This should look similar to my previous effort with an added second round, though there are a few revised choices, with fifteen changes, most from about fifteen back, and revised explanations most of the way through. I'm also working on a revised 1st round that is trade-inclusive, to be posted in the next few days.
I'm not happy with the second round, some picks, I still think, are a way off being where I want them to be, so any feedback you could give would be greatly appreciated. There's also one or two wayward picks in the first that I haven't quite sold myself on, namely Kieth Rivers, Kentwaam Balmer, Dan Connor and Calias Campbell.
My final edition (of at least two, maybe three rounds- I'll at least have a Rams third) with explanations for every pick (I hope) should be up by Draft-Day Eve.
1. Miami Dolphins- Jake Long, OT, Michigan
To me, this pick just makes sense. The Miami Dolphins get a consensus top 3 pick at what is widely considered to be their greatest area of need. Here is a player who can be entrenched along the OL for the next 10 seasons, health providing, and restore some consistency to a Dolphins offence that has been anything but. An outside linebacker doesn’t make sense, as good as Vernon Gholsron is. Fiscally, it makes sense, too, as even top Pro Bowlers aren’t signed to as large a contract as Chris Long would purport to be.
2. St. Louis Rams- Chris Long, DE, Virginia
It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the Rams must look toward the defensive end position if Jake Long is gone, as their depth inside is too great to warrant the selection of Glenn Dorsey, who has injury concerns, anyway. In my opinion he’s a rather elaborate smokescreen. But the question then becomes which one? Vernon Gholston is the best pure pass rusher available, whilst Chris Long is more of an all around prospect. Whilst pass rush appears the more immediate need, I still think the more well-rounded prospect will win out. Either way, the Rams find exactly what they’re looking for. Chris Long is great against the pass with 14 sacks last season, great against the run, and possesses a motor that doesn’t appear to have an “off” button.
3. Atlanta Falcons- Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
It will be interesting to see how similarly Atlanta rates the Quarterback prospects. If Henne, Brohm and co. receive a similar grade to Matt Ryan, then you’ll probably see Glenn Dorsey here, unless Jake Long falls magically into their hands. However, if there is a significant difference in grade between Ryan and the next best prospect, I think he’ll be the pick. Personally, I think Brohm and Henne purport to be as good NFL players as Ryan, though they don’t posses his skill set in the present. Ryan is the most NFL ready, but if they’re planning to sit whoever they draft for the first year, then it won’t matter. Dorsey is probably the DBPA at this point, a potential mainstay- and perhaps most importantly- a disruptive force in the middle. A great choice here either way for the Falcons.
4. Oakland Raiders- Vernon Gholston, DE, OSU
Here, the debate looks to be between a defensive end such as Long or Gholston, and a back such as McFadden. If Chris Long is available here (meaning the Rams select Gholston) I don’t doubt for a second that he’ll be the pick. Defensive end is the more immediate need, but McFadden is probably the best player in the class, and has the potential to do great things alongside JaMarcus Russell, Javon Walker and Justin Fargas. But he won’t see the field if the defense can’t get off of it. Gholston wins out for this reason, as the best pure pass rusher in this class. He’s the kind of physical beast Al Davis will fall in love with. Pro Bowl corner Namadia Asoughma and former first rounder Fabian Washington should be increasingly productive.
5. Kansas City Chiefs- Brandon Albert, OL, Virginia.
This is the first pick to change since my last mock, mainly due to Albert’s versatility and the options it offers Kansas City. Legitimately, the Chiefs may be looking to come away with as many as three starting linemen from this one draft, and the selection of Albert allows them to grab another on BPA basis in later rounds, regardless of whether that player happens to be a guard or a tackle, because Albert is so versatile that he can play either position in the NFL.
6. New York Jets- Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
The Jets could really shake up the draft here by selecting Matt Ryan. Will they? Probably not. McFadden playing in New York makes perfect sense. The Jets already have Thomas Jones in the backfield, allowing him to split snaps with the versatile McFadden who was used creatively at Arkansas as a passer and receiver. Eric Mangenius should be able to achieve the same result. McFadden’s character concerns may be lessened playing on a team of with strong character.
7. New England Patriots- Keith Rivers, LB, USC
The Pats here select the best LB in the draft. All of the Pats linebacker starters are approaching or beyond thirty, and Rivers has the ability to play inside or outside in a 3-4 system. He looks like the type of player who knows how to win, and should be a leader on and off the field for years to come. Derrick Harvey also warrants strong consideration here.
8. Baltimore Ravens- Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
Joy! The Ravens get the franchise signal caller they desire. Baltimore hopes he’ll be the QB, the leader, and the playmaker they’ve been coveting since before the days of Trent Dilfer. He may start from day one after the retirement of Steve McNair, though I wouldn’t advise it.
9. Cincinnati Bengals- Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Ellis has great character, and the ability to play in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme as a Nose Tackle. He’s a perfect fit in Cincinnati, who really can’t go wrong with any defensive player.
