade bait. I?m expecting a lot of trade activity in the 1st round but especially in the 25-40 overall range. That?s the bottom of the ?NFL-ready? barrel in this draft, and teams with specific immediate needs will go shopping here. Look for Atlanta, Dallas, New England, and Cincinnati to all be involved in lots of credible trade rumors surrounding their 1st and early 2nd round picks. 1. Miami Dolphins- Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College Hard to justify taking another QB after drafting John Beck in the 2nd round last year, but Ryan is showing he?s a special talent. Ryan answers questions about mobility and arm strength better every week, and he is the heady, composed signal caller Cam Cameron needs to run his complex offense. 2. St. Louis Rams- Jake Long, T, Michigan The Rams OL is an injury-plagued mess, and Orlando Pace is quickly nearing the end. Long is the mauling run blocker they sorely need, and he has the potential to carry on the tradition of Jackie Slater and Pace and remain a stalwart at T for over a decade. Don?t buy the hype that Long can only play RT in the NFL; he?ll do just fine on the left with a competent guard next to him. 3. New York Jets- Chris Long, DE, Virginia Fiery leader who consistently beats double teams on every snap, Long is ideally suited to play DE in the Jets 3-4 scheme. His pedigree and nonstop motor are great bust insurance, and the Jets can ill afford to swing and miss here. If Ryan is available it will be very hard for the Jets to not take him here, even with Clemens and (maybe) Pennington still around. 4. Atlanta Falcons- Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU Powerful, disruptive bull in the mold of Shaun Rogers, Dorsey is the space-eating playmaker the Falcons need in the middle of their defense. Like Rogers, Dorsey has a growing rep for not going 100% all the time, but when he does he?s a monster who can play multiple gap techniques. Expect loads of trade rumors involving the Falcons moving down to select Brian Brohm later on, perhaps with Dallas. 5. Minnesota Vikings-Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville Brohm has loads of detractors, but other than lacking mobility he has all the physical tools to become an elite QB. The Tarvaris Jackson experiment has to end for the Vikings to improve, and Brohm has continued to excel despite some tough injuries and several coaching and coordinator changes. If he doesn?t go here, I suspect Brohm might fall further than Brady Quinn did in 2007. 6. New England Patriots (from SF)- Keith Rivers, LB, USC Vrabel, Bruschi & Co. are nearing the end, and Rivers is the versatile, rangy, intelligent type of backer that the Pats need to rebuild with. Rivers never misses a tackle and he is adept at dropping into coverage. The Niners gave up this pick to select Joe Staley last year; Staley has been good but not anywhere near #6 overall good. Knowing the Pats this pick is almost certain to be traded, perhaps to a RB-needy team looking to steal McFadden from the Texans. 7. Houston Texans- Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas Many scouts feel he?s the best talent in the draft, but a nagging injury history and lack of clear-cut need for a RB cause him to fall to the Texans. Trust me, they don?t mind one iota. His package of power, speed, and vision are near-equal to Adrian Peterson, this year?s probable Rookie of the Year. If he is gone, expect the Texans to take a T. 8. Cincinnati Bengals- Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC Active run-stuffer who can make plays in the backfield, something the Bengals sorely lack on the DL. Ellis has a great nose for the ball and a strong personality, two traits that endure him to GM Mike Brown. His quickness strongly resembles a young Warren Sapp. 9. Oakland Raiders- Kenny Phillips, S, Miami FL The one missing piece to a very good secondary in Oakland is a rangy centerfield-type safety who delivers punishment all over the field. Phillips is that guy, and his tackling prowess will assist their weak run defense. They need a WR much more, but none merit a selection this high. Can you say ?trade down?? 10. Chicago Bears- Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky The two things the Bears crave most from their QB are pinpoint accuracy and controlling turnovers. Those are what Woodson excels at, and his ability to buy time with his feet helps out behind a rapidly aging line. His Kerry Collins-esque delivery and lack of consistent zip on his deep ball will likely keep him from going any higher than this. I?ll interject this trade scenario: The Browns deal QB Derek Anderson to the Bears for this pick, and the Browns take Calais Campbell here. 11. Philadelphia Eagles- James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State He is exactly what they need in the middle: a relentless, often unblockable tackler with great instincts and reaction speed. His fine cover skills are a bonus for a team that likes to blitz DBs. Forget that Philly already has some good young talent at LB; this team always drafts the player they like best, not necessarily the best immediate fit. 12. Buffalo Bills- Calais Campbell, DE, Miami FL Much like Adam Carriker in the last draft, Campbell has a great package of power and quickness that will allow him to play any line spot. The Bills need his pass rush and discipline in run defense, playing inside on passing downs and outside in base defense. Campbell could very well go in the top 5, but I know some scouts think he?s actually too tall at 6?8?. 13. Denver Broncos- Dan Connor, LB, Penn State Not quite as big or fast as former teammate Paul Posluszny, but Connor does everything just as well. His ability to play inside or outside is an asset for a Broncos LB corps that is in a state of shuffling uncertainty. 14. Arizona Cardinals-Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State Has the size and speed needed to defend bigger WRs, and his experience in playing man coverage at a high level is a major asset. So is his run support off the edge, and that makes him a perfect fit for the aggressive schemes the Cards like to run. 15. Baltimore Ravens- Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma Draft board riser based on his playmaking and ability to play any DB spot, but wait until he runs a 4.38ish 40 at the Combine and watch his stock soar all the way to the Ravens, who need a youthful infusion at CB. 16. Kansas City Chiefs- Gosder Cherilus, T, Boston College The Chiefs still sorely miss Willie Roaf, and Cherilus plays with a similar technique and manner. His skill and leadership is no small reason why Matt Ryan is a Heisman front-runner and BC is competing for a BCS title. If he and Sam Baker are gone, expect KC to try and replace Donnie Edwards at LB. 17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Adarius Bowman, WR, Oklahoma State Great big target who has worked hard at improving his overall game, Bowman gets open deep better than any wideout in this class. Joey Galloway cannot play forever, and Ike Hilliard is not a legit #2 WR. I consider the top 3-4 WRs basically interchangeable; if you like Malcolm Kelly or Limas Sweed better, insert him here. 18. Dallas Cowboys (from CLE)-Sam Baker, T, USC Most mocks you?re going to see will have Baker about 10 spots above this, but there is a growing sentiment that Baker is content to be merely good instead of pushing for his potential greatness. The Cowboys have had success with players of similar ilk, and they need to get younger up front. 19. Washington Redskins-Limas Sweed, WR, Texas The most sure-handed and well-rounded of the bigger wideouts in this draft, Sweed has enough speed and ability to get open to be a #1 WR, though he?s better served as #1A to a guy like Santana Moss here. Reminds many scouts of a more diligent Roy Williams (the Lion). This being Washington, the odds they keep this pick are as slim as Charlie Weis. 20. New Orleans Saints- Ryan Clady, T, Boise State The biggest reason for the sputtering start of the Saints offense was the lack of power and snarl up front. Clady is a master technician who brings the toughness and grit the OL needs. Only a junior, if he stays in school look for the Saints to take a CB here. 21. Detroit Lions-Phillip Wheeler, LB, Georgia Tech Wheeler is a classic Cover-2 LB--undersized but fast and good in coverage. The Lions sorely need upgrades in their defensive back 7, and the underappreciated Wheeler, with the ability to play MLB or OLB, is a good start. 22. Tennessee Titans- James Hardy, WR, Indiana The tallest of the big-guy WRs, Hardy is a big-play junior used to playing with a mobile, often-inaccurate playmaking QB like he?ll get here with Vince Young. Hardy has a long history of making future NFL CBs look awful. 23. Seattle Seahawks- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon Powerful, stocky back with deceptive speed and soft hands. Shaun Alexander is clearly no longer a bellcow back, and Stewart has enough feature back in him to merit this pick. He?s capable of being an elite return man as well (seriously!), something else the Seahawks need. 24. Carolina Panthers- Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida Bull rusher with a great first step and strong run defense ability. He?s still pretty raw at rushing the passer but notches lots of plays in the backfield regardless, and he?s only getting better. The Panthers need him to replace Mike Rucker and help Julius Peppers up front. 25. San Diego Chargers- Quentin Groves, DE/OLB, Auburn The Chargers will play the physically gifted Groves as a pass-rushing OLB, and pray he finally starts trying on every snap and learns to stay in his run gaps. Groves has the chance to go significantly higher than this if he shows his toe injuries haven?t impacted his speed. 26. Jacksonville Jaguars- Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida Aggressive cover man with good size and solid run support. Jenkins has excellent recovery speed and instincts, and he?ll fit across from Rashean Mathis quite well. 27. Green Bay Packers- DeSean Jackson, WR/KR, California Jackson is a slightly slower version of Ted Ginn Jr. but also a slightly more refined WR. He disappears for games at a time on offense, but his dynamic return man abilities merits a 1st round look from the Packers, who cannot depend on the aging Charles Woodson or troubled Koren Robinson to fill that role. 28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Dejuan Tribble, CB, Boston College The playmaking Tribble will be the latest corner the Steelers bring in to try and replace Deshea Townsend. His smallish-but-physical size and gambler?s mentality will either make him a star or a bust. 29. New York Giants- Tony Hills, T, Texas Converted TE who is still adjusting to the physical nature of playing tackle, but his natural athleticism and raw power are worth developing. The G-Men have a surprisingly strong OL, but they badly need depth and athleticism. 30. Indianapolis Colts- Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina Rapidly playing his way up draft boards with his explosive first step and nasty power, Balmer will add power and depth to a Colts DL in need of both. 31. Dallas Cowboys- Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma Playmaking junior with great size and tremendous burst, Kelly is a great physical compliment to the aging-but-effective TO. The Cowboys need a legit #2 WR to replace Terry Glenn and keep Patrick Crayton where he?s most effective, and Kelly might be the most dynamic wideout in this draft. 32. New England Patriots (forfeited) Other names to keep in mind: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC: Fierce hitter, but questions about on-field discipline and speed hurt his stock. Justin King, CB, Penn State: Has the measurables but too often looks like Keith Olbermann?s rented mule. Colt Brennan, QB, Hawaii: Product of the system with a low release, poor size/speed, and is not noted for making good decisions on or off the field. Early Doucet, WR, LSU: Could easily replace any of the last 3 WRs above; just a personal gut feeling he?s going to suffer for his injury-plagued year. He would be pick #32 to the Dolphins at the top of the 2nd round. D.J. Hall, WR, Alabama: See Doucet above, except Hall is moving up and not down; Hall could easily make the 20-30 range and is the kind of guy teams will trade for in the early 2nd. Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia: Size, durability, and scheme adjustment concerns will keep him out of the 1st round. Frank Okam, DT, Texas: Would be the #2 DT in this draft if he tried his best more than 10 snaps a game. Someone might gamble in the 1st, and if the light comes on they?ll be handsomely rewarded. Tommy Blake, DE, TCU: The mystery surrounding his missing senior year is a major red flag--think Alonzo Spellman. Ali Highsmith, LB, LSU: Not nearly as good as he often looks--just ask opposing coaches. Will be overdrafted worse than a philosophy major?s checking account. Zack Bowman, CB, Nebraska: The collapse of his team hurts what has been a pretty good comeback from a very bad injury. Could move in with a strong postseason. Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas: He?s the next Chris Gamble (CB/WR/PR), but not as big, fast, or as strong in coverage, and Gamble has not lived up to expectations. Note to Aqib: tackling involves more than just running real fast into someone. Barry Richardson, T, Clemson: Jelly-soft giant with the same marginal technique he had when he got to Clemson. And the 3 hardest names to leave off for me: Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State Lavelle Hawkins, WR, California Shawn Crable, DE/OLB Michigan
Draft - Football Wiretap
Ryan Being Compared To Joe Montana
Matt Ryan, who's well on his way to validating being voted the ACC's pre-season player of the year, leads the conference with 2,433 passing yards and has thrown 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. But it's his size (6-foot-5, 218 pounds), arm strength and presence that have some pegging Ryan as a top-five pick. "Matt Ryan is as good as advertised," said Larry Coker, who has seen Ryan this season as a television analyst and last year as Miami's coach. "If you like Joe Montana, you'll like Matt Ryan. He's very smooth, very sharp and very calm. He's a leader."