10. New Orleans Saints- Leodis McKelvin CB, Troy
The Saints require help in the secondary. Jason David was crap. Randall Gay, I’m predicting, will be crap outside of the New England scheme that made him a superbowl winner. Let’s remember that even Troy Brown was successful as a corner in that scheme. McKelvin’s stock has soared after an excellent post-season. I believe Mike Jenkins will be the better player, but based off of current stock and projections, McKelvin gets the nod here. I think Kentwaan Balmer could be a surprise pick here, and a trade up could also be very likely.
11. Buffalo Bills- Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan St
The Bills could look legitimately at DE Derrick Harvey here, but I think they’ll stay contented with Schobel and Kelsay. Instead, they look to replace the spectacularly average Josh Reed with Devin Thomas, who looks to have established himself as the consensus #1 Wideout in the draft. He should start opposite Lee Evans fairly immediately.
12. Denver Broncos- Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
Clady, whom I had at number 5 in my previous mock, is a much better fit in terms of value here at pick 12. He may even have stuck around a little too long. The Broncos have a legitimate need at OT after trading away George Foster and finding little value thereafter. Jay Cutler struggled with little protection, and the selection of Clady, primed to become Boise St.’s first ever first round draft pick, should serve to correct that.
13. Carolina Panthers- Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
The Panthers would probably prefer the versatility of a player like Brandon Albert as a security measure if Travelle Wharton’s move inside doesn’t stick, but as it stands, they find the best value along the offensive line with Williams. His stock has just stored after a great season at Vanderbilt on the left side and a great workout at the combine. Projects to be the team’s starting left tackle on what could become one of the league’s strongest lines. Now all they need is a definite future starter at Quarterback…
14. Chicago Bears- Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
I still believe that if Brian Brohm lasts this far in round two, Rex Grossman is as good as gone. This selection should improve an OL that dissipated mid-season through injury and age, becoming one of the league’s poorer units. Otah is probably the best pure road grading run blocker in this class, which gives former number 4 overall pick Cedric Benson no reason to fail as the team’s starting tailback.
15. Detroit Lions- Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida.
I think that a RB needs not be found in the first round at all, as many teams have proven that success can be had with later round picks. Perhaps the 2008 edition of Ryan Grant lies further on down the draft board. Harvey definitely should not have fallen this far (I wouldn’t be surprised to see somebody trade-up, perhaps with Buffalo) and provides Marinelli with the pass rushing DE he desires to start opposite 2007 Free Agent acquisition Dewayne White.
16. Arizona Cardinals- Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
Rashard Mendenhall is the pick here due more so to his great value than a significant immediate need. Mendenhall should come in and split time with Edgerrin James and should provide an immediate spark to the Cardinals offence, regardless of whether it’s Beer-Bong Leinart or Brenda Warner…I mean Kurt Warner at quarterback. Cornerback is awfully tempting right here, but they should be able to find decent value later on.
17. Minnesota Vikings- Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
After seeing Derrick Harvey come so close…and yet fall so far, the Vikings pick up the consolation prise in Phillip Merling. Mind you, he’s not a bad consolation prise, either. The Vikings have significant needs (still) at DE, due to poor play and the unfortunate battle of Kenichi Udeze with Leukaemia. I think Merling was probably outplayed by Quentin Groves in the Tigers/Tigers bowl game, but has higher stock after a stronger season, even though he hardly worked out.
18. Houston Texans- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee St.
Sigh… there’s still not an OT for the Texans. Rashard Mendenhall would garner strong consideration of he lasts this long, but Cromartie is as good a third option as any. I think he’ll go slightly higher than Mike Jenkins, who I like as the better prospect. Both should develop into great players in the NFL. Though they spent big free agent dollars on the position, there’s no true star across from Dunta Robinson. Cromartie should excel behind a promising defensive line.
19. Philadelphia Eagles- Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
Brian Dawkins is getting on in years, and Sean Consdine is still nothing to write home about, making Phillips a great choice at pick number nineteen. I believe he’s a solid top 15-20 prospect, probably not cut from the same cloth as Ed Reed or Sean Taylor, but looks a better prospect than Brandon Merriweather did this time last year. Offensive Tackle would be ideal, and it would not shock me at all to see the Eagles pull the trigger on Boston College’s Godser Cherilus.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mike Jenkins, CB, FSU.
I believe Jenkins is the most well-rounded corner in this class, though McKelvin and Cromartie project to go slightly higher. He’ll be a great fit in the Tampa-2 system. Ronde Barber is no spring chicken, and with little else in the secondary, this move only makes sense. Wide receiver is neglected for a second year due to needs elsewhere, but if the pick isn’t a corner, look for it to be made in that area.
21. Washington Redskins- Kentwaan Balmer, DT, North Carolina.
This pick changes to allow value to suit need. Calais Campbell was the selection, but I don’t buy him in the first round, at least this high, anymore. Balmer is the clear third best DT in this class, and there is a significant drop thereafter, though he is a slight reach here. Balmer comes into the DT rotation with Cornelius Griffin and Anthony Montgomery to eventually start.
22. Dallas Cowboys- Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Not wanting Jones to slip into the arms of Seattle, Jacksonville or San Diego, the Cowboys take Felix Jones here to be the Speedy to Marion Barber’s Gonzales. The loss of Julius Jones, and Garret’s prior success with a two back system makes the agile Jones the pick.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers- Godser Cherilus, OT, Boston College.
I like this pick a lot better than the Limas Sweed pick from my last mock. The Steelers will be looking for the best OL available, and Cherilus’ ability as a potentially dominant right tackle should more than suffice. This move allows OT Willie Colon to move back inside to guard.
24. Tennessee Titans- DeSean Jackson, WR, California
DeSean Jackson is the pick here, even though Vince Young, I’ve no doubt, is campaigning hard for his for Texas’ team-mate Limas Sweed. Letting Jackson the explosive Jackson loose alongside the explosive Vince Young makes (obviously) for double the explosions.
25. Seattle Seahawks- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Kenny Phillips is gone, so Oregon’s Stewart, who looks to be made from the Shaun Alexander cookie-cutter mould, is the pick here. He looks to split time, for the present, in a committee that already contains Maurice Morris and former MVP Alexander. He’s great value this low, and should become the eventual starter in Mike Holmgren’s offence.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars- Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
I think the Jags are looking for DT Kentwaan Balmer to fall here to replace Marcus Stroud, but as he goes to Washington at 21, Campbell is the pick. He has great physical potential, but may also end up as this year’s version of Alan Branch. At 6’8”, he has the potential to shift inside, perhaps not being suited to play DE with an above 5.00 40.
27. San Diego Chargers- Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
The Chargers have the luxury of selecting the best player available in Mayo, who should be long gone by now. He can come in and play immediately inside, and should be a leader on defense for years to come. Mayo has the potential to play outside, but will man the middle with Shawn Merriman and Shaun Phillips on the exterior.
28. Dallas Cowboys- Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona.
The Cowboys need a nickel corner to become a future starter, and I have Cason as a slightly better player right now than Flowers, King and Smith, all of whom should be available about this time.
29. San Francisco *****- Dan Connor, ILB, Penn St.
Mike Martz has been able to make his offence work with guys like Mike Furrey as top targets, but there is little depth behind veteran Isaac Bruce. However, as the ***** pick early in round two, they can hold off and still find value. Connor should be a starter at linebacker and a team leader well into the future, consolidating what looks to be a promising linebacker core.
30. Green Bay Packers- Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
Flowers doesn’t have good footspeed, but is one of the most physical corners to come out in the last 5 years There’s little depth beyond Al Harris and Charles Woodson, who are erring on the wrong side of thirty, and Flowers could well be Harris’ identical twin in terms of physical abilities. Aquib Talib warrants consideration, but the Packers take a pass due to poor character.
31. New York Giants- Reggie Smith, S/CB, Oklahoma
With the very last pick of round one, the Giants grab a very versatile defensive back. There’s still great value down here, and Smith has all the tools to be successful. Sam Madison is ageing, but Corey Webster really came on down the Superbowl stretch. They lost safety Gibril Wilson to the free agent market, providing Smith with another avenue to be successful.
32. Miami Dolphins- Curtis Lofton, ILB, Oklahoma
33. St. Louis Rams- Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
34. Atlanta Falcons- Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
35. Kansas City Chiefs- Sam Baker, OT, USC
36. New York Jets- Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC
37. Atlanta Falcons- Duane Brown, OT, Virginia Tech.
38. Baltimore Ravens- Aquib Talib, CB, Kansas
39. San Fancisco *****- James Hardy, WR, Indianna
40. New Orleans Saints- Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame
41. Buffalo Bills- Justin King, CB, Penn St.
42. Denver Broncos- Dre Moore, DT, Maryland
43. Carolina Panthers- Chad Henne, QB, Michigan
44. Chicago Bears- Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
45. Detroit Lions- Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
46. Cincinnati Bengals- Donnie Avery, WR, Houston
47. Minnesota Vikings- Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas St.
48. Atlanta Falcons- Patrick Lee, CB, Auburn
49. Philadelphia Eagles- Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
50. Arizona Cardinals- Charles Godfrey, CB, Iowa
51. Washington Redskins- Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn
52. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan
53. Pittsburgh Steelers- Phillip Wheeler, LB, Georgia Tech.
54. Tennessee Titans- Pat Sims, DT, Auburn
55. Seattle Seahawks- Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue
56. Green Bay Packers- Erin Henderson, OLB, Maryland
57. Miami Dolphins- Chad Henne, QB, Michigan
58. Jacksonville Jaguars- DaJuan Morgan, S, NC State
59. Indianapolis Colts- Xavier Adibi, OLB, Virginia Tech
60. Green Bay Packers- Oniel Cousins, OT, UTEP
61. Dallas Cowboys- Early Doucet, WR, LSU
62. New England Patriots- Antuan Molden, CB, Eastern Kentucky
63. New York Giants- Chilo Rachal, OG, USC